Advent 2017

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Our Advent wreath alternative.

Being two months postpartum is a good time for a new season. I feel like I can think clearly and I’ve been able to find the time to plan accordingly. Life is just getting filled back up to our normal activities, and I feel prepared for a shift in focus.

Spiritually I am ready too. I am actually ready to fast, in my own small way, which will be no sugar and no cheese.  I’m tired of just eating whatever and how ever much I want, which I’ve been doing the whole year now. It’s time for me to take back control of my appetite. I know that even though I feel up to the challenge, it will be hard and frustrating.

I’m also looking planning on reading “The Winter Pascha” by Fr. Thomas Hopko, of blessed memory. It’s also been a while since I’ve read a spiritual book (unless you count the Bible and “Parenting Toward the Kingdom…). I want to add in an akathist a week as well.

For alms, I’m hoping to set up a times to sing at nursing homes. Or rather, I’m hoping my dad will and we can go along. He has the connections, and there’s no way I’m comfortable going without him. Not a strength of mine, for sure. My hope, though, is that over the years, it will be familiar to my children (and me!) and something we do year round, not just at Christmas. But, we’ll start at Christmas.

Another thing I want to do is use more of our gift money for charities. Instead of buying gifts (that I’m not even sure people like or want!), I want to make gifts. Some will still take money, maybe just as much, but others I can use things I have, or will cost less. Along with the homemade gift, I want to give a donation to a charity in honor of that person, even if it’s just $5. We all have so much stuff, and so few needs. Plus, just buying something doesn’t seem to really express my love for someone. I’m going to be helping and encouraging the kids to do the same. I’m really excited about this, but it’s still to be seen how it works out.

I’m trying a new way of planning for Advent. I made a chart for each week, with different categories. Each week I’ll have tasks related to gift making/buying, decorating, and food. I knew I’d have to break up all the tasks for gifts and food, but I also wanted to gradually decorate. I envision the anticipation and festivity building up each week as we add more and more decorations to our home. One example is that one week we will buy our tree and set it up, but only add a string of lights. The next week we’ll add ornaments, the next we’ll make ornaments, etc. Again, we’ll see how it all works out!

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This is only partially filled in! There’s more planning to do. 

This first week, or few days rather, I’ve kept it very simple. We will start Jesse Tree and the readings for our Advent “wreath.” I’m going to keep planning the gifts we’ll make and buy, as well as food for the fasting and the feasting.

With all these thoughts and plans, I’m hoping to create an atmosphere of simplicity, love, and joyful anticipation. I want there to be activities, but not so much that we don’t enjoy them, but rather they point us toward the joy of the birth of Christ our Savior.

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blessing the grave

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On Pascha we blessed the graves in the cemetery attached to our church, which includes our baby Elijah’s. Due to various circumstances, I had never done this before. I wasn’t prepared and in my tired, hormone filled state, I simply wanted to weep. It was hard and right, painful and healing, tragic and beautiful.

We went to each grave, singing “Christ is Risen,” the priest blessing it with holy water. If a family member of the person buried was present, the priest (my father) would exchange a greeting with them. If non-Orthodox, “Glory to Jesus Christ”. If Orthodox, Christ is Risen three times, the response being “Indeed He is Risen!” There are few graves in our young cemetery, and there were only two to bless before we got to Elijah’s. My husband and I were both crying before we even got there. My father faced us, with tears in his eyes and said, “Christ is Risen.” As best we could, we sputtered out the response each time. 

Although I always remember him, I don’t often go down that road in my heart. It’s a road with much healing, but one that is still tender and painful if I walk down far enough. On Pascha I was transplanted quickly to the raw part of the road. It’s a place I haven’t been to in quite some time. And yet, as I said, it was right and good and healing. 

Pascha of 2015, not quite a year after we had lost him, I wept also. As soon as the priest proclaimed “Christ is Risen!” I broke down. All I could think was, “Christ is risen, but my baby is still dead.” A weak, worldly thought, I know. My baby is dead, here on earth, yes, but alive in Christ, forever. My blind heart fails to see the reality of this. And the joy. 

Since losing him, I’ve been blessed with another child. Now another is on the way, but I will never feel complete without him in my life. And yet, none of us are complete, until we are truly united to Christ in the life to come. It’s such a reminder to me to seek Christ, not my child. To find my fullness in Him, not another person. To find my joy in the truth of the Resurrection of Christ. 

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Daily I struggle in the high calling of being a mother. Rarely I feel I am getting it right. Still, God has chosen to bless us (surprise us!) with another child due late September. I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. But I accept with a humbled and grateful heart. There is a lot of growing to do on my part, and growth is never easy. But it is always good. 

I cannot say I am disappointed. To get pregnant without trying? I never thought it would happen to me. After plenty of waiting that followed a miscarriage, I’m thankful there wasn’t an issue this time around, at least with the getting pregnant part. I simply mean it was not my timing. I wanted more time to myself first. I wanted to be “ready”. I had a “perfect” plan in my head. 

God has been changing my plans a lot lately. Mostly I’ve been okay with that. I learned a few years ago that I cannot plan out – control, rather – my life. But, my life is in Gods hands which is even better. And the less I struggle against my plans being changed, the transition is easier and I have more peace. 

I have accepted the changes pregnancy has brought with relative ease, but I can’t say it’s been easy. My life of homeschooling, having an older baby, a puppy, and being in the first trimester has busted my abilities to the seams. I simply have not been able to fill all my roles and have had to do my best in the few most, most important roles. 

But I don’t lose faith. I know it’s a season. I’m being stretched; it hurts, but when things ease up (and they will, I know they will!), I will be stronger have more capacity than before, through Christ. I foresee the next couple years of being a time of intense stretching with breaks here and there. But, who knows, I can’t plan or predict my life right? But one thing I do know, whatever life is like, whatever happens, I will always have Christ my Savior to lean on. In the end, that all I really, really, really need. 

“Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.” – Phillips

priorities to realities

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On New Year’s Eve, I left the house at 7:00 am and headed to our one local coffee shop. I spent the next six hours organizing all the ideas that had trickled in as 2016 came to a close. I had lists and lists. I did a massive brain dump, and then slowly organized ideas onto lists until all the lists made sense.

We are only three weeks into the new year, but it feels like forever to me. And indeed, so far the year has not gone how I envisioned. (Imagine that!) For one, getting sick after a trip was not in my plans. (Although, I should have expected it!)

It’s easy to look at my grand plans and feel a little defeated that I haven’t gotten more done. But in reality, for the most part, I have stuck to the priorities I laid out, and that is what is important. Two priorities in particular have been getting ingrained in our every day: keep the home tidy and clean (clean being my current standard, which is not the highest, but realistic) and have more together time. I’ve accomplished that by tweaking our routines and adding some things here and there.

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Morning

I’ve given up trying to start school as quickly as possible, or by a certain time. It’s simply a part of our day now and so it still happens, even if it’s not the first thing. Instead, after breakfast we do what I call “Daily Tasks.” For me this is cleaning up after breakfast, wiping the table, putting away any laundry that hung to dry that night, take care of the chickens, get Ella ready, start laundry, and direct the kids with their morning tasks. For them this is getting dressed, making their bed, tidying their room, emptying the dishwasher, and wiping the bathroom (Mia) and sweeping under the table (Michael). Also, one of them will help prep food for supper while the other plays with (or keeps and eye on) Ella. Sometimes this is putting a crock pot together, sometimes it is just chopping veggies. In a way, I prioritize these things over the school lessons. These are life lessons. They are learning to care for a home and contribute as a member of the family. Once these things are done, we start school.

Afternoon

One thing that was lacking in our days was time for me to be with the kids that wasn’t school. Fun time. I’m a firm believer in having a Quiet Time, but I used to let it linger on and on (at least for me) until I’d finally come out and start supper. This meant they’d eventually be playing together and I’d just keep doing “my thing,” be it Quiet Time or cooking, and we didn’t spend time together. I wasn’t reading anything fun to the kids and I missed that. I realized I just needed to buckle down and stop Quiet Time when the time was up. The hour after Quiet Time is now “Together Time.” The kids put their Legos away, we all have a snack together, and I’ll read. If we have time, we’ll do a craft, play a game, or make art. Most days, it’s just the snack and reading, but it’s leisurely and not rushed.

The hour after Together Time, is EHAP. This stands for Everything Has A Place, and I got it from Mystie Winckler, who is my current mama/homeschool/organizing inspiration. This is when we put the house back together. It’s also a time for vacuuming, as needed, watering the plants (a little every day), folding laundry, gathering the eggs, and general straightening up. The kids actually (usually) enjoy it and are excited about it. After it’s done, it’s time to finish up supper and then Papi’s home.

It feels so good to have these structures in our day. It enables me to make my priorities a reality. I feel our days are more about being a family together and less of me doing the homemaker things, and them just playing all day. Of course, they do play, and I do some of my own things too. But there is much more togetherness, and that is one thing I really want more of this year.

I share all this because maybe there is something important to you, that is not happening in your day to day. Take some time to think about what it is you want to happen, what that would look like in your day (when, how long,etc.), and then what you can do to make it happen. For most of us, we determine how our days go. Be intentional and make that priority a reality!

What is something you would add or have added to your days?

Books We Enjoyed in 2016

Recently Mia, our oldest, said at supper, “I don’t want to grow up.” I immediately asked why, this question both making me sad and glad at the same time. But, I had nothing to worry about because her reply was simply, “I want to read.” I chuckled.

I’m sure to young ones it may appear that adults don’t get to read. I rarely read while they are around because my reading time is while I’m alone, by design. But, I assured her that she would have time to read as an adult, if she really wanted it.

I love knowing what other people are reading or have read, and I’m pretty excited by some of the books I read this year, so I wanted to sharing with you all! These were my favorites this year.

Fiction

  Anne of Green Gables Series

I started this series while I was still pregnant, read some in the hospital, and finished the last few books in the wee hours of the night while nursing my babe. Such a lovely series!

  All the Light We Cannot See

This is a big book and I had to practically binge read it because the library needed it back for the many other people who had requested it! I was disappointed with the ending, but the writing is phenomenal.

  Middlemarch

I have to include this one even though I haven’t finished it yet because I read 700 of the 800 pages (!) in 2016. It was hard to get into, but then hard to forget about. The story line isn’t adventurous, but the characters lives are so intriguingly interwoven. I know there’s a lot of depth I’m not even grasping this time around. It will definitely be a re-read in in the future.

Non-Fiction

  The Opposite of Spoiled

I listened to this on audio. The author takes a practical approach to teaching kids about money.

  The Power of Habit

This was a fascinating read about how our minds work in regards to decisions and habits.

 Better than Before

The author takes you on her personal journey through improving her habits and explains what she discovers along the way. Very interesting and rich, but also easy reading.

 The Lifegiving Home

I used our digital library to listen on audio, then took notes from the ebook, but I want to own a hard copy eventually! I know this book will shape my mothering and homemaking for years to come.

 The Nourishing Homestead

This is another book on my to-buy list as it defined many of my dreams and philosophy about homesteading and has inspired Will and I further in the direction of homesteading.

 Design Mom

This book completely shifted the way I looked at setting up and decorating our home. It is full of practical advice, no matter what your style is – even if you don’t know your style!

Read Aloud

 The Black Star of Kingston

This the prequel to the amazing The Green Ember. Shorter, but fills in a lot of the blanks from its sequel.

 Aesop’s Fables

This is the version I bought for us to read in school. The kids really enjoyed the stories – and it came with a CD to listen to in the car as well!

 Benjamin Franklin

This is another one for school that the kids just loved! Full of Benjamin Franklin’s quips and progresses through his whole life.

 

What was a book you really enjoyed in 2016?

a Christmas letter to you

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Dear readers,

Although it’s a fading practice, I love sending out Christmas letters. This is my Christmas and thank you letter to all of you. I may not post all that often these days, but thank you for reading when I do. And, Merry Christmas!

As I think about the past year, there are many reasons I didn’t write much this year. Number one being I had a baby! What a wonderful reason to put aside, for a time, something I truly love. I really did miss writing and sharing, but I know baby cuddles only last so long.

Another reason for not writing was starting homeschooling. It’s been quite an adjustment making it truly a part of our days. I’ve learned a lot these past few months and I’m grateful for all the lessons. I also spent much of my time sewing and reading – two things that restore me so much.

Every time I started to wish I had more time to write, I would realize that it wasn’t that I didn’t have time, but that I chose to spend my time on other things. I’ve thought a lot about prioritizes this year. And about intention. About what it means to live faithfully and just how do we do that. I’ve given a lot of thought to what is it I’m called to be faithful to. Sometimes I’ll get big ideas, or feel I should be out saving the world in one way or another. Usually I am always brought back home: my husband, children, and house. These are the areas I am called to be faithful and diligent. To attend to these people and tasks deeply. It means I can’t do everything, but I can do a few things very well.

As a new year is right around the corner, planning thoughts are forming. I already have a planning day set! Last year, I didn’t do much because I had no idea what life would be like after having Ella. I had planned thoroughly through the due date, but not too much after that. 2017 feels like a clean slate and I get happy bubbles thinking about it. Still, you never can predict what life will bring. So I will try to plan and dream with open hands and an open heart.

My plans and hopes for 2017 aren’t big, really, but mostly building on the momentum that has been building up the past few months. I am now able to get up early and have a good chunk of time to myself, plus I have time during Quiet Time. Working on a project or reading a book bit by bit during these times really adds up. Now that I am (mostly) adjusted to a third child and school every day, I can put some energy into other things. That’s exciting!

I truly thank God for this phase of our lives. When I think back to just a couple years ago, when we were so broken after losing Elijah, I can see all the growth and blessings He has bestowed upon us since then. At that time, I leaned in close to Him because of my pain. Right now, I lean in close to Him with humbled thankfulness. I do not deserve all the good He has given me. Sometimes I feel guilty or even ashamed, but I know all I need to be is grateful and faithful. Grateful for the good and faithful either way.

As I said earlier, I am so very grateful for each of you who choose to read my words.

If you enjoy my posts, sign up to get them via email. That way you won’t miss anything, which is easy to do when they are as sporadic as mine are! Plus, I will be sending out a seasonal letter just to subscribers. (Note: I can’t send it even if you’re subscribed through WordPress because I need your email address.)

I hope you’ve had a blessed year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! And I hope we all can grow closer to Christ through Christmas and the year to come. What is a hope you have for 2017? I’d love to hear!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Love,

Hannah

P.S. How do you like the site’s new look? I’m so excited about it! I’ll be posting more about why I chose the title (again) and my thoughts on the subtitle.

my heart is complete – part 4

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part four in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here

The Rest of the Day

After Will, Ella and I were reunited, I fed Ella and Will and I caught up, him telling me what the doctor had told him and me telling him how I was feeling. Then Will went to get some lunch for himself, and shortly later my lunch came. I was able to sit up and eat and had a good appetite.

In the afternoon, a friend came to visit which helped pass the time. I also got out of bed for the first time, which went just fine.

The rest of the day, Will and I just did things to pass the time: read, talk, eat, and watch a movie. The doctor came by to talk and see how I was feeling. He said the hole was only 19 mm, instead of 22 mm, as they originally thought, and the right side of my heart had been pumping two and a half times the amount of blood it should have been. He said he was very confident about how the device fit in and we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

The night was a bit long and uncomfortable, as one would expect. Will slept in a recliner the straightened into a bed, and Ella in the pack ‘n play a bit further down. When she woke up, I had to wake Will up and he’d get her and hand her to me. After I fed her, I’d have to wake up Will again, and hand her back. It was a bit of an ordeal, but we all managed. Needless to say, no one got a great rest. (We made up for it once we were home!)

The Next Day and Full Recovery

Friday morning, a nurse came by and did an echo on my heart. Later I was taken to get X-rays. Once the doctor had seen them, he came in and showed them to me and said everything looked perfect. After that, it was just time to wait to be discharged. That took longer than we wanted, but finally it was time to go home!

This is the x-ray of my heart. Look closely for the computer arrow. Near it are two white spots that mark the ends of the device. You can faintly see the outline of the discs as well.
This is the x-ray of my heart. Look closely for the computer arrow. Near it are two white spots that mark the ends of the device. You can faintly see the outline of the discs as well.

Will and I got lunch before picking up the kids from my parents. Once home, I promptly took a nice nap!

I felt pretty good Saturday and Sunday, with Ella sleeping so well at night too. I didn’t exert myself, but I was doing things at a relaxed normal. Monday morning, I was all set to get back to the grind and got up at my usual time. However, I felt terrible by the end of breakfast and took a nap. (Thankfully Will had planned to work from home Monday and Tuesday.) This was concerning because I was told I should only feel better. Nothing was said about taking it easy, outside of no exercise. Later a nurse called to see how I was doing and after hearing all that reassured me that it was normal. It was more abnormal that I felt so well on the weekend. She advised me to take it easy the next couple days, and I did.

Wednesday morning I had a follow up appointment with the doctor, which included another echo on my heart. I was nervous about how I would feel because I had to get up early in order to get the appointment on time. Thankfully, I felt great! And, everything still looked wonderful and my heart sounded like a normal heart! The doctor assured me I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. As he walked me out, he reflected that he’s done this procedure on people of all ages, even pregnant women, but I was the first nursing mother! He contributed my set back to the fact that I was basically back on demand immediately after the procedure.

Since then, I have felt pretty much normal. With so much anticipation before it, it’s strange to think it’s all over. I’m very thankful though, not only that it was possible, but that it went so well.

Thank you all again for all your prayers! They were certainly felt!

my heart is complete – part 3

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part three in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

You can read part one here and part two here.

The Procedure

Here it was. I was walking down the hallways with the nurse toward the operating room. It was time for the procedure.

Even with the relief that came with talking to the anesthesiologist, all my nerves were on full guard. My hunger had kicked in too and I felt jittery from the low blood sugar. But the nurse was so nice and chatty that it helped a lot to talk with her. It wasn’t a long walk and shortly we entered the room.

It. was. huge. Talk about intimidating! I wish I’d had a good five minutes to look around. Cabinets lined two sides of the triangular shaped room. There was a huge bed with multiple instruments around it. I heard the end of a Mumford and Sons song playing and it was comforting to have something familiar in there, and I made a joke about it. It reminded me of the scene in City of Angels where they blare rock music during a surgery. I guess I felt comfort in knowing that the people taking care of me liked the same kind of music as me. Although, for that situation I probably would have preferred the Canon in D. (Which probably would have made me weep.)

I climbed up on the bed and lay down. The anesthesiologist came over with the mask that would put me to sleep. He explained that first I would have the “lighter” gas that would get me started. It wouldn’t put me out, but would make me feel “floaty.” The nurses had flavored the mask with some kind of fruit scented paste (something they probably do for the kiddos). I continued to chat a little with the nurse holding the mask until I remembered I had wanted to pray during that time. (You know, just in case those were my last thoughts ever.) So I started to saying the Jesus Prayer in my head as I began to feel as if I were rising in the air. I let the anesthesiologist know I was feeling that way now and he told me he was going to add some heavier gas and it was going to be “kind of stinky”. I noticed what he meant as he reassured me I was doing great. The edges of my vision started to go black. “You’re doing wonderful.” I heard him say. “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ” I grasped with my mind, anxious that the moment was coming. And I was out.

Waking Up

I woke to the sounds of the heart monitor beeping. Nurses were bustling around. I quickly remembered where I was and why. My next two thoughts were, “Was he able to do it?” and “Is Ella ok?” I heard a nurse talking about her new haircut and I wished I could open my eyes and see it.

Yet I couldn’t open my eyes or move, so I rested knowing it would just take some time. A few minutes later I opened my eyes a bit and asked the nurse what time it was. She replied, “10:30.”

“It has been five and a half hours since I nursed Ella. Ok, she’ll probably still be okay by now,” I thought. (Note: Ella had been going through a phase where she didn’t want to eat in the morning until she had been up a couple hours, so a long stretch was normal for her.)

Next I asked if the doctor had been able to put the device in. I was assured he had. “Thank you Lord!” I thought. Gradually I was able to take a few sips of water, and move just a bit. At first I felt a bit nauseous, but realized it just meant I needed to stay still a bit longer.

Before 11:00, I was wheeled to my room. I was to lay in bed four hours without moving my legs, in order to ensure the catheter sites stopped bleeding completely. Originally I had thought these would be cuts, but instead they were like large IV sites they poked in, two on my right leg.

I was eager to see Will and Ella and we had been told that a nurse would let them know when I was in my room. I kept waiting and finally asked my nurse about it and she said she’d check. Right at noon, they walked in. Apparently the nurse who was supposed to let him know had been busy or forgot. This was the only glitch of the day, and really a minor one. Ella had been fine; I think Will was more anxious to see me than she was. However, the doctor had talked to him after they finished the procedure so he had known that it went well.

In the next post I’ll share more about my recovery as well as some interesting information about my heart and an x-ray showing the device!

my heart is complete – part 2

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part two in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

At the Hospital

The hospital I went to is a famous children’s hospital. It felt weird being the patient. As I was getting checked in, the lady kept referring to me as “her” until she looked at my birth year and said, “Oh, you’re the patient.” Yep. That’s me. After checking in, we waited with others for a nurse to take us up to the floor we needed to be on. When we were, I was joined by an infant and a tween, along with their parents.

Up on the floor, Will and I were led to a room and I was given gowns and socks to change into. They were so flattering! (ha) A nurse reviewed all my information with me and did all those normal things. By now it was 6:15.

hospital gowns

 

At 6:45, the doctor came to talk to us. He wasn’t a surgeon, but a cardiologist who specializes in these procedures. He was very congenial and we liked him immediately. He made it clear that they were hoping to fill the hole. Because of the size, there was a chance it would be too big. My case was very probable, but he was just saying that so there would be no surprises. He showed us an example of the device, which was incredibly interesting. After talking with him, I was confident I would have good care.

closure deviceLater the anesthesiologist came. I wasn’t sure of him at first, but after talking for a while, I felt more comfortable. I had to like him after he relieved me of my two biggest concerns: yes, I could nurse Ella right after I woke up and, probably, I won’t be nauseous.

After feeling like things were dragging, all of the sudden a nurse came to walk me to the operation room. Up to this point, Will had been with me. As we walked to a T in the hallway, Will went left and I went right.

The procedure and recovery coming up next! 

my heart is complete – part 1

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

Outside of putting it on the calendar and pumping milk for the babe, I really didn’t think about it too much. When I did, it was a mixture of excitement (“Yay, I’m getting it fixed!”) and anxiety (“Will it all go well?” and a handful of “What if’s”).

In the days leading up to it, the anxiety part started to build up, as I knew it would. Thankfully I was distracted most of the time by mountains of tomatoes.

I’m going to tell you all about it in a series of posts. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

The Day and Morning Before

Wednesday afternoon came and there was no avoiding the uneasy feelings. I packed for myself and Ella, and the kids who would be staying with my parents. A kind friend brought dinner and that was one less thing I had to worry about. As we ate dinner, I could feel the dominoes being to fall.

Before every big event, I feel like all the planning and days leading up to it are dominoes being set up. Once the first event begins, it’s just a chain reaction from there. No more thinking, just going. Similar to getting on a roller coaster. Up, up, up you go to the top of the hill just before it plunges and the rest speeds by.

After dinner we went to church for a short service, left the big kids with my parents, and drove to my brother’s in Indianapolis. My sister-in-law made us delicious smoothies and it would be the last thing I ate for over 12 hours.

Though the bed felt luxurious, I hardly slept. I was so nervous. Thoughts such as these ran through my head: How would Ella do without me? How long would she have to be away from me? Would they let me nurse her right away? Will I get nauseous from the anesthesia? Will someone make a mistake?

Don’t get me wrong. I was incredibly grateful for this opportunity. However, it had so much unknown, I couldn’t help but be nervous.

Finally around 4:45 am I decided to get up. I said my morning prayers with pleading and hope. Finally, I was able to rest it all in God’s hands and let go of the anxiety that was gripping me. Will and I got in the car and drove, leaving Ella to sleep.