Day 10…

After leaving the NICU and heading back downstairs to the labor hall, I had a mix of elated and incredibly sad feelings.  I just got to see my daughter!!! But I still wasn’t able to hold her.  She had so much Red hair! But I was having to go down a floor and down an incredibly long hallway back to the room where I had hoped to deliver a baby and wait patiently for my blood pressure to go down so they could take me off the magnesium drip.

Oh and it was time to pump again.

But then, the best thing possible happened.

This needs a little backstory.

In September of 2015, I flew to Orlando with a friend to attend a Leadership conference.  We were gifted a few books upon return, one of which was Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love.  It had come out the week of the conference and as my friend Shannon and I took advantage of the lazy river, we saw attendee after attendee with the book.

Now, honestly, I’m kinda slow to jump on any “bandwagon” of an author or a book or a movement.  I chalk it up to my Enneagram 4-ness.  I knew Jen’s book had come out.  And I was excited that I was going to get it for free in a few months.  But I was probably the last of my friends to read it.  I heard Jen on lots of podcasts as she was promoting the book and heard a lot about her Supper Club group and thought it was cool.

So I ended up reading this around the time my Mom was sick and passed away.  And the idea of a Supper Club had MUCH greater meaning at that point. With loss and a new baby on the way, I knew that my community tank was low and I needed to intentionally work to make sure it didn’t stay that way.

I reached out to a handful of couple-friends and asked if we could start a supper club in the new year.  Many of them had read the book or I sent them an excerpt.  We came up with ground rules–host does everything, no kids (once our little nugget was old enough to just not sleep the entire time), and we’d do dinner out after we’d been through a rotation of homes.

January came and we had an amazing time.  Our group bonded incredibly well even though not everyone knew one another.  And then February came.  We were set to host.

On Saturday, February 13th.

Jen talks in her book about how their supper club had boxed up dinner and taken it to the hospital when one of their families had a parent in the hospital.  Our group did the exact same thing (except for bring the food–I was still NPO so no food for me).

This was the absolute BEST thing to come back to after having left June upstairs in the NICU.  I was sad and I saw Lew sending lots of texts and realized that they were coming to us.  We asked the nurses if having 6 visitors was okay (the limit is typically 2) and under the circumstances they went out of their way to accommodate us.  We got to share pics of our daughter and the jokesters in the group made sure I laughed (but not hard enough to bust my stitches).

We didn’t grab a pic that night–and we didn’t for another 5 months until we went to Lexington Restaurant Week 2016, which has become one of our favorite things to do as a group–I can’t wait for our 2018 pic in a few months!

That group saved me that night.  I could have been incredibly sad under the circumstances but they saved me–community has saved me these past few years.  It has looked different as our church community has changed, we’ve had job transitions in our home and then the reality of being a two-parent-work-outside-the-home household has been tough on community.  But it is worth it.  Absolutely worth it.

Whatever life is handing you–don’t go it alone. Reach out.  I promise, it’ll be worth it.

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Supper Club at Lexington Restaurant Week 2017

 

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It’s time to connect…

If I’m being honest, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had since becoming a mama is connecting.

If I’m being honest, there are times I look at pics of groups of girlfriends on annual trips and my heart pangs from a bit of…sadness/jealousy/curiosity/

If I’m being honest, having your kid on a schedule is amazing, but it makes it hard to do anything after 7pm.  Especially when you’re solo-parenting, either a few nights a week.  To those single-mamas and papas…you are my heroes.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to add another thing to my plate this year.  I keep hearing more and more–this morning even while curling my hair–about white-space.

If I’m being honest, sometimes it’s hard to be the person who feels like she’s complaining about the lack of community when in all honesty, I’m incredibly blessed with amazing friends, colleagues and family.

So all this honesty begs the question–why do I still desire connection? Face-to-face? Conversation?  Well, I think that’s part of creation.  The Garden of Eden. We were not made to do life alone.  And while my 30’s have been AMAZING, you guessed it.  If I’m being honest, they’ve been kinda lonely.

I’m saying so what, who cares and jumping in.  Starting this evening, I’m gonna gather online while I sit in my favorite jammies and connect with other mamas who work outside the home. There are some specific challenges that I know my other workin’ mama friends can understand.  And while this group was intended to be for folks in my area–Central KY–I’m gonna open it up tonight and see what happens. So if you’re interested, join up here and you’ll get info about tonight’s gathering. (And don’t worry about the date and time–if you’re interested, hop on and we’ll figure out the best common meeting time for all those who want to commit for 6 weeks as we read Women are Scary!)

workin' mamas

My Lane

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I was nervous.

“It’s just driving into work like any other Friday.”

“You’ve driven with her in the car hundreds of times.”

“It’s just a little fog.”

But the combination of the three coupled with the fact that I was a month out from having been in two car accidents in two years which totaled both vehicles was making me shake in my boots.

Sure, I’d done all those things before but this was different.  Fog the heaviest I’d seen or driven in maybe ever, having my 21 month old with me, driving the car I’d finally become familiar with after mine had been totaled one month prior and having no option as she was starting speech therapy that morning. Not the ideal way to start of your Friday.

We bundled up, turned on some good tunes and said a prayer.  As I started toward Lexington the fog was bad getting out of our little town and driving through horse country it worsened. The pit in my stomach deepened as I drove about 50 mph and saw all the taillights in front of me disappear as fast as they came around me into the grey, thick nothing of this dense fog.

This has been my life. Moving along, cautious, nervous, surrounded by a dense, thick fog of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The unknown of what is ahead is impacted even more when the taillights ahead of me speed up and then disappear as fast as they appeared.

But just as I successfully drove to TN a week after my accident in November, I made it into Lexington unscathed–minus the clenched fists and sweat. And I was reminded every so sweetly that those taillights in front of me were my beacon.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard in this past season about the importance of staying in your lane. Doing the thing that makes you come alive. Not looking to the left or the right at what everyone else is doing, but keeping your eyes fixed strongly ahead at your destination.  And your destination–while you might know it theoretically–may be the 10 feet ahead that you can see at that moment.

You see, I knew I was headed to work and my Waze app was up and running to give me an ETA and traffic updates. I could probably drive there with one eye closed doing it 5 days a week for the past (almost) 5 years. And while  this destination was so familiar, there were distractions on this day that kept my eye on the immediate road ahead. And my saving grace? Those taillights.

Just as I knew where I was going, I needed the reassurance of that other person that was headed in the same general direction but was just a few steps ahead.  There were a few moments when we stayed together for a few miles (ahhh–so nice!) and other moments when they would speed past me driving faster than what I was comfortable driving. Regardless, they were a reassuring light to my anxious heart that morning.  I wasn’t upset with them that they were moving faster–I was just grateful they were there. And  other times, I came upon someone who was ahead of me but at a different point in their journey and I would be the one to pass them moving a tad bit faster.

I’ve been stewing on this situation for the past few weeks especially as we’ve moved into the holiday season where the hustle and bustle seems inevitable. My futuristic heart moves a few beats ahead and I’m already thinking about the new year and the clean slate that so many of us will start to ponder in the coming weeks. And I just keep going back to what I learned on Paris Pike that morning.

Stay in your lane.

Let those in front of you guide you.

Be a guide for those who may be coming up behind.

I took that message to heart when I thought about how to approach my first holiday season with a little one who is more aware of what’s going on and a looooooong mental list of experiences that we wanted to engage in. Santa. Lights. The Nutcracker. Christmas with friends. Cantatas. The list becomes very long, very quickly.  My goal was to be done with the shopping and decorating by December 1st so we could enjoy all the fun gatherings and events that December brings.  Stay in your lane, Faith. Don’t worry about the events you can’t attend, the limited decorations up in your house this year or the fact that illness meant your photos and cards are going out later than you wished. Keep it simple and stay in your lane. 

I took that message to heart when I decided to scale back my holiday push in my Beautycounter business and focus on self-care.  Some might say I’m crazy, but I’m way more interested in women making daily decisions to care for their mind, heart and soul in this season than I am them purchasing a lip gloss from Beautycounter. Don’t worry about sales or numbers and stay in your lane, Faith.

I took that message to heart when I kept feeling the tug to start a group for Working Mamas next year through church. I’ve been very protective of my time and investments the past few years, but I’m deeply missing being consistently connected to women who are in a similar stage of life and I’m grateful for technology now that allows us to connect in more intentional ways without leaving our homes.  Be obedient and stay in your lane, Faith.

I’m encouraged by seeing others stay in their lane. Saying no to a big prestigious acceptance to a doctoral program when they know it’s not what they’re supposed to do. Saying thanks but no thanks to finishing the Ph.D. after being so close but knowing that it’s going to cause more strain on them and their family. Not taking the promotion that would mean a cross-country move. Or taking the promotion and knowing that it’s going to be hard on extended family but you know it’s right. Saying no to the job opportunity that on paper looks ideal, but would cause more stress with lessened benefits and child-care challenges.

So whatever the next few weeks bring you with holiday celebrations, changing out the 2017 calendar for a new, fresh year, know you’re not alone if you feel like you’re in a thick dense fog. Deep breaths. Look for the taillights. And know that even in the darkness, you are being a light for someone else coming up behind you. And you may never even know it.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

 

Distracted Living

Multi-tasking. Full Plates.

“How are you?” she asks.  “Good. Busy, but good.” I reply.

We live in a world with small computers in our back pockets constantly tugging at our souls even if we’ve turned notifications off.

Last week I posted about participating in #OneDayHH–a day of snapshotting the mundane moments of our lives. A week early. Yup–I thought it was every year on November 2nd.  Nope–it’s a Thursday in November at Laura’s discretion. I love documenting the mundane moments but even in that, I’m still tied to my phone.

So after realizing that it was actually yesterday, November 9th, I thought I’d do it again, this time via Instastories and see what came of if.  I kept posting on the 2nd since I had already started, but yesterday was fun posting on stories which to me is more engaging.

And both days my mind kept going back to my phone in the middle of things. The early morning meeting (oh, I should snag a pic), my walk-ins with students (In which I did have one of my students from my class so we did snag a fun pic), my project meeting with co-workers (I walked back down the office corridor to find them for a pic after the meeting was over). I was constantly thinking about seeing my life through the lens of my phone rather than always being in the moment.  Now, clearly, there were lots of missed photos because I was in the moment.  But it was still nagging at me.  Just like that little device tends to do.  In staff meetings. In line at the grocery.  At a stop light.

I’m right there in the thick of it friends. The beau said to me just last night before going to bed as I snagged my phone for one last look, “you and that thing have been inseparable lately.”

Last week when I was on my own unofficial #OneDayHH driving home a little later than normal, I was distracted.  Not necessarily on my phone, but thinking about my day, how things hadn’t turned out as I’d hoped, that I’d “messed up” the #OneDayHH day, what I was going to cook for dinner, what photo I was going to post next, the podcast I was listening to, the pretty fall trees, the busy registration season at work, the email I had hoped to respond to but didn’t, the big project I’ve been working on all term that I’ll soon pitch to my office. Oh yeah, and driving. We all do this, right? I know I’m not alone.

What doesn’t always happen is that when you’re mind is buzzing with all those things and then you’re 1/2 mile from home and someone cuts in front of you and you have your second car accident in just as many years–you think, “what just happened?” Distracted Living.

I was fine. The other driver was fine. My car however is not. And my mental and emotional state is still a little frayed. You see, I struggle with anxiety and have particularly since our last car accident. I’m a very nervous passenger and have used my phone to avoid on car trips. I close my eyes, flinch and thank God my patient husband has learned not to freak out when I have these moments.  And Tuesday, driving to work in the rain after this accident, I noticed I was a very anxious and nervous driver.

So I thought about postponing my girls road trip this weekend to see my friend.  But I also decided I wasn’t going to give in to fear and anxiety and let them win.

So what does this have to do with social media? I want to live life without thinking about my phone. I want to be present. Get back to practicing silence and sabbath. I want to engage with people–connect–rather than just be a silent bystander to people’s lives.

So I’m going to be more silent on Facebook and Instagram (although I am loving the Instastories platform for quick little quips here and there) and more engaged.  Using Voxer and Marco Polo has really transformed my business and personal friendships over the past few weeks and months. I’ve been more apt to say–let’s chat via Google Hangout or Zoom so I can see your face. And let’s not forget about good old fashioned text messaging.

I’ve got a lot mulling around in regards to self-care and this certainly ties into that.  I’d love to hear your thoughts–comment, text or email me. Heck–let’s meet up for coffee to chat if you’re local to me. And if you use any of these apps-let me know!

Here’s some of the snippets of my #OneDayHH from yesterday and you can check out my Instagram for the ones from last week.

 

 

 

This time of year

This time of year, the days get shorter, there are fewer sunrises and sunsets that I see and I often walk into work when it’s still pitch black.

I was having a conversation with a co-worker last week. We both have lovely memories of fall–she having a birthday, me celebrating an anniversary. But life has dealt us each hands that are not so favorable in our favorite month of October.

Not only does this time of year spark so many fun memories–pumpkin patches, hayrides, fall festivals, costumes, pumpkin spice everything, apple crisp–it also holds some very bittersweet memories. Memories that aren’t always documented with a photo.

This time of year, I recall the Saturday morning we spent waiting on breakfast at Josie’s and saw one of the sweetest transactions that renewed my faith in the human spirit.

This time of year, I recall the joy in sharing we were expecting a baby in October 2015.

This time of year, I recall the phone calls to and from the nursing home where my Mom lived her last days on this earth before being admitted to the hospital.

This time of year, I think of my best friend who works for The Breeder’s Cup.  I recall her bringing a gorgeous white poinsettia to the hospital after the races that was decorated for fall to cheer my Mom up.

This time of year, the tears come at unexpected moments. Right before bedtime on a Saturday night. Watching a particular movie. Making the apple crisp.

This time of year is not easy. Most of these moments aren’t things we really want to remember, however, they are forever marked in our minds. In our hearts.

But I’m reminded that my Mom is whole. She is no longer suffering. You can’t really capture that.

If you’ve been around me at all, you know that I’m passionate about authenticity, self-care and not just publishing the highlight reel, but the everyday, mundane reel. That’s why I’m going to be honoring a mundane Thursday with #OneDayHH tomorrow.  Laura Tremaine started this a few years ago.  I love seeing the timestamped documented day from dawn to dusk. To be honest–I don’t know if all the usual suspects I follow will be participating. But what I know is that 2 years ago, I participated for the first time.  2 years ago, I looked at the mundane of a Tuesday as I navigated the busiest time of my professional year alongside my mom being in the hospital and what I didn’t know was entering the last 11 days of her life on this side of eternity.

I took a photo that is beautiful yet still haunts me. I didn’t realize it would be one of the last photos I took of my Mom. But I’m forever grateful that I took it. And even shared it. And just like two years ago, I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will hold. I know what’s on my calendar. I know I’ve got some friends with exciting things happening. I know I’ll go to work. Lots of mundane. Will you slow down…take some pics of the boring stuff…and realize that every moment of life is sacred if we take the time to see it as such?

Join me won’t you?

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Who wants to be boring?

I was listening to a podcast recently (sorry, can’t recall which one–ope–actually I think it was Annie Downs again.  That girl has got my number apparently!) and it was talking about being in the middle.  The podcaster was interviewing an author and said something to the effect of “Ya know, it’s great to hear from people writing books who haven’t gotten it all figured out–folks still in the middle.” I nodded emphatically as I drove home all the fellow commuters oblivious to the moment I was having in the car. As I’ve reflected-we’re all in the middle.  None of us have arrived.

Career woes? Most everyone I know is still working with no plans to retire soon.

Parenting concerns? Parenting doesn’t stop when the kids are 18 or out of the house.

Marriage trouble? Working Mama Woes? Loneliness? Finances? Health?

We are all a work in progress friends.  So why is it so hard for some of us to constantly feel like a failure and that we just haven’t arrived?

My concern with picking back up the blog is that folks wouldn’t really care to hear what I have to say. I’m definitely still in the middle–in the thick even–of so much I haven’t gotten figured out. When I am reading books or blogs or hearing someone speak, I like to hear things tied up in a nice pretty bow. Pretty bows? Friends, I don’t even think I have a spool of ribbon in this house.

But ya know what? As someone who greatly values authenticity, hearing from folks who are presenting as if they’ve got it figured out makes me wonder what part of the story we’re not hearing,. Not that I’m skeptical of what they are sharing–but it goes back to seeing the highlight reel on social media.  We are only seeing the good days.  The days when things ARE going off without a hitch. The perfectly filtered instagram. We aren’t privy to so much of the pain. The normal. The boring.

Years ago I was at a family gathering when talking with my uncle about how life is going. I said at that time–“things are good. Nothing too exciting. Pretty boring actually.”

His pensive, slow, thoughtful response still rings in my ears. “Boring is good.” Maybe it’s because my uncle’s jovial, loud, bigger than life personality had quieted down some in the middle of that conversation and I saw part of him that wasn’t always seen. The transparent middle.

We’re in a time where no one wants to be boring. We are all looking for the thing that will set us apart. Get other’s attention. That’s what society is telling us.  Want the promotion? You’ve gotta stand out. Want to have others listen to what you’re trying to advocate for/sell/etc. in your side hustle? You’ve gotta cut through the noise. Want to be noticed? Figure out the most compelling Snap or InstaStory.

Who wants to join me in being ordinary? Of starting to post the pics that are just the everyday messes.  Unfiltered, unedited, normalcy. I’m tired of all the gorgeously coiffed photos and FOMO because of what “looks” great.  Just remember, not only do those folks in the photos have bad days, they may have just experienced deep pain, or an argument or loss.  Or they may be floundering throughout life without purpose. It’s easy for me to have FOMO when I see girlfriends getting together and having fun and what you don’t see is all the sacrifice it took to get together and that this might be the ONE night in 60 they have pealed their child off of them to have a somewhat pulled together girl’s night.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. ~Romans 12:1-2. MSG

The thing is-this boring life is what God is calling us to in Romans 12. It even calls us to take our ordinary life and place it before God as an offering. Take where we are in the middle–continue striving toward our goals but just rest. Take an exhale.

I’ve recently learned about JOMO (on another podcast-go figure) and when doing a little googling–there are LOTS of articles and books since 2013 about JOMO.  Oh my..the JOY of missing out.  Reminding yourself of what you are gaining when you’re being boring. Ordinary. Spending time with family vs. being out with a bunch of friends out on the town one Friday night.

Here’s to the ordinary’s.  Leaning into JOMO. Practicing solitude. Putting down the phone. Being boring. In the middle.

And here are some boring photos for ya!

 

You are good

There’s a time in which you can look back at your life and feel you can finally take a deep breath. Life is somewhat relaxed and at peace and you have grown in wisdom that you can’t even really put your finger on.

As I’ve thought about the last two years of my life, there has been extreme pain and sadness right in the midst of some of the most indescribable joy I’ve ever experienced. And I’m just now finally processing and absorbing some of that. Go figure, I’ve just recently re-read Bittersweet so my fingers are finding their way back to the keyboard.

With that, I’m going to do what people today just aren’t known for doing.  I’m going to start blogging more consistently. That’s right. Just like my friends Annie and Sophie said last week, “who blogs anymore?” Ha–it’s true. I don’t even read blogs like I used to. I listen to podcasts and scroll Instagram and that has replaced reading blogs. There are a few people and voices that make it to my inbox weekly, but with the passing of Google Reader went the passing of my eyes to most of the blogs I used to frequent.

So here I am intending on blogging regularly. Even if no one reads it. And that’s kinda the point. There are things that have come to the surface over the past few weeks and I can’t deny it any longer.  I’m being pulled to share my story. If for nothing else, as part of my own healing journey.

Most of you who might venture to actually read these words know most of my journey. If you happen to be new around these parts, welcome.  This may or may not make sense, but I know this is the next step to allow for continued healing and growth. And my prayer above all else is that this would point you to the one who can make all things new–Jesus.

And with that….

It’s coming up on two years ago that I was newly pregnant  and leading worship fairly consistently at our church’s downtown campus. I’d been leading worship for years at another campus and been singing most of my life, but I was having some growing pains in this new community.  It was the normal stuff–nothing major, just adjusting.  Adjusting to the worship leader. The campus pastor. Being in a traditional church venue. Becoming more pliable if you will.

So when I was asked to lead this new song, “King of My Heart”, there were lots of feelings.

Side note–I re-took my MBTI this past year for work for those of you who are familiar with that. I was literally as strong a “feeler” as one could be.  Carry on…

I was just out of the first trimester and just honestly didn’t know how I could physically sing such a song that demanded so much of me vocally. Beyond that, this was right in the midst of when my mom had been hospitalized. More feelings. Little did I know she would never leave that hospital alive. Little did I know still two years later that song would be my anthem.

I remember tentatively accepting the request to lead and listening to the words over and over and over. I pulled out a blank journal gifted to me by a friend and wrote and wrote and wrote the lyrics out. As a visual learner, I needed to not just read the words but see them, feel the ink pour them out to truly absorb them. Tears fell to the pages as I let the words penetrate my sad, confused and scared heart. Being a caregiver for an ailing parent is always tough for anyone. Being the sole person making decisions, being far away from family and being pregnant? Oh, and did I mention a feeler? Yeeaaaah. Lots of emotions happening.

When the night is holding on to me, God is holding on.

Still to this day, I cannot sing that line without completely tearing up and being overcome with emotion.

Little did I know that I was about to walk into one of the most challenging seasons of my life. My mom’s death, the car accident that lead to our daughter being born 9 weeks prematurely and her 58 day NICU stay. were ahead of me.  I won’t lie-it wasn’t easy. I certainly felt as if the night was hold on and was not about to let go.

But God’s hold on me was stronger.

2016 Review

So 2016 seems to have been a tough year for a lot of people.  Whether you had personal heartache, were saddened by the events happening in our country and world or were dismayed and brokenhearted at the election results, I think most of us can say that we are ready for the calendar page to turn.

I’ve tried to re-frame our own year which certainly had it’s hard parts, but also to celebrate all the good that occurred.  And as in last year’s 2015 review, you’ll get to see some of the visual representation of all our goodness from 2016. Thank you Instagram and Google Photos.  And full disclosure (this may go without saying) but a certain someone stole the show in 2016.  So glad you joined our family JPC.

January 2016

One of my favorite pics ever.  From our Babymoon at Butterfly Gap Retreat. So sad to hear they’ve sold the property due to family illness, but hoping that another owner will reopen. This place holds a lot of special memories.  Good thing we settled on a name for Bebe during our time here.  If we’d only known what would transpire two weeks later.

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February 2016

June Parker Cracraft came catapulting into our world on an early Saturday morning, February 13th at 1:57am.  Stay tuned for more of her birth story as we approach her first birthday.  (Seriously…birthday?!?!?!?!) 2 lbs 2 oz and 14. 3 inches of pure sweet and spiciness! Our lives haven’t been the same since! This is one of my favorite pics–3 days old here.

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March 2016

This was one of the biggest milestones for me as a mother.  On her 47th day of life, I got to nurse my sweet JP.  Breastfeeding was something I really wanted to continue for as long as I could, so when our journey didn’t take near the path we had planned, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to nurse June.  And I’m proud to say we’re still going strong 10 months later! We also celebrated Easter together as a family.

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April 2016

April 11th.  Taking our girl home from the NICU.  Zoom in and you can see the look of excitement and fear on the beau’s face. He was terrified of the drive home. Oxygen tank, monitor, and two folks who were oh so excited but oh so scared.  What a mix of emotions.  I’ll never forget that day.

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May 2016

My 35th birthday.  Our first date out after June came home.  Thankful for amazing in-laws who have stepped up in so many ways that I can’t begin counting.  And thankful for an amazing dinner at Distilled that night.  Sweet Sweet Snuggles after we arrived home that night.  Also very thrilled to celebrate my first Mother’s Day although it was somewhat bittersweet.  2016-05-11-22-19-30-1

June 2016

These two. What a bond they have. I cannot imagine this year without this guy by my side. We celebrated his first Father’s Day and also what an incredible support he has been. He worked 4 nights a week while June was in the NICU (because we had decided that him picking up extra shifts was a good idea before the baby came).  I also went back to work 4 days a week in late May and we celebrate and remembered my Mom on her birthday.  Quite an emotional month–he really earned his keep in June. We had our first house guest as my Aunt Ruthie came to visit for a few days and some good friends stopped in from out of town!  Also JP was able to come off oxygen this month! Yay for no more tubes!

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July 2016

July brought our first big road trip as we went to Virginia to see my family.  I will always treasure this sweet picture of my Grandma and June.

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August 2016

June spent a lot of time with Gigi and Pops this summer once I went back to work.  This was her first trip to the Disney Store and can we say someone has her Pops wrapped around her little finger?

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September 2016

Big milestones for June this month–sitting forward in her stroller and sitting up (assisted). We spent a LOT of days getting out of the house when June first arrived home taking walks around our small town and enjoying time with the girls at the coffee shop. The summer was a bit hot, so we got out on the town quite a bit in the fall.  June really enjoyed the ArtWalk, although she was asleep for most of it.  She also started physical therapy this month, but like the rock star she is, only needed two sessions! We do lots of work at home with her and she’s continuing to make big strides! I also got to celebrate my favorite season with my favorite redhead!

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October 2016

We took our first little vacation as a family of three. The beau and JP were able to tag along to a work conference in Atlanta, but first, we hit up June’s first Cincinnati Reds game. Although they lost, they lost to the Chicago Cubs so June got to see the World Series winners! How exciting! We also got to meet Aunt Tammy on the way to Atlanta and try out the pool at our hotel. October also brought starting solid foods, drinking from a sippy cup and enjoying Halloween.

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November 2016

Turkey Turkey Turkey!!! Our little Turkey LOVED Thanksgiving at her Aunt Walene and Uncle Donnie‘s! It was her first big family gathering and she was quite the center of attention.  She enjoyed turkey, sweet potatoes and peas herself! I also went with Mama to vote in this historic election.

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December 2016

Holidays.  How magical through the eyes of a child, right?  June got to meet Santa, enjoyed lots of love from friends and family, tag along on Mama and Daddy’s Christmas date and we had a lot of quality time together–the BEST gift.  June is sitting up on her own, army crawling and into EVERYTHING.  We were grateful to get an overnight in Cincinnati to reflect on our year and set some goals for the upcoming one.

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Truly as the year has come to a close, we are just so grateful for all the wonderful things brought our way through June Parker.  We have a lovely, healthy girl, sweet puppy, wonderful partnership in our marriage, two great jobs and a house over our head.

7 months

The last seven months have honestly been a blur. I’m sharing this as apart of my own healing, journey and testimony so please don’t think this as a pity post. This is a celebration of what we have overcome with God by our side. 

The Beau and I were walking down the hall to the NICU to see our daughter the other day recollecting all the has happened since late July and it was like each event was a sucker punch to our life that still leaves us reeling at times. But as we’ve stood and caught our breath, we also realize just how fortunate we are to still be standing. Even if we’re walking down this hallway.

   
We decided last spring that it was time to grow our family. A steady nursing job for the Beau had been secured, we were making progress on house renovations so we decided to keep moving forward on those hoping that we would be well finished before a little one would come along.

On a steamy Friday in late July we got the call that Lew’s Granny had a massive stroke with a bleed on her brain. She passed away about 24 hours later.

In August, Lew took me on his dream cross-country road trip. We drove to Seattle and back in 10 days. We got home on August 12th and I took a positive pregnancy test. We could not have been more thrilled.

  
September brought the start of school and the first trimester. I was so fortunate to not be sick, just a lot of weird stomach cramps, food aversions and exhaustion.  But we could not have been happier. We told our parents on Labor Day weekend (fitting right?). Taking his parents to eat at the Smokey Valley Truck Stop before it closed and visiting with my Mom in the nursing home that Sunday afternoon over ice cream. They could not have been more ecstatic!

We shared our news publicly on our 6th wedding anniversary–October 2nd– and were flooded with well wishes from family and friends. It was real. I had made it through the first trimester and had no concerns or complications. We continued to work on the house, start dreaming about our little babe whose gender would be a surprise and move toward the holidays.

  
Late October my Mom went to the ER with some complications in her legs from swelling.  I stayed the night with her as she was admitted and slept in a somewhat comfy chair in what I think are the smallest hospital rooms in the city.  For the next three weeks, we spent nearly every day and several nights by her bedside seeing her health decline, her legs and toes worsen and conversations about amputation of her toes, feet and possibly legs.

  

Three weeks later, on November 13th, the beau and I were headed back in to try and get her moved to UK hospital because we felt there was more going on that we were able to really see. We stopped for a quick breakfast knowing it would likely be a long day and I got the call that her white blood cell count had risen overnight and she was being moved to the Critical Care Unit. We rushed to the hospital and spoke with several doctors, chaplains and a resident from UK that the beau has worked with before. Her body was shutting down. We were able to have clarity on her wishes and I thank God for that daily. She did not want surgery. She did not want to be revived. She did not want to be vented and have a machine breathe for her. Around 4:30 that afternoon, she received complete healing as she went to her eternal home. While we were so sad, there was also a sense of relief that her pain and suffering had ended. The next few weeks were a blur as we traveled to Virginia, made funeral arrangements, coordinated her transport from KY to VA, went through the motions of Thanksgiving and eventually headed back to work. It is still hard some days for me to believe she is gone.

  
During this time, I had some increased blood pressures at my OB visits.  I went on medication and we monitored it, but knowing the stress I had been under, it wasn’t much of a surprise.

As I processed grieving, Christmas approached.  My family in Virginia had planned a shower for us so we headed to the Beau’s parents Christmas Day and were planning on leaving early on the 26th for Virginia, Baby Shower on the 27th and then back to the grind the following week. Our Gracie pup was going to make the trip with us.

10 minutes away from their house, we were hit head on as we went through an intersection.

 

I was 24 weeks pregnant at the time. All I remember was screaming “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” After an ER visit, lots of time laying on the couch, a vet visit for Gracie, lots of bruising from the seat belt, a visit to UK’s OB Triage, a 4 hour heart rate monitor on the Bebe, some panicked moments, and an additional ultrasound, we were SO fortunate to find out that the babe was fine.  And certainly a fighter.

  
The new year came with lots of insurance paperwork and phone calls, car shopping for a new ride, and navigating back to work.

Before we knew it, we were in the third trimester came and we realized that with all that happened with Mom and the car accident, all our renovations had been put on hold and we had 12 weeks before Bebe would arrive! We got to work and in the midst of all this I was prompted to host a small IF: Gathering in my home the first weekend in February.  At first, I had signed up to host this back in October but only 2 gals had registered so I contemplated cancelling.  However, the day I was going to do so, another 3 gals registered. So we went forward with the plan to host in our imperfect home and 10 of us crowded around our TV to hear amazing truths.  Presence over perfection. My takeaway –who will my domino fall into to impact for the Kingdom?–was threefold.  My word for the year is SAVOR and this ties directly in–I need to STOP doing things.  I need to focus on JESUS and his word and truth, not a million other (all the while GOOD) voices out there clamoring for my attention.  And I need to focus on my little FAMILY and discipling them well–investing in my marriage and our little babe.

  

On February 1st, my OB appointment landed me a really high BP reading so my OB sent me to UK triage to be checked out. After 2 hours, my BP was in the normal range, all my levels came back clear as a whistle. We did some additional testing over the next 24 hours and had a follow up on February 11th with my OB.

On the 11th my pressure was up again and my OB sent me back to triage and wanted a 24 hour overnight observation of me to figure out what was going on.  As I left her office, I asked, “So what happens if my Blood Pressure doesn’t decrease?”

“Well, you’ll be having a baby sooner than you thought.”

I walked back in to the room where Lew was and immediately burst into tears. We had 9 more weeks before her due date. Our nursery was nowhere near complete. I hadn’t had my baby shower. There was still so much to do.

At 1:39 am on Saturday, February 13th, our little June Parker Cracraft was brought into this world by an urgent C-section delivery.  I’ll share more about her entrance into this world here in the days/weeks/months to come when I’m ready to process and share more publicly.

She was 2.2 lbs and 14.3 inches long. She was immediately rushed to the NICU at UK where she’s been hanging out and growing for the past 10 days. She is amazing. Our brave little fighter.  

And her name. We were able to get away for a little baby moon 2 weeks before she arrived and the main agenda was to come up with a name. We had a boy pool and a girl pool and wanted to see how the little nugget turned out (gender and personality wise) before attaching a name to it. June Parker was at the top of our girl list.  After her birth and knowing all she had come through the 7 months in utero–and all that we had come through in that time as well–June Parker was the perfect name.  June after my Mom who was born in June and Parker after the Beau’s best friend Michael Parker who was paralyzed in a kayaking accident in 2007. Two of the strongest people we know. And she’s certainly living up to her namesakes. And my takeaway from the IF: Gathering is coming to fruition a lot sooner than we had anticipated. I get to pray and sing and love on my daughter the way our heavenly father does with us. And it is amazing. Heartwrentching. All-consuming.  Just the way our Father must feel about us.

   

 

Day 6-Let there be light!

We are starting month 5 of this renovation and today marked a huge milestone. My in-laws came in and the beau and his dad worked so hard on getting electric running in the guest room and soon-to-be nursery.

So here’s a bit of the scary before guest room/office/lounge area


Crazy half torn off wall paper, awful floors (they had painted around a rug that was placed in the center of the room) and cracks in the ceiling from roof damage (all repaired now).

So when I got this text from the beau declaring “let there be light” it was a momentous occasion!


Drywall went up this summer, late summer the floor got sanded and finished and today-light.

It’s been a long time coming but isn’t that just life? Sometimes the dark and not so pretty places of life stay dark for much longer than we’d like. We work, toil and make progress but sometimes it takes a while for the light to appear. We have to be submissive to the elements in the dark. Things are sometimes out of our control.

The light is oh so worth it though. Even if what it illuminates isn’t perfect, there can’t be progress–change–in the dark.

Check out my other #Write31Days challenge entries here.