Adelyn's story

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I'm Kristen Photography

Tomorrow Adelyn will be 2 weeks old. Hard to believe! These 2 weeks have been so wonderful and have brought our family so much joy. What a gift this little one is.

Before Adelyn came, I found myself praying very often about many things pertaining to her arrival. I was very anxious over the labor and delivery and spent most mornings praying about all the details and laying out my requests and desires to the Lord. So, I just wanted to recap the story of her arrival and give glory to God for how good He is and how he answered so many of my requests.

I think I have mentioned before that when I was around 30 weeks pregnant I needed to leave my previous doctor because of some unfortunate circumstances in his life, which forced him to take a leave of absence. I had been with him for a number of years and he delivered both Selah and Alivia. So, it was hard going from a doctor I love, completed trusted and knew would be there for my delivery, to a practice of doctors that I did not know, nor knew who would deliver my baby. But God had everything worked out and I knew I needed to trust Him.

Before long, I began praying about a number of things:

* Of all the doctors who could potentially deliver our baby, there were 2 who became my preference. I began praying that one of these 2 would be on call if I went in labor at night or available during the day.
* We also have a family friend, Peggy Hopkins, who is a labor and delivery nurse at Shady Grove hospital. I prayed that she would be working when I went into labor and could be there with us when I delivered.
* After giving birth 3x naturally, I knew the pain that was ahead. While not being opposed to getting some meds, going natural is most familiar to me and I can often be very affected by medication. So, I wanted to try to get through it again, but more than any other time before, was dreading the pain. So, I prayed that my labor would be short and that I would not even need to think about whether I needed something for the pain. I also prayed that God would minimize the pain.
* I also prayed that the pushing stage would be very short and she would pop out very quickly.
* I have always torn in the past and this makes recovery more challenging. I expected to tear again, but prayed that I would not.
* I prayed that my recovery would be fairly quick, especially with the holidays so close, and that I would be able to get around fairly easily and see family by the time Christmas arrived.

Long list of requests, huh? Well, here is Adelyn's story and testimony to God's faithfulness...

I had a doctor's appointment on December 18. I asked my doctor if he could strip my membranes, which had worked with Selah to put me into labor within the next day. At that appointment I was between 3-4 cm dilated. So, I was hoping labor would come soon. I did pray that labor would hold off long enough for me to deliver the next day, as I did not really know the doctor on call that night. The doctor I had been seeing was off the next day, but the other doctor that I really liked was working and I requested that she be the one to deliver if I went into labor.

Obviously I did not sleep well that night, tossing and turning through many contractions and watching the clock. I got up around 5:30 as I could not sleep any more. I made some tea and sat down for some devos at the kitchen table. I had a few contractions, which came sporatically. I prayed, read some and then emailed my sister that I thought this little baby girl would never come. Since my appointment the previous day I had no signs of labor. She responded back that she didn't have child care worked out for all the kids, even if I did go into labor that day and that there was a huge snow storm coming....great! I sat back down to pray some more through the requests on my heart...appealing that labor would come. I got a few more contractions, but noticed that this time they were getting somewhat regular. I got up to make breakfast and they kept coming. At this point, I knew this was probably it. I rushed through making a pot of oatmeal, getting juice and vitamins laid out for the girls. I got Mckenna up and dressed for school. At this point I emailed my sister that contractions were coming regular. She started scrambling to find sitters for the rest of her kids. I went upstairs and told Dave I didn't think he would be going to work today! We got Mckenna off to school and I texted Kristen S. that contractions were coming regular and we would keep her posted. At this point I went up to take a shower and the contractions tapered off a bit. I got ready and went downstairs, feeling a bit discouraged. Then, all of a sudden I got about 3 very strong ones in a bout 5 minutes. I told Dave we needed to leave soon. I texted Kristen to come over fast and called the doctor's office, who told me to come in to get checked. Kristen arrived and also offered to watch any of my sister's kids as well (she is AH-mazing!). She ended up with my girls, Ty, Larsen, and Wyatt...a handful!

We left for the doctor's office around 9:15am. When I got there, again the contractions had tapered off a bit. The nurse hooked me up to a machined to monitor the contractions. She left and Dave was there with me. All of a sudden the contractions again started coming hard and fast. I told Dave to get the nurse, who came in and then when to get the Dr. Tran. She checked me and I was almost 7cm. Before I knew it, they had a wheelchair and were racing me over to labor and delivery...contractions coming hard. I saw my mom and sister in the waiting room, grateful they both made it in time. They got me back to the room and the first face I saw was Peggy Hopkins, our friend. It was a very welcome surprise. The nurses started an IV, which slowed down the contractions a bit. Dr. Tran came in and said I was just about 8cm. Amazing thing was that it didn't feel like I was 8 cm. The contractions were not that bad. I stood up to move things along and also because it was more comfortable than laying in the bed. I got a couple very hard contractions and said they better call the dr. Next thing I knew I was on the bed and the doctor told me I was just about 10cm and could start pushing. With 3 extremely hard pushes, Adelyn Alivia was born at 11:33am, and I did not tear at all! Amazing! Dr. Tran did a fabulous job delivering Adelyn and I was so grateful she was there.

We watched the snowstorm from our window the next day. It was wonderful! And by Sunday, the roads were cleared and we were able to come home. Christmas was wonderful and although, it's all foggy in my mind, we were able to enjoy the time with our families. I have had a few bumps in the road during recovery, but overall, God has been very kind, helping me through it all.

Nights have been hard, as usual with a newborn. Adelyn doesn't sleep too well yet, and I often don't get more than an hour of sleep at a time, and sometimes no naps during the day, but it's fine! I am so enjoying this little one and know all too well, that this season with her is short and I want to soak it in, even during the tired, long days.

God has been so faithful over this past year, and these past few weeks. Having Adelyn has brought back so many memories of last year, some very hard, others giving testimony to how faithful God is. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me. I will often sit in our living room holding little Addie and tears will flow, sometimes because I miss Alivia so much it hurts and other times because I am filled with joy and just so amazed at this precious new gift. Because of all that we have walked through this past year, I know God is faithful and will carry us through all the waves of trial and joy that life inevitably will bring...and Adelyn's story is just further testimony to that.

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A special gift

Our dear friend, Kristen Snyder, took care of Mckenna and Selah from the moment we left for the hospital till we got home. She has served our family in countless ways this past year...and we just LOVE her! For those who do not know her, she is an amazing, gifted photographer. When we got home from the hospital, she was ready, camera in hand and starting snapping away. Next thing I know she was sitting in our living room, with my laptop, her camera, my camera, and our video camera. We were busy with the girls, I was feeding the baby, and there was much activity going on. So, I didn't realize what Kristen was up to, till she showed me the following masterpiece. In all of but an hour, she threw this together. I teared up when I saw it and will treasure this always.


Kristen, you are amazing! Thank you seems so inadequate for all you have done for us. Thank you for this...you have no idea how much this means to have.

Miss Adelyn Alivia Castro Comes Home from Heather Castro on Vimeo.

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Welcome Home, Adelyn!

We arrived home yesterday from the hospital. It's so good to be home with our newest little baby girl. What an incredible gift she is. The past few days have been filled with many emotions. I cried when she came out as could not believe the Lord had blessed me with this precious gift...and I cried when I brought her home and looked at our wall of pictures, remembering Alivia. I spent most of yesterday just sitting around taking in the precious sights of Mckenna and Selah enjoying their precious little sister. And when they were not holding her, I could not put her down. All I want to do is just hold her, cuddle and kiss her. I am probably enjoying her more than any other baby, as I have a profound awareness of the gift of life that this little one is.

There is so much more to say and share, stories to tell, but I'll close with these pictures (thank you, Kristen) and promise to post more later...




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Adelyn Alivia Castro

6.9 pounds
19.5 inches
11:33am, Friday morning
4.5 hrs of labor!!

More details to come...


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O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes in the morning.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:2-5, 11-12


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Labor...

I think this is it...getting ready to head out soon to the doctor's office to get checked.

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Baby update

Back to the doctors I went today for (hopefully) my last check up. I am now between 3-4 cm dilated and he said the head is so very low. Not sure I can get much farther along than this and not be in full blown labor. So, hoping that it's soon....very soon!

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39 weeks...

and 2 days! I went to my doctor's appointment last Thursday to find out I'm almost 3 cm dilated, 60% effaced and baby girl is in position -1. I had to have a friend who is a nurse explain all that to me...I understand the dilation, but it was helpful to understand everything else. Basically, she is ready and it could be any day now (any minute!). We're just waiting around!


I'm feeling so much better now too! Last week I had a cold, but kept going down hill and finally went to my primary care doctor on Friday. I had both a sinus infection, upper respiratory infection and fluid in both ears. Needless to say, he put me on an antibiotic right away and within a day I was feeling so much better. I was starting to think I was going to cough myself into labor.

I am praying for a quick labor, but not too quick... I want to make it to the hospital, unlike some friends I know lately or my sister who barely made it. However hoping she does comes fast!

Stay tuned for more updates...

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Happy Birthday, Dave!

I'm a day late, I know. It was actually yesterday. But wanted to honor my wonderful husband nonetheless.

We had a very low key day yesterday, which was so nice. Everyone slept in and we woke up and showered Daddy with cards and a few gifts. After that we had a leisurely breakfast of good 'ole oatmeal with blueberries (actually Selah's favorite...she convinced Dave that's what he wanted to have, saying it will make him big and strong :).

One of Dave's gifts was a Wii game. He recently purchased a used Wii set off of a friend and has already enjoyed playing with the girls. So, they spent some time downstairs playing.

Later in the morning, my mom came and brought Dave a gift and then picked Mckenna up for her "birthday date with Nani." Every grandkid gets a special date with Nani around the time of their birthday. She takes them to a toy store, lets them pick out a gift and then they get to go and spend the night at her house. So, for the rest of the day it was just Selah, Dave and I. Actually, Dave ended up going to a wedding midday. His sister's best friend, Crystal Williams, got married and he was able to be there for it.

Later in the evening, the 3 of us went out to Golf Galaxy. Dave has had a gift card to this store for about 2 years and had yet to use it. He had a great time talking with a salesman, trying out different golf clubs and ultimately purchasing a new "used" set. It was fun to watch - he was like a little kid in a candy store! And he commented that it was the highlight of his day. So glad he got to do that. Afterwards, we went and grabbed some dinner at La Madeleine's.

Tonight we had dinner with our neighbor's, the Reynolds, and celebrated once again with a cake and candles and sang to Dave (a birthday is not complete without cake and candles!).

So that, in a nutshell, was Dave's birthday weekend. It was a treat to have his birthday fall on a weekend so we could spend it with him!

Dave, it is such an honor and privilege for me to be your wife. This past year has, in so many ways, been a test of your faith and leadership of your family. You have born the challenges well and I have seen you grow leaps and bounds. In my struggles, you have come alongside me and gently loved and cared for me. You have preferred my interests above your own and served me in countless ways. You continue to be a strong pillar for me to lean on when I'm weak and a shoulder to cry on when I'm grieving and sad. I cannot imagine having walked through this past year without you by my side. As to being a father, you excel. I love listening to you talk to our girls, play with them and take time to instruct them in God's ways. How they love their Daddy... and I love you more today than ever! Happy Birthday!

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Almost 39 weeks....

and waiting! As of today actually 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant! This week has been a much needed relaxing one. I am actually very content right now and comfortable to wait another week until meeting our next little girl. I am fighting a bad cold and would like to get over this before going into labor. In fact, for the first time ever I am really not looking forward to labor, recovery, etc. I just don't feel ready and physically up for it. BUT what I am looking forward to is holding this precious little one and kissing her sweet face. And trying to focus on that instead.

All in all, I have been so grateful for this week, which has been so low key for me. I can't remember the last time my days were not filled to the brim and my to-do list overflowing with more than I could do. This week has definitely been a gift from the Lord. There is always more to do, but I am grateful for all the Lord has enabled me to do this fall to get ready for this little one to come.

I go in today for a doctor's appointment, so will see how things are progressing. As of last week, it looks like we will be having another peanut...she was showing up to be only about 5 1/2 lbs so far.

The below picture was taken the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Kelly was not too thrilled about it, but I made her pose with me...wanted to capture our big bellies one more time together. Glad I did...the next day, Kelly delivered! So, glad we have it. Kel is on the left and I'm on the right.

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Life and death, sorrow and rejoicing

My posts seem to be a combination of events and updates lately, as life continues to be extremely full...the fullest that I can ever remember in my life. The past few weeks have, once again, been filled with many varied emotions. Right before Thanksgiving the Plunneckes lost Mark's father to a brief battle with Leukemia. It has been a challenging few months for them and they have again fought for faith amidst death and suffering. We have grieved with them and the day we got word that he passed was an emotional one for me. This life is hard and the Lord has continued to teach me, through the continued various trials, where our real home is and hope lies.


Right after this, Thanksgiving came. We hosted 2 Thanksgiving dinners here in our home. One for Dave's family on Thanksgiving day and one for my family the Saturday after. Then on Sunday we got our Christmas trees! Monday my dad and step-mom left. That afternoon, Kelly went into a very quick labor and delivered their 4th son after about 2 hours of labor.

Wyatt Haddon Plunnecke was born at 4:49pm and weighed in at 7 lbs, 2 oz. I never made it to the hospital in time, but arrived just after his arrival. He's another cutie and reminds me a little of Ty. So, this week we, once again, got to have some of the Ploon kids stay with us as they eagerly awaited to meet their new little brother, which they did today. I was able to get my old, dying computer up and running with just enough time to post these pictures. It should be crashing again any moment, so I'm hurrying :). But here is sweet Wyatt...




Today is also my big girl's birthday! We celebrated Mckenna's life of 6 years today. I can't believe she is 6!!! It seems like just yesterday I was writing a post for her 5 year birthday. I dropped June off at a friend's and took Ty and Selah to get a dozen Krispy Kreme's to take Mckenna's kindergarten class. We sang to her and the class honored her. It was a sweet time. I wanted to make some cupcakes, but wisely decided that there was just no time in the schedule this week for that...the class didn't seem the mind donuts instead :). Mckenna's request for dinner was mac 'n cheese, so to the store we went this afternoon to get that. This evening was just our family and we had a great time together, eating dinner, opening presents and then decorating our Christmas tree...that has been sitting in it's stand since Sunday. The house is currently a mix match of fall and Christmas decor. We'll see if we can manage to get it looking a little more like Christmas around here before our baby girl decides to show up.


Mckenna, how I love you, sweet one! You continue to bring so much joy to my heart and have been a constant source of encouragement and comfort this past year. Thanks for all the hugs, kisses and reminders of God's love and comfort, amidst life's continued waves of trials. I love the way you remember our little Alivia and have such a solid faith of heaven and her safe residence with our Savior. Happy Birthday, big girl!

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The past few weeks

I was just thinking today that I don't think I have ever had so much going on in my life ever before. Nor have I ever carried so many situations and people on my heart. Yes, the past few weeks have been very full of emotion, activity, further trials, and seeking with all my heart to cling to the Lord and trust him. To say that I am daily tempted to be overwhelmed by the amount going on is an understatement. But, as I told Dave last night as we dialogued about one particular area in our lives, I am truly grateful that it's hard...because I am aware of my need to TRUST.

My devotions are quite distracted lately and I often find that I can barely get through one Psalm. Usually a huge hunk of time is just crying out to the Lord and seeking to cast my cares through prayer. My mind spins from thinking about all I need to do to prepare for this little girl on the way (baking, freezing meals, finishing up the nursery and making sure I have all the baby essentials), to prepartions for Christmas and the 5 family birthdays in December(soon adding 2 more!), all this on top of the usual daily "to do's." Then there are all the dear ones in our lives walking through tough times. My sister and her family are facing another extreme trial and we have had the privilege of seeking to serve them with meals, watching kids and praying and carrying them on our hearts. There are numerous other trials in our lives right now that seek to daily rob my joy if my heart is not guarded. Every day I find myself preaching truth to myself and have had to post Scriptures above the sink, as this often feeds my soul more than an hour of devotions in the morning.

Despite all this, I look back over the past few months and am amazed at all the Lord has given me grace for. And all the ways I have seen His provision and blessings. I do wish that I had been more faithful to blog, because there are weekly and daily examples of God's extreme kindness...but lately there has not been enough spare moments in my day to sit and write.

On the baby front, little girl is doing well. I had to switch doctors just a few weeks ago and it broke my heart. My doctor who delivered Selah and Alivia and who has deeply cared for us this past year is currently not practicing because of some unfortunate circumstances. So I had to find someone else. No one could ever take his place and I'm so disappointed that he will not be the one who delivers this next one. But God has provided another doctor, who I am praying will be the one to deliver baby girl #4. I am 36 weeks now and feeling very ready physically. However, hoping to have a few last weeks to finish up a number of things...yet, hoping to have this baby and be home for Christmas!

With the end of all my pregnancies comes the crazy phenomenon of "nesting." It's definitely a real thing. And it seems to be extreme this time around...there is this urge to freeze months of food, repaint rooms and furniture, redecorate and move my whole house around. It's quite humorous! But I love it. I am having fun...but probably staying up too late at night working on projects.

One project these past few months has been redoing the nursery. I'm just about done, but have a few last things to do. Everytime I walk upstairs and peer into the "new" nursery, I am filled with gratitude to God for his provision of everything in the room. He provided above and beyond my expectations!

Adding to that, just a few weeks ago, some dear friends threw a baby shower for me. What an amazing time this was! I was simply overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, generosity and kindness of all who were involved. I received tons of new things for this little girl. As I sat opening gifts I couldn't help but thank God for his extensions of grace through these dear friends, to me, a sinner who deserves nothing.

Well, it's getting late and my mind is turning to mush. There is much more I could write and share, but that's a brief update. We would greatly appreciate continued prayer as we walk through the next number of weeks and months. There is so much going on in our lives, on top of the new addition arriving soon. And with her, I know will come new sets of temptations, as memories come flooding back and I face numerous fears. But God is faithful!!

I'll end with a Spurgeon quote, which a dear friend sent me. When I think that so many things are going wrong in my life, from the trivial like my computer that keeps crashing, making it unusable, to the more major daily reminders of pain and death, this quote helps to set my heart in place.

He shall choose our inheritance for us. Psalm 47:4

"Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, 'Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?' His answer would be, 'Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.' So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, 'Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.' Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

'Trials must and will befall—
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.'

-Spurgeon

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My little girl's legacy

I was so grateful for the following email that we received from a dear friend on Monday. It has been the cry of our hearts that the Lord would redeem this tradegy for good, both in our lives and in the lives of others. So, when we hear of His working to that end, even in very small ways as this emails describes...well it strengthens my heart to continue on and fight this fight of faith as I keep my gaze toward heaven.

Heather,

Praying, praying, praying for you today, my friend.

I know that I can't even begin to imagine the anguish that you and Dave have experienced this year. But as I have grieved for you these twelve months--here in the cheapest of seats--I think I have learned just a little bit to trust God more and to long for heaven more. That's your little girl's legacy, and I'm grateful for it.

We love you guys.

cara

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One year

It's been one year since we lost our little girl, Alivia. It's hard to believe one whole year has gone by. Yet, I am so amazed and grateful for how the Lord has carried us through this trial, the toughest of our lives. There are no words to describe how overwhelmed I have felt today by the level of care we have and continue to receive. I was not at all expecting so many to remember, and to extend such lavish expressions of kindness and care. My house is full of flowers, cards and reminders from others that they, too, are remembering with us and continuing to grieve along side us.

Today was the first day I went to visit Alivia's gravesite. I have not been able to go this whole past year. However, I awoke this morning and knew it was something that I was ready to do. My sister was so kind in picking up Mckenna from school and caring for the girls so Dave and I could go. We have not yet purchased a head stone for her grave and I was not looking forward to going and seeing an unmarked spot where she was laid. But a few very dear friends took a flat stone, wrote her name on it and laid it on the ground with pink flowers and a few pumpkins. Thank you, Helen, Jen B., and Kriscinda for your amazing thoughtfulness. You have no idea how much that meant to me. My sister also left a pumpkin with a little note to Alivia that blessed us so much. I wish I had my camera to take a picture of it, but all we had was Dave's phone. But I'm glad we had something to capture the sight of what we saw as we approached the site...I will always treasure the expressions of love that were laid there.

When Dave and I arrived, the day felt so similar to the day we were there to bury her. It was mild and sunny, with a slight breeze. It brought back so many memories that seemed like just yesterday. However, I was very aware that the last time I had been there, I had stumbled to the gravesite, literally. Dave had to hold me up as I could barely make the short walk. Today, however, I was aware of how much the Lord has strengthened me this past year, as I was able to walk over and kneel at the site where she was laid. I was reminded of all the numerous ways God has helped me to make so many baby steps and relearn numerous things that I was not sure I would ever be able to do again - cooking, cleaning, caring for the girls, holding a schedule, waking early before the family, running errands, and now, visiting her gravesite. Yes, he had strengthened me to do that.

Thanks to all of you who have cared for us this past weekend and today, who have sent cards and emails, brought flowers, goodies, stopped in, stayed awhile and loved us. I am simply left overwhelmed and freshly amazed at the love and care of my Savior through you. We are so undeserving of the friends and care we have experienced over this past year...what a keen reminder of the gospel, and the undeserving grace that has been extended to us through our Savior's sacrifice, that makes it possible for us to know Him and for our sweet Alivia to now be with Him.

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Casting my cares

The last few days have been hard and I know there are harder days to come. But, amidst it all, the Lord is teaching me. A few people have asked me lately how they can pray for me. It's a loaded question when I feel the weight of so much going on in our lives, on top of remembering sweet Alivia, missing her and grieving her loss. So, I sum it up by asking for prayer that the Lord would enable me, by His power, to trust Him with all the details of life right now and that I would cast my cares on Him.

I have felt the prayers of others in this area. There have been numerous times over the past few days when I am anxious, my heart is heavy, I feel no joy in my salvation, am discouraged, and want to give up the fight. It's usually when I have been thinking about one or many of the challenges facing us right now. However, I have been reminded to CAST MY CARES and that I am not doing so. So, I pray and give it to the Lord because, quite frankly, with many of the things, that's all I can do. Yes, I can strive, add to my "to do" list, try to do more, sleep less, push through with some things, but not all. And with everything, I need to TRUST. Most things are entirely out of our control and that is hard for me because of my pride. I want to see things change, want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's just pitch black right now, except for the sight of Heaven. So, that's where I'll keep my gaze! And for the blackness that fills so many areas of life right now, I'll seek to trust. I don't have answers, don't know why, am feeling completely helpless, but I'll trust! May God enable me to do so.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

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And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Luke 12:22-34

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How Firm a Foundation

We are home and had a wonderful time! I wish I could share some pictures, but am still without my computer (and can't put any on this old one). But we had a great time in TN with our dear friends.

We are settled back home, but I have been met with some hard days lately. Anticipating next Monday (November 2) has been weighing on my heart and causing things in life to seem bigger than they really are right now. It's challenging to keep perspective of who my Savior is. My dear friend, Jenni, sent me the words of the following hymn this morning and they so ministered to my soul.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

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Off to Tennessee

Today Dave, myself and the girls are traveling down to visit our dear friends, the Coopers, in TN. We have been planning this trip for a few months now and are so looking forward to it. Laura Cooper has been a friend since Jr. High and Dave and Craig have known each other for quite some time as well. They have become some of our dearest friends over the years.

The trip is quite long! But it will be worth it. We'll be there for a week. I am praying this will be a refreshing time for our family and a time to built memories. It's been a challenging number of weeks and months for us, as there seem to be so many tough circumstances in our lives right now. We are looking forward to this time away.

Thanks, Laura, Craig and kids for allowing us to come see you! We'll be there soon (well, in about 12 hours :).

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Dave to the rescue

From minor to major (at least in my book) Dave has been coming up huge lately!

Rescue #1
Just last week, our power was flickering on and off and finally decided to stay off. Well, my Mac was not plugged in to a surge protector and got fried. Dave thinks it's probably totally gone. As I was contemplating what I was going to do without email, he came to the rescue with an old work computer. He set it up for me and in no time I was back online. Granted, I don't have any of my files, pictures or other software (and hoping I might be able to get those back), but at least I have email and internet. You probably won't see any pictures for awhile as Dave says this old computer can't handle anything extra on it.

Rescue #2
Almost all my spare time lately has been spent working on the nursery and preparing for our next little baby girl. So, after getting the bedding (that is a whole story I'll have to share sometime) and much deliberation I picked out a paint color for the nursery. I bought a gallon and got one whole coat on the walls, stood back, and decided it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I went with green, but it was a little dull...wanted something a little more bright and cheery. Trying to get a pale green that is not minty, but not too sage-y, is...well, hard...for me at least. After giving it some time to grow on me, I decided to go back to the drawing board. Off to Home Depot I went with a few more swatches in hand. Only after buying that whole gallon did I discover that they now sell samples that you can get mixed in ANY color you want, for $2.94!!! Wish I had seen that before buying my whole gallon! So, I got 2 samples mixed and painted them side by side on the nursery wall. After a few days, we decided on one of those 2 colors. Back to Home Depot again to have gallon #2 made up. Having had the sample color matched (it was a Benjamin Moore color) I made the big mistake of not saving the sample container with the color code on it. No biggie I thought - I'll just have them color match it again. On Sunday afternoon, excited to finally be able to get the room all painted, I set about to do all the cutting in with the new color. After completing the whole room, I stepped back and realized, IT WAS A DIFFERENT SHADE of green!!! It would not have been so bad if it was similar or a nice shade, but it was BRIGHT green, almost had a fluorescent hue to it. I had even had the guy at Home Depot put a drop of it on the actual swatch and it looked perfect. But it wasn't! I sat down on our steps and almost cried! I didn't know what to do. I called Dave up and he conferred it was definitely different. I have to interject that Dave was in the midst of watching the Redskins game. We don't have cable, but he recently got a nice HD antenna that allows him to get a few channels. This is the first time in our seven years of marriage that he has been able to watch football on our TV...in other words, this is BIG deal! But without hesitating, he left watching the game to rescue me. He took the old gallon of green paint that I had originally used and the new one and set out to mix them. What did he come up with?? The perfect shade of green! I was amazed! Not too bright, not too dull...perfect! Before leaving to go to his sister's house for dinner that night, I was able to get part of the room cut in (for the 3rd time :). And last night I was
able to finally finish up. We are making progress! And the room is finally starting to look like a sweet little baby's room. It looks so much different than the last nursery looked, but I think that is a good thing.

And before I end I just want to thank my amazing husband for how well he has cared for and served me these past weeks (and months, I might add). The past number of weeks have had a number of challenges for me. Sacrificial service and looking out for my needs and desires has characterized his actions. Sunday was just an example - giving up watching the game to serve me! I am regularly amazed and reminded of how undeserving I am to have been blessed with such an incredible man. Love you, Dave!

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Happy Birthday, Heather! (from Dave)


You are... well, my emotions are messing with my vocabulary right now and I may rattle off a bunch of flowery adjectives or just have a word-wreck and screech to a halt....


This past year, our seventh, has been the toughest, yet has brought us closer than ever. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and found that even there our Heavenly Father was with us. You have not stopped pursuing God with your whole heart, believing His words and promises and counting them precious to you. What a beautiful woman you are!

7 years with you have made me the wealthiest, happiest man I could be. We have seen highs and lows and have walked through all of it together. So grateful I get to have you by my side for the rest of my life!

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Another VERY special gift

On Saturday evening, my sister brought over a gift for me, all wrapped up. I knew, from Dave, that it contained some precious memories of Alivia. It took me over a day to be able to open the gift. I finally did late Sunday night. I cried my way through it as I read precious memories that others have of our little girl. Yes, my sister took the effort to collect from a number of people memories, poems and remembrances of Alivia's life. Then she put it together into a book accompanied by pictures. It's another gift that I will always treasure.

Kel, thank you so much for all the hard work you put into this. This will forever be one of our families most meaningful books.











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A new favorite


Heaven Is The Face (Slideshow With Lyrics) - Steven Curtis Chapman

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Special gift

This past Saturday was a good day...a hard day, but a good one. I probably cried more and remembered more than I have in awhile. My amazing mom took the girls for the whole day and overnight so Dave and I could have some time together. I dropped them off in the morning, made a trip to Home Depot and then came back home. Dave and I had lunch together and then watched Alivia's slide show together. We read through emails that were sent and took time to just sit and talk. Then he gave me a gift. It was all wrapped up in white paper with a pink ribbon. I opened it to find a picture that he had taken that I had never seen before. He took it when Alivia was just a week or 2 old. We had been napping together and I never knew he had taken it. Since he took it with his phone, the quality was pretty poor. So, he had our dear friend, Kristen, work on it and then framed it. It took me quite some time to recover from seeing it. I will treasure this always.

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September 26...

Alivia's birthday. The Lord sustains, the Lord hears, the Lord knows, He helps, He carries, He is gracious, sovereign and good. The theme of this year for me has been,

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hastaken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

In the midst of our painful loss, we continue to know that God is over all things and we will seek to praise Him. This morning I found comfort and hope in Psalm 23, another life passage for me this year:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil ,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever."

In memory of our little girl, I'm posting the slide show (from her memorial service) that captures her short life. For all who read this blog, thank you for remembering with us and caring for us...we are so grateful!

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Psalm 121

This week has been full of up and down emotions, as is to be expected. I have not blogged for awhile for a number of reasons, one main one being that I just don't quite know what to say. There are so many conflicting, random, and mixed thoughts and emotions filling my heart and mind these days.

On top of that, life has picked up and has been super busy, which has really served me to keep my mind occupied. I was just telling Dave last night that it seems like when it rains, it pours. The last number of weeks have been challenging for us, on a number of fronts and have continued to push us to further dependency on the Lord. It's been hard, but God is continuing to sustain us. It does seem that once September hit, I started to finally feel better in the pregnancy, just as life picked up a few paces. I have been giving thanks to the Lord as He knew this time of year was going to be hard and has helped my body to be able to keep up with all that is going on around me and has given me things to do.

This morning, in my devotions, my mind quickly went to what I was doing a year ago, the day before Alivia was born. I remember it so clearly. A friend had offered to watch the girls for me so I could get some things done...I was one week away from my due date. So, I painted my kitchen, of all things!

I think the time from now till Nov. 2 is going to bring back so many memories for me. Things I did a year ago when our little peanut was with us. May God give grace.

I was just reading in Psalm 121 today, which has been a passage I go back to often. It is such a good reminder of where my help lies and also of the promise that God will uphold me through life's continued storms. The past few weeks have been especially tempting for me in giving into the weight of my circumstances. I have felt weary often and even have told Dave that I'm tired of life's numerous trials going on in our lives and those around us and I'm tired of my heart being so heavy for so long. It seems, at times, everywhere I look is hardship, sickness, death, bad news, fear and disappointment. But God has not promised us easy lives, no, the contrary is true. Yet, He has promised to sustain and uphold and that is where my focus is to lie. And I can be encouraged in that truth and in the fact that it's through the storms that our faith is built. He is continuing to do a great work in our lives and he will, indeed, HELP us!

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes form the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lrod is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you
by day,
nor the moon by night.

The lord will keep you form all
evil;
he will keep you life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your
coming in
from this time forth and
forevermore.

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That rose was His...

I have heard this quote a few times in the past. But it was very timely this morning as my mind has often been on the events of last September, when little Alivia was born.

The other day I was cleaning out a cabinet and found 2 little newborn diapers in the way back...they were Alivia's and it seems like just yesterday I was using them. And yesterday afternoon I heard a baby cry that almost sent me running. It sounded just like her. Then I happened upon some pictures on my computer of our last year's trip to the pumpkin patch. She was just a few weeks old and I so clearly remember walking around with her in her baby pouch. It doesn't seem like almost a year since she was born, and yet so much has changed and taken place in this one year. The emotions, the ache in my heart and the memories are still so fresh. I'm learning that's just how it will probably be for awhile, particularly this time of year.

Tears flow now as she is still so dear, so near and so loved in my heart. So, this quote was refreshing and encouraging as I came across it while reading in Beside Still Waters this morning. I know it was the Lord's doing that sent her to Him. And as much as it pains my heart, I am so grateful for the time He gave her to us, even if just 5 short weeks, to care for her and love her. Those are 5 precious weeks I will never forget. What a gift she was to us.

Lest You Sorrow. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

"Suppose that you are a professional gardener, responsible for a garden that is not yours. you take great care of several prize rose bushes. You fertilize, water, prune, and train them. Now that they are blooming in great beauty, you take considerable pride in them.

One morning you come into the garden and find that the best rose has been taken. You are angry and accuse your fellow workers of taking it. They declare their innocences, saying that they had nothing to do with it. But one says, 'I saw the master walking here this morning. I think he took it.'

Is the gardener still angry? No, he immediately says, 'I am pleased that my rose's beauty attracted the master's attention. That rose was his, and he has taken it. Let him do what seems good.'

It is the same with your loved ones. They did not die by chance. The grave is not filled by accident. People die according to God's will. Your child is gone, but the Master took her. Your husband is gone, but the Master took him. Your wife is buried, but the Master took her. Thank God that He let you have pleasure of caring and tending for them while they were here. Thank Him that as He gave, He Himself has taken.

If you believe in providence, you may grieve, 'but I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus' (1 Thess. 4:13-14). - Spurgeon

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BIG first day


Today was Mckenna's first day of school, in Kinder- garten. I absolutely can't believe that she is starting school. It's been an emotional few weeks for me, to say the least, as I've contemplated this. But she had a wonderful first day and keeps asking if she can back every day! She definitely loved it.

I'm very grateful for Covenant Life School and know that this is the place the Lord has her right now in this season. It's a blessing knowing she will be so well cared for and taught, particularly since I'm not sure how much I would be able to do after the baby comes, if I homeschooled her. I'm grateful knowing her education this year is being well taken care of by amazing people!


Ready to go...

"wait, mom, I need to fix my hair band..."

dash to the car, so we won't be late!


Walking in on her first big day, with Daddy and Selah.


In the classroom...how I love my family.

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10 months...

in the glories of heaven. I've been thinking about our little girl and grieving today as I've considered just how much she continues to be missed in our lives.

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Comfort

The past two weeks have been full of activity...some good and some that have made my heart, once again, look to the Lord, who ordains all things. My sister and brother-in-law received some very hard news about a family member and this has added to their lives, once again, a new trial that has and will consume much of their lives for some time. Your prayers for them would be greatly appreciated. My heart is heavy and I find myself looking and thinking of ways to help ease what they are walking through. I have to rest in the truth that our Savior knows and will provide strength.

In the midst of that, my dear little niece entered the world. This week has been spent recovering physically from that all-nighter and also preparing to leave today for 4 nights with the family and some friends. We are heading to Hershey Park to camp for 2 nights and then up to Lancaster for an additional 2 nights with my mom. I am looking forward to this time to build memories for the girls and enjoy seeing them have a blast! Mark and Kel were supposed to come, but have had to cancel because of what they are walking through. But we will bring Keenan and Larsen and the girls are thrilled about that!

On top of all this, I have been scouring craigslist lately, looking for baby items. I have had to get rid of much of my previous baby items, as it was just too hard to hang on to them and use again. In fact, I happened across a few things a month or so ago, and tears just welled in my eyes. I knew then that it would probably be easiest to start fresh with this little one. My dear sister has served me in trying to sell much of my baby items or donate. I've even sold my whole nursery... furniture and all and am looking to buy a new "used" set. Call me crazy! Dave has been so gracious in letting me do all this. I'm trying to get as much done as possible before fall comes, as our schedule will be packed and full.

So, yes, it's been busy around here. But with all of this, I have experienced grace, for which I am thankful for!

We'll return from PA on Wednesday, the 26th ,and my mind will be very much be thinking about Alivia, who would have been 11 months that day. With all that is going on in my little world right now, the following quotes from Spurgeon ministered to me this morning. With sudden tragedy, like we have walked through, hanging on to the truth of God's providence and sovereignty has helped to bring needed comfort...He has indeed comforted our hearts. And it was this truth that I needed to hear this morning as I look ahead to the next week and also the next few months. I know the approaching weeks of the fall months will be hard. As I anticipate them, it's helpful to look back over this year and recount how faithful the Lord has been to me, to comfort, calm, and bring hope to my heart.

"Rest peacefully. All things are ordered by His wisdom, and 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints' (Ps. 116:15). No forces are outside of his control. God does not permit any foe to trespass on the domain of Providence. All things are ordained of God. Our deaths are under the special oversight of our exalted Lord and Savior. He Himself will guide us through the iron gate of death. Let us rejoice that in life and in death we are in the Lord's hands." - CHS

"As a pilgrim in Canaan, you have passed through the Red Sea, where you once feared you would drown, and the bitter waters were made sweet with God's presence. You fought the Amalekite. You made it through the terrible wilderness, passing by the fiery serpents, and you have been kept alive. As the clear shining comes after rain, so shall peace succeed your trials. As the black clouds fly before that compelling power of the wind, the eternal God will make your grief fly before the energy of His grace. The smoking furnace of trouble will be followed by the bright lamp of consolation.

To say, 'My Father, God,' to put myself into His hand and feel that I am safe, to look up to Him, though it be with tears in my eyes, and feel that He loves me, and then to put my head on His bosom as the prodigal did and sob my griefs into my Father's heart, this is the death of grief and the life of all consolation. Jehovah is called the 'God of all comfort' (2 Cor. 1;3), and you will find Him so! He has been 'our help in ages past, and He is our hope for years to come.'

I bear testimony that you cannot go to Him and pour out your heart without finding a delightful comfort. When your friends cannot wipe away the tears, when your heart bursts with grief, pour out your heart before Him. Go to Him, and you will find that even here on earth God will wipe away all tears from your eyes." (Rev. 7:17). - CHS

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Time is of the essence

A friend shared this quote with me recently and I was very provoked and freshly reminded how short this precious season is with my little ones. May I endeavor to honor God, enjoy them and make the most of it.

"Now is the time to get things done...wade in the water, sit in the sun, squish my toes in the mud by the door, explore the world in a boy just four. Now is the time to study books, flowers, snails, how a cloud looks; to ponder ‘up,’ where God sleeps nights, why mosquitoes take such big bites. Later there’ll be time to sew and clean, paint the hall that soft new green, to make new drapes, refinish the floor - Later on...when he’s not just four." -Irene Foster

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More on Lily

So, as I mentioned before, little Lily Louise brought quite a story with her entrance into this world. We got a call in the middle of this past Saturday night, 2:21am to be exact. I answered the phone knowing it would be the Falciones. I asked, "is this it?" Expecting to hear a, "we're on our way to the hospital, I heard Joe say, "it was it!...I just delivered Lily on our bathroom floor." I was shocked and in about 20 minutes arrived over at their house, just as the ambulance got there.

Apparently, Charisa's usual contractions (which she had been experiencing for over a week previously) very quickly turned to intense and they were making preparations to leave for the hospital. However, after a quick shower, and a "Joe call the doctor and your mom," her water broke and Lily's head was starting to come out! Joe quickly called 911 and was talked through how to deliver this little girl.

I drove Joe's car behind the ambulance to the hospital and spent the day with them, as Charisa got settled and recovered in her room. Both she and Lily are doing great and are home now! What a story they have to tell!

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Introducing...

Lily Louise Falcione

My newest niece was born at 2am this morning, to two proud parents, Joe and Charisa. There is an amazing story behind the birth of this little one, but I've been up since 2:20am this morning and must go to bed. More to come tomorrow! For now, here is this beautiful little one...







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Anniversary trip

Dave and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary next Monday, August 17th. It's hard to believe it's been 7 whole years! We celebrated a little early this year, going away for 2 nights this past week. We originally were going to go away for just Friday night, but the Lord blessed us with a wonderful deal and we were able to get away for both Thursday and Friday night.

We went to the Carrollton Inn, just 4 blocks away from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. It was a wonderful Inn, the food was great, and we had an incredibly relaxing time. I told Dave that I don't think I have ever appreciated getting away as much as I did this time. This pregnancy has been a very challenging one in many ways, one of which is the physical toll it has had on me. So, just being able to relax, sit, read, talk with my husband, and not have any of the usual life demands on me was so refreshing. Kristen Snyder heroically took care of our girls the entire time we were gone. She did fun things with them, painted, colored, took them for ice cream and even cleaned and did laundry right before we returned - amazing girl! She never ceases to amaze us by her servant's heart and the way she cares for our family!!

We returned Saturday evening and then on Sunday I left again to take a planning retreat with my dear friend, Jenni. We had a wonderfully productive time, Sunday afternoon through Monday. I got many things thought through and planned out for the fall and winter. Thanks to my husband for releasing me on Sunday and to the Littrells for taking Selah and Michelle DeCarlo for taking Mckenna on Monday. You all served me so well! Here are a few pictures of Dave and my time away in Baltimore!


Our room looked like something out of Europe...very lush and extravagent!


We had a gas fireplace in our room, which Dave insisted on using for awhile, even though it was 90+ degrees outside!






We had a full spread each morning for breakfast. The food filled us up so much that we didn't need to eat for the rest of the day!





These 2 pictures were at the harbor. I had a hard time walking around, so we didn't walk too much, but it was a beautiful day on Friday and we sat at a cafe and got a drink and chatted.

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Bedtime Wishes

Somehow a tradition was started around here that each night, after nighttime verses, prayers and kisses, our 3 and 5 year old will whisper in Daddy's ear their sincerest wishes.

I had to record and share Selah's because, for one it just keeps getting longer, and secondly it is so cute and humorous. Tonight after all the reading and prayers and kisses she said: "We eat treats and watch a movie and go to Mrs.Reynolds house and watch a movie and eat dinner and ride sharks and go to the park..."

I finally learned from Mckenna the other day that when Selah says "ride sharks" she means ride a dolphin...I guess they saw that on t.v. somewhere.

Little Mckenna has had the same mantra for at least a couple years: "We go to all the people's houses." I can only guess that she must really enjoy us bringing her along to visit friends.

-written by Dave

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9 months

9 months ago yesterday, our little Alivia entered the presence of our Savior. What joy she must continue to experience. And I relish the thought that she will never ever again suffer, know pain, or experience the curse of sin that all of us still daily face. How my heart longs to hold her little body and see her once again. For now, she is safe in the arms of the One who continues to be our sovereign, loving and gracious Savior.

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Baby boom

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them." Psalm 145:17-19

Our big announcement...
My sister, Kelly, on right: Due December 12th
Me, on left: Due December 19th

It will be a very full Christmas season! And we are giving thanks to God for his mercy and kindness. Even in the midst of rejoicing, our hearts are still grieving and missing little Alivia, who still stands in the forefront of our minds. No baby(s) will ever be able to replace her or take away the ache in our hearts that losing her has left. But the Lord has heard my cry for another little one, and I eagerly await to meet this little girl in a few months....as well as a new little nephew shortly before.


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July 26

Yesterday I was remembering my little Alivia, who would have been 10 months old. My heart seems to be growing a little heavier as I am anticipating her upcoming birthday. Where has 10 months gone? So much has changed around here and yet so much seems to be just like when she was with us. We talk about our little one often and the girls frequently comment how much they miss her...we all miss her more than words can communicate. The pain is still sharp and I, more than ever, long for the day when I'll be with her in heaven.

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