9.20.2018

To Audrey

Dear Audrey,

Tomorrow will make it three months since God gave me the most precious gift: You.

I want you to know that when I look at your face, I feel inexpressible joy.

There were so many things I prayed for you to be like, that I used to joke that God was probably thinking: I get it; you want a perfect baby. But EVERYTHING I prayed about has been fulfilled. And no, you're not perfect (because no one is) but you are everything my heart has ever desired in a baby.

I was not the only one who prayed the word JOY over you. Friends and family did as well. And the joy that you bring to your daddy's and my life is over-abundant than any joy we've ever felt before.

You're like my little best friend. We are together every day, and in the morning when it's time to wake you up, I almost get butterflies anticipating the big smile I know you'll present me with.

Holding you in my arms and kissing the hair on your head is my happy place. When I'm with you and your daddy, I'm at peace. I'm fulfilled.

You are a little nugget from heaven -- a tiny glimpse at the goodness of God and the JOY that awaits us there.

I want you to know I'll always be your safe place. I will ALWAYS love you, no matter what. No matter what choices you make, no matter if you're with me or far away...my love for you will never end.

I pray not only that you will come to understand your need for Jesus at a young age, but that you will crave a real relationship with Him that goes way past just the guarantee of an eternity in Heaven with Him.

I want you to believe with all your heart that He is so very good. No matter life's circumstances, He is good and sovereign. Sometimes He allows things to happen that you won't be able to understand, but our minds aren't made to be like His, and his reasons aren't always revealed to us while we're in this world.

Your name Audrey means "noble strength" and your middle name Quinn means "wisdom." I pray these characteristics over you as you grow from a baby, to a child, to a young woman and so on.

You are good enough just as you are. God formed you so intricately and perfectly while you were in my womb. The world might try to make you feel like you fall short or that you have to change something about yourself to be accepted, but that's a lie.

As you grow, you might find yourself thinking that the rules your Daddy and I have in place for you are unfair. You might be tempted to think at times that we just don't understand. But sweet girl, we understand so well. We were once your age and went through the same struggles and emotions that you some day will.

Everything we ever do or say to you will be out of love for you. It is our job in this world to not only fiercely love and protect you, but to teach you important lessons and cultivate character traits in you that sometimes don't come easy to us as imperfect humans.

I pray for you to carry yourself with a quiet confidence, to have an unshakable faith in Jesus, and to always know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, Sweet Audrey, I love you more than words.

No matter how old you get, you will always be My Little Joy.

Love You Endlessly,
Mama

You were 8 days old in this photo.

7.08.2018

Audrey's Birth Story



On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, I turned 39 weeks pregnant and went to the hospital at 5 am to be induced.

Once we got checked in, we were shown to our room and I was instructed to put the hospital gown on. We filled out some papers, and my IV was started. Because I was a carrier of Group B Strep, my antibiotic regimen began, along with pitocin to get my contractions started. I was dilated to a one upon my arrival to the hospital, and had been for the past three weeks.

It was probably around 10 am when I elected to go ahead and get the epidural because the contractions I could feel were about two minutes apart and starting to get uncomfortable. It was a strange sensation receiving the epidural and apparently made me more nervous than I was even aware until I was told we might be too close to a blood vessel and might have to redo the whole thing and I started shaking all over. Leave it to me to have an anxiety attack during an epidural. I started crying, which embarrassed me. I remember Leslie gave me a reassuring thumbs up and reminded me I was ok and doing good. Thankfully, we didn't have to redo the epidural and once the effects started taking place, getting checked (and stretched) became much more tolerable.

My doctor came in around 11 am to break my water and check me.

Some troubles I had was that I was dilating slowly and my contractions kept amping up then falling off the map. They weren't staying consistent, so at one point, the nurse turned off my pitocin and restarted it about 30 minutes later in an attempt to help, but unfortunately my contractions never did stay consistent.

The nurses and my doctor noticed I was swelling in my lower region, and that concerned them. They also observed that Audrey's little head was starting to swell due to dropping lower than my pelvis had widened enough for. (My doctor and I both knew going into this that I had a narrow pelvis and might have trouble getting wide enough for Audrey to be able to easily pass through.)

By the time the evening came, I was growing weaker and anxious about not having the strength to deliver a baby (having not eaten since 4:15 that morning). Around 9 pm, the power in the hospital went out, including the a/c, and the fire alarms were going off. Nurses told us there were fire trucks all around the hospital but no one knew why. Cue more anxiety from me, terrified there was a fire somewhere in the hospital.

Around 10:15 pm, I threw up.

My doctor eventually came in and told us that she was fighting to keep us at the hospital but she was being ordered to transport us to a different area hospital.

We finally received word that a transformer had blown on the first floor of the hospital, causing a lot of smoke, which brought in the firefighters. 

My doctor eventually let us know that we were getting to stay put at the hospital, and that by that point (around 11 pm) I had dilated to a seven but the rate of progression was so slow, and due to the culmination of aforementioned issues, she thought a c-section would be in our best interest. I was relieved to hear this as my body was already depleted from the day, and I was just ready for Audrey to be born.

Because the a/c had been out, we had to wait for the operating room to cool down again before my doctor could perform any c-sections.

I was given Benadryl through my IV to help with my swelling issues, and that Benadryl knocked me out. I fought to keep my eyes open when I was finally brought in for my c-section a little after midnight on Thursday, June 21st.

Audrey was born at 12:24 am and was just as alert, healthy and HUNGRY as could be! She came out trying to eat her little hands. They laid her face next to mine, and I swear her eyes looked right into mine. I was still fighting to keep my eyes open (and failing miserably at this point), and I slept all through the hour or so I was in recovery.

As we were wheeled back to our room, the nurses asked me if I wanted to have skin to skin time with Audrey, and I said yes. As soon as she was laid on me, she frantically tried to nurse and as soon as she found the right spot, she latched on and I remember feeling shock and awe that I was actually kinda sorta breastfeeding my daughter!

We practiced a little bit longer in our room, and I was given some graham crackers to eat. Then around 3 or 3:30 am, our amazing nurse offered to hang out with Audrey at the nurses' desk so that Leslie and I could get a little sleep. She kept Audrey for about 3 hours while we slept.

We got to go home after about 38 hours. I had amazing nurses who were so helpful and kind, and of course my doctor is and was amazing as well. But it was so nice to get to go home where no one was knocking and coming in our room every hour or so.
___

As I type this, Audrey is 17 days old, and we are all doing great. I feel about 97% healed from my c-section, have been cleared to drive (even though I haven't yet), and Audrey is nursing beautifully.

Leslie still has about two weeks left of paternity leave, and I'm so thankful. This time we've gotten to spend together at home getting to know our daughter and unplugged from our jobs has been heaven. 

Audrey is a good sleeper at night. She typically sleeps for 4-5 hours before needing to be fed, then falls back asleep for another 2-3 hours before we get started on our day. If we don't have anything going on, we sometimes lay back down for another 2-3 hours.
___

Sometimes I just stare at Audrey - her hair and perfect little tiny face - and can't believe she's the one God gave us. She seems too good to be true. To think that she's the one embryo that survived from our IVF cycle...she's the one and only perfect one that God had in mind for us.

I can't wait to keep spending my days with her, playing with her, taking her places, teaching her about Jesus and loving others.
___

I've learned that it's so important to me as a mom to surround Audrey with peace and gentle love. I want our home to be a sweet sanctuary that she always feels safe in. I want her relationship with her daddy and me to be comprised of honest but loving conversations, always with a respectful tone. I take my role as her mommy very seriously and can't wait to teach her things and pour into her little life.

I call her "Mama's Little Joy," and joy is a word I pray will be all around her always. May she exude it, give it away, and feel it in our home. May joy be a constant, no matter our circumstances.

Thank you, God, for Audrey.

6.19.2018

Audrey's Nursery




















>> sources <<

crib: delta cambridge convertible crib in rustic grey
dresser: serta northbrook dresser in rustic grey
pouf ottoman: amazon
gray floating shelves: hobby lobby
wire hamper for stuffed animals: amazon
llama canvas print: amazon
alpaca canvas print: amazon
canvas laundry hamper: amazon
white floating book shelves: ikea
glass closet door knobs: hobby lobby
pug print: gingiber

11.10.2017

Our Story | The Browns

The thing about infertility is that it's so very common, but every story looks different. Our story was one of seven years marked by belief that our God could, but not always knowing if he would bless us with our heart's desire. I eventually learned to be content in the waiting, trusting that God was using this time to shape our story into just what he wanted it to be. 

Then we began fertility treatments in Spring 2016, and with renewed hope came surprising disappointment with our first failed IUI. After three more unsuccessful attempts, the realness of a barren womb became a reality that I knew I had to come to terms with and learn how to live a full, joyful life despite of.

The community of friends that God surrounded us with over the past few years made an unbearable journey bearable. They prayed over us, wrote our names in their Bibles, encouraged us to pray big prayers and not hold back out of fear. They desired a baby for us, acknowledged us on the hard holidays--such as Mother's Day and Father's Day--and dreamed with us.

When we decided we would set up a GoFundMe account to help us afford IVF, they showed up again, making financial sacrifices on our behalf. 

I'm more thankful than I could ever put into words for these wonderful friends God blessed us with. They were pillars of faith and stood firm on our behalf when we were too weary to even talk to God.

I've learned that God's timing is both mysterious and wonderful. We are often ready for something long before He's ready for us to receive it. It's in the waiting period that we can choose joy, choose to trust, and allow our faith to be molded into the dynamic testimony He desires it to be.

Praise be to the Giver of Life. All praises to His Holy Name for this long-awaited miracle.




"Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,"
says the Lord.

Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out to the
right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities."

Isaiah 54:1-3

9.28.2017

Words That Hurt, Words That Heal

>> a devotional <<

Words are powerful. They can either give life or extinguish it.

Some of us are "Words of Affirmation" people. We find ease in delivering a compliment, calming a hot temper, and showing restraint as opposed to spouting off something we'll later regret.

If you're one of those people, like me, you have probably found yourself at times mentally patting yourself on the back that this aspect of your walk as a Christian is one you don't often find yourself struggling with.

It was during a sermon about the power of our words that, in the midst of my secret self-glorification, the Holy Spirit was swift (and so very good) to remind me that the foundation of my pride is fragile and full of cracks. And as far as my words go, they are not always life-giving.

If I don't agree with someone's actions, my words sometimes lack grace. In an effort to connect with potential new friends, my words at times have been nothing more than mere gossip. Sometimes I say ugly things behind people's backs that I would never dream of saying to their face. These are the painful truths that I needed to humbly confess to my merciful Savior, and maybe you do too.

God's word says in James 4:11-12: "Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?"

So many of us struggle to overcome our inclinations to gossip, criticize, and judge. God not only desires better from us, he commands it.

Let's humbly confess our shortcomings in this area and ask for the grace and integrity we need to be life-speakers both to and about others.


>> published on walkhumble.com <<



7.14.2017

Thoughts on Dreaming



Thoughts on dreams:
Sometimes we get lost in our dreams as if that's all they are: dreams. We don't consider that God planted these desires in our hearts for a reason and that when the time is right, they will come to fruition. 
Sometimes, when we least expect it, God gives us our dreams--plops them right into our laps. Other times, after much prayer and planning, we have to put that first foot forward and take a step towards putting that dream into action--a virtual leap of faith, trusting that the ground doesn't fall out from underneath us and that God will show up and bless our obedience.
Another thing I'm learning about dreams is that when we're right in the middle of where God wants us to be, the enemy will do whatever he can to make us doubt our dream. What better way to derail us than to steal our joy while in the midst of our God-given dream? Or make us doubt what at one time we were sure was God's calling on our lives?
If the enemy wasn't successful in talking us out of pursuing our dreams in the first place, he will darn sure try to make us abandon the mission once we've started it.
He might taunt us with the fear of failure or consume us with self-doubt and anxiety. He might rob us of joy or meddle in our relationships--whatever he can do to distract us from pursuing the path that God has called us to.
Why?
Because a daughter of the King who has embraced her calling is a dangerous force to be reckoned with, and her potential impact on the Kingdom terrifies the enemy.
So. Let me encourage you today. Be aware of the schemes of the enemy. Fight against whatever he is currently using in your life right now to keep you discouraged and off track.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes...Stand firm."
(Eph. 6:10-11; 14a)
Sister, be brave in the face of adversity. And keep dreaming big for Jesus.

>> published on bravegirlcommunity.com <<

6.26.2017

The Beauty of Contentment



"There must be more than this provincial life."
- Belle, Beauty and the Beast


Maybe so, Belle. Maybe so.

I think it's easy to get lost in daydreams of something better when what we already have is actually pretty great. (In Belle's case, her adoring father, cute hometown, seemingly carefree schedule, unlimited access to books, various admirers, and not to mention her physical beauty and figure...)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that although Belle's ache for the next big thing is relatable, there's also something to be said for living a life of contentment.

I'm not talking about a life without dreams and aspirations. I'm talking about a life driven by gratitude rather than dissatisfaction. A life defined by the beauty of simplicity instead of the complexity and pain of comparison.

Like Belle, I'm guilty of getting lost in the wistful woe of wanting something more than what God has provided me with, especially when it comes to my physical appearance. I often compare my body to other women and deem myself inadequate if I feel I fall short. Sometimes instead of accepting the body God gave me and working to make it the best it can be, I wallow in what no longer comes naturally to me anymore, i.e. a fast metabolism and ability to eat a whole pizza by myself and not gain an ounce of weight.

There must be more than this provincial body of mine...who's with me on this?

Perhaps you struggle with finding contentment with your physical appearance as well.

Or maybe you struggle with contentment in your marriage. Have you ever thought there must be someone else out there who could make you happier than the man you're married to? Do you compare your husband to your friends' husbands and take mental notes of what they do that yours doesn't do?

Maybe your home/car/finances aren't quite measuring up to what you dreamed they'd be at this point in your life.

What is it about your current situation that you wish were different?

Once you figure out what the biggest areas of discontentment in your life are, ask yourself this: Is the thing you're struggling to live joyfully with something that at one time you considered to be a blessing?

You see, blessings grow dull and get blurred by discontentment when we allow comparison to creep into our hearts.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Proverbs 14:30 says, "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

There's not a whole lot that sounds better than a tranquil heart after being worn down by years of discontentment and comparison. The question is, how do we honestly overcome the way we've grown to see our circumstances that for so long we've deemed as subpar?

My sister went to Honduras a couple of years ago and told me about a woman she saw there who lived in a house with a dirt floor. Yet, every day, this woman was seen sweeping her floors. She didn't have very much, but she valued it anyway and did her best to take care of it.

Even though I didn't see her with my own eyes, the image of this lady sweeping her dirt floors stuck in my mind. When I think of her, I'm struck by the beauty of her contentment and the value she placed on what little she had. This is how we are called to care for the blessings we have been entrusted with. I think we keep on taking care of our bodies because it's the only one we have. We pour into and invest in our marriages because it's what we vowed to do. We work our hardest for the employer that hired us because they did so in good faith. We value what God has entrusted to us, whether it be a dirt-floor house or just the smallest one in the neighborhood.

I think we start acting like what we have is valuable--we water our own grass--then we watch it inevitably thrive as most things do when they are treated with care.

May we begin to see our surroundings with fresh eyes, full of gratitude and grace so that we may be able to confidently claim contentment in all things. (Phil. 4:11)  

<< published on bravegirlcommunity.com >>