It’s a boy!

I realize this post is a bit late, since I rather ruined the surprise in my previous pregnancy update. However, my motto recently (especially as I move into motherhood) has been “better late than never”, and as a first-time parent I’m sure it’s my duty to show off baby’s first photos, however blurry they may be.

Ashton and I really thought (we were nearly convinced!) that we were having a girl, but we did want an ultrasound to confirm the gender, and to see our little one for the first time. We were planning a trip to see my family (and I really wanted to share the experience with my mom), so I contacted my friends at the women’s pregnancy center in Omaha and asked if we could have one done there. I had volunteered at the center as an advocate for seven months, and at the end of most appointments I was able to be with the women as they had their ultrasound done and saw their baby for the first time. We thought it would be so special to see our own little one at the same center, with the same nurses I had volunteered with around us sharing in the joy.

US pic 2So during our trip to Omaha to see my family in October, we stopped in to the center, excited to see our little one and hoping (though not counting on!) finding out the gender. I was 17 weeks along and we knew it would be rather early to tell, but we were hoping! My mom went with us, so between us and the nurses, we had a room full of people excited to see the miracle inside my womb. And I must say… even after seeing plenty of ultrasounds as a volunteer, there really is nothing like getting a glimpse inside of your own womb, getting to see the profile and outline of your own baby, witnessing life growing in such a natural yet mind-blowing way.

US pic 3Our little truffle was very active the whole time. I honestly thought that I could usually tell when baby was awake and really moving around, but I was surprised to see so many strong, sharp movements going on that I couldn’t feel. We were thrilled to see our little one kicking up a storm, punching, twisting, rolling, swallowing, touching his face, and even waving at us (eliciting a lot of laughter and “awwwws” from the women in the room). I had no idea our baby was so active. Now that I’m even further along I can feel it more, but at the time it was so amazing to realize how much was going on inside my belly that I was unaware of.

US pic 5While we weren’t concerned about health issues or finding something unexpected, it was such a joy to see the perfect little body of this miracle our Creator has been knitting together… fingers, toes, little feet, strong femurs, the spine, the beating chambers of the heart, the brain, the skull, the ribs, the cute belly and the most adorable little nose you’ve ever seen.

And I’ll spare you the photos, but after long last we were able to get baby to hold still long enough to find out if we were having a son or daughter. And after four good pictures, everyone in the room pretty confidently agreed that we were looking at our little boy. Of course, we know an ultrasound can only be so accurate, and we could always be surprised in April! But we were confident enough to announce the gender and start planning for a navy blue themed nursery. We were pretty shocked, to say the least… a boy! I grew up with five brothers, but as we walked out of the center, grinning and stunned and so happy, I remember thinking… what am I going to do with a BOY?!

US pic 7But as surprised as we were, I know the answer. First, I’m going to kiss him, and snuggle, and examine his little nose, fingers and toes. Then, we’re going to raise him to fear the Lord and to walk in His ways. We’re going to play in the park and go exploring, build with legos and travel around with model trains. We’re going to build things and read books and play hide-and-seek. And we’re going to enjoy the moments we have as we raise a son for the Kingdom.

We are so excited!

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20 Weeks and a Pregnancy Update

Friday marked 20 weeks of life for our little baby boy! We’re already halfway through this pregnancy and can hardly believe how time has flown by… after the holidays speed past, April will just be around the corner! There are days we are just in awe over the fact that life is growing inside of me… that the bumps and kicks we feel is a precious child that the Lord knew from the beginning of time… and that child is ours! With his own unique personality and character, physical features and body type. We are savoring this time of newness and anticipation, but are so looking forward to meeting our son and watching him grow outside the womb.

Baby Truffle has grown right on track, and is now roughly 10 inches long from head to toe, about the length of a banana. He has pretty good range of motion, and we already know our little one is strong, after both feeling him kick his little legs at an early 15 weeks. We can feel him punch, kick, roll over, and sometimes wonder if he’s jumping and turning somersaults as well. His favorite time to be active is when mommy is getting ready to sleep, but he gets pretty quiet when daddy reads a book out loud, since he can hear our voices now.

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So far, the pregnancy has gone fairly smoothly and I am feeling like one blessed momma, especially after hearing stories of prolonged morning sickness and ongoing pain issues. I had about a month and a half of morning sickness towards the beginning where it was almost impossible to eat full meals, and all I really wanted was toast. Then I had about 4-6 weeks of lower back pain that peaked to a point where I was having a hard time walking up stairs and couldn’t turn over in bed. That was by far the lowest point of the first trimester, as I didn’t know how I could make it through a healthy pregnancy if it continued or got worse. It gave me an opportunity to really cry out to the Lord, place my trust in Him, and learn not to waste the pain but learn from it. And praise the Lord, He almost completely lifted the pain and soreness the day of our anniversary at 12 weeks, and it hasn’t come back since.

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Otherwise, my list of complaints is fairly short. I occasionally have pelvis issues but nothing that can stop me from going through my day. I do have to be more careful what I expect my squished, rearranged stomach to digest, and my gag reflex is functioning amazingly well, especially with leftovers I’m tired of.  I’m slowly phasing out pre-baby clothing from my closet, though I’m definitely holding out as long as I can before shopping maternity. I’ve been able to teach an exercise/ballet class once a week, which feels great, except for the fact that bending over is starting to feel kind of weird (oh yeah, I guess I can’t really do that anymore!). I’m still sleeping well at night, though, and naptime isn’t always necessary to make me feel human (yay!).

Ashton and I are very blessed to be in a Church community that supports and helps equip us as we prepare for a natural, hands-off, healthy pregnancy and delivery, so we feel fairly prepared even as we continue to pray, read, and prepare. We started taking Bradley classes and I continue to read books on nutrition, breastfeeding, and natural childbirth. We’re starting to rearrange our second bedroom and plan out the nursery, as well as build our registry… which can seem like an overwhelming task, with so many different baby products and items on the market today. However, we strongly feel that natural is best, that babies don’t need every new gadget under the sun to be happy, and that we can take a more minimalistic approach as we consider what to bring into our home. Even then, the list is quite long!

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We continue to pray for our little boy… that he would be strong, healthy, meek in character, a joy to many. We pray that he would follow the Lord with all of his heart, and that God would equip us with the wisdom and love we need to raise him to fear and follow his Creator. It seems like such an unattainable goal, to be good, godly parents and role models, but we are excited at this responsibility, and know that our feeble efforts will be blessed as we commit our ways, and our children, to the Lord.

To my sister-in-Christ who is waiting for children…

I think of you often, you know. As my baby grows within me and I feel his movement, kicks, punches, I desire you to feel the same joy and anticipation of meeting your little one. I pray for you, I grieve with you, even though I don’t really know how you feel. I pray silently because I don’t know what to say that would comfort you without coming across as that mom who pretends to know what you’re experiencing, when she really doesn’t.

When we’re talking and having conversations, I want to share my joy with you and draw you into my experiences as a pregnant momma, make you a welcome part of the process so you’re not looking in from the outside, but instead brought into our circle. But there are times I just don’t know how much to say and share, because I don’t want to remind you of the ache and longing for your own child.

Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography

Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography

I do see, you know… the tears or sadness as you’re having a particularly rough day, the hope and desire lingering behind your smile during conversations. I pray for you during the service when there is a baptism, a baby announcement. I want to give you a hug and let you know that I’m thinking of you but I just don’t feel bold enough… to step out and risk a misunderstanding, or look as if I’m pretending to understand when I know I really don’t.

Many of my facebook posts are thought through with you in mind. We want to share our joy over our son, but I never want to be “that” mom who can’t talk about anything but herself, her experiences, her baby. I always think of you when posting pregnancy updates and photos for friends, hoping that one day soon you too can announce your happy news to the world. I hope you know how genuinely I want that for you.

I also hope you know that I want to be friends. I hope I’ve never given the impression that my new and only hangout is with the moms. You have so much to offer in your friendship, your experiences, your talents, your conversations… and sometimes in refreshingly different ways. Sure, the moms can talk kid stuff, but it doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t just as meaningful, relevant, and necessary within the body. If I ever seem awkward in conversation, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to you, it’s because I’m trying to figure out how to be genuine and sensitive at the same time when it’s my turn to share what I’ve been up to.

Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography

Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography

And please don’t let Satan trick you into thinking that you and your husband have less to offer because you don’t have children yet. I know it may be hard, especially in family-integrated communities, to remember how vital you are in the kingdom. But your marriage does not mean less, and you as a member are not any less important before you have kids. In fact, you have so much to give as a couple with time and energy, and the areas of impact you could have even before establishing a family are limitless. I know sermons and conversations and events are often focused on families, but you are a family even now, and we truly value and love you for the unique gifts you bring to the body of Christ, with or without children.

I hope that you know that you are not forgotten, and you are not alone. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers… and there are many of us who are praying for you and eagerly looking forward to the day when we can rejoice with you as you add to your family. We who have not experienced infertility may not always know how to say it, or when, but we love you and earnestly desire that your prayers would be answered and your heart’s cry attended to.

I think of you often, you know…

Practicing Joy as an Expectant Mama

So I’m expecting. I’m expecting! This is an exciting season of anticipation that is filled with newness, joy, and wonder. However, when I sit down and really think about the future, it can sometimes feel like the calm before a storm, the peace before the chaos, the fun before all that hard work!

I am a natural worrier. I don’t need encouragement to think about the future and all the hard things that may come with it. What if we get overwhelmed and can’t properly take care of our kids? What if I have a physical problem and can’t even cook dinner, let alone take care of my family? How does a mom with an infant and toddlers in tow use a public restroom???

There are lots of questions, and plenty of puzzles, if I allow myself to think on all the potential complications or frustrations or difficulties or sacrifice involved in raising a family. I mean, I grew up in a family of nine. I know raising kids isn’t a piece of cake (though as a middle child, of course I was the exception…). We’re told it’s hard work, it takes a lot of sacrifice, it involves basically no sleep for the first year and you won’t have time to use the bathroom alone for 3 minutes.

But wait, isn’t this supposed to be a time of joy? We’re told children are a blessing. We believe that, and we’re so excited to meet and love on our little Truffle. But there are times when I think it’s easy to have my joy as an expectant first-time mother be overshadowed (overwhelmed?) by all the available advice of others who have gone before.

I know they mean well. I know my brothers and sisters would not seek to discourage when they share their insight into parenthood. But if there’s one line I’ve heard most frequently during my pregnancy, it’s “enjoy this time while you have it”, or “savor these moments- you’ll never have this time again!”. I can’t speak for other new moms, but to me, those phrases simply encourage a dread of the future, a feeling that something is about to be lost that can never be regained… that the clock is ticking and we better hurry up and enjoy where we’re at before it’s behind us. And I hate that feeling.

As a first-time expectant mom I don’t fully understand it yet, but I watch-and admire- you mothers as you make sacrifices for your family. I see you struggle through your difficult trimester, I observe you coming to church with little ones in tow, looking tired and worn from the past week. I hear your prayer requests for strength, your plea for help when you don’t think you can make it through the day without an extra pair of hands. I don’t need words said to know that there will be difficulties ahead.

But, I’m expecting. I’m expecting! This little baby is just the size of a lemon but so, so precious, and I’ve never been through labor or stayed up all night with Truffle or figured out the whole child-training thing… but we can’t wait! We’re young and in love and blessed and want to welcome our sweet child with open arms, holding nothing back, without regrets and without fear. We want to greet the month of April without counting how many times pre-baby we were able to sleep in, or just leave the house when we want to, or have time just the two of us. Our time as newlyweds has been wonderful, sanctifying, and precious… and we want to believe and anticipate that our time as parents will be even more so. We want to greet the future with joy.

I really do think there are times when it’s better to hang on to some of that innocence, that sweet naivete. To hold hands while stepping into the unknown, as husband and wife, to discover the easy and the hard, the “better” and the “worse” without anxieties of “what may be” tugging at our hearts. And right now the best gift I could ask for from other parents is that of wisdom, yes… but even more importantly, encouragement to choose joy, because it is a choice. To choose it now, to practice thanksgiving, to highlight the blessings in life even while working through the difficulties. To know that as hard as it may be, and look, and seem, that it’s so amazingly worth it, and that the blessings far outweigh the hardship.

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If you are a parent who knows other new moms and dads, consider how you share advice, insight and wisdom. Certainly we need to know what to expect, how to prepare; and there’s no better way to learn than from those who have years of experience. Advice is greatly needed and appreciated, so long as it’s balanced between the joyful and the difficult, and not focused on the negatives. It may just be that the young parent needs to hear encouragement and celebration more than anything… to see the genuine love and joy, as weary as it may come, on your face as you raise your own children.

Ashton and I are so excited about our little one, and any other blessings that may come. And today, I’m going to touch my growing belly and praise God for the season we’re in, and the season we look forward to with great joy, knowing that we serve a faithful Father who plans good things for his children.

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“1st Anniversary” Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography

One Year Ago

Ashton,

One year ago, I woke up alone with butterflies in my stomach, ready for our wedding day to begin. Now I get to wake up every morning next to the love of my life.

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One year ago, I carefully dressed and prepared myself to be the most beautiful bride for you. Since we’ve been married, it’s been a delight to be beautiful for you… the only one you desire. But even more precious are the days when I feel so much less than pretty, and you still see me as your bride in white.

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One year ago, on that peaceful sunny morning, I somewhat nervously walked up the patio where you waited to see me… wanting to surprise and delight you, not knowing exactly what your reaction would be. Now that we’ve grown in deeper trust towards each other, we don’t have to be nervous about sharing the new or unexpected… I know that you will always love me and care for me, just as you have every day this past year.

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One year ago, we prepared for the day and took fun photos with our wedding party. And how blessed we have been to build on those friendships as husband and wife, together… how blessed I am to have a husband who desires to share meaningful relationships with the dear people in our life.

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One year ago, my father prayed over me before the ceremony started; his last prayer over me as my protector and leader. Now I am daily blessed by a husband who leads spiritually and prays for me and our baby.

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One year ago, I stood nervously on the back staircase, holding my Dad’s arm as I watched my bridesmaids disappear into into the sanctuary… waiting, waiting for the final moment to walk towards you. Now there is no waiting, no hesitating, and every day is an eager embrace when we meet.

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One year ago, I walked down the aisle towards you on the arm of my father, overwhelmed by the moment and trying hard not to cry. Today and every day, we get to walk together, you and me, through this journey called life. And how grateful I am for the man I walk beside!

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One year ago, we looked each other in the eyes and said our vows, promising to be faithful yet not really knowing what that would look like yet. After a year, we’ve gone through our misunderstandings and long conversations and hurts and tears and become closer and deeper in love as a result… beginning the discovery of what it means to live out our vows.

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One year ago, we kissed for the first time, and in front of 350 people! And now we kiss all the time, only… not always in front of people. And while I appreciated the sacrifice of our chaperones, it’s still pretty cool and exciting that we get to be all alone now, just the two of us.

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One year ago, as we stepped out of the Church into the sunny Fall day, you surprised me with a vintage mint green car as our getaway vehicle, complete with dapper, charming chauffeur! And you have brought so many fun surprises along the way in this past year.

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One year ago, we walked into our reception together, for the first time, as husband and wife… truly blessed and humbled by all of our family and friends who filled the room. This past year, we have had many opportunities to attend events, volunteer, show hospitality, and be a team together as we step out into our community. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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One year ago, I danced with my Daddy as we both cried together, knowing that such a happy day also brought an end to a special season of life together. In the year that has followed, I have been blessed by your desire to build stronger relationships with our families, and to watch you become a part of mine, even as we establish our own.

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One year ago, you and I danced together; our special first dance that we had practiced. We did pretty well, even though we only had one class and a few times to practice beforehand. But even now, we’re so much more in tune with each other as we dance through life… I can anticipate how you will lead and know better how to follow, we step on each other’s toes less and less as we grow in maturity, and we have become more fluid in our movements as we set patterns and habits for the future.

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One year ago today, we drove away from our reception, past the blur of smiling faces, waving hands, dear hearts. Saying goodbye to our former selves, our single selves, and saying hello to a new life, a new beginning, an exciting unknown as husband and wife. And we haven’t looked back. Life has been full, life has been blessed, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the precious first year the Lord has given us.

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I love you to the moon and back, Ashton. Happy anniversary!

Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography 

The next adventure

Ashton and I love adventures. We like traveling, going to new places, trying different things. Our honeymoon to Switzerland was our first adventure after getting married, and living in a new city and getting plugged into some ministries and projects together has been a fun “adventure at home”.

But really, not even beautiful Switzerland can compare with the adventure that started when we found out, with great joy, that we are expecting our first baby. We were hoping and praying for this blessing, and in late July I began to wonder if those unexpected, intense hunger pains just might be a signal… so on the 21st, our 10th monthiversary, I decided to take a test. I knew it would probably be way to early to get a positive, but if there was any chance, why not find out on the day we got married on?

P1170850After I excitedly turned over the test to see two lines, I was shocked and excited and tearful all at once! Needless to say, the rest of my day wasn’t terribly productive. I spend my time journaling and praying and smiling and putting together a special card for Ashton. I could hardly wait to watch him walk up the street on his way home from work so that I could tell him. Since it was our monthiversary, I was dressed up and ready to go out on our special dinner date, and nonchalantly sat him down on the couch and gave him a card, which we also like to do on the 21st of each month.

P1170857When Ashton read the card- which was actually a note from baby, instead of the traditional card from me- he didn’t believe me at first! I, however, acted upon my pregnant instincts and promptly started crying. We’re going to have a baby! This is really happening! We stopped by a meeting to catch the parts we needed to before heading to dinner… almost sure our little smiles and looks would give us away. We spent a romantic dinner on cloud nine, still trying to take it all in.

DSC_0458We decided to wait a bit to announce our news, especially as we wanted to surprise our parents and family in a meaningful way, which can require planning when my family is 6 hours away. The morning sickness hit around 5 1/2 weeks, but I managed to live on granola bars and only vomit at home… making it through a busy wedding weekend without letting our secret out.

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Finally, at 7 weeks, we announced to my family over Skype, having sent them a box in the mail containing baby booties, and then Ashton’s family that weekend while we visited them. We were so excited to finally have our news out and be able to share it with those closest to us!

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DSC_0508Today marks 10 weeks already. Next week I’ll have my first prenatal visit, and we’re hoping we get to hear a heartbeat!

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 Baby Truffle is expected to arrive in April of 2015. We are so excited to meet our little one; and what an adventure it will be, as we become a family of three!

11 Months

11 months today! 11 months since I walked down the aisle, heart pounding, holding my Dad’s arm and with a small smile on my face… trying not to cry with the emotion of it all. Knowing my life was changing, turning, knowing that with each step I was moving into a new life as your beloved.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingHow long had I waited to see you standing there, waiting for me… me! You looked so serious, but I knew you were feeling it all inside. Your hands clasped, waiting at the end of the walk to take my hand. It seemed like such a long wait before, when I didn’t know your name, but all of a sudden that all melted away and it didn’t seem so long anymore. How my heart rejoices now that the Lord timed my walk down the aisle perfectly, and that you were the man He chose to place at the front of that sanctuary on that sunny Saturday afternoon.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingYou know I love my Daddy so much! One thing I appreciated so much, and have come to love even more these past 11 months, is your respect and love for both of our fathers. Just as my Dad raised and loved and protected me before giving me to you, so I look forward to watching you love and nurture our daughters as we prepare them for their husbands. You are going to be an amazing Dad!

 

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingLooking into your eyes and saying our vows to each other. So much meaning, such a beautiful promise, such a big responsibility before the Lord and all our witnesses. So little we understand yet! But by God’s grace, He has begun to show us over these 11 months what it means to live out our vows.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingGod truly gave me a man with loving, caring hands. Nothing is truly perfect in this world, but they are perfect for me. They have comforted, served, guided, and protected me. Our hands are the Lord’s, and just as He is honored as we raise them in worship, so He is honored when we clasp them in marriage as a sign of devotion… a reflection of His relationship with His bride, the Church. How I love those hands…

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingOnly 11 months later and I feel we have grown so much, and still have a world to discover together. I savor the discovery and adventure… from the mundane to the special, doing it all with you is a gift I don’t deserve.

I love you, Ashton. Happy 11 months!

Ten Months

View More: http://www.kathryngracephotography.comTen months today. Every day a gift, every laugh a treasure, every tear a mark of growth and bonding. How very little I deserve this joy, this delight of growing with another person. We are both sinners, both so small in the great scheme of things… simply grains of dust, here one moment and gone the next.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingYet our love is so much bigger than the two of us, our dedication and commitment so much stronger than anything we possess. I know we’re young, I know we have a life ahead in which to learn and have the edges rubbed off. But the foundation of the cross is already laid; a foundation that we stand on and trust to guide us through our immaturity, our failings, our frustrations. With such a big God as the author of our love story, we can continue to move ahead in youthful excitement and hopeful anticipation, knowing that He holds our marriage and our future in His hands.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingTen months today. How very little I deserve those arms encircling me, those hands lovingly guiding me, a visible, physical picture of our Father in heaven who loves us oh, so much more than we could fathom. To have been found by a man here on earth who strives after the character of Christ; our Savior who gave his life so that we might live… I am blessed beyond measure not just by an earthly, passing love from my husband, but a love founded on something deep, rich, and eternal. 

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingHappy ten months, my Ashton.

 

Lately…

Ashton and I will have been married for ten months, come next Monday. The Lord has been faithful, and it has been a very wonderful ten months! On one hand we feel as if a lot has happened, but on the other hand, as if time has flown by and wasn’t it just yesterday we were saying our vows at the altar?

Our lives right now are fairly easy-going, though for a while we were traveling and having guests almost continually… which is fun, but we are thankful for a summer at home.

Our last trip was out to Nebraska to visit my family over my birthday and the 4th of July. It also meant the trip to say goodbye to my Border Collie, Mac. I had been caught up in wedded bliss while holding on to the hope that Ashton and I would have a home suitable for him soon… and then as life settled down and we ended up signing on for another year at the apartment, I accepted the reality that we wouldn’t be able to take him anytime soon, and my family had their hands full without trying to give him the attention he needed. The Lord provided at the last minute so that I could say goodbye and meet his new owner on our trip in July. There were few tears, and Mac was overjoyed to meet his new playmate and girlfriend, May, and it made it easier to say goodbye as I watched him so enamored and in love.

P1170769It was a great visit home… a more relaxing time to be with my parents, siblings, and grandparents. Family is a blessing, and I take them for granted much less now as a married woman living six hours away… which didn’t sound so far away in the beginning, but as time goes on puts a bigger gap between family time than I anticipated. But, anything that we love and see less of just becomes even more treasured.

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I definitely miss the big, open deck at my parents house… especially as we are living more in the city and see less of the sky. Ashton and I soaked up the sunsets and rolling countryside in the distance while we were there!
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IMG_4680It was fun to visit Fort Atkinson the morning of my birthday, to visit my sister who was reenacting, and to see the place we girls and the boys haunted when we could… in our historical garb, reenacting and dancing. It was a beautiful weekend!

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Flash back to Saturday, June 21st. Ashton and I decided to change things up and have our monthly date (nine months to the day we got married) in the morning. We forced ourselves out of bed early enough to catch the beautiful sunrise as it came over the Illinois river. It was so worth it!

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Then we went to one of our favorite farm-to-table restaurants… Harvest Cafe in rural Illinois. We were hungry and savored every bite of our hash, eggs Benedict, juice and coffee. IMG_4506Another flash back to one of our “firsts”… our first time at the Statewide home school conference near Chicago. It was exciting to go as a married couple, as we are praying for and preparing for the blessing of children, and the privilege of teaching them.

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Another first… our first time visiting the Creation Museum together.

IMG_4539While in Cincinnati for a board meeting with Samaritan Ministries, we went downtown on the river for drinks and then walked across on a pedestrian bridge as music from the live band on the river filled the air. We really enjoyed Cincinnati and hope to go back to discover more of the city.

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IMG_4610Life is fun with this guy!

 

Our Wedding (part five)

Wedding Reception

After we took our “kissing photos” at the front of the Church (and with our amazing, retro getaway car!), we drove over to the Church fellowship hall where our guests were waiting and made our entrance…

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingThere are several moments on September 21st when time stood still, and I was overwhelmed by the realization of the day, and our blessings. One such moment was when we walked into the reception hall… the decorations were beautiful, the room transformed… but what caused me to blink back tears of thankfulness and awe was seeing the large room filled with the smiling faces of our friends, family, students, role models. How rich, how showered with blessings we were by the presence of so many wonderful people who were rejoicing with us.

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingA woman from my Church, a dance mom, and their helpers did such an amazing job decorating the hall for us! We sat up on the stage with our wedding party, and were served an English tea menu with delicious food planned by my mother and prepared by Ashton’s aunt, and several women in the kitchen. So many people involved in our special day!

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingBlessed, tired, thankful, finally husband and wife, relaxing with our guests. Happy!

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingBlessed by the presence of the dear friends in our lives.

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My sister and maid of honor, giving her speech.

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She did a great job, as did the best man. No embarrassing stories, either! :D

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Though we did get some laughs, which is always fun.

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The bridal cake was a gift from a kind lady from my Church! All the cake options were quite yummy.

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Of course, when you pick a group of fun-loving guys who know each other fairly well to be the groomsmen, they’re going to come up with something fun and goofy to surprise you with. In our case, it was a follow-up to a thread of emails in which I jokingly told the guys what they were wearing (and not wearing). Hence, the afros.

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Our first dance as husband and wife. Ashton’s brother gave us the gift of dance lessons for our first dance, so we had one simply choreographed to the song we had chosen; “Let the Words Escape” by Chris Rice. We had fun learning it together, but even more fun dancing on our special day.

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“I love you… let the words escape.”
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“Love, you snuck up behind me… I thought I was hiding, but oh, how I fell for you.”

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“My heart beats double inside me, as I learn to love and say my prayers for two.”View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingOur father daughter dance, done to “Through the Eyes of My Father” by Brianna Haynes. I cried every time I heard our song being played beforehand, but I wasn’t prepared for my Dad to be the one crying first as we got out onto the floor…

“From the start, you were first, he loves you at your worst, he’ll do anything… a father”
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“He shows you what love is, saw your dreams before you did”
View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding“A father’s like the Father in the way he loves you”

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding“A strong hand as your guide, feel his strength by your side, he’ll give anything… a father”

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“He is everything, like your heavenly Father… I see love in my fathers eyes, I see love.”View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding

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View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingDancing with my students! Trying not to cry…

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Precious faces that I miss.

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Precious hugs, that I treasure.

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Fun dancing with all the members of the English Country dance performance group!

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Dancing was such a huge part of my single years, and it was special to have lots of it at our reception.

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Especially when our guests could get out and enjoy it, too!

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I have to brag on my brother and my dear friend and bridesmaid, Christa. They do the Charleston like no other dancing couple I know! When the song started playing, they totally busted some moves and everyone was watching and clapping in time.

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I also have to brag on my younger brothers and the young men from my Church in Omaha… they acted as the waiters and served the luncheon meal to our 350 guests. They were amazing, and did a wonderful, “handsome” job! It really added a special flavor to our reception and was a very nice treat for us and our guests. View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding

View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingBefore we left, I had made a point of asking our family and wedding party to gather with us in the foyer as our guests congregated outside with their bubbles in hand. I wanted to make sure that we had a quiet, special and private moment to say goodbye to those closest to us.

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Climbing into our very special getaway car. View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferwedding

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View More: http://kathryngracephotography.pass.us/ashtonjenniferweddingFinal moment of the celebration, as time slowed and I took all the faces in one last time before we drove off… smiles, waves, overwhelming happiness and undeserved goodness poured out on us from the Lord… through our friends and loved ones. 

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Our day was so blessed. We praise the Lord for everyone who blessed us in so many ways that weekend. We praise Him for our wedding day; and every day that has passed since.

Happy nine months of marriage, Ashton!