Wednesday, March 30, 2011

nicknames for the girls

Homer and Louisa B. named their first daughter Lynn, with a "Y",  and then when their next daughter was named Blythe, or maybe by the time their third daughter, Gayle, came along, they were pretty committed to having a Y in each of their girls' names.  Might as well stick with it, right?  It's sweet to see the camaraderie.

Their Lynn was my mama and I love her and miss her dearly.  And I love that our first daughter was born on her birthday.  Marian often goes by "May" in our home and I know she wasn't born in May and it would be more traditional to spell it with an E but we will spell it with that precious Y.   It's important to tie her name to her grandma and her aunts that love her too.  (And we love that May (美) in Chinese means 'beautiful' because we sure think she is.)

Early in the North Dakota spring of 1977, Dale and Mary K. met their first child, a baby boy, who would grow up thinking that his grandmother's name was simply the most beautiful a woman's name could be.  Three months after he was born, I was born and given a name that rhymned with his favorite.   When we grew up, I got to marry that boy and I do love him madly.  And now that the first two girls in our family are Jillian and Marian we also had a tradition to uphold...

And so we have our new baby girl, Vivian, (chosen not just for the rhyme, but for the meaning) and we think it's cute how all our girl names match, but we know that it could be a bit much perhaps...  so, just to keep our options open, she gets a great short name as well.  

I am blessed to have some of the most tremendous friends in the world.  Ladies that have blessed my life from toddler years  through now.   In high school, one of my dear friends, Vivianna, went by "Vivi" for short (pronounced like Vivian, just without the N).   That our daughter can go by the same short name as this friend ties her, in my heart, to the whole group of girlfriends that are closest to me.  I am so grateful for you dear friends, and so glad to have this loose, but still significant to me connection, for my girl to all of you.

And my mama, she knew my girlfriends well.    I know she would be happy to call her second granddaughter by this name, remembering this friend, and that makes me so happy too!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

more of our little princess

 It's been cold in our home for the past week (since the heat has been turned off) so this is what our sweet Vivi usually looks like.

 I never knew the joy of having any siblings, but I am so happy our kids do...  sisters and brothers! Grace upon grace!!

 this is one absolutely smitten daddy
 The boys adore their little sister too... but my photo opportunities have been too few so far.   Brother shots coming (hopefully!)
 Good-bye Kara!  Our sweet midwife took off yesterday to visit a few friends in Asia...  I still tear up every time I think of the amazing gift she gave us to come all this way and deliver our baby girl.  We praise the Lord for you, dear Kara!

She is so beautiful, so sweet, so little!!  
 When she was first born I wondered (probably for the fourth time) "would my baby ever fill out these 0-3 month clothes at the end of only three months?"  But I can tell now (just day eleven) that she'll be filling them before long!

Mr. Tough Guy

Today was the second time we've gotten this call:  "This is Isaiah's school...  Isaiah was hurt and he's bleeding.  Can you please come?"  Matt was quickly on his way and upon arriving, quickly saw that it wasn't serious.  Breath of relief.  

Our son was play-wrestling with a cool 6 year-old classmate we've come to know well in our less than a month at this school.... this boy is a fun, goofy kid, and as the teachers told Matt, "He's not too careful."  But there were no hard feelings and Isaiah came home proud of his battle wounds (and shyly glad for the extra attention), and daddy boasted to me too, "this is going to make a great scar."  
(yea... that's a smile hiding in there... he knew a treat was coming)

love and concern from the little guy...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

beyond words

My heart feels really halted these days to try to put words to all that is brimming in me...  Stunned Gratitude.  Humbling Unworthiness.  general... AWE.  

Loving the thought (from Ann's book & blog) of how anchoring our hearts in thankfulness and looking for grace and beauty everywhere to be thankful always really does anchor my wandering selfish mind to the goodness of God-  remind me constantly that HE IS GOOD.  Right now it's plain and easy for us to see his goodness- and we don't deserve it one bit- but I want to be strengthened in this discipline of gratitude to spill over everywhere, in every future season of life too...

Today, we abound in thanks to God for:

~ this new little girl, a daughter, like a little Lucy to complete our Narnia adventures team  (pics:  Vivian, 2.5 days old)

~ oh the better than velvet softness of her skin, and her scent

~  those precious smiles that flash across her tiny precious face

~ her squeaks

~  the big kids that adore her...  "Tisses(kisses), moo (more) tisses" from John, and "I'm really good at giving her kisses 'cause I love her so much", from Isaiah.

~ big sister loving being mama's helper, loving everything about the new little girl

~for a home that is tolerably cool now that the gov. has turned off the heat... and for the space heater we have cranked in our room for Vivian

~ for a cuddly time with a sick big brother (he came down hard with it this afternoon)... and his ridiculous but still cute outfit that daddy dressed him in for our cold home.  (The bling- big sister's necklace- was John's own addition)
~ and for peace that God knows this sickness and these tender little ones we so long to protect and heal quickly

~(in the pic above) sweet simple grace that these curtains dropped to the ground 36 hours after baby was born just in front of them...  I'm completely content to see them sprawled across the floor for now- they were up when they were most needed and they'll be fixed eventually.

~ a chance for Isaiah to play with friends and how he told the taxi driver in Chinese how to get to our home (he travelled with our midwife to his buddies' house today.)

~ Marian's great joy to dance for us and her creativity to make this "doctor outfit"

 ~ the most incredible husband-servant-daddy-friend who has blessed me so generously, encouragingly, has run our home, cared for everything and is right now bringing me a smoothie...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

our precious daughter

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  
According to his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...  
I Peter 1:3

Matthew, Jillian, Isaiah, Marian & John

Joyfully announce the birth of our new baby GIRL!

Vivian Hope 
meaning ~ Living Hope

Her Local Name:

Xi Chen

meaning ~ Hope Dawns

4:15 am ~  7 lbs, 1 oz

Her Name... Our Prayer and Banner

The Bright Morning Star, 
Hope of our lives,
is Christ the Lord and He will rise
the sun
dawn a day ahead 
when he will come and wake the dead*
and broken things will finally mend,
injustices put to an end.

Our Living Hope is Christ the Lord!
May He be forever adored
in you, for all your days,
and in us too as we all raise
our eyes to Him 
each morning, night
and pray to live this glorious fight
with zeal, faithfully for his name
and in his grace and for his praise.  

Sweet daughter, love 
we raise over you
a banner of grace, life, love and truth

"To trust the world or self is dark
Christ is the hope light of my heart.
Rescued from death of sin, All Grace!
My life in Him is Praise and Thanks!"

*We think first of Vivian's nearest older, nearest girl cousin, Maelee Linn, Greg and Heather's daughter, whose feet never touched this dirty earth but are wild running  and dancing now around the throne of God.  We so look forward with great hope to these girls playing together, worshipping and marveling at their King and Lord of Grace together on that day...

The story of her arrival:

Thursday night I felt like my body was ripe and ready to have baby (baby was low and I knew I was already dilated well) so we called our friends across town to see if we could get the inflatable pool back from them.  (My good friend here Amy had a whole day of false labor just before this and the pool was left at her house, expecting that she would need it first.)  When I knew the pool was coming back to us, I took off for a good walk and I was praying as I went that this would be the night....  Sadly, our internet wasn't working so we couldn't communicate this precious prayer request....

I woke up at 12:10 and started timing contractions, but as has always been the case for me, my contractions were not regular and not all that long.  But this time, they were painful- and that means something!  I woke Matt up at 1:30 and asked him to fill the pool with air-  I still wasn't sure if we should fill it up with the limited drinking water we had bought.  (Tap water here is quite polluted, not drinkable.)  At 1:40 I woke up our sweet midwife to see what she thought...  I really wasn't sure at all that this was labor, but I did know I was in pain.   I paced the living room for a while and we decided to finally call my dear friend Alycia to come help/ be here for the big kids (Isaiah and Marian had both woken up because of the lights and sounds) and my friend An Mei, who was going to take pictures and be transport for us to a hospital, if needed.   

They were both her by 3:00am I think, which was just after I got in the pool to see if it would add some comfort to contractions.... and it did, though they were still pretty near mind-blowing (worse than the others?  It seems like that to me as I think of it now.)

Matt prayed for me at one point, specifically for fear, as I was really battling it- fearing that the contractions would continue to increase, worsen and I would just not be able to take it.  After prayer, I really did feel the fear lifted, my battle was more clear-shot, and now it was not long.  Kara coached me so well and decided to break the sac of waters around 4:10.  Just a few more pushes and Vivi's head was delivered.  Matt and Kara were both delighted to see Vivi open her eyes and look around while she was still underwater.  (In a waterbirth, baby doesn't switch from the amniotic-water-swimming system to the oxygen-breathing-system until the head touches air.)  After a minute to turn her shoulders, Vivi was born and came straight to my chest.... to wait to meet her whole family together.    (That video is in the post below.)

We DELIGHT in this gift of God for our family!

Meeting Baby...

We have been really looking forward to this moment... not knowing how the timing or details would work out, but really hoping that we could all meet our baby together.  Grace upon grace, our baby was born smooth and healthy and we woke the kids up (at 4:15 am) for a groggy introduction to their new sibling.  It might take some time to load the video- so maybe let it load before you try to watch?

a few quick notes...

Yep, those are the biggest smiles that could ever stretch across Matt's face or mine...

Matt whispers one part:  "Do we have a new baby brother or a sister?"

For Marian's counting, she includes Mom and Dad for the total number of boys and girls in our family.  

Since this middle of the night meeting, the kids have each showered kisses on Vivi.  It hadn't quite arrived on the spot, but the love is definitely there now in all the big siblings for our sweetest little darling.

We praise the Lord for this baby GIRL!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


We've been having lots of fun...  and we are eagerly, excitedly awaiting baby's arrival!  Here are some shots, none of which would win photo awards, but hopefully still share a story worth telling.

(a week and half ago) This "Jumping Bed" was a happy invitation for 36wks-inside baby to come sooner than later :) and it was a super fun last big outing as a family of 5.  Matt wasn't allowed on the bounce house but, thanks to a winter coat to cover the babe, I was still allowed on to help John get around.  He did great for his first time on.... lots of bravery in this 3rd born!  And the kids had lots of fun still playing with Daddy from the sidelines: "the push game."  He is such a fun dad!

Yes, I know classier moms would put away the Christmas socks by now, but they just arrived in a package from Auntie Amy about 2 weeks ago and they are still nearly magic in our boys' eyes so I just let them enjoy.... and no one here knows their really for December anyways!

Wonderful ladies that we worship with on Sundays hosted a super thoughtful shower for Amy and I on Saturday.  Marian was invited to attend as well and it was really sweet to share that morning with my beauty sweet girl.  UPDATE-  my pregnant friend Amy has just gone into labor (Wed afternoon) and I've just returned from taking our midwife Kara to her house...  so excited to hear this new baby news and to have Kara back with us for our little one soon (hopefully!).

Daddy bought some sand to replace the muddy dirt in one end of our planters so now we have a proper sandbox that the kids are delighted to play in for longest possible stretches of daylight.  What a gift!  And since we're unsure how long we'll get to live here, we haven't bought any plants yet for these great planters...   but Matt did make a treasureful find at the trash cans downstairs!  We all love this little orange tree (in the back corner) and sure hope she takes root here!  And hopefully some seeds will sprout up for us here too... in time...

Recently, I decided that the "cadillac blog design" that I was gifted  with for Christmas had served it's season.  It was beginning to feel like a cadillac with dark tinted windows that just was too fancy and too dark for me.... so we're back to free and simple.  I know, silly me...

And recently, we've had lots to celebrate.  Matt and I have marked SEVEN years together.  I truly can hardly believe how incredibly I have been blessed to be married to this man...  he's my very best friend and I just can't believe I get to be his love all our life.  Oh I am So Blessed.   I love him sooo much... THANK YOU Lord for this husband, this father for our kids.

And today is our big boy's FIVE year mark.  How can this be!?   He was committed to the idea of cinnamon rolls for breakfast... and he got them and oh they need to be improved!  We're all looking forward to a big bash to celebrate with new buddies at our new place, but for now we're thinking the party might just come several weeks out....  

We look forward to two more celebrations hopefully soon....  Daddy's big day is in just one week and maybe in this week?, we'll have our little one's birthday to celebrate too!

(Matt's parents told us they refer to March Maddness, as Matt's March Maddness...   Yes, it is:  crazy, wonderfully, mad! )

Monday, March 14, 2011

She's Here!.... (the midwife)

We are absolutely blown away that the Father would move such a qualified, skillful woman to take 5 weeks out of her stateside career as a midwife to come and be with us and serve us in delivering our baby.  Such grace!

Kara arrived smoothly Saturday night and we've had lots of fun connecting about birth plans and watching contractions this afternoon... 

Now that she is here, any time is good to meet our little one!  We are so excited to know who God has chosen, who He has been knitting in me all this time, who He has known since before the creation of the world!  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prayers for K4


We're so grateful for you who love us and are lifting us up to God from the other side of the world!  Thank you!  We do have a few things that we have no efforts to make on our own that will see results.... we are entirely dependent on the Lord.  Would you pray for these points with us?

1)  Healthy Birth and Baby... {and timing}:  Our midwife arrives this Saturday!   Yesterday at church, Amy, my preggy friend who will also have a homebirth with our midwife Kara, told me she really doesn't know if she'll make it till then.  Amy has had a baby 2 weeks early before and Sat is that 2 wk mark.  I'm feeling pretty good, making progress... but I've got my gaze set out a bit past Kara's arrival.  (I'll be 37.5 when Kara comes.) Would you please pray that our babies would stay snug until Saturday and that they would be born healthy, be healthy soon after that?  

2)  Mail:  A dear friend has gifted us with an inflatable pool to labor in (with liners for Amy and for me!).  Family have also sent some packages that we really hope arrive on time...  thanks for praying for this! UPDATE:  The pool (and great treats, books with it!) arrived the same day I posted these prayer requests!  Praise, praise be!

3)  Birth Certificate:  You would not believe how difficult this is!  We've looked into a hundred (it seems like it) possible ways to get a BC for our baby and nothing has been promising yet.  We know we'll be able to get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from the American embassy when we go to the capital, but that document will be unacceptable and unauthorizeable on the ground... where we'll be needing to get baby's visa application filled out pretty quickly.  This one has no solution I can suggest,  we're wide open, hard searching and waiting for this miracle to be discovered!  Give graciously, Lord!

4)  Helpers:  Amy and I will both be missing family for our births.  And for a homebirth, we'll have quite a bit of clean-up and care needed for a little while and it feels like a lot to ask of friends to help in all the ways I can think of needing help!   But we do have dear friends who are ready to come....  Please pray with us that the Lord will let our birth be a smooth time in our home and for the dear friends who have volunteered to help.  

We'll keep you updated :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sore Gifts

My husband has gifted me with this afternoon to tuck away with the Lord, to ponder and reflect, and to hopefully (finally!) finish this forever procrastinated family photo album, before our lives are transformed forever with the birth of our fourth child.  
I am absolutely raw with a myriad of keen emotions.  I’m a tangle of joy and thanks and wonder and desperate, trembly prayers....  our homebirth soon (midwife arrives in 10 days!), our nephew due in 8+ weeks, just after the first anniversary of his big sister’s homegoing.  Oh those days, these soon...  gasping, aching, surrendering prayers.   
You LORD, are Good.  You are Sovereign.  Anchor us to you with your promised sure peace.  
Approach my soul the mercy seat where Holy One and helpless meet.  There fall before my Judge’s feet.  Thy promise is my only plea.  Oh God.... From war without and fear within, relieve the grief from the shoulders of crumbling men.”  The theology is sung into my heart (in this free download tune.)
The people we are here for have so few resources but we are wealthy beyond all imagining.  Such lyrics, sound theology set to tune to lift my head, fortify my anxious heart...  I’m grateful.    
And this child inside me... what a wonder!  What a gift!  I admit that I often have my eyes and heart set about one month out on the calendar, when I hope to be comfortable again and drenched in the bliss of snuggly kissing our littlest babe. 
But these uncomfortable days are a gift too.  Even my brainlessness and brimming emotion.  Sometimes I want to call these all handicaps and only look forward to shrugging them off.  There will be goodness at the end of this season but I want to cherish these days now too (most probably my last days ever pregnant....) definitely precious, wonderful GIFT.
Till then, may I treasure and cherish these gifts~
Kicks in the bladder, and crowding nudges on my lungs.  Oh these movements!  Deep throbbing and strong pressing against my insides and outward from my belly.  Sometimes I’ve almost felt immodest if anyone in public were to glance by my belly to see some of this action....  incredible, hilarious, uncomfortable, wonderful, life!  Oh to capture all the movement of these knitting needles at work inside me!
One night specifically, laying down to look at my love beside me and feeling a foot push my skin up at least an inch and travel probably 6 inches across my belly!  I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time...
The big kids’ inquisitiveness about baby brother / sister??
Their trust that Jesus knows just the right time to open the door for the baby to come out
My dear JJ sending an inflatable pool to labor in- YOU are such a gift JJ!  and thanks for the pool too!
Sharing pregnancy with a friend here, when both of us will be missing family at our births, and prayer time with her this week
A healthy pregnancy these 36 weeks
The dear friends who are gladly ready to watch the big kids when the time comes
Maternity clothes hand-me-downs and gifts
The past two days of feeling strangely strong and flexible with only occasional soreness
Sore moments that make me slow down (and walk like I’m 95!)
Old neighbor friends calling this week to check on me

And grateful for these excerpted words from this dear mentor about giving thanks... these words from the Word that are life changing for me... for you?

"It’s only in the uncomfortable places that we can experience the tenderness of the Comforter...

Counting the gifts, one thousand gifts, isn’t a pop culture kind of gratitude. It isn’t a new age kind of feel-good exercise. It isn’t trendy. And it definitely isn’t comfortable.

Counting one thousand gifts is to live the radical thanks of Christ. It’s about an exercise in the age to come coming now and finding comfort in the Comforter. It’s the culture of believers really believing, the culture of God and the Blood of the Lamb.

Counting one thousand gifts is about eucharisteo. That is Christ's command. Eucharisteo, that Greek word that expresses what Christ did at the Last Supper: take the bread of pain as grace. Give thanks for that which is hard. Endure the cross, all in view of the joy set before."

K4's songs

I have a sweet playlist put together for K4’s birth.  Along with the song above (a free download), here are two more of my favorite songs on the list....  I’d love to hear if you have suggestions for any more.
Almighty Fortress:  Christy Nockels,  “Life Light Up” CD.
“We will keep our eyes on You.  We will keep our eyes on You.  Almighty Fortress is our God.  A sacred refuge is Your name....Our God is jealous for His own, none could comprehend His love and His mercy”
The Lord Is: Sovereign Grace, “Psalms” CD.
“The depths of Your grace, who can measure?  You fully supply all my need.  You restore my weary soul again and again.  You lead me in Your righteousness and peace.  You’re with me through every dark valley.  There’s nothing that I have to fear.  You are there to comfort me again and again, protecting me, assuring me You’re near.  The Lord is, the Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.”