You know, I've always been a thinker. Sometimes I wish I wasn't. It's part of how God created me, but it comes with its advantages to be sure. I am highly logical and capable of looking deeper into issues to try and see the essence of truth. Now, with this ability also comes the need for empathy and compassion, and these are things I've only truly learned in the last few years. Thankfully, I'm still learning.

On the other hand, I do struggle with being able to let go. The more I think, the more analytic I become, which usually causes me some degree of distress. My husband is wonderful at taking what comes and then moving on. He doesn't think on things any longer than necessary. He processes through them, comes to a decision or conclusion, and then has peace. But I am both my mother's and my father's daughter. And we are much less inclined to stop when we're ahead.

Today, however, the sweetness of my ability to think and ponder and wonder and dream has given me some comfort. Despite all the ugliness that's cluttered my Facebook news feed regarding politics and religion and the age old conservative vs. liberal argument - as well as the devastating news that the father of a high school friend was killed during a shooting at his store today - I find that God has granted me some peace in the middle of the mess.

My heart was feeling heavy, and I finally just logged offline and decided to take a walk in my backyard with Bella. I prayed for the family who has now lost a father and friend. I watered my growing carrots, and marveled a little over the fact that beauty can co-exist with tragedy. Perhaps, this is how beauty overcomes tragedy: it refuses to die just because the ugliness of the world is still at work. I studied the way our wooden fence is now weathered with dirt and rain, and how resilient little ivy plants keep coming back to climb between the posts. I talked to Lucy, and she kicked her little feet against my fingertips.

One day, when she's a bit bigger, she and I will play in the magic I hope she, too, finds in our backyard. I'll teach her how to draw the honey from a honeysuckle, and I show her how to make flower garlands from the little ones that grow in the grass. We'll pick pecans up from the ground when the leaves turn brilliant colors of red and yellow and orange, and we'll sell them at the farmer's market and make pecan pies for Daddy. We'll build a rope swing for her and push her back and forth, and I'll let her dress up in my clothes and pretend like she's characters from her favorite books.

I know I can't take all the bad things out of the world for our daughter, but I can fill up her life with as much good as possible...so that one day when she finds herself facing tragedy or fear or mess, she will remember the sweetness of God's beauty.

it's a girl!

I've been dying over this news for the past few days, but now that all of our friends and family know we can finally announce it here (and everywhere else). I can't even begin to express how much joy it's brought me to share our big secret and have so many people celebrate with us! This little girl is so loved, and we couldn't be more thankful.

I hope you'll permit me to be a little mushy right now because, seriously. If you can't be sappy at a time like this, when can you be?

We had wanted a boy first since long before we got off birth control, but we were always okay with either, truth be told. It's just that Pierce and I grew up with big brothers and we wanted our little girl to have one, too. But God had other plans, which I've discovered over the last few years is usually the way things work out. Sitting in the See Baby office, looking at the sonogram, I think we both felt a little uncertain about what to expect and how we would react, besides being ridiculously impatient to find out, of course. I wasn't surprised our little baby turned out to be a girl because, despite our repeated declarations that we hoped for a boy, I felt inexplicably sure it would not be the case. Call it a mother's instinct ;). And spending time with my nieces, my friend's babies, and even just editing these photos made me well aware that, perhaps, I wanted a girl after all. I just didn't know it yet.

(side note: my little sister and I did this photo shoot a week in advance and shot both boy and girl photos because she would be out of town when we found out and we didn't want to wait until she got back...as I said before, we are terribly impatient!)

My husband's only uncertainty about having a girl came from his quote/unquote lack of knowledge about them (although, as his wife, I'd say he's pretty darn understanding) as well as the sudden, overwhelming fear that comes from dealing with the tough stuff later on, like mean girls and boys who want to get in her pants. I have to say I enjoyed listening to my husband ramble on about how he could never let her out of the house and how he needed to Google some of his questions and, perhaps, even ask Liam Neeson for a little bit of advice.

At one point during our celebratory dinner at Wahoo, I said, "Baby, what are you going to do when she's a teenager and she walks up to you and says, 'Daddy, can I...'" to which Pierce quickly interrupted me and said, "Yes, whatever you want!"

Oh, he's in trouble already.

And so am I.

I've written in the past about my love for the name Lucy. It comes from my little girl obsession with "I Love Lucy" and Lucille Ball. I have books, and DVDs, and dolls, and wall prints, and magnets, and playing cards, and all kinds of paraphernalia, mostly thanks to my friend Jillian who has snatched up all these items for me for various birthdays and holidays over the years.

And anyone who knows me well knows I love Lucy. And they know how special the name is to me because it was selected for our little girl long, long ago. It's just a name, I know. But God has used it so many times in my life to demonstrate His love - His sometimes silly, always unfailing love - for me.

When I went to Kenya in 2011, I met a little girl named Lucy. And she completely stole my heart. The best part is that it wasn't until after I'd spent days playing with her that I found out her real name. When I did, I felt what Beth Moore calls "the fullness of God...the love that surpasses all present and fragmentary knowledge through the intimacy of experience."

And I experienced this love again - this sweet reminder of just how much God knows our hearts - when I found out our little baby was a little Lucy.

I guess, sometimes, we get lucky and God's dreams for us turn out to be the same ones we have for ourselves.

We love you, Lucy. And we can't wait to meet you, sweet baby girl.

what's to come (and almost twenty weeks)

I'm not going to say that this pregnancy has flown by, even though - in so many ways - it has. I feel as though I've had adequate time to enjoy each little change, but time itself is to blame here, I suppose, for the speed with which I feel like we're hurtling towards parenthood. And I suppose time will also be to blame when I blink and baby will be having a family of his or her own.

Such is life.

There is much to say, and my heart is full. I prayed for a long time last night in our bedroom, quietly sharing my thoughts with God aloud about the person I long to be and how I wonder if I'll ever actually succeed. Sometimes life is tiring because it's always a process. Have you ever felt like you just wish you could finally arrive at that "place" where all is well and nothing need change? Where you've finally discovered how to be simultaneously patient, loving, generous, compassionate, hard-working, dedicated, fearless, faithful, servant-hearted, and filled with peace? Where you've finally mastered the perfect daily balance of eating right, managing your time, completing your tasks, loving on loved ones, and resting well, too? 

I long for that day. But I know it won't come while I'm here on earth. 

C.S. Lewis talks about longing for heaven because we were created for it. I believe in this truth because I feel it all the time. Sometimes I just feel awkward in my own skin.

During my prayer I came to realize that I'm allowing myself to chase after this idea of perfection rather than chase after the One who IS perfect. Because even though it's difficult, and straining, and sometimes all consuming, the relationship part - the WHOLE part - of knowing God is going to take more of me. 

But isn't that what I signed up for when I gave my life to Him? 

My head knows is requires more, and my heart answers with a resounding, "That's why it's WORTH so much more!" But my head is very good at ignoring reason. And if you know anything about the way my mind can fix itself on an idea and turn it over and over until it's worn down to nothing, well. You know I'm very good at running in the exact opposite direction of where I know I should be headed.

Good intentions are my specialty. I genuinely want good things to fill my life so I can fill the lives of those I meet with the same good things, but I like to do it my own way. And it's tiring. It's even more tiring when you're fully aware that you're trying to catch a fish in the air... 

Or, in other words, you know you're going down a dead-end street.

I wasn't made to do all of this on my own. I wasn't even made to be good on my own. I was made in God's image so that I could continually pursue HIM. He is the only One who can actually give me the desires of my heart...or change me into the person I long to be.

I'm glad I'm learning this lesson. My hope is that I'll never have to learn it again. And while I will most likely continue to strive for perfection (in both healthy and unhealthy ways...thanks Pinterest!), I pray I will always strive to know Jesus first

And let everything else come as it may.

The remaining twenty weeks of this pregnancy are crucial for me as a mother-to-be. While my husband appears to have already mastered the art of going with the flow, I simply want to take what comes - the good, the bad, the exquisite, and the painful - as a part of this journey towards heaven. And allow myself to feel it without believing I am a failure for not fitting into the world's idea of perfection. I want to be God's idea of perfection. I want our little one to understand his or her worth only comes from God.

And that lesson will only come if we teach it. So we must learn it now.

Sweet baby Nunnery, we're about to find out a little bit more about you. On Wednesday, we'll finally be able to call you by name and share it with our loved ones. And when you get here, you're going to be showered with hugs and kisses and compliments. But, one day, those things will fall away and the world will start to reveal itself to you in ways that are sometimes ugly and messy. Don't believe it's all there is. Perfection is waiting for you...but you won't find it here. Discover who your heavenly Father sent for you, and learn to love Him as He has loved you. You will strive to have and be everything at once - as well all do - but you've already succeeded. So wait for heaven. And let everything else come as it may.

a first father's day

It's a bit early, and I know Father's Day isn't officially until tomorrow, but I keep thinking about what a special day it is, and I want to start celebrating now.

I grew up with wonderful, fun-loving, open-hearted parents who cherished me, believed in me, disciplined me, and put me first. Always. And I have been blessed to share the last (almost) five years of my married life with a man whose parents did the same. Our fathers were - albeit very different - perfect examples of how ordinary, hard-working people can give their children extraordinary lives. A few hugs, a lot of laughter, and maybe even a spanking or two, and we knew, without a doubt, that they loved us.

And, soon, it will be our turn.

My husband, Pierce, has already proved himself - in more ways than I can list here - to be the kind of father I want our baby to have. He's gentle, but determined. He's got a wicked sense of humor, but he knows when to listen and when to comfort. He is patient, and unfailingly generous. He loves Jesus and he lives his faith, teaching me a little bit more each day about what it means to be a disciple. He loves children and, more importantly, understands what they need from a father. He was made for this role. And I still can't believe he's mine. He's ours.

We weren't sure what to expect when we prayed together that night in August last year, when we chose to relinquish our fears and desires over to God about having children. And I'm not sure I could have taken a step of faith that big if I didn't have Pierce holding my hand. But God walks ahead of us, and He stands behind us, and He knows... even when we don't. And I'm so glad I didn't let fear pull me back again. I am so glad I get to see Pierce press his hands on my stomach, his eyes wide with anticipation, just hoping for a little hello kick. I'm so humbled by the way he shows me off, and talks about our little one with such joy. I don't deserve his love. But, oh, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Pierce, you are already an incredible father. And I know our baby is going to grow up admiring you the way we admired our own fathers. I love you more than words can ever express.

Happy Father's Day.

friends with kids

This past weekend, two of my best friends from college, Lauren and Amanda, came over to spend the afternoon with me and have some lunch at Farm Burger. I can't even tell you guys how special it is to have shared these friendships for close to ten years (whaaa?) and see them now raising their own little ones. It's very surreal, too, and watching them pull into my driveway, followed by five minutes of pulling out all their baby bags and toys and, well, babies, had me flashing back to college all over again...when we lived close together and spent all our time at each other's apartments. No babies. Just us. And now our lives have changed in what feels like moments...but it's pretty darn sweet.

This time next year, I'll be pulling into their driveways with a little one of my own! 

We might also have spent most of our day swooning over these two new besties, Hudson and Lily. After an afternoon of playing together, Hudson accidentally hit Lily on the face with his truck, and she started crying. Lauren told Hudson to check on her and say he was sorry. So he proceeded to walk cautiously over to Lily, looking ever so brokenhearted about her tears, and say, "I sorry, I sorry"...

...but thennnnnn...to top it off...he reached out to stroke her cheek. I can't even describe how cute it was. Seriously. I know I'm gushing, but oh my goodness. The three of us mamas locked eyes with knowing looks. We've got a little heart breaker on our hands! I think we should start the Instagram hashtag #hudsonandlily2033. Because, you know, they're going to get married.

a shower for rosalena

Today my friends and I got together to celebrate the life of little Rosalena. My dear friend Rosalie gave birth to her in March at just 25 weeks (which I wrote about in this post) and, since then, Lena has grown from a little over a pound to almost six pounds! She is breathing on her own, eating well, and the fluid in her brain has completely disappeared. In just a few short months, she has become a vibrant, healthy little lady and I can't wait for Rosalie and her boyfriend Scott to bring her home soon! I hope one day Lena will know how much she has deepened my friendship with Rosalie and how special her life is to each of us.

Please forgive the size/quality of some of the pictures. My camera died after about two seconds and I had to use my iPhone.

Eighteen Weeks

I can't believe I'm eighteen weeks already! It's going by so quickly.

Now that I'm nearly halfway to full-term, I'm feeling little Nunnery move and kick and do all kinds of Jedi knight moves. It's so much fun to lie down at night and feel him (or her...still have a few more weeks) wake up and say hello. Even when I'm at my most anxious, or sad, or unhappy for whatever reason, those little thumps surprise me right out from underneath my little black rain cloud. It's like a burst of sunshine every single time. I love it.

I'm still bouncing back and forth, as you can probably tell, between being frightened and being completely overwhelmed with joy about meeting our little one. But day-by-day it gets easier. My husband is a tremendous help in that department. I'm so glad we get to go on this adventure together.

Expecting with Casey Leigh from The Wiegands!

Alright, I'm going to gush a little here, y'all.

This beautiful blogger, Casey Leigh, is one of my absolute favorites. She is an incredible artist, a woman of God, a wife, and a loving mama of three sweet babies: Aiden, Ainsleigh, and Apple. And she writes in a way that feeds my soul and helps give me hope when I kind of feel all alone in the world. She has fears and she talks about them. She has faith and she shares it. She's honest in a way many bloggers are not, and I think the world is better for it.

So when I thought of starting this "Expecting" series, she was the first person who popped into my head. And when I approached her about participating, she graciously gave her permission to let me use any of the content from her site. So I selected this post, from August of last year, when she was nearing her due date with Apple. I can't wait for you guys to read it! And I hope you'll stop by The Wiegands to learn more about this awesome mama and her sweet family.


Do I have what it takes?

Before I had Aiden I can remember moments where I would think "do I have what it takes?"
 I mean I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I have always worked with kids and always loved working with little ones. 
I knew my kids would be my world. 
But I still let doubt creep in occasionally.

Then I can remember before Ainsleigh came...the same question popped up. "do you have what it takes?" 
Can I balance two? 
Can I love them both the way they need? 
Can I meet those needs.... can I live selflessly and patiently. 
Can I do everything I have been doing, but double?

Now as we await the arrival of Apple it has crossed my mind again. 
"Casey, do you have what it takes?" 

I do. I can.

 Each time I have been able to embrace the new phase and as soon as doubt creeps in I remind myself of the past. 
How these same questions crossed my mind in the past and how we handled them.
How amazing motherhood has been. 
How these kids have changed my world.

So self doubt, there is no place for you here. 

I can't wait to have a new chapter to embrace!I can't wait to add to our family and to see what this next year holds for each of us.

a day at the zoo

Hey friends!

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. It's beautiful here in Atlanta, but I have a feeling it won't last too much longer. Soon, it will be so hot and humid I'll have to take three showers everyday. 

The hubs and I spent our afternoon at Zoo Atlanta today (after he showed up more than an hour late to pick me up and I spent the next ten hormonal minutes half crying, half laughing that he wasn't in the ICU somewhere...charge your phones, guys! Your pregnant wives will thank you!). We got free tickets, thanks to the Falcons, and I was super excited to go because I haven't been there since I was in high school. It's not very big, but it's perfect for a few hours on a not-too-hot Saturday. And the meerkats, you guys. So. Cute.

This little guy. Wanted to take him home with us.

I settled for this little guy. He's pretty cool, too ;).