40 by 40 – Running Out of Time

This morning, September 7, 2019, at 4:59 a.m. I turned 39 years old. I often don’t think that my age makes me feel much of anything. Most times I still feel very young, and really do wonder when I will feel “grown up” or like an adult. And then I get younger co-workers or talk to teenagers at church and I realize that I am WAY beyond that age I pretend I am in my brain.

Nine years ago I wrote a post called 40 by 40 – a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40 years old. I figured 10 years is a good amount of time to get a list this size checked off. What better day than today to post an update on how this list is going? I have gone through and updated each item line by line.

What is interesting to me as I type this is that most of these unfinished list items don’t seem very important to me anymore. I’m starting to think that I may come to the end of my life having never seen a large chunk of these crossed off. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that. Because as the years have gone on I have found new goals and learned new things and stretched myself in new ways so much that the Katie from 9 years ago would likely not quite recognize herself in me. And that’s good. I think she would be happy with how we have turned out at this point.


Katie’s 40 by 40
(not in any order)

1. Visit Disney World
2. Go on a culinary tour of Italy
3. Go on a culinary tour of Paris
4. Take a cruise vacation
5. Pay off all my debt – Still working on it. Having kids makes this hard. Having kids with traumatic beginnings in life comes with a lot of bills…
6. Be at a healthy weight – Working on it again…*le sigh*
7. Eat more whole, organic, locally-grown foods
8. Read 12 books per year OR 120 books by the time I’m 40 – I actually read less now than I used to. I blame it on my kids and my iPhone…
9. Be in the habit of working out at least 15 minutes daily
10. Find a hair cut that I loveNot sure if I’ve found a hair cut I love, but I have found a hairstylist I love and that’s almost better. She knows exactly what to do to make me feel pretty! I’m counting this one.
11. Understand baseballIt’s probably as good as it’s going to get. I’m counting it. 
12. Get a great camera and learn how to use it well
13. Learn to play piano
14. Learn to play guitar
15. Learn Spanish
16. Read the bible from start to finish – I’m not sure how much I care about this one anymore. We will see…
17. Improve my complexion
18. Start a great ministry
19. See everyone in my family come to know and love Christ
20. Stop cursing – I’m crossing this one off my list. Not because it has been achieved. But because I quite enjoy the occasional curse word, and I refuse to feel shame about it any longer. Prudishness be damned!
21. Be known for a dish that I make – If I had a dollar for every time I was asked to make my green bean casserole, I’d have like twenty-two dollars…
22. See these artists perform live (again or for the first time): Neil Young, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Metallica, Marc Broussard, (to be continued/added to)
23. Live in New York City – even if for just one year – This one is NOT going to happen. And honestly, now that we have kids, it seems like a nightmare. I’m crossing it off. 
24. Go to Las Vegas with my Grandma Alice at least one more time
25. Learn to bake like my momI think I have a good handle on it now. I don’t love it as much as she does, but I can do it! Crossing it off…
26. Learn to be rebellious like my dad (to a point!) – I’m as rebellious as I’m going to get! 🙂
27. Become a mother (either by birth or adoption or surrogacy) – Never been happier to cross something off a list before in my life…
28. Find a beer that I enjoy drinking – I’m convinced this isn’t going to happen. But you know what? I have found margaritas and whiskey. So I think I’ll be okay…
29. Learn to bake bread – I did bake one loaf of bread a few years ago that was really yummy, and I can pretty much bake banana bread with my eyes closed, but I’m keeping this one on the list…
30. Create things that people love so much, they would pay money for them
31. Decorate my home well – I feel like I will never accomplish this! 
32. Have a great garden
33. Finish at least one more cross-stitch project
34. Catalog family photos with my dad
35. Enjoy one last good conversation with Grandma Jordan. – Sadly this one will never be crossed off. Grandma passed a few months after writing this list, and I didn’t get to see her again before she died. I will always ALWAYS have great guilt over that.
36. Worry lessCrossing this one off thanks to Prozac!
37. Rent a beach house with my family for an awesome vacation
38. See the ruins in Greece – Do I really care about this that much? I don’t think I do…
39. Go on a genealogy tour of Holland, Germany and the British Isles
40. Be on The Price is Right – I miss Bob Barker. Drew Carey is great, and has been a great host, but since Bob is gone my TPIR dreams just feel a little less sparkly. 

There. If I can do those things, I’ll be at perfect peace and happiness, right? 🙂

Ten years is a long time to cross these things off my list. As I look at all of these items, I have to think of some things that will probably happen during the next decade:

  1. Tayla and Damon will graduate high school, and may even marry and/or have kids (Both graduated high school. Tayla graduated college. She’s MARRIED and a TEACHER. And Damon is going to be a daddy in just a few months. HOW ARE THEY ADULTS???)
  2. Kamryn and Clarissa will be in high school: dating, learning to drive, getting grounded and turning into women (Not sure where my math was on this one. They won’t both be in high school next year.)
  3. Harrison will be here, and will be a tall, lanky 10 year old (He’s NINE! And such a great kid. ALSO – we have more nieces and nephews thanks to marriage and birth. Being an auntie is so fantastic!)
  4. Grandma Jordan will probably have passed away – one of the great saints of my life. (She’s 99 now, if she’s alive in 10 years, someone please call Willard Scott!) – She passed on December 23rd, 2010 – just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. I am blessed to have been loved by her.
  5. My parents will continue to age – hopefully well. – These two are the feistiest sixty-somethings I’ve ever known…
  6. My brother may marry a wonderful woman that fits right in to our crazy family – Not married, but he has definitely paired up with an awesome woman who fits right in!
  7. One or more of our pets will probably die. – Since I made this list we have lost three: Lucille, Buster, and Pork Chop. We have Applesauce now, and that’s good for a while. I can’t handle one more thing to keep alive in this family.)
  8. We may move once, twice, 5 times! Who knows? – Twice – We were in Veedersburg when I made the list. We moved to Greenwood in 2012, and have been in Vincennes since 2017.
  9. If I remain in my current job, I will have at least one change in bosses. – Big changes, yes. My job completely got flipped upside down this year!

Some things will continue to be the same though:

  1. Tragedy will continue to strike. – yes
  2. Happiness will continue to prevail. – yes
  3. Matt and I will continue to love each other strongly and deeply. – Oh, yes.
  4. God will continue to be sovereign. – Yes, always.


Cheers to me for turning 39! 



More than twenty years ago I was almost a junior in high school when I got seriously dumped. Like, definition of the meaning of the word DUMPED. Out of left field. Never saw it coming. My world revolved around this guy. We had been together for what seemed like a really long time. I pictured our entire futures together forever and ever amen. To say my heart was broken would be an understatement. It was dramatic and emotional and awful, and the adult me is a little embarrassed by how terribly I took it, but suffice it to say it was a bad situation. I was totally dumped.

A few months after, I found myself interested in this guy I had known forever. We had known each other all through school. Went to church together. We were in band together. I was getting involved in youth group, and so was he, so we were always together. Something was drawing me to Matt, and I couldn’t quite figure it out. He was not like the guy I had pictured myself spending forever with. I think I was still very afraid of getting into a serious relationship again, so I pushed Matt away time and again. We dated a few months, then I broke up with him. I dated someone else for a while. Then I dated Matt again, and I dumped him. It was ridiculous. I would get close to falling in love with him, and I’d push away. Eventually God broke into my heart and told me Swish was the one He wanted me to marry, and the rest is history. But that’s a different story for a different day.

At some point during our back and forth, Matt made me a mix tape. (Do you remember these things? God, there is something so intoxicating about making someone a mix tape. Let me gather these songs that I love and put them in just the right order to let you know all the things I want to say to you but somehow can never find the words with which to do so.) I don’t really remember any of the songs he put on that tape except for one. “Say When” by Lonestar is never going to be a song that goes down in any record books, but it said exactly what Swish wanted me to hear at the time. (Don’t tease. We were into country then.)

Your heart’s been broken, you don’t want to open up to me, But can’t you see
All that you’re needing is someone to believe in you
And when you are no longer afraid, Darlin’ I’ll be just one word away

Say when, I’ll be there by your side. For a day, for a year, for the rest of my life
I know you’re not ready, But someday your heart’s gonna mend
I’ll give you love without end. Say when

Could be tomorrow, maybe a little farther down the road. Your heart will know
My love is timeless and you’re gonna find it’s true.
And no matter how long it takes, If it means holding you I can wait

Say when, I’ll be there by your side. For a day, for a year, for the rest of my life
I know you’re not ready, But someday your heart’s gonna mend
I’ll give you love without end. Say when

I remember listening to that song over and over, and thinking that I was never going to be able to be what he wanted. I would never be able to open up to him. After I had my epiphany moment, I knew that I needed to say WHEN. The next day I opened up AOL Instant Messenger (RIP AIM!), and as we chatted away about mundane things, I just typed one word. “When” He was so confused. We went back and forth for a few minutes. “When what?” WHEN. “What? Huh? When what” WHEN. He finally got it, and we got on the phone to make a long distance love declaration. (He was in college three hours away then, and cell phones weren’t really a thing. People had them, but not like they do now, and we certainly didn’t call other time zones with them. Long distance phone bills got racked up when Matt was in school. Sorry Mom and Dad. You’re welcome AT&T.) With God’s clear guidance, I knew it was time to say WHEN to Matt. I have never been more sure of anything in my life, and to be honest I feel a little stupid that it took me so long to see it. What can I say? I’m a little stupid.

A few years later we are married, and have decided to start a family. We try and we try, and just never have any luck getting pregnant. We would think about the future, and say things like, “IF we have kids we can ABC.” or “IF we get to be parents we will do XYZ.” It was a way of protecting our hearts, I suppose, in case the thing we wanted most never came to be.

Our good friend Seth contacted us one evening to let us know that he and his (now) wife had been praying for us, and felt strongly like God was giving them a message for us. The message was simply, “Not IF, but WHEN.” We were so touched by that encouragement from the Lord and from our friends. In the darkest days of our infertility and miscarriages we carried that message with us as a torch of hope. We felt that we had been promised this family – however it was going to come. We just had to hold on to God and that hope that “WHEN” we were parents, not “IF” we got to be parents.

It sounds so easy, now that I’m typing it out. “Oh, you just hold on to that hope from God, and you’ll be okay!” Well, it’s not that easy. Please don’t let my language trick you into thinking that putting your hope in the promises of Christ is an easy thing to do. It’s really difficult. There were dark, dark days in the ten years we waited to become parents. But even on the hardest days, that little glimmer of hope and promise was like an ember in a dying fireplace. It was hanging on, putting off the tiniest bit of warmth.

And then, all of a sudden, when we weren’t expecting it, God said WHEN. And there was Hannah. And so quickly later there was Henry. And now that tiny ember in the ashes of my despair has grown into quite the blazing fire. And I sit before that fire every day snuggled with my dear husband and our amazing children, and I am so content and warmed by the WHEN that I am in. After decades of dreaming and hoping and praying – for the right one to partner with in life, for those children for us to love and raise together – I am living in my WHEN. It’s no longer “IF I fall in love again,” or “IF we have children.” It’s now. WHEN.

Last night a new friend of mine posted some pictures with the hashtag “#saywenz” (her last name), and I immediately started singing “Say When” in my head. It never occurred to me until that moment that the “Say When” of our young love and the “Not IF, but WHEN” of our desiring children were connected.

I’m not typically that person that chooses a “word of the year” or anything, but I think I’m going to make “WHEN” my word of 2018. My wishing and hoping is now seeing fulfillment. I am going to make every effort I can to remember that I am living in my WHEN. So much of our life is driven by planning for the future and looking ahead. This year I want to be intentional about being in the moment. To live my WHEN as much as I can.

Happy 2018 to each of you!

Henry’s Birth and 2017 – A Retrospective

I sit down to write this at 11:55 p.m. on December 30th, 2017. One year ago right about now I was in Labor and Delivery triage at Community Hospital North getting hooked up to lots of monitors. I hadn’t felt Henry move in a few hours, so to be cautious my doctor had me come in. The nurses found Henry’s heartbeat quickly, and I was immediately relieved. I figured they would send me home where I would wait for labor to start naturally. I was 36 weeks into the pregnancy, so I had a couple weeks left. Instead, because my blood pressure was elevated, the doctor decided to induce labor.

I was going to post a Facebook status about this. Something like, “One year ago I was heading to labor and delivery to have Henry!” or something cute like that. Something inside of me couldn’t do it. I’m not sure why. I realized a few moments ago that I never wrote down Henry’s birth story, so perhaps now is the time.

Let me start by saying that I adore my son. He is a bright and shining gift to our family, and has completed us in so many ways. He is seriously the happiest baby I have ever met. He is constantly smiling, flirting, cuddling. I am so happy to be his mother. That said, this has been a really difficult year. Poor guy. None of it is his fault. He just happened to jump into our life at seriously the hardest time I can remember. If not for him, I would probably be tempted to just pack 2017 away and forget about it forever.

A lot of parents of micro-preemies will talk about the grief they experienced because their pregnancies didn’t go the way they wanted. Micros are born under really serious circumstances, so the idyllic birth scenarios we dreamed up in our heads flew right out the window. This really wasn’t the case with Hannah. Other than the fact that she came way too early, everything else about her birth was pretty standard. She happened to be head-down when my water broke, so I was able to deliver vaginally. We had plenty of advance warning that she was coming, so my mom and my sister were able to be in the room with me, as I had wanted. Other family members were in the waiting room, just as I had wanted. Hannah was born (very small, very early), and I got to hold her for a quick moment, close to what I wanted. Also, if we are looking for perks to a crummy situation, vaginally birthing a 1 lb. 10 oz. baby requires almost NO healing time, so that was pretty great. So really I don’t have a lot of grief over Hannah’s birth, other than the timing of it. I do, however, have grief over the birth of Henry.

Once I got far enough along with Henry’s pregnancy that I wasn’t worried about having another micro-preemie, I started to really build up my ideal birth scenario in my head. I met with my friend, Heidi, who is pregnant now with her 10th child (yes, TEN), and gives birth at home in her bathtub with no epidurals. She gave me some tips and encouragement, and I was ready to give birth to Henry with no drugs! My mom and my sister were going to be there with Matt and me as we welcomed our baby. I was going to push him out of me just like I had seen on TV, and they were going to place his wriggly, slimy, pudgy body on my breast, and I would kiss him and cry and Matt would be there to brush the hair off my sweaty forehead and gaze at his newborn son. We would go home after a couple days, and bask in newborn bliss.

Instead, I found myself being induced. Okay, fine, I can roll with it. I’m not one of those uptight moms with a rigid birth plan. I can swing with things. No big deal. The Labor and Delivery floor was close to capacity, so I got assigned to one of the very few rooms that didn’t have a window in it. Okay. Fine. (If I knew then how long I was going to be there, I probably would have kicked up a fuss of some kind.) I got to experience a balloon catheter that was supposed to assist my cervix in dilating before the Pitocin started. (That was fun…) Just the pain of having that dang thing removed was enough to remind me of the contraction pain I felt with Hannah. I wimped out, and asked for an epidural. (In my head I was going through all the ways I could tell Heidi my birth story without telling her this part. I felt like I let my girl down!) My mom came to the hospital. So did my sister and brother. It was starting to look like we were going to have a New Year’s Eve baby! The day progressed, but my cervix did not. Despite lots of contractions, it just would not dilate past 5 centimeters. We waited. And we waited. And we waited some more. My grandmother had fallen and broken her hip a day or two before, so my mother left to care for her and to check on my dad. My siblings went away to celebrate New Year’s Eve in much more exciting places. I got more and more discouraged as the hours went on. Every time someone came in to check me I would pray and pray and pray for more centimeters, but I just was not happening. 2017 rolled in at some point, and we said goodbye to the possibility of claiming Henry on our 2016 tax returns.

Around 7:30 in the morning on January 1, my doctor informed me that she thought it would be best for Henry and me if they moved forward with a c-section. My blood pressures were still a little high, and I was developing a fever. There was concern for Henry’s well being, so I agreed to it right away. The panic that came over me was uncontrollable. I couldn’t stop trembling! They prepped me for surgery, and I just cried and worried and tried to be calm and pray, but man was I a mess. The doctor informed me that a NICU team would be in the OR ready to assess Henry as soon as he was born. I was told that since he was far enough along, they would not need the neonatologist there. They got me on the operating table, and the panic only worsened. The position I had to lay in meant that gravity was pushing Henry up towards my lungs. I was also sick at the time with some sort of respiratory bug, so I already felt like I couldn’t breathe. And the panic was still with me too, so I literally thought I was going to suffocate right there on the spot. I kept asking if they could give me something for my nerves. I told them I couldn’t breathe well. They told me to stay as calm as I could, and Henry would be out soon. The anesthesiologist sat right by my head to give me anxiety meds of some sort as soon as the baby was out. I felt my belly open. I felt people pulling. I heard my body parts being shuffled around. I saw my tiny doctor stand on a stepstool and dive headfirst into my open stomach to retrieve my baby. As Henry vacated my uterus, I suddenly felt able to breathe, and then I immediately woozed out from whatever the anesthesiologist pushed into my veins to calm me down. I knew they were putting me back together. I knew they were stapling me back up. I looked across the room, and saw Henry’s body lying on a table, limp and seemingly lifeless. I remember thinking, “Oh hell no, kid. I did NOT just go through all of that for you to die now.” At some point I remember hearing someone paging Dr. Lewis on the Vocera. Dr. Lewis was one of the neonatologists that treated Hannah. Why was Dr. Lewis needed? What was going on? I’m sure they were telling me, but I kept falling in and out of sleep. Matt says I snored as they stitched me up. Suddenly the atmosphere in the operating room changed. Henry was breathing. A sigh of relief came over me. I do remember Dr. Lewis sitting in the chair by my head, holding my hand, telling me that Henry looked great and that everything was fine. (BTW, I love this man. He’s a wonderful doctor.) I didn’t get to hold my son before they took him to the NICU. From my vantage point, it was quick and dirty. Get her in. Cut her open. Take him out. Staple her up. Get her back to her room (with no windows).

(What I didn’t know at the time was how many of our NICU friends were praying for us and thinking about us during this labor and surgery. Our friend, Whitney, who was one of Hannah’s primary nurses, came down during labor to cheer me on. I really wanted to have that baby while she was on! (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.) I’m told there was a minor incident where nurses fought over who was going to get Henry. By the time I got up to his room a couple hours later, it was already decorated with a cute HENRY sign, stuffed toys, a handsome knit hat, and books for our babe. With the exception of Whitney, who left for vacation before Henry was even born, all of Hannah’s primary nurses cared for Henry the few days he was in the NICU. I can’t even tell you how much I love and adore those folks.)


One of two pictures taken during Henry’s birth. The other was during the surgery, and a nurse stepped right in front of Matt when he was taking the picture. Sorry Henry. Your sister has about a hundred photos of her birth, but this is all you got.

The first time I stood up after surgery I was NOT prepared for the searing pain that shot through my abdomen. I felt my knees buckle, and thankfully I was close to the bed where I collapsed down from the shock of the pain. There are people out there who will tell you that women who give birth via c-section haven’t really birthed their child. That we took the easy way out. Well screw that. Those people are buttholes who have no idea what they are talking about. Recovering from that surgery was miserable. You know they want you to pee and poop after surgery, right? Do you know how hard it is to poop when you’re recovering from c-section? When you’re already constipated because you’re pregnant and hopped up on prenatal vitamins? Miserable guys. It was awful.
And the hormones that raged through my body made me have hot flashes over and over and over again. I remember being in Henry’s room in the NICU trying to nurse him, and the lactation nurse, Becky, was assisting with the nursing AND MOPPING MY FOREHEAD AT THE SAME TIME. I was a mess. Figuratively and literally. I would go to my room (without windows) to try and get some rest, and I would be freezing cold so I would bundle up. I would wake up a couple hours later pouring sweat. Seriously pouring. A couple times I remember being woken by the sound of the sweat dripping onto my pillow. So gross. Come to find out, my cold/hot/cold/hot stuff was probably aided by the cellulitis that had infected my c-section incision. So now I’m in terrible pain, and people just keep poking and prodding my incision to check the infection and healing. And do they let you go home when you have an infection? No. I mean, obviously not, and I’m grateful for that. But guys, I just kept staying at the hospital in my room with NO WINDOWS. (Do I sound spoiled? I feel like I do, but I can’t help it. As the days drew on, the fact that I had no natural light really got to me.)

A day or two after the operation, one of the doctors from my practice mentioned something about that breathing thingy they give you after surgery. (I just looked it up. It’s called an Incentive Spirometer. It’s like a handheld game to encourage you to take deep breaths. Less fun than a Game Boy, but more fun than nail clippers.) She said, “Have you been doing your breathing exercises with your thingy?” And I said, “No. I don’t have a thingy.” She said, “Well, we need to get you a thingy. ‘Nurse So-And-So (I don’t remember this nurse’s name. She was kinda mean.), get her a thingy.” And off she went to see her other patients. But Nurse So-And-So never got me the thingy, and I forgot all about it. The next day a different doctor from the practice said, “Do you have your thingy to do your breathing?” and I said, “No, I didn’t get a thingy. Someone was supposed to get me one yesterday.” and he said, “Oh, well I’ll make sure you get a thingy.” But alas, no thingy was to be had. Let me just say here that if someone gives you an incentive spirometer after surgery and tells you to use it, do as you’re told. I really needed that thingy, but I didn’t know it. My infection finally cleared up and my fever went away, so I got to go home. We got home with the new baby, introduced the children to each other, and tried to settle in for bed. I lay in my bed, which I missed VERY MUCH, and tried to sleep, but I just could not catch my breath. I kept tossing and turning and trying different positions to see if I could breathe better by laying a different way, but nothing worked. And in true Katie fashion, I started to panic about it. I mean, you probably wouldn’t like it if you weren’t able to breathe well. Anyway, what was I supposed to do? I wasn’t allowed to drive. Was Matt supposed to load me and a toddler and a newborn baby into the car in 2 degree weather and drive me to the hospital? No. Like all grown and responsible women do, I called my Mommy. She came to get me, and she took me back to the hospital I had just left. I was convinced I had a blood clot that had turned into a pulmonary embolism or something, so my anxiety was up there. After lots of tests and things, it was discovered that I had atelectasis. One of my lungs was partially collapsed – probably because I hadn’t been using my breathing thingy. So anyway, use your thingy.

So now I’m home. Henry is home. I’m still sick, and so are Matt and Hannah. I just want to lie in bed all day every day. I don’t care about anything or anyone. The first day of that wasn’t really scary. After three days or so, I started to get worried. Thankfully we live in a world where people talk about postpartum depression a lot more than they used to, so I thought maybe something could be up with that. I already had an appointment with my OB to get staples removed the next day, so I made sure to talk to her about my feelings (or lack thereof). Did you know that my practice has a Behavioral Health person on staff? I didn’t, but I found out that day. She came right in and talked to me about what was going on, and we set up a few appointments for me to come and chat with her about how I was doing. My doctor increased my Prozac to help me out, and lickity split I felt like a better mom.

Then on Henry’s 11th day of life, we took him to the pediatrician. Whatever respiratory thing Matt and Hannah and I had seemed to have moved on to Hanky Panky, and we wanted to make sure he was okay. He was not okay. He had RSV. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is something we were definitely aware of. It’s talked about a lot in the NICU. They’d sooner let a leper through the doors of the NICU than someone with a runny nose. To adults RSV just looks like a common cold. Sniffles, cough, etc. To the medically fragile, like tiny babies and very elderly, RSV can be deadly. We did everything we could to keep Hannah from getting RSV her first winter. She had to get a shot once a month called Synagis that was supposed to help keep her from getting sick. We kept her home from church, shopping, etc. We told people they couldn’t hold her or touch her. If anyone sneezed, I grabbed her and ran home. It was crazy. I keep telling myself that I should have done more to keep Henry from getting sick, but really what could I have done? Everyone who lived in our house was sick. I guess he was bound to get sick too. RSV landed Henry in the pediatric ward of the hospital for 8 days. We could do nothing but sit by his bed and wait for him to get better. He was such a champ. Hannah got shuffled between Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles some more. Poor kid. By the time Henry was discharged, my hormones were more manageable, and our homecoming got a do-over. Whew.

The next few months were pretty good. Exactly what you would expect from life with a toddler and a newborn: lots of diapers and feedings and pumping and cartoons and cuddles and naps. My mom had both knees replaced. Matt’s dad had back surgery. We did everything we could to help both households keep going through recovery. Grandma was still recovering from hip surgery, so we would visit her and help as much as we could while she was in rehab. Right before Easter, we were contacted by our District Superintendent letting us know that Matt was being reappointed. We drove to the new church the next day to meet with some of the leadership there, and just like that we were moving to Vincennes First UMC. How on Earth were we supposed to leave our family, almost all of who lived just a few miles away? How were we supposed to say goodbye to our friends at Smith Valley UMC who had been so supportive of us as we navigated a canceled adoption, Hannah’s pregnancy and hospitalization, and Henry’s pregnancy and birth? These people loved us. Loved our children. We loved them right back, and we had to say goodbye. Oh, and never mind the logistics of packing up a whole house with a toddler and a newborn. Somehow we made it work, and we didn’t leave much behind. A friend found a sippy cup in the fridge. Otherwise, I think everything made it to Vincennes. J We were welcomed warmly, and we really do love it here. The new church is a great fit for Matt. The home they provide for us is lovely and spacious. I love everything about Vincennes except where it is located. I just wish we were closer to our family. 2 hours isn’t horrible, but it’s pretty far away for me. Making friends here has been really hard for me, and I battle depression a bit here and there.

Since we moved to Vincennes we have experienced great loss. Matt’s best friend, Brad, died very unexpectedly at the beginning of August. A beloved church member passed away a week later. That same weekend a dear friend died from a drug overdose. In October Tom Petty died, which I realize isn’t a big deal to most people, but he means a lot to my family. Worse still, my grandmother passed away towards the end of October in her nursing home. We have grieved quite a bit in the last couple months. All the while we chug along and adjust to our new home and learn a new town and new people. It’s really been a crazy year.

I feel like there have been very high highs and very low lows this year. Some would call it a roller coaster ride, but I really like roller coasters. I have not liked all of this. Sometimes I grieve over the way Henry’s birth turned out. What if I had just been calm and not gone in that night? What if I had not decided to get an epidural? Would I have been able to progress further and faster if I could feel my contractions and let my body do what it needed to? If I hadn’t gone in that night and been induced, maybe I would have been recovered from my respiratory bug before Henry was born and he wouldn’t have gotten RSV. I don’t know. And really I know it doesn’t matter now. What DOES matter is that Henry is here, and he is healthy, and he is happy. God was with us through those crazy days at the start of his life, and He remains with us today.

So perhaps 2017 has been a craggy, broken mess of a year. Lots of tears and heartache and anxiety and anticipation and newness. Looking over this year though, I can see that my little Henry James – my Hanky Panky, Hannah’s Bubbo – has been a soothing balm that has settled into the cracks of this year and brought joy and healing to our hearts. I’m so very thankful to be this boy’s Mama.

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My Hanky Panky’s first Christmas