"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home,
and let him make her sorry to see him leave."


Oliver's first blueberry picking trip happened to be picking berries that will one day very soon become celebration pies for his first birthday!

I think he ate as many as I picked.
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"If you want to change the world, pick up your pen." ~Martin Luther

#1 Fetal movement.

Well, that was easy. It's daunting at first, the thought of writing down one thousand things I love and am thankful for. I pen the first thing that comes to mind. Not surprising since the sporadic kicks and jabs of an infant ready to emerge are more impossible to ignore than the light at the end of the tunnel. But, what a way to being my list. I look at that simple statement of thanks and wonder at it. Despite all the pain and discomfort it causes me, could it really be a blessing? The miracle of new life inside, begging to meet me face to face! Wow. This list could be really amazing.

#46 Morning in the baby's east-facing bedroom.
#51 Welcome home kisses.

When I was first given the idea of the list, I had not read Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. Now I'm reading it, and I recommend it to you. It's life-changing. She has a way of wrapping her captive audience up in her life so completely that there's no choice but to laugh with her joy and weep with her pain. She communicates truth so clearly and simply that one can't help but resolve to walk away and sin no more. There is so much comfort and challenge in what she has to say.

#56 A stubborn carnation growing, blooming through the frost.

Any speed seems like crawling from one to one thousand, but I feel like I'm growing by leaps and bounds.
I'm so amazed by the life lessons we can receive from such seemingly insignificant, everyday occurrences.
I look at #116: hot fresh bread slathered in butter and honey. The whole life of a loaf. The mixing of all the ingredients; just the right amount of yeast to grow, enhancer to strengthen, honey to sweeten, flour to sustain, oil to soften, salt to enrich, and water helping it all make sense. It is kneaded to just the right strength and elasticity and then put into the oven, the refining fire. The bread of Christian life, well spread with the bitter-sweetness of the Lord giving and taking away.  If we withdraw and keep to ourselves, we become rancid and moldy, a curse. The taste of our lives is undesirable. But to give ourselves up for the benefit of others and allow the work the Lord has done in us to work in others, they are sustained by our selflessness and we are satisfied. And all I did was make bread.

#118 Apple butter season.

Imagine someone gives you a gift, and you receive it without giving any sign of your gratitude toward it, or better yet, not feeling anything at all and unashamedly passing it by. Now see yourself walking down the street and not stopping to hear the birds sing, or breathe the fresh air, or admire the patterns the sun makes on the grass as it dances through the trees. Gifts. How could you?! Be ashamed. I know I am.

#84 Ruby red grapefruit.

One thousand things to love. One thousand ways to pray. One thousand means to joy. One thousand details to finally be noticed and acknowledged and treasured. So start writing. You'll surprise yourself with the ease with which you find things to be thankful for. In fact, I'm now convinced that one thousand won't cover them all, so I'll keep writing. It doesn't follow, however, that each thing must be different. Sometimes my heart is so full with the blessings of a thing that I can't help that it keeps showing itself on the page.

'My husband's love' continues to scrawl itself out in a little prayer of thanksgiving, again and again.

The act of writing down is so satisfying, and has a way of ingraining in your heart the truth of your words. Writing in school helped me understand the material better. Writing my list, helps me understand my God.

So start writing. Just start with one.

#106 Candlelight.

I can't decide whether or not I miss being pregnant.



Grace. Joy. Thanksgiving.
4 August 2011. 12:35 am. I awake, like every very pregnant mother, to empty my golf ball-sized bladder. Again. It does't help retention that there's a watermelon-sized fetus diving headfirst onto it. Impossible to drink anything and sleep. I need both.

40 weeks, 3 days. I'm enormous, and I don't just feel that way. Originally 5' 2" and 120 lbs. I sigh. I surpassed my husband 30 lbs ago. How does someone as little as me get so huge? I can't just measure normal either. No, my uterus has to be a a grand 43 cm instead. I look like the letter "B" with an over-drawn lower hump. I crawl back into bed thinking, God thought of everything. Women need to experience month #9 so that they'd be willing to go through anything, anything to get that baby out. If it wasn't for this body pillow... I drift.

Suddenly, I leap out of bed, legs dripping. I race back to the bathroom. It's still coming fast. What in the world! I just peed! I look at my belly and think, (as if the pool of amniotic fluid on the floor wasn't proof enough,) Right. I tested positive... I'm going to have a baby... First contraction, long and strong. Very strong. It crushes me. I give, and I wait.

Back to the bedroom. My husband and his comatose sleep. I shake him.

"Jonathan! I think my water just broke."

"Mmmm." No other response. I knew if he was really awake he would care a bit more than that. I'll call Nicole after then next contraction.

Nicole. My midwife of 12 hours. No one anticipated our abrupt move from Medina to Shreve when I first started seeing Pam. It would place us 2 hours from her. I didn't want to talk about the possibility of switching midwives full-term. It was too much stress when I had to deal with moving too. I was forced to consider it since Pam didn't feel comfortable being so far away in case I were to 'go' really fast. Good call. We moved on July 30th. Monday, August 1st, was my due date. The move was done and I felt okay with meeting another midwife. I called Pam to talk about it with her. Again. She expressed her sorrow in handing me over to the care of another, but really felt it was best. I got Nicole's information. I called her twice, no answer. I left a message after the second try, encouraged by the "God bless you" at the end of her voice mail. She called back. She was at another birth. We set up our meeting for Wednesday. I remember her prayer as she held my hand, "Thank you Jesus for Chloe and this baby... show me how to care for her, and help me to perform to the best of my abilities..."

I phone Nicole... She confirms my hopes. I want to see if I can sleep some more. I'll call again when I want her to come. The conversation was short, I can't talk much longer than two minutes at a time. The contractions are coming hard and fast. I text my sister and ask to get mother up. They need to come. I try to wake my husband again with no success. I'm not desperate enough.

1:15 am. Sleep is impossible until this baby is out. I tell Nicole she better come. Her voice was so calm and reassuring. She was getting things together and leaving momentarily. Okay. It's time for Jonathan to wake up. The sharp reality of the information I give cuts through his slumber and before I know it, he's on the phone calling off work. "Do you want me to call my mom?" Ah. A question. I'm in labor and I have no idea how to make a simple decision. "She's the closest one..."

2 am. The way my baby is letting me know it's on it's way is almost too much for me to handle. There was no easing into it. I wander around like a woman crazed with pain. The hot shower on my back is heavenly, but the water runs out and I am in hell again. I need my coach to help me breathe and relax. He does, and I feel better. He is so good for me. My mother-in-law arrives and takes over. My husband is free to just hold me forever. Just hold me. I can relax a little more.

2:30 am. People arrive. Candles are lit. The atmosphere is calm and comforting. I can feel the excitement and the hedge of protection around me. Half my acquaintance and their mothers and friends and uncles are praying for me and my unborn child. My mother is here and reads me verses from my labor cards I had collected in preparation for this. Her voice is barely steady. She's about to become a grandmother.

"For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self control." 2 Timothy 1:7

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance with patience and joy."Colossians 1:11

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace... will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28, 30

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

3:50 am. The contractions feel like they're building cities with my body. One right on top of another. Nicole examines me to see my progress. "Chloe, honey, you're complete. It's time to push." Finally. Pushing is a relief. I can work now and the pain goes away. My sisters (by birth and by marriage) boil water for hot compresses. I love this part. If only all of labor could be like this... Grace.

My mothers and midwife laugh encouragingly at my efforts. The can't believe it I guess, they tell me I'm pushing like a pro. "I can hear her moving her baby!!" "I can see the baby's head!" "I see hair, Chloe!" Joy.

Almost there. Thanksgiving.