We’re beginning to fall into a routine here at our little house in the valley, and I never want to forget these sweet moments as my little baby is growing by the day. I’m trying to do better about documenting even the tiniest things, so that we can look back one day and remember what life was like “way back when”. Here’s a glimpse of Ollie’s bath time in black and white. <3
It is hard to believe that our sweet little man has been here already for four weeks. It seems as if he has been a part of our family forever!
My pregnancy with him was a journey of growing and stretching, both physically and emotionally/spiritually. There were so many days when I wondered if I could possibly go one more day, because I was so physically tired. It was not an easy pregnancy, and yet I found myself so thankful for each day. When you are pregnant after previously experiencing the loss of a little one, you don’t take pregnancy for granted. This is something that I didn’t realize the depth of until I experienced it for myself.
I still giggle a bit when I think about when I found out he was on the way. I was feeling a little bit “off”- just tired, mainly, and emotionally struggling a bit. Based on some issues I was having, Daniel told me he thought I might be pregnant again, but I really didn’t think that was possible. After having lost our first in December, and then recovering from mono, strep, and multiple other issues, my body seemed to be taking a while to fully heal up. About a week after he told me that, I went out to lunch with my mom and was telling her about some of the issues I was having, and she asked if it was possible that I might be pregnant. I told her I didn’t think so. 🙂 Famous last words…y’all, if your husband and your mom tell you that you might be pregnant, don’t be stubborn like I was and think that it isn’t possible. 🙂
I was scared to even think about the possibility of being pregnant again. I was scared of losing another baby- I already loved the first one so much. Losing it broke me in so many ways. I think I was in denial that there was a possibility that I could even get pregnant again. This is one of those places where I realized that I was not trusting that the Lord was sovereign even over this, and that He knew the desire of my heart to have children of our own.
Two days later, I was curious and just decided to take a pregnancy test. I was shocked when it came back positive…I remember just sitting and crying in wonderment and amazement that the Lord was allowing another opportunity to be a mama.
I texted a photo of the test to Daniel, who was at work, along with the caption that I might should listen to him more often. 🙂 When he got home, he held me and prayed over the baby and I and over the months to come.
The next day, I took another test and the line was even darker….at this point, we went ahead and shared the news with my parents so that they too could be praying over the pregnancy. I found myself once again so excited and yet so scared. It was so hard to wait and just see what would happen. To the best that I could tell, I figure I was around 3 weeks pregnant at this point.
The first milestone that I wanted to reach was 8 weeks, as that was the week I lost the first one.
Every day that went by with no issues was just such a miracle to me.
Around 4 weeks, I began to have some bleeding during church. It was so much…I got home and just started sobbing. I remember telling Daniel that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why my body kept failing at being able to carry a child…I felt so broken. My parents came and brought us dinner that night and just comforted both of us. I was such a mess. I kept waiting on the bleeding to escalate more, like it did when I began losing the first one, but instead, by the next day, it had stopped.
This was new and different. I texted my mom and asked her “wasn’t miscarriage bleeding supposed to last more than a day??”. She told me to call my doctor and see if they could get me in for a blood draw. I remember feeling like God was telling me to just rest and be at peace….I felt like I could literally feel Him asking in my heart “Do you trust me?” over and over and over…this was one of the hardest struggles I had ever experienced in just giving a situation over to God.
They were able to get me in, and I had blood drawn at the appointment because it was too early for an ultrasound. The hormone level results came back super-high and perfect for a viable pregnancy. I went back a few days later for a repeat draw, and they were doubling and doing exactly what they were supposed to do. I was in complete shock…and still very much pregnant!
The nausea decided to kick in that week as well, which was awful to deal with, but a reassurance to me that hormones were rising and doing what they needed to. It made for a little fun managing that and working at the vet clinic, but eventually, I found a groove and it got a bit easier.
Around 5-1/2 weeks, I was able to go in and get an ultrasound done. This ultrasound showed where there was a gestational sac, a yolk sac, and a hematoma/sub-chorionic hemorrhage… that hemorrhage is what was causing the bleeding earlier!! I was so thankful for an answer as to what the bleeding was from. My doctor reassured us that everything looked great for where I was in the pregnancy, and that I would have a follow-up visit in two weeks to see how things were measuring then.
Because I didn’t see an actual baby on the ultrasound at this appointment, I was cautiously optimistic but also scared about what the next appointment would hold. I was scared of seeing no baby, or finding out something was horribly wrong. This was yet another time where I needed to stop and trust God. I can remember Daniel and my parents were all being very encouraging and praying for me as we got closer to the appointment. I also had told a few of my siblings, and some close friends who were praying and sending me the sweetest messages while I was awaiting this next step.
Appointment day arrived (about 7-1/2 weeks), and my doctor was running behind, so we sat in the waiting room longer that expected. My mom was with me for this appointment, and we ended up running into some acquaintances of ours, who were also waiting to see the doctor. We sat and talked with them for a long time, and they shared the story of their own previous loss before they were expecting that baby, and how the Lord had used it in their lives. It was such an unexpected means of encouragement. I was blown away by how God weaves stories together, and brings people in and out of our lives… it’s a beautiful tapestry, and yet all we can see at times are the threads.
They were called back, and then I was called back about 10 minutes later. My doctor did an ultrasound, and I got to see my precious baby and hear his heartbeat. Friend, I cried. I still cry every time I watch the clip and get to hear that sound. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness… my baby was living. He was growing (actually measuring ahead of his dates), he was healthy, the hematoma was nowhere in sight and there was a healthy and perfect heartbeat.
After that appointment, I was feeling a little more comfortable with how things were going. I started to purchase some baby things and put them away for his arrival. The nausea got even worse, and then the vericose veins made their appearance. I’m so thankful that I didn’t have any big issues with my blood pressure- other than a few stress-related incidents, it was perfect through the entire pregnancy.
I’m also so thankful that I was working the night shift at the vet clinic during this time, because I couldn’t do mornings very well at all because of the nausea. As the day progressed, it would get slightly better, but I was having a hard time even functioning in the mornings. The vericose veins were awful. I did finally purchase some compression socks and that made life so much better. I could tell within an hour if I had neglected to put them on first thing in the day! 🙂
The next appointment (around 12 weeks) was picture-perfect as well- Daniel got to go with me this time and see the little guy… and by the way, by this time, we felt positive that Oliver was indeed a boy. While we already had a boy name and a girl name picked out, we just KNEW it was a boy, and had been referring to him as “he”, “him”, “Oliver”, “Ollie”, etc.
About this time, I was beginning to show and was collecting maternity clothes to add to my stash. 😀 I had been taking weekly “bumpies” to show the belly progression. When I uploaded these photos to Facebook later, I called the album “As The Bump Grows”. 😀
We got to find out that he was definitely a HE at 18 weeks. The ultrasound tech asked us if we wanted to find out, and Daniel and I both answered a very strong “yes!”, and then giggled when she said it was a boy. It’s still funny to me that we “knew” from so early on. We chose this time to publicly announce online, and were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support and prayers from folks all over the world. Y’all know who you are- thank you, again, for all that was done. <3
I am still amazed at the fact that he fit so snuggly in my tummy….when I was preparing to quit my job, most folks didn’t realize I was as far along as I was, because my scrubs did a pretty good job about hiding it until the last couple of weeks that I was there.
At exactly 36 weeks, my family hosted the sweetest baby shower/family meal to welcome little Ollie. My mom, aunt, sister-in-law and other family members worked really hard to put everything together, and it was absolutely adorable!!
I was able to use several of the decorations in his nursery, which I had been working on slowly over several weeks. I am so thankful for one particular afternoon when my mom and sister Emma came over to help fold baby clothes and get everything in it’s place…time was ticking down!
I was so “done” with being pregnant by the time I had reached 33-34 weeks or so. I felt huge, and my legs were aching all the time from the vericose veins, and I still had pretty constant nausea. Oliver also broke my rib around 28 weeks, and it was making me feel absolutely miserable whenever he would push on it. I can remember thinking that it felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I was a little shocked when I was told that I was actually making progress towards dilation/effacement…. and at my last appointment (12/17/2018) before he was born, I was told that I was at 3cm dilated, and my doctor told me that she would be surprised if I didn’t have the baby within the next two weeks! I went ahead and made my next appointment for 12/27/18, but I was really hoping that I would have the baby before then.
I was actually praying that Oliver would arrive around Christmas. If he did, we knew that we could stack Daniel’s holiday days off and his vacation days, and we would have several days just to settle in and start getting used to our new normal. We also found out that Daniel was finally getting moved to dayshift at his work- something we had been praying for over several months.
We went to church when I was 39 weeks on the nose, and they gave us stacks of presents for little Ollie…I’m still amazed when I think about how loved this little guy was even before he arrived!! I sat in my living room floor going through everything and starting crying again. It truly was amazing to me.
That same Sunday, I asked our pastor and his wife that day to be praying about Oliver’s arrival, and shared that it would be amazing if Ollie could be born around Christmas. And this, folks, is where I want to emphasize that God’s timing is perfect. It is amazing to me at how He works out the smallest details and puts everything in place in the exact way that it needs to be.
Christmas Eve arrived, and we got together with the family for our annual Christmas Eve special dinner. We had so much fun getting to visit with everyone, and though I was feeling really big, I actually was feeling pretty great and enjoyed the time so much. I was slightly disappointed that Oliver hadn’t come yet, and I had no indication that he was on the way just yet, but I was determined to enjoy Christmas and was so loving the time with my family and with Daniel, because we never seem to get enough of it nowadays with work and just life. 🙂 On Christmas Day, Daniel and I actually drove out to Georgia to pick up a welder that he had found on Facebook marketplace. We went ahead and put all of our hospital bags and the baby’s bag in the car for “just in case”. I was having some minor contractions, but nothing more than I had been having for the last week or so, and I didn’t think too much of it.
That night, we got home, ate pizza, and went to bed early because we were tired. I had been timing some of the contractions before I went to bed that evening, and they didn’t seem to be terribly regular, but were definitely more intense than before. They were averaging about 8 minutes apart and were lasting almost two minutes. I had been getting a bit of bloody show as well, but I had been slowly losing my mucous plug over the week before, so again, I wasn’t thinking too much of it.
I woke up around 3 the next morning (12/26/18), having harder contractions, and I felt like I had lost some fluid. Sure enough, as I started walking to the bathroom, I realized I was losing the tiniest bit of fluid. I immediately googled about if your water can break slowly, because I always thought there would be a big gush. I woke Daniel up and told him that I thought my water had broken and I was keeping an eye on it and my contractions, but he doesn’t remember that at all. 😀 I was beginning to have harder contractions now, and I decided to just go to bed and try to sleep as long as I could before they got too bad. I wanted to labor at home as long as I could before going in to the hospital.
I was able to catnap for about 20 minutes or so, but then the contractions started getting closer and hurting more. I also could not stop trembling. Daniel woke up at the point that I started trembling, and asked if I was okay. I told him that I thought we might be actually having a baby today, and he immediately got up and started making sure that our stuff was together and made us a cup of coffee. I am so thankful for his careful care of me, and his attention to all the little details to make sure that we would be able to get there without incident. <3 I went ahead and got up, got dressed, and starting timing contractions again. At the point that they were averaging about 1-1/2 minutes apart, I texted my mom to let her know that it was time, and called my doctor to see when they wanted me to come on in. They asked questions about how much fluid I was still losing, and how far the contractions were apart, and then said it was definitely time for me to come on.
By this point, I was getting really emotional. I just wanted to sit and cry, even though I wasn't in an extreme amount of pain yet. I told Daniel and texted my mom that I thought I had to be around 6cm or so, because I remember from taking childbirth class that you reach a really emotional stage of labor around 6-8cm.
Daniel and I got the last few things in the car, and we were on our way! The most beautiful sunrise was happening at the same time...we were getting to watch the sun come up as we made our way to the hospital, which was really special. Something that had brought us together during our courtship was a shared love of photographing sunrises and sunsets...being able to watch a sunrise while we were on the way to birth our child is something special that I will always remember about Oliver's birth.
I could tell that the intensity of the contractions were really picking up when we were about 30 minutes away. By this point, it was close to 7 in the morning. When we arrived at the hospital, I had every intention of walking in to be admitted, but as soon as I stood up out of the car, I felt the “gush” of my water breaking for sure. Daniel went in and brought me out a wheelchair so that I wouldn’t be leaking fluid all over the place trying to get in and settled.
Fortunately, my mom and doctor’s office had encouraged me to pre-register, so I basically had to sign in and they got me right back. A triage nurse and the rounding hospital OB came by to check me, and they told me I was at 100% effacement, 0 station, and 6, almost 7cm dilated! I was amazed and so thankful.
At this point, it was time to settle in and let labor do it’s work. While I don’t have anything against medical help for delivering babies, I really wanted to see if I could labor and then deliver Oliver with as little help as possible. It was more for curiousity’s sake, and I figured since I was at a hospital anyway, I’d be able to get additional help if it was needed.
The hospital that I used is in the process of trying to better equip women to have more natural births and labor if that is what they are wanting to do. Once they settled us into a labor and delivery room, we were assigned two nurses and a nurse practitioner who’s only job is to be a labor coach and doula! This was a huge change from the way it was when my mom had my younger siblings there. I knew that I wanted Daniel and my mom with me for the delivery and as much of the labor as possible, so I was able to have the comfort of knowing my husband was right there with me, the comfort and childbirth knowledge/help from my mom, and then we also had the benefit of a doula as well- something I had not planned on nor even knew was possible at the hospital!
I labored naturally until around 10:00am or so that morning, and they checked me every so often to make sure I was progressing well. They actually had went ahead and turned on the baby heater over the baby bed, because by this time, I was at 9-1/2cm and they were anticipating that the baby was going to be arriving very soon.
The contractions were coming so quickly and were so painful by this point. I felt like I literally could not get on top of the pain of the last one before the next one started. The doula was really good to coach me through the breathing and that helped a lot, but there were so many times when the contractions hurt so badly that I can remember saying “I can’t do this….I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this!” My mom would tell me that I was doing it, that I was getting through it, and would remind me that I was so close to meeting little Ollie… and then my husband was literally physically supporting me while I was attempting to walk through some of those contractions…he was holding my hand while I was sitting on the birthing ball in the shower trying to breath through contractions…seeing the love and pain in his eyes while I was trying to get through the hardest contractions is a look I will never forget. I know that if he could have taken that pain for me, he would have without even thinking twice. I love him so much.
By the time I had been sitting at 9-1/2cm for hours (I think it was about 12pm at this point), there were serious concerns about the way the baby was positioned. He was definitely head-down, but they were thinking he might be turned the wrong way around, and they were also concerned that I was going to be too exhausted to deliver him. I was so tired, and hurting so badly… I was emotionally a wreck and just wanted a rest, but was not getting it with the contractions still coming ever closer. They asked if I would be comfortable going ahead and getting an epidural at this point. I discussed it with Daniel and Mama to make sure that I was thinking through the decision clearly, and decided that I definitely wanted to go ahead and have that done.
Within 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in and got everything set up, and about 20 minutes after that, I was feeling so much better and was able to rest some. They let me take a couple of hours just to labor and see if he would move down a little more, and shortly after lunchtime, they checked me and I was at 10cm! Hearing that I was at 10cm made me cry again. I was so thankful to hear that I had progressed to the point of actually being able to deliver Oliver. I had begun to wonder if I was going to end up with a c-section.
I’m not sure what time I began pushing, because everything started to seem a bit surreal. I do know that they started a slow Pitocin drip to help the contractions be a little more effective. I remember the nurse asking me if I was ready to start pushing. I almost laughed because I asked her if I was still contracting…yeah, that epidural did a really good job. Almost too good, because I was having a really hard time feeling things enough to push! She assured me that I was, and Oliver was beginning to crown.
I remember Mama saying that she could see his head, and I was able to reach down and rub his little head….and started crying again. He was coming….he was coming, and we were finally about to meet him. I was pushing for about an hour. At the point that Oliver’s head started crowning, they called the doctor, and when he made it to my room and had his delivery scrubs on, they gave me the go-ahead to push again. I heard them say that Oliver’s head was out….a little more pushing and he was crying and his entire body was out! I had a second-degree tear, but am fortunate that it was not worse. As it turns out, his head was tilted sideways in the birth canal, so the contractions were not able to effectively move him down enough to let me progress past 9-1/2cm nor were the contractions thinning the last “lip” of my cervix, which is why the labor lasted much longer than the birthing team thought it would.
Little Oliver Lewis Shevchenko was officially born at 4:21pm on December 26th, 2018. He was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. <3
Once he was born, they rubbed him down a bit and sat him on my chest while I was being stitched up. He was so cute and so perfect...the first thing I noticed was that he had his daddy's ears. <3 The next thing I noticed was his big hands...he had little man hands!! And his legs were so long... <3 I was in love from first sight. (thank you to Mama for taking the photos!)
Once they made sure that I was steady after the epidural had worn off, they got Oliver all bundled up and we were able to be moved to a regular room.
Among his first visitors were my mom, dad, grandfather, and brother, Jacob! (Mom took all of these pictures, so I don’t have one with her and Oliver at the hospital).
The next couple of days were a bit of a blur…we were getting into the swing of breastfeeding, trying to get stuff wrapped up at the hospital, and visiting with the folks who came to see us.
The hospital did deliver us the sweetest little birthday cake and box to celebrate!! It was so cute!!
On December 28th, it was finally time to get ready and go home for the first time as a family.
Before we even left the parking spot, Daniel prayed over us, and over Oliver, and over all that we would be doing now as a family. I was crying, he was crying….it was so sweet and just a precious time. <3
Life is more settled now. We’re falling into more of a routine. I’ve been working on getting his sleep schedule sorted out so that he’s a little more content.
Daniel still swaddles him much better than I do!
It’s been fun watching him do more baby things instead of newborn things…he’s spending a lot more time looking around and taking things in. His eyes get so big when he sees something that fascinates him!
He’s also gaining weight like a champ…he had gained back all the weight he lost from birth within 2-3 days, and then he gained an additional 2 pounds in the last couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear what he’s up to when we go back to the pediatrician next week for his next well visit!
He’s definitely growing so quickly.
He has been an absolutely precious addition to our family. I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to give him to us. <3
We are entering a slower time here in my sunny south. The weather is gently changing to cooler nights and brisk days. Leaves are spiraling down from the trees in the perfect dance between them and the breeze…I love autumn.
I love the slower pace. I love seeing a tangible reminder of the old things being stripped away in preparation for the new growth to come.
It is a season of changing and remembering; of thankfulness. Of remembering that even in the storms of life, we are to just be still…. peace, be still. It is a reminder to rest in the promises of our Father above to sustain us, to hold us, and to set us exactly where we need to go- it’s beautiful.
Just as the weather is shifting, I too am in a season of growing…of changing. Each and every day brings my husband and I closer to the arrival date of our precious son. I’m feeling my body be stretched to limits I didn’t realize it had. Even in the midst of being in pain for various reasons, or being so sick to my stomach that I wonder if I will ever enjoy food again, every day I carry little Oliver is a blessing, even when I feel like I can’t possibly go any further. After having experienced a loss and then having some really scary moments earlier on with this pregnancy, I am so much more aware of what a gift it is to be carrying a child that is doing well, growing, and seems to be flourishing. Every time I feel him kick or have the hiccups, I am reminded of the Lord’s tender mercies in knitting him together in my womb. I am praying that just as my body is growing and stretching to accommodate my growing boy, the Lord is growing my heart into what it needs to be so that my actions and words will always point back to Christ, especially as this new endeavor of motherhood becomes one of my greatest life works.
I’m watching my husband transform into such a wonderful daddy- he cares for me so tenderly, and prays over me and our growing son every single day. Watching him assemble the baby crib this past week made me want to sit and cry with thankfulness over the Lord’s goodness in bringing us together. Our discussions very much revolve now around what would be best for all three of us, whether it be short-term or long-term goals, or even just day-to-day decision making about what we will eat or what we want to work on around the house.
Even as the storms of life seem to rage and roar around us, I am thankful that the Lord provides peace and rest in Him. I am thankful that in this season, He has provided dear friends and wonderful opportunities for growth. I am thankful that even though I am ready to reach the finish line with this pregnancy, He is there- ever constant, ever faithful…ever reminding me through His wondrous works that I simply need to faithfully walk this race He has set me on…faithfully follow Him wherever He leads…and to be still and quiet as I rest in His goodness and mercy to me. Peace, be still….
I’ve sorely neglected my blog over the past few months. Life has just been extra crazy and finding time to write is often-times few and far between. I figure I’ll just start from where I left off, and blog around the pictures as I find them.
December brought lots of health challenges. God is so faithful, and He continued to show His hand at work through the good, and the bad. We are so thankful that each and *every* His mercies are renewed. Great is His faithfulness. <3
December 1st was the Christmas parade in Centreville. This is always a lot of fun for us and a highlight of the Christmas season for my family! This year, Daniel got to join in for the first time, and that was especially wonderful as well. 😀
Setting everything up:
Darby was a little Christmas elf! <3
Parade lights through the fog:
One of the things that I love about the Centreville parade is that they always take the parade route up right in front of the nursing home, and they bring the residents outside and bundle them in blankets so that they can see the parade. It brings tears to my eyes every single time. <3
Next up was my birthday- my very first since getting married! The first week of December had been a particularly difficult one for me for many reasons. I actually told my mama that I just wanted to forget about my birthday and move on for the year…I’m so glad my mom and husband knew better. 🙂
Mama and I went out for breakfast, and she brought me birthday ice cream! I so enjoyed getting to spend the time with her for a little bit.
Daniel took me out for dinner and then for a fun evening of bowling! My birthday fell on a Tuesday, so that meant $2 bowling games and $2 shoe rental! Perfect timing, that deal was. 😀
All in all, I am so thankful that the Lord chose to allow me to see another birthday. He is so merciful and good to me in all ways. <3
Next up was the first snowfall we have experienced together!
Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever? I love him so much. <3
I absolutely loved seeing everything bathed in white…we don’t get snow very often in Alabama, but when we do, we sure do love seeing how beautiful everything is covered in snow.
We began attending a new church a few weeks after getting married. It just became very obvious that the Lord was moving us on from the church we had been attending. So, we visited a couple of different places, but ended up settling down in the sweetest little church that is quite close to us. One of the things we love about this church is their heart for reaching the community for Christ. A week or so before Christmas found us passing out candy and tracts to the local community at another Christmas parade.
Afterwards, we went and looked at the Christmas trees on the Tinsel Trail at the West Blocton Coke Ovens park. Everyone did such a great job with their trees!
It was also high-time for us to get our Christmas decorations up. Daniel had the coolest idea for the Christmas tree….
We are STILL having folks come and make comments about how cool that tree was! I’m so thankful for my imaginative guy…he makes life so much fun. 🙂
Some shots of the inside:
The sibling gifts were my idea…these were just too good not to do. 😀
And Daniel made this Christmas card holder for me!
These Christmas cards have a really special meaning to me. It’s a very tangible display of how the Lord shows us love in amazing ways… I had told Daniel I didn’t think we would get very many Christmas cards this year, because we were newly married and most folks don’t have our address. Christmas cards have always been one of my favorite things to look at and send around the holidays. The next day, I found out from a friend at church that we had been added to the Christmas card list at church, and she brought me a huge stack of cards from the Christmas card mailbox there addressed to us! I am continually amazed at how the Lord works in our lives, in both big and small ways. <3
We had our big family Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve…we ate entirely too much and laughed and cut up and exchanged gifts and just enjoyed the time together. This year was super-special- Daniel’s first Christmas with us! 🙂
On Christmas Day, Daniel said that we ought to go and drive somewhere and do something…so we did. 🙂
Mobile was absolutely beautiful, and COLD!! 🙂
That about does it for our 2017 adventures…. stay tuned for how we started 2018 with our trip across the country to see Route 66, the Pacific ocean, and to find some sunshine!! 🙂
God has been taking us on quite the wild ride of life around the Shevchenko house lately! We’ve been having to work through so many different situations across all areas of our lives- I am so thankful that the Lord already has everything worked out, and we need only to trust Him.
My husband reminds me every few days that we need to trust in the Lord. Trust in His provision, trust in His mercies, trust that He will lead us through every possible situation that comes up. There are so many things that have happened over the past few months, many of which I cannot fathom nor understand. There have been roads we have had to walk that I never would have pictured myself needing to go on. There have been changes in relationships, changes in situations, deaths of people who were dear to me, extreme sickness, and so many other things. I found myself trying to pray over one of the situations a few days ago, and realized that I didn’t even have the words. As I was sitting and contemplating over it, I remembered the scripture verse about the Spirit interceding for us in groans too deep for words…
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:26-28)
I started sobbing thinking about that verse and the fact God already knows what I need. He knows the sorrows and cares of my heart better than I. He has been working all things (yes, EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING!) together for the good of His saints since before time even began. As my husband continually reminds me, I just need to trust Him.
The sermon at church this past Sunday evening was from James chapter 1. More specifically, the sermon was about “counting it all joy”. We are supposed to “count it all joy”. It doesn’t matter how bad a trial seems- we are to consider it to be a time of great joy because the Lord is working in our lives! No trial is ever greater than the grace the Lord provides to us as we are in the midst of it. The passage goes on to say that trials, or the testing of our faith, is what produces steadfastness and patience in us. James elaborates that when patience completes it’s work, we will be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Patience is one of the things God grows in us through the process of our sanctification. As our pastor pointed out on Sunday, the very best way to grow in patience is to go through a trial. You’re going to realize very quickly if you have any or not. 🙂
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (patience). And let steadfastness (patience) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Further down in James 1, we come upon verse 12:
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
The prayer of my heart over the last few days is for the Lord to mold and shape me into the woman who remains steadfast under trial. The woman who says, no matter what, “I fully and completely trust in and on Christ Jesus”.
“Behold, we consider those blessed who have remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the LORD, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11)
May we all seek to be steadfast and earnestly seeking to trust Him more. <3
When asked about our honeymoon and how we planned to spend it, we answered that we weren’t sure where all we’d end up- that’s what happens when two lovers of adventure get married. 😉
Rather than plan a formal honeymoon, aside from one specific place we wanted to go to on our wedding day, we wanted to just play it by ear and see where all we’d end up. We also wanted the flexibility of going nowhere and doing nothing if that’s what we felt like that day. While our time is somewhat flexible right now while waiting on the finishing of Daniel’s immigration paperwork, we have a rather unique opportunity to structure our time how we like, and leave at the drop of a hat if we so desire.
We’ve been taking full advantage of that, haha! 😀
When we left my parent’s home after getting married, we came home and changed into more suitable clothes to climb the many stairs to the top of Vulcan! We’d made plans for months about going up to Vulcan to watch the sunset after our wedding…. the view is incredible, and sunsets and sunrises have been a favorite shared love for both of us. We couldn’t imagine a better place to go that day.
It was surreal, driving up there with just us, and being able to rejoice in the fact that we were married! I don’t think we hardly quit holding hands and stealing kisses the whole time we were there. 🙂
And looking down and seeing the wedding bands on our fingers made me catch my breath…. <3
God is just so good, y’all. I can’t even tell you how good it was just to be standing on the platform holding the hand of my best friend, whom I was now married to. Some things are just felt too much to be able to explain them in words. <3
We watched the sunset from high atop Red Mountain on Vulcan. It was magical- simply magical. We stayed nearly until closing just taking in the sight and enjoying the wonders of God’s creation through the sunset. It was perfect. Afterwards, we grabbed a milkshake and headed back home to start settling into life in our little home in the valley.
It was time to start figuring out what we liked to eat…
How long it would take to walk to the local convenience store and post office….
And to figure out what we were going to do about the car situation, since the truck decided to go kaput the night before we got married. 🙂 It was also time to start researching what sort of tools Daniel would need to start purchasing to replace the ones he sold in Australia, as we wanted to build a chicken coop and furniture for the house. That meant hanging out at the Home Depot…
A lot. 😀
We also stocked the freezer with the basics. Which is basically ice cream. Y’all already know we have a history with that….. 😉
Daniel found a listing for a Ford explorer on Facebook that looked interesting, so we went to check it out. We both loved the car, and decided that she was going to be the latest addition to our car family.
Her name is “Macy”. 😀
Macy came in very handy a bit later that week, when we found the couches for our living room.
A day or so after we got the couches, we started discussing about how fun it would be to take Macy out on a road trip and see how she did. We kicked the idea back and forth for a while and then decided that we should DEFINITELY take her on a road trip and see how we liked it.
The question then was where to go…I suggested Cades Cove in Tennessee. It was starting to get a little cooler, so I figured it might be pretty this time of year. A bit more debating and we decided we were going to leave the next day.
We packed our bags and loaded the car!
The first stop was the mechanic shop, just to have her looked over and make sure everything was good for a 1,000 mile+ adventure. They topped everything up and declared her fit and ready. We were actually doing this!
Coffee… can’t do a road trip without coffee. 😉
First we drove into Georgia:
And then we crossed over into Tennessee!
Hello, Tennessee! The SuperShevy’s are excited to see you. 🙂
Cades Cove was so, *so* beautiful. We could have easily spent several more hours (maybe even a couple more days!) exploring the area and taking it all in.
Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
One of the other churches…I can’t remember which one this one was, but it was really pretty on the inside!
Some of the other buildings that we got to see and walk through:
Kiss stealing…. 😉
Here is some video footage from the working waterwheel mill at Cades Cove:
Us in front of the waterwheel!
More mountain views… <3
Riding through Cades Cove….
At this point, we were so close to North Caroline that we decided to drive on over…why not, right? 😀
A sweet couple saw us trying to get our picture in front of this sign, and offered to take a picture for us. They did, and then asked us to take a picture of them in front of the sign, explaining that they were back celebrating their wedding anniversary. When they were there for their honeymoon, nobody was there to take a picture of them both, so that only had a picture of the wife in front of the sign. They were tickled to death about it and we were too- it was a very sweet moment. <3
Daniel grabbing a picture of the mountains…
Before too long, we were ready to come home. We tracked out our route and saw where we would be going through a Cherokee Indian reservation if we went back a particular way. It was a very interesting thing to see!
We also realized that we could go straight through South Carolina and add another state to our little mini-road trip roster, and so we did. 😀
We stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel…couldn’t resist the opportunity to take another rings pic either. 😉
We slowly but surely made our way back to our little home in the valley, with a fresh adventure under our belt, and the plans for many new ones in mind for later. We had such a delightful time and can’t wait to see where the Lord leads us next!
Stay tuned for more about us getting settled into our house and a general sense of routine. It’s been so nice to get the blog here somewhat caught up. 🙂
September 8th of 2017 dawned bright and early. It was our wedding day, finally. 🙂
We had a few unexpected situations happen that morning- car issues, clothing issues- if you can name it, it probably happened! I am thankful that the Lord carried us through, and that all of the last minute details started falling right into place. 🙂
Thank *you* to all of our family members and sweet friends who pitched in and helped get everything set up and ready to go! My family and several close friends helped finish getting the food together, cleaned up the last couple of things inside, got the decorations finished outside, made sure the littles stayed seated until it was time, directed people down to the eating area, got the cake layers stacked up and that sucker decorated in record time- I will never fully be able to thank everyone as much as they deserve for the incredible feats that were accomplished to pull everything together. 🙂
2:00 arrived and with it, several of the helpers and the photographers. While I was finishing hair, makeup and such, they went ahead and started taking photos of the area, of my dress, and other pretty little details. 🙂
The wedding programs
The dress and the old goat shed
The dress hung up from the arbor
My bouquet, the boots Daniel sent me from Australia, and my engagement ring
My dress, the boots, and the bouquet, artfully arranged in front of the arbor
Once the photographers had finished taking photos of some of the ceremony elements, it was time for me to retrieve my dress back and finish getting ready.
My dear Mama handmade my veil. <3
More veil arranging
After getting the veil arranged and ready, it was time to go ahead and knock out some of the photos that could be taken before the ceremony. I made my way to the back yard to get started….I never realized how heavy my dress actually was until then! 🙂
My girls and I….the photographers told them all to look at me, :p!!
That’s better. 😀
My Mama and I. <3
“Joyful Noise”and I- these girls were such troopers and had been practicing the music for our wedding for very nearly a year!!<3
Once some of those were knocked out, it was time to get the bridal portraits done. 🙂
It was nearly time for the ceremony to start, so the very last last-minute details were taken care of, and I went back up into the house to wait. At this point, I was fighting tears- there were so many emotions swirling in my heart. I was so thankful to finally be marrying this wonderful man whom I love more than I ever thought possible to love anyone- the one that God had chosen and made *so* very perfectly for us to compliment each other as we traverse the path of life together- better together than apart. <3 On the other hand, I was melancholy at the thought of leaving my family home; of not living day-in and day-out with those folks whom I had been with my entire life. I knew it would be an exciting change, but it was still bittersweet.
Folks were beginning to arrive….
And then it was 4:00, and time for the processional to start. 🙂
Videographers ready to go!
Grandaddy and our honorary Grandma, Ms. Ruth
Josh, Kylie, Gabriel and baby Derek
Meredith and Darby
Now, Jackson had a special mission to deliver a very special note…
On the way….
Some minor confusion on Daniel’s part because we didn’t rehearse this…he didn’t know it was coming! 🙂
But I think the note made him happy. 😀
The rest of the family coming down…
The guys getting the runner ready!
And waiting! 🙂
The next several photos are of my Daddy leading me down to the arbor. <3
Once I saw Daniel in the distance, the tears ceased to flow. I was walking towards the man of my dreams…my husband-to-be, and we would be getting married in just a few short minutes! No more days of a 10,000 mile separation….<3
And it was time to get started. My former employer and an elder at our church kindly did the opening portion of our ceremony. He and his wife have been very special to me over the past several years, and it made perfect sense that he open the ceremony. This worked out perfectly, as I wanted my dad to give me away and perform the marriage ceremony. 🙂
Please be seated
Let’s open with prayer
Who gives this woman?
And so, my Daddy proceeded to marry us. <3
And then we shared our very first kiss.
We were finally married!! God is so good.
Now it was time to go to the reception and take the remainder of the pictures that couldn’t be taken before the ceremony. 🙂
Mama, myself, Daniel, and Daddy
Grandaddy, myself, and Daniel
C and D and Ms Ruth!
The couples <3
Family picture try #1
Family picture try #2
Family picture try #3
All the siblings!
Next, it was time to go and cut the cake. 🙂 As mentioned earlier, Mama and Jess did the cake, and it was so beautiful!
After cake, we slipped away with the photographers to do the couple pictures. <3
Now it was time for the send-off! I had spent hours making bubble wands to use for our reception. They turned out much better than I expected! 🙂
And we were off!
All in all, it was perfect. <3 All of the family was able to be there, the weather was absolutely perfect, the little decorative details made me smile each time I saw them, I was FINALLY marrying my very best friend….it was all so beautiful. I am so thankful for how the Lord made each thing fall into place. <3
My friend, Lydia, did a special highlights video of the wedding that you can watch here:
My friends, Sydney and Denalyn, did the photos which were so beautiful!! A big thank-you to them and anyone else I’ve forgotten to mention over the past few posts….we couldn’t have done it without y’all! <3
More about our “honeymoon” adventuring to come soon! 😀
Now that Daniel was officially in the country, our 90-day countdown had begun! We had a number of different things to take care of now that he was here, but before we got married.
One fun thing we got to experience together was attempting to view the solar eclipse. Daniel had sent me a special coffee calendar for my birthday last year, and one of the dates I had penciled in was watching the solar eclipse with him. At the rate the visa stuff was processing, we weren’t sure if that was a reality, but were absolutely giddy when we realized he would actually be here!
Solar eclipse day fun….<3
One of the first orders of business was to find somewhere to live. We had been praying that the Lord would open up the perfect door and we would know exactly where it was we were to go. We both wanted to stay in my home county, if possible, so that we could live close to my family and close to the church folks, and that we could stay close to my music students and just be able to continue to participate in the community in general. I posted in some of the local Facebook groups asking about the possibility of places to rent, and received an unexpected message from some friends of ours. They were letting us know about one of their houses they would be willing to rent to us, if we were interested. Daniel spoke with them the following Wednesday evening, and then we went and looked at it a little later that week. It was a perfect little house for our needs, and in the perfect place as well! We spent some time praying, thinking, and discussing it, then Daniel called to let them know we were very much interested in moving forward. After the rental agreement was drawn up and signed, we got our utilities hooked up, and we were given the keys to our first home.
Now that the house hunting was knocked out, it was on to other important projects. But, of course, in typical Lambert fashion, we took some time for goofines amongst all the planning and preparation….
Guess who everyone is!
And this was taken shortly after chicken wrangling with the 4H crew!
But, it was time to get back to business. We started looking at possible wedding dates that would fall before our 90 days were up. Between my dad’s schedule, my brother and sister-in-law’s vacation, and my younger brother’s participation in a national 4H competition, we realized we had two possible days available for a wedding. One was 13 days from when we started trying to pick a date, and the other was at the very end of our 90 day deadline, not leaving much time to file the next set of paperwork.
Could we pull together a wedding in time to try for the earlier date? It was time to find out! 🙂 Neither of us wanted a big wedding, nor a super-complicated one. My mama had also been very diligent to be working on different things that would be needed for some months in advance, so we already had a lot on hand that would be necessary. My dress had been found and altered last year, we had already gotten many of the flowers, a cake design was in mind, the layout for where things would go in the backyard had been decided, and I had my little music group practicing for many months in preparation for the wedding that would happen “at some point”. 🙂 There were, however, still a lot of logistical things that needed to be done, so it was time to get to it!
The wedding was to be in my family’s back yard. I wanted an arbor and enough seating back there for our guests to be able to sit during the ceremony. Some friends of ours at a local lumber company blessed me immensely with a deal we could not pass up for the wood elements. The stumps of the benches were from trees on our property, but all of the rest of the wood for the benches and the arbor were from the sweet folks at the lumber company.
My family, Daniel, and another sweet family who attends our church got the back yard all cleaned up and ready for the wedding. Grass was cut, weeds were trimmed, trees were cut down and cleared out, immense clearing was done in preparation for the ceremony and reception areas- it was amazing to see what many hands could accomplish! Here are a few snapshots from getting the area prepped and ready!
In the meantime, I found the most perfect wedding announcements online, and had them personalized and sent. They would arrive with just 5 days to spare until the wedding date! 😀
I also designed fans for our guests to use during the ceremony that had the lyrics for “Come Thou Fount” on the back, and spent a few hours fighting with the printer to get them printed. A wonderful lady at our church (an adopted grandmother for Daniel and I), and my friend, Lydia, worked on the finishing touches for the fans, tying the ribbons and getting them glued down and ready.
My mom and sister made the cake- they experimented with the recipe and were baking and tweaking and baking and tweaking for days…it was THE BEST wedding cake I have ever tasted, and I’m not even biased!! 😀
Daniel and I went and applied for/received Daniel’s social security number- we were both so thankful that the application process went so smoothly, and we weren’t given any issues whatsoever. I had read horror stories where the process doesn’t always go quite as smoothly, so I was VERY thankful! 🙂
We also went and applied for our marriage license. It was almost surreal- he was finally here and we were actually doing this and WE WERE GETTING MARRIED SOON!! 😀
License in hand!
It wasn’t too many more days after getting our marriage license that Daniel dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. <3 <3 <3 He then slipped the most beautiful and perfect engagement ring unto my finger- it was a surreal moment, and one that I will treasure for all of my days. Once again, it was getting very real....WE WERE GETTING MARRIED!! We also went ahead and announced our ring engagement at this time on Facebook.
We were nearing the end of the backyard preparation when it was time for the rehearsal dinner! 😀
Everything was so pretty. It was Mama’s idea to do grilled, loaded hamburgers fitting with the more country and laid-back theme of our wedding, and goodness…..it was so so so good!! I don’t have a whole lot of pictures because I was a little busy. 🙂 My daddy also put together a really sweet look-back video for Daniel and I with photos from childhood on up to then- when we were preparing to get married! We were both crying- it was so sweet. <3
The other funny thing that happened was as we were walking down to the ceremony site to practice the walk, it started pouring rain with lots of thunder! We simply proceeded to practice anyway… memories!! <3
Next up- our wedding day!
Just thought I would take a minute to say “hi!” while stock is simmering away on my stove in preparation for cooking dinner.
I’m not entirely sure where to begin….my last post stopped where my Daniel and I had both agreed that a formal courtship was where we were headed. We had been seeking the Lord as to where He would lead, and were very comfortable continuing to get to know each other.
His visa waiver expired last September, and he had to fly home to Australia. We planned for him to come back in October, but when he arrived at LAX, they sent him back to Australia. According to the U.S. government, it was too likely that we would get married on the visa waiver, which is not allowed.
With his visa waiver rights revoked, we began a series of discussions with my dad, with our now-lawyer, with other folks who had done international visa processes, and prayed a whole lot! With new information in hand, it was decided that we would pursue a fiancé visa. 🙂 We became engaged on October 21st, 2016. This caused a bit of confusion for folks who didn’t know what we were doing, because the first question was always “where’s the ring?”, haha! The response I would typically use most of the time is that the country didn’t allow my fiancé in the country to put it on me yet! ;D
Fiancé visas are a bit tricky- they require a LOT of paperwork. Like, a LOT of paperwork. The stack of paper I mailed to Daniel for the interview at the consulate was easily 6″ tall! After you fill out the necessary documentation, you also have to prove that you have a bona fide relationship with the foreign fiancé. This meant that we had to send them copies of all of our emails, texts, phone records, etc., and include photos of us together, letters stating our intent to marry, letters from friends who observed our relationship and knew that we were wanting to get married, etc. It was a LOT of work! We got everything filed in December of last year, and then began the long wait on the government to get their act together.
On April 12th, 2017, we received the news that our petition had been approved!
How we told Daniel that the petition had been approved
It was time to wait on an interview date, which ended up being July 25th, 2017. Daniel was nervous, I was nervous…everyone was nervous. It was the moment of truth….and up to the Australian consulate as to if we would have an approval or not!
After hours of waiting, I got a very happy text from Daniel….APPROVED!! It was time to make travel plans. 🙂 The only thing I could think over and over again is about how good God is. I will never understand all the reasons why we had to wait on the visa as long as we did, why Daniel was denied entry in the first place, etc. I’m sure there are countless other reasons we won’t know on this side of heaven, but one thing is for sure and certain: God’s timing is best. God leading us together in the first place, God having us both wait to bring us to the point of marriage, God putting together each and every detail before we were ever even born…His timing is perfect. <3
On August 16th, 2016, my baby came back home to me.
There are no words to describe what it was like just to *see* him again, much less to be able to interact in person once more. <3
First photo after being reunited!
We spent the next week or so just enjoying the time together. It was so indescribably good to be back with my darling again. Long-distance relationships are hard. They test every ounce of patience in you. I am thankful for my Lord, who listened to the many late-night prayers and tears shed while praying over the process…I’m thankful for my parents, who would listen to my ramblings and hold me while I cried. I’m thankful for the friends who would text just to make sure I was doing okay, and ask how they could be praying- y’all know who you are, and your friendships are an immense blessing to me.
Now, the fiancé visa had one particular requirement….the U.S. petitioning citizen must marry the fiancé visa beneficiary within 90 days of them entering the country! 🙂
The next post will be about our marriage ceremony preparation and some of the special things that happened as we were counting down to the big day. Stay tuned!
June 13th was here- finally. Unfortunately, it was going to be a long day for Mr. Australia….oh, wait, I guess I can call him by name, can’t I? It was going to be a long day for Daniel, who got stuck in customs and then had delayed flights to deal with, and for me, who was tracking his flights and thinking that they were kinda taking half of forever to finish up. 😀
Around 11 that evening, we heard footfalls on the porch and a knock on the door- he had arrived! I opened the door and asked him to step inside- he was real! My family and I spent some time talking to him for a bit before we called it a night- the next morning was going to be an early one, as I was taking the kids to their 4-H forestry competition and Daniel was to go with us.
The next day, as anticipated, started very early. I remember hearing talking out on the porch that morning and headed out to see Daniel talking to a few of the “middles”. I was very much looking forward to having the opportunity to talk to him and was glad that we were finally in the same time zone- in the same country, state, town, and on the same porch even! 😀 We all small-talked for a bit and introduced him to a couple of our cats, and then it was time to head to Prattville for the competition.
The competition was a two day, all-day event, and it provided lots of time for us to be able to talk about various things as we continued to get to know each other. In addition, we got to see a lot of beautifully scenic rural Alabama backroads making our way down to the sticks. It was such fun!
Over the days to come, we began to settle into a bit of a routine. There was lots of coffee enjoyed…
My mama had also picked up a puzzle so that all of us could chat and get it put together. This was accompanied by ice cream on many nights…
As it turns out, Daniel likes ice cream as much as I do….we may have went a bit overboard acquiring it at times….
As the days went by, we were able to spend a lot of time in conversation, and found another pastime to enjoy together- washing dishes! I don’t know how many hours we spent washing them, but I’d reckon it is probably quite a high number. We talked, laughed, and just thoroughly enjoyed the time. 🙂
Daniel started introducing me to all sorts of different kinds of fruits…. lychees were one of the favorites that I tried!
And the fourth of July was rapidly approaching as well, so that meant it was time for us to introduce Daniel to a little taste of celebrations at our house. We typically do a large Independence Day bash, so now was the perfect opportunity to let him see how we par-tay. Or something. 😀
Fireworks o’ plenty were gathered up….
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos on my phone from that, because I was taking them all on the big camera! Ah well. :p
I introduced Daniel to Kool-Aid….bless his heart….he’d never tried it!
It was also about this time that we started doing some bona fide sightseeing. Peavine Falls was the first official destination after seeing photos of the falls online.
And of course, summer wouldn’t be complete without more 4-H activities! It was time for day camp, and I was an adult volunteer for the two-day summer day camp. It was such a blast! (Made moreso by the fact that Daniel got to come along as well. 🙂 )
We got to visit a pottery studio one day…
And a stable one day…..
It was such fun!
Daniel and I were continuing our many, many conversations, and were still realizing that we were very like-minded and were headed in a similar direction. We continued to spend time together doing little projects around the house and sight-seeing, as well as going to church and visiting with friends. Tannehill State Park became a fun excursion after doing market days. 🙂
And then there was “Cow Appreciation Day” at Chik-Fil-A…..this photo brought more questions from friends, haha!! (“Who is that guy standing next to you??”) It was so much fun introducing Daniel to the amazing fun that Chik-Fil-A provides each year with this event. 🙂
Back to Tannehill!!
Daniel really encouraged me to cross the waterfall….which I didn’t want to do, but did anyway. It freaked me out majorly, but I am so glad I did it now! He, like my dear mama, encourages me constantly to step outside of my comfort zone when I wouldn’t otherwise. And, just like when mama does it, I always learn and grow from the experience and am very glad that I did it!
Besides, we got to take this nice picture of us together:
As the days went on, I found myself realizing that I was more and more interested in this amazing Australian fellow who had flown so far to come and spend time with me… I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but I had many conversations with my parents about how things were going and what they were observing. I’m so thankful to have had so many people with their eyes on the situation who were praying and encouraging me to seek the Lord’s will in however we moved forward.
On July 21st, Daniel asked to speak to Daddy for a few minutes. A little later, Daddy came and found Mama and I and said we (along with Daniel) would be having a discussion later on that evening, once the littles were down for the night. He didn’t say what the meeting was about, though I had my suspicions.
Now, this was rather funny…I had recently began teaching piano lessons professionally. The mama of my student that day asked if I had any plans for later. The only thing I could think was “Yes! I’ve definitely got plans for later!”, but, I simply said that I knew I had a workday I needed to finish up and then I’d do whatever else popped up. 😀
Well, as you’ve probably figured out, that day seemed to creep by. 😀
We sat down that evening and discussed many things, but most importantly, Dad asked both of us if we wanted to proceed forwards into an official courtship. Our answer? A resounding yes! 🙂 And thus a new chapter was started….