Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cultivate Hope

// a journey in expectancy //

Three or four months before Luke met me he had been on a trip and was spending some quality time with Holy Spirit when he heard Him say to name his first two daughters Naomi and Ruth. Luke kept this close to his heart. Not quite a full year later he and I were married and we believed we would become pregnant on our wedding night. It was a few months after we were married and we still weren't pregnant and I was praying passionately at that point, in secret, for God to do what only He could do and make us fruitful. Five weeks later I took a test and while it was supposed to take two minutes for a result, the positive symbol appeared in a matter of five seconds and did not fade. I showed Luke and we laughed and laughed and praised God. We believed it was a girl from conception. Luke believed it was twin girls. He held to that all the way 'til the ultrasound where we found that it was only one child -- and it was a girl; our little Naomi. 

The week after our positive pregnancy test I asked our friend and wedding photographer, Ryan, to embark on a photo project documenting the growing child inside of me, my growing belly and items that represented the approximate size, weight or length of the baby. About half way into the project Ryan asked if he could come to Naomi's birth. I was thrilled he wanted to. True to his giving, loyal, humble nature, when we called Ryan at one or two in the morning the day that I went into labor he got up, hopped in the car, drove right over and slept in the waiting room until Naomi had arrived and I was cleaned back up. Ryan was the first one in the room after the midwife and nurses had left. It was a precious capstone to our artistic venture which, at the outset, we titled "Cultivate Hope". 

Pregnancy was such a journey. While it felt very natural to me it was also challenging. Luke met every symptom with a prayer and we often saw relief this way from nausea, morning sickness, aches, lightheadedness, swelling and varicose veins. Aware of so many miscarriages happening in the community I was anxious about that and, apart from the photo project, was cautious about celebrating my pregnancy for fear of it ending. It wasn't until my best friend lost her sweet unborn babe that I decided, with praise to God, to celebrate every day of my pregnancy -- my most tangible way of cultivating hope; hope for full-term, supernatural birth, perfect baby.

WEEK SIX - living in Minneapolis, MN
staying in a community house


WEEK SEVEN - living in Minneapolis, MN
luke's birthday at bordertown + kpa


WEEK EIGHT - living in Minneapolis, MN
staying in a community house


WEEK NINE - living in Minneapolis, MN
staying in a community house


WEEK TEN - living in Minneapolis, MN
staying in a community house


WEEK ELEVEN - living in Minneapolis, MN
staying in a community house


WEEK TWELVE - living in New York City, NY
in our car with barley


WEEK THIRTEEN - living in Eau Claire, WI
mid air show at welcome week for the university of minnesota


WEEK SEVENTEEN - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at ma + dan's


WEEK EIGHTEEN - living in Eau Claire, WI
my birthday at josh + becca's wedding


WEEK NINETEEN - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at ma + dan's

WEEK TWENTY - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at ma + dan's

WEEK TWENTY TWO - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at ma + dan's


WEEK TWENTY THREE - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at shane + becky's


WEEK TWENTY FOUR - living in Eau Claire, WI
thanksgiving at shane + becky's


WEEK TWENTY FIVE - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at shane + becky's


WEEK TWENTY SIX - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at shane + becky's

WEEK TWENTY SEVEN - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at shane + becky's


WEEK TWENTY EIGHT - living in Eau Claire, WI
staying at lani's


WEEK TWENTY NINE - living in Eau Claire, WI
christmas at lani's


WEEK THIRTY - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment

WEEK THIRTY ONE - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment

WEEK THIRTY TWO - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment

WEEK THIRTY THREE - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment

WEEK THIRTY FOUR - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment


WEEK THIRTY FIVE - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment

WEEK THIRTY SIX - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment


WEEK FOURTY - living in Eau Claire, WI
sacred heart hospital



WEEK FOURTY FIVE - living in Eau Claire, WI
our own apartment


WE LOVE YOU, NAOMI <3

Naomi's middle name is Caitlin. I don't remember how that name came to my mind but the two names together mean "pleasant purity" or, as a sister in the Lord proposed, "happy holiness". The way it is spelled is in honor of a friend of mine from Milwaukee who loves Jesus more than most people that I know. Speaking life, or calling things into being, is a real thing, so is discerning the nature that God has shaped in a person. Our little Naomi is truly a pleasant baby and a really happy little girl. She is passionate and peaceful and we believe she already has encounters with God that her soul is aware of. 

Becoming parents has been a truly natural thing for us. Raising a baby is very challenging but one moment, one hour, one day at a time we're getting through the trials. There is breakthrough and sweet moments in the midst of the simple responsibility. A lot of challenges for me in breastfeeding, the typical frustration of sleep deprivation, and some incredibly mild depression at times, seem so tiny in the light of the love for her completely precious soul -- and her sweet, sweet smiles. One of the characteristics that Kelsey had told me about in Luke, that sealed the deal for me in allowing him to pursue me, was his love for children. He has had minimal experience with babies but has been an utterly fantastic dad. Ive been called to be a momma since I was born and Ive carried that close as Ive "mothered" many. Even once Naomi was born it was surreal that she was ours. I loved her like all the other kids Id loved. Its starting to sink in now that she's my daughter and the reality of cultivating hope in her is great.

The pregnancy and even the delivery went so fast. Ive known all along that each milestone was her growing up, becoming who God created her to be -- even in the womb. I also knew it in every long hour of the short first thirty days she was here in our arms with so many needs. When I was crying it gave me hope. When I was marveling it caused me to linger longer. The challenges are so real but they're all able to be overcome. Days go by and each is precious. I don't wish any back, I just want to remain as present as I have, all the days of her life. She was worth my twenty-four year wait.