Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bite Size Bible Study: "I Will Be With You"

I haven't spent a lot of time in the Old Testament over the recent years. But as I was pondering where to jump in - the book of Joshua stood out to me...so I don't think about things too long. :) I just assume that's God and go for it. And God is a really good Leader isn't He? As we approach this new year what could be better that focusing on the themes of God's fulfilled promises to ineherit land and space?

Joshua 1:5 "Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you."

WHAT WORDS! What words. Just as I was with Moses....think about the intimacy of God's leadership with Moses as he led the Israelites. He spoke so cleary. He led so definitely. God interacted with Moses so closely so that Moses could rightly care for God's precious people.

Why can't I put my name in for Joshua's name? 'Abi - just as I was with Moses, I am going to be with you in 2012.' I don't think that's too risky of a theological gamble.

So - what if my expectation of the Lord 'being with me' went up? What if I look for Him more? What if I quiet my heart to hear Him speak more because I KNOW He is ready to lead me? What if I trust Him more?

I don't know about you but I have this stirring in my heart that 2012 is going to be a big and important year. Today, my heart is singing with the renewed reality that my God is with me.

We just celebrated Christmas - our Emanuel God. God with us. He gave and He came to literally be with us. There is no greater intimacy and there is no sweeter invitation to relationship!

Joshua 1:5 "Just as I was with Moses, I will be with you (insert your name here)." Let that ring over and over in your ears today!

Love y'all,
Abi

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bite Size Bible Study: Don't Be Afraid

I have been having this phrase 'bite size Bible study' rolling around inside of me for a while. It's not that all we need is just a bite of truth. It's not that five minutes is the grand goal of time with the Lord.

But - it IS that sometimes what I really need is one bite. One thought. One message to chew chew chew on all day. One direction to point my heart towards as I put my Bible down. Sometimes my brain is just too scattered to go in many directions and I am called back to the simplicity of the moment in God.

So, how about a quick Bite Size Bible Study my friend?

Here's what I read this morning:

Luke 1:13 "But the angel said, 'Don't be afraid Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.' "

Two things - don't be afraid (insert your name here) and God HAS heard your prayer. Oh man don't those two things go hand in hand? If I was truly confident that God has heard my prayers, my cries, my whispers - then why would I ever have need of being afraid???

Granted - this portion of Scripture is truly referring to Zechariah's fear of seeing Gabriel - a mighty angel - right in front of his very eyes. But as I read it this morning, I could hear the Spirit of God just saying 'This is for you. Don't be afraid my girl because I HAVE heard your prayer.'

If you read on in the chapter - it goes on to detail God's answered prayer for John and Elizabeth of a son. And boy oh boy - not just any son. Did their waiting pay off? Yes, yes it did. Did God honor their decision to wait and trust and not turn their hearts off to Him in the meantime? Yes, yes He did.

So, today friend - don't be afraid. God hears you. And the wait will be worth it.

Love y'all,
Abi

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pinterest Fail

Ahhhh Pinterest. Thanks to my girl Kelsey I took the Pinterest plunge a few months ago. Ummmm hello huge new part of my world. Is it not crazy how such a simple idea and platform can make such a big splash?

I am not the world's craftiest girl. Mind you - this is mostly due to my choice more than anything. Typically, I'd rather spend my time having coffee with a friend, going on a walk with Liam and Zion, etc. than knitting or spending hours making crafts. However. That was before Pinterest. Now all of the sudden I have this little fire inside of me to try my hand at a few things! I did make a t-shirt scarf inspired by P. and with the help of some friends it turned out well!

One of the parts I love is all of the new recipes. It's just nice to get new ideas! So I tried my first Pinterest meal last night. Overnight chicken with balsamic roasted carrots. I loved the marinade for the chicken but it called for it to be cooked too long in my opinion so that recipe gets a 'B' as is. And the balsamic roasted carrots needed oomph and could have used more balsamic so those also get a 'B.' Now I love trying new recipes. But I only repeat if we truly love something. I didn't love either of these....and thus the title of the article.

Are you pinning?

I wonder what is on your Pinterest crafting to-do list....

For me, I would like to make at least one Christmas decor craft this year and I saw a really cute brown onesie with the turkey face on the front and the turkey feathers on the back. Cute!

And I have already decided that Cranberry Salsa will be made as a Thanksgiving appetizer in a few weeks - it looks amazing! And then....there are all of those Christmas cookie recipes!

For now, I am enjoying having my creativity sparked and stirred. I'd LOVE to know what you've got your eye on!

Love y'all,
Abi

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Still Here

Helllllllllo. WHEW! Has it ever been a long time since my last post! I have thought of this post so many times - and my brain tries and tries to figure out a direction or witty perspective for my little bloggy update. Needless to say - a funny spin escapes me so here's a plain-old life update!

Thankfulness fills my heart more each day. I think that part of the reason I have put off this blog is that I KNOW I am going to sound unbearably cheesy, abolsutely over the moon, and perhaps a smidge annoying in tone. But - what can I do? Just jump in and trust you won't read if you don't want to lol!!!


I cannot really find words but I am one happy girl. I have wanted to be a mom since I was little. Baby dolls were my world and babysitting eventually became my joy. I dreamed of becoming a mom and imagined it over and over again. The desire never left me. Not for one second. But - life drew my focus to other areas over time. It is so weird because since we've had Liam, I actually feel a little more like my teenage self than anything else! When a desire has to go into pause mode, you just let it hibernate deep down inside and that's okay. But ohhhhhhhh my. I feel like my heart is about to explode with joy, deep satisfaction, and thankfulness.


We've just been getting into our groove over the past months. Speaking of months - Liam was THREE MONTHS on November 4!!! Crazy and wonderful. This child is one special boy. What momma doesn't feel that way though??? LOL. His personality is coming out and he is sweet down to his core and fun fun fun. He's verbal, strong as an ox, and observative. He's just beginning to laugh and we are in the very early stages of it but I can't say how much I love it.

I won't say much on it but we took a class called 'Preparation for Parenting' by Growing Kids God's Way. The book 'Babywise' is by the same authors/teachers and it's the same material just with Christ-centered elements mixed in. I know a lot of people feel strongly for or against it and I respect each momma's persepctive. But let me just say - I think I am able to love this experience a heck of a lot more because I am sleeping through the night and have been for a while. Rested momma = better momma. Rested baby = happy baby. I strongly recommend the parenting method from everything I have seen so far! If you want a crash course or are just curious - check out www.babywisemom.com. That's a blog that a mom started and it has SO MUCH helpful information on it!

Liam has been big and strong from the time he was born and the pattern continues my friends. He looks like a big boy now! He's definitely past the infant stage. He's as long as many babies a few months older than him and he - well he weighs as much as many of them do too lol. I am thankful he's a good nurser but whew! We are almost ready for 6 month clothing and he's 3 months old! I love every inch of that boy though.


Despite all of the happiness, my personal hygiene and style has taken a deep dive! If I get myself showered and dressed beyond sweats, I consider myself quite accomplished. Of course, the extra love pounds I am currently carrying since da bubby made his arrival make putting an outfit together interesting. I am happy to say that I am not beating myself up over the weight that needs to be lost though! Let's be honest. I had a real good time while pregnant when it came to food. And I don't regret it at all! So - I'll be patient and work it off bit by bit now. Mom and I started Weight Watchers last week - they have a nursing moms program and I'm a believer! (side note - I do think I'll at least attempt gaining a tad less next time round :)


So here's to getting back to the new normal in life! We are still figuring things out but it's cool. Some days are more sane and calm than others but all in all - gratitude fills my heart. Hope each of you are doing well! Happy fall y'all!!!

Love y'all,
Abi

Friday, September 9, 2011

Transformation

Maybe someday I will again write about something non-new-mommy related on this blog. :) Who knows! When I started the blog, the goal was to talk about all things life. That's still the goal but right now my life is fairly consumed with one little man named Liam. And I am loving it!

Five weeks ago my life turned into the most glorious upside down state. But transition is always 'something' isn't it? I became a momma in an instat on August 4 but my heart has melted and molded into this new role bit by bit - diaper by diaper - and non-showered day by non-showered day. Those first few weeks were precious and hard all at the same time. Talk about shock to the system! I remember feeling pretty trapped in my house and more specifically - in one chair that I did most of the early nursing in. I felt like my life would never extend beyond that chair lol!

But then those hormones began to slowly stabilize and I could see and feel that little boy more each day. I loved him so much but I remember feeling so weird knowing that I was smack dab between two identities. Not who I used to be but totally unsure of who the new mommy-me was or was supposed to be. Of course, I am sure that in five more weeks I'll have an even deeper understanding of my new life.

He has started cooing and smiling at me. He snuggles into my neck for an occasional nap in the most delicious way. He studies the world around him with such focus. He already adores Daddy. And he made me a mom - a long-held dream come true.

It's so crazy to feel all of the instincts come to life without really trying to make them do that. Each week I feel more and more in touch with my role and the love grows when it seems impossible for it to grow any more.

Have I gushed enough? LOL. I see the words that I type and I am - uh - a little astonished. :) I have never been much of a gusher and I never saw that coming. But I am so beyond caring how it sounds at this point. This is a new season to say the least. I turn 30 next month and I say bring it on. God give me grace to transition and to love the way You love.




Love y'all,
Abi

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two People

There are two people who have made this whole transition possible for me without losing my mind. And honestly - they just deserve a blog post. They deserve so much more than a blog post!

The first is Mr. Zion Spencer. I just love him. From the beginning of labor - he was right there and never disengaged. I honestly think that's saying a lot. It was a long day and it was a hard day in many ways. We started at 3:30 am on August 3 getting ready to go to the hospital and finally put our heads down to sleep around 3:00 am on August 4.

Because of the cessarean, my capacities were limited from the very beginning. Let's just say that nursing was nothing less than a two person job! I couldn't get out of bed without huge effort so he was up and down getting baby boy with each feeding - changing every single diaper and tracking every feeding and the 'contents' of each diaper. From the beginning, Zion oozed love for Liam. And THAT - melted my heart.

When we came home - his help continued. It was really nice that he was able to have time off of work to be with us in that first week. What's more - he handled my very very raw emotional state like a champion. He saw more crying from me in two weeks time than perhaps the whole of our marriage! Lots of hugs and taking me out for our first post-baby coffee date meant so much to me. It's so frustrating to feel like your emotions are out of control and receiving so much grace and support from Zion made it a bit easier.

Last night Zion got back from a short work trip. Watching him love on Liam after a few days away was precious.

Check out this pic. One morning I had ventured to the bathroom for a shower and came out to see that they had brough Liam to us while I was showering. Zion was so tired that they had a hard time waking him up. :) So - they got him awake enough and then just put little Liam in his arms. And this is what I came out to: LOVE.



Meet person number two: my momma. I seriously don't know what I would have done without this woman. She helped me in the hospital but she had no idea what she was in for once we came home!!! LOL. She came each day to help me learn how to take care of Liam. And man alive - what a learning curve it has been. Not only has she offered me her base of experience - she helped me figure out each little hiccup we encountered over the first two weeks of Liam's life. INCLUDING - answering a call from me at 3am last week when Liam all of the sudden refused to breast feed and was screaming. I was crying, Liam was screaming, and here came Mom driving over to our house at 3:30am in her robe. She wasn't sure what she would do when she got to us - but she came. We eventually figured out I was dealing with engorgement. She stayed overnight with me for the following two nights until we got it worked out - she would get me hot compresses before each feeding and made me tea to go with it.

She has given me worlds of perspective on what is normal and has kept encouraging me that I was doing great and that Liam is doing great. Sometimes that's just what you need to hear when it seems like you have zero idea what you are doing and you have no real idea what is normal for a newborn.



I am currently trying to tell myself that I can do this without her for small amounts of time during the day lol. She has given herself to us and I have loved and appreciated it more than I can say.

So many people in our family and friends have offered such great support and I appreciate every meal, encouraging text, and visit. It's just one of those times in life where the need is huge and every ounce of help means to the world.

I love you Zion and Mom and this one's for you two!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Place Called Saint Francis




This entire post is dedicated to my hospital experience...because I loved it SO much! Did not anticipate that but I surely welcomed it.

From the very beginning of our experience - checking in at 5:15 am on August 3 - each and every nurse and tech we encountered was comforting, wonderful and beyond kind. It was so amazing. And get this - I had two different nurses during labor and delivery. Alyssa and Whitney. I had known Alyssa through mutual friends for quite a few years and she was with me for the first hours of labor. She was nothing but encouraging and life giving. I am intimately aware of what a special calling a nurse has and what a ministry they provide after this experience. And THEN - one of my longest life-friends Whitney came in early to be my nurse. She stayed from 11am to 1:30am the next morning. Not even kidding. Annnnnnd - God smiled on us in a pretty unbelievable way. The day Liam was born - approximately 40 other babies were being born at St. Francis. The halls were alive with action! But - by some true miracle - Whitney was never assigned another patient aside from me. For the whole day. Do you know what that means? My nurse and dear friend stayed in my room with me for almost the entire time. She went out to talk to the doctor and get things but otherwise she never left my room. God is so good. In the midst of a very challenging (yet beautiful) 18 hours - He gave me angels to walk through it with.


I call Whitney Liam's 'patron saint' lol. We're not Catholic but it just seems fitting!

Annnnd then came the baby nurses. I will never forget Lacy. She was the one who got Liam when he came straight from the operating room with Zion after swallowing amniotic fluid. Zion was able to stay right with him during that whole time and that allowed me to relax knowing that Liam wasn't alone and that he was being loved from his daddy from the very beginning. Lacy came into my recovery room after a bit just to give me an update and tell me what was going on with him and then about 30 minutes later - here comes Lacy with Zion and Liam to tell me how well baby boy had done and that he was 100% stable. She was the essence of comfort and care when I desperately needed to see that the woman who had taken care of my baby was just that.

One amazing thing about my time at St. Francis was that they just finished renovating the post-partum wing two months ago. Everything was sparkling new and beautiful. I am big on the aesthetics of an environment and it made me feel so special to be there. Kind of like a hotel! Friday morning - about 28 hours after Liam was born - my doctor walked into my room asking if I was ready to go home.....that got a quick and resounding NO out of me. I mean, do I look crazy? Leave all of these wonderful nurses who know how to take care of Liam and me so well and so kindly? We stayed until Sunday evening - the max that we could. :) I highly recommend it!

After the trauma of the delivery experience, things started turning around quickly! And Liam made quite a splash in the nursery. Before I knew it, Steph, the charge nurse of the nursery had decided he was pretty special...now that's what I call a discerning woman! LOL. She would personally bring him to us and she would come check on him. When he was in the nursery - she had her eye on him - which came in handy as she made the call to suction out his nose via a tube two different times because Liam was still dealing with too much congestion from the fluid swallow. It brought a lot of peace to my heart to know that he had already stolen hers and that he was getting special attention. :)

We had so many wonderful visitors while we were in the hospital. I felt like a truck had run over me - repeatedly - but it was still a special time to share the joy of Liam with friends and family. I cannot express the mommy-joy that filled my heart as I watched other people fall in love with him. What can I say - he's a charmer! When people would hold him, he would often try to open at least one eye to get a glimpse of who was talking to him. Melt my heart little boy.

We did let Liam go to the nursery at night between feedings so that we could sleep some more....still wasn't great sleep but it wasn't the highest thing on my priority list at that point. I remember on either Thursday or Friday night I called the nurse to bring him to me early in the middle of the night because I just needed to see him. We shared such special moments in the dark of the room in the middle of the night before we fed as I realized how this gift from God met one of the deepest and truest desires of my heart. Words cannot express how full the heart feels in moments like that. I still look at my two-week old baby boy and marvel and how God did it.

And now a note about marketing....as I am being wheeled out of the hospital to head home the nurses all say goodbye to you as you're leaving. And then my nurse for that day says - "Can't wait to see you again in a few years Abi for baby number two!" Maybe I love being sold or maybe I am just gullible - but I really think Therese meant it. Of course the business side of me is saying 'dang that was a good line!' Either way - I would love nothing more than to head back to the Pink Palace to welcome another sweet baby into the Spencer family....in a few years that is. Not any time soon!

I really thank God for my time at St. Francis and for each and every person who brought care to us. After a looooong day on August 3, it was a balm to my soul to receive such loving care.


Heading home with Liam for the first time!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Birthday Story for Liam

Took me long enough! Oh man oh man what an adventure we've been on since August 2. But today, I am watching Liam swing and praying for sweet minutes until it's time to feed again. :) Such a precious blessing William Justice is. So - what's about to unfold is really more for me than for you. I want to document all of the moments I can remember leading up to the birth of sweet little man Liam. You are welcome to come along for the ride but I can tell you right now that this is going to be a long post!

Let's start at the very beginning... a very good place to start. Smile. Liam's July 26 due date came and went. And then went and went and went. Our sweet boy ended up being 9 days past due date when all was said and done. WOOHOO!!!!!!! I did fairly well with the wait - if you look past a few frustrated moments. It was a huge blessing to be able to work from home as I waited because I could keep my very puffy feet elevated for the most part and I was able to relax physically. A blessing! So - on Tuesday, August 2, Zion and I went to my 41 week appointment. As my doctor was doing my routine ultrasound she could find no pockets of amniotic fluid showing up which meant that the fluid levels had dropped too low. Now - if you're like me - I didn't really know what that meant. Basically - amniotic fluid is directly attached to the placenta - which is the literal life source for the baby. So....it's important. Our doctor felt strongly that we induce the next day - so much so - that she bumped the girl that was scheduled for induction the next day to Friday so that I could have her spot.

We did not want to induce but we felt peace about it. It just felt like it was time and my body had started showing me signs that it was ready to go for it (I won't go into those details :) so I didn't feel that I was forcing my body to do something it really wasn't ready to do.

So - what did we do? My mom drove me to my accupuncture appointment (a natural way to stimulate labor which I think actually did work) and then we met up with Zion again for my last great meal before giving birth. Man oh man. Let me just tell you - I ate so well and am so thankful that I did because it would be a loooong time before my appetite really came back! We headed to Charlestons and shared things like a prime rib sandwich with au jus and bread pudding. It was SO GOOD!!!! And it was so exciting to know what we were about to embark upon. After lunch Zion and I went home and took naps and then did some final preparations before we headed back to the air conditioned hospital to walk the halls....again trying to prompt labor as naturally as we could before the pitocin kicked in in the morning. We prayed as we walked. We prayed over Liam, over me, over all of the doctors and nurses and just as the Spirit led us. It was a really memorable time and full of peace and anticipation.

So..... that night I slept about one and half hours. Can you blame me? I wasn't nervous or scared but my body just wouldn't let down enough to go to sleep. Awesome. But - we made it to the hospital by 5:15am on August 3 and we were ready to go. I was so thankful to have my team of three with me all day - Zion, my mom and our doula (and good friend!) Bernadette. This trio got me through quite the experience.

We started the pitocin around 6:30am and off the contractions went. But - for the most part I wasn't feeling a whole lot and we were just enjoying ourselves :). In came my doctor at approximately 9:00ish and she broke my water. OFF WE WENT! Thankfully the contractions were going very well at a very low level of pitocin and they took the pitocin from a low amount to a very low amount to none at all because my body had taken over labor on its own. That was really cool for us because everything was able to happen naturally from that point on.

Friends have asked me how the pain was and I can't even begin to put words to it. It was so other-worldly and so much more intense than anything I have ever experienced that I just don't even have words to say what it was like. My little team plus one of the world's best labor and delivery nurses (and one of friends from since we were little girls) got me through an unreal experience. I will say - going into the birth with 1.5 hours of sleep was not ideal. Two different times, I had a drug called Stadol. It is a short lived deal that just takes the edge off....but for me it allowed me to have a thirty minute nap two different times. If not for those breaks - I would have called in that epidural angel pretty early on! Zion was admittedly amazing throughout the entire experience. He never zoned out and he was there and with me the entire time. By the grace of God, after the second round of Stadol, labor progressed really well. By about 3:30 I was dilated to an 8 and we were sure things were getting close. Well - by 7:00 I was still at that same 8. The contractions kept coming but no progress was made for three and half hours. I don't know what to say about that other than it was starting to get serious. We tried so many different positions and methods to get things to continue progressing. It just didn't happen.

So - at that point we had two differnt options: a c-section or an epidural. We chose the epidural because it would: give my muscles the chance to relax and do what they needed to do in terms of dilation and it would buy us more time. At twelve hours into very intense labor and having been dilated to an 8 for hours with no progress I felt fairly accomlished in my 'au naturale' efforts. We were willing to do whatever we were capable of to avoid the surgery. Once we made the decision to go for it - I told Whitney to go down to room 21 (where the anesthesiologist was working with another patient) and get him to stop whatever he was doing and get in my room asap. I mean, once you've decided to do it - DO IT! :) I had once again reached a point where my physical strength had run out and I knew I needed a break. However, I have no doubt that had dilation continued - I would have had the grace and strength to make it through delivering Liam naturally. Heck - after about 14 hours without the epidural - what's a bit more? Welllllllll then Dr. Bailey came in and it was epidural time. Like I said - I was ready because I knew I had given it my all and done everything within my power to avoid it and this is just where we were. After the epidural set in, what followed was hours of laying in different positions for thirty minutes at a time. Not only were we waiting for my muscles to relax and finish dilating - but Liam had turned sunny-side up and was not in the right position. So - for the next hours I shivered under the effects of the drug but was able to rest and wait.

And then - finally - it was time to push. At this point - it was about 10:30pm. My poor family and friends had waited a very long day in the waiting room for us to get to this point! So - we started to push. And push. And push. And nothing. Liam had gotten stuck in a very cockeyed position. Here comes my doctor again - and sorry for the graphic nature - but she shoved that hand up me and grabbed onto him and attempted to rotate him for about ten minutes. He was just stuck. We had pushed for an hour at that point - his head coming down and then going right back up and still in the wrong position. My doctor looked at me and said - well, I think we really need to consider a c-section at this point.

A few other things had led up to that as well. During the hour of pushing, Liam's heart rate finally started showing signs of stress and I developed a fever. Both signs that things were getting more serious and that we were both at our limit. If my fever continued to accelerate as it was, I wouldn't be able to hold my baby after he was born because I would be contagious to him. Even typing that sentence still makes me tear up. Oh the clash of emotions in that moment! For the entire pregnancy - I had imagined and prayed about delivering naturally but more than anything - I had wanted to avoid a c-section. And now it came to this moment. It wasn't what I wanted....I had so many thoughts of not only my own disappointment but the disappointment others would have on my behalf or in me. Sick isn't it? LOL. So Zion and I talked it over with just us in the room - and we both cried. But - we were in agreement that we would do it because in my gut, in my knower, I knew that it was what needed to happen for Liam. It was time to see our baby and he needed help coming out.

What happened from there was so fast that it's hard to even remember the details. Within ten minutes I was in the operating room and was being prepped. People were swarming and even as they started to actually do the procedure - Zion was coming in to sit with me. I could see the tears in Zion's kind eyes and I knew that he was with me through thick and thin. I love him more than ever.

The actual c-section was bizarre to say the least. Because Liam had spent a good amount of time in the birth canal, he had gotten into a pretty 'catty wompus' (doctor's term) position. Just as my doctor went in to pull him out - my uterus had a strong contraction pulling Liam in the opposite direction. I couldn't feel any pain but I could definitely feel a LOT of tugging. My doctor was right there and I could see her literally yanking her body around and she tried and tried to get him out. Liam ended up coming out feet first and he swallowed some amniotic fluid on his way - so he was stunned upon arrival. It took about sixty seconds to hear that cry but oh my gosh when we did - it was amazing. We looked at each other and there came the tears again.

Remember me saying this was not going to be a petite baby? Liam was our 8lbs 8oz little boy and to us - that was just amazing and wonderful. Hope this isn't too weird - but in the Bible, 8 is a symbollic number for new beginnings. And THIS boy is a new beginning! Despite all that we endured - 18 hours of labor and lots of ups and downs - there was our God showing Himself to us.

They brought our precious Liam to me and then he and Daddy headed to the nursery for about an hour and half to get all of the fluid out of those lungs and make sure everything was stable. Liam bounced back from his rough entrance into the world beautifully. I was shocked by how quickly I was in and out of the operating room. What a team that helped Liam come to us!

In truth, the labor and delivery was a long day and it has been somewhat challenging to recover from. We had originally wanted to avoid induction, an epidural, and mostly - a c-section. And, in the end, we experienced all three. Man. That's one of those things that hurts a little bit. There is zero disappointment in our sweet boy. He was such a champion and stayed strong and stable throughout a very long day of labor and trying all kinds of things to make it happen. But - there is disappointment that my personal goal was not able to be reached. And there is disappointment in the fact that further births will be affected because of the c-section this time. I am thankful to say I have no regrets about any of our decisions. I felt the induction was timely and that my body was ready. We used the epidural to get to our end goal after doing labor naturally for about 14 hours. And when it came to the c-section, my doctor put no pressure on me. We made a choice based on gut instinct and it turned out to be the right one for Liam and the right one for me. Many tears have been shed but in the end, we have a VERY strong baby boy named Liam and he is a miracle. AND - I am thankful that we live in a day when he was able to be delivered safely after trying our best to do it naturally and without a c-section. It's just one of those things. :)

Since this post has become unbelievably long at this point....I'll have to do part two about our experience after delivery. So I'll leave you with precious pictures....if you're still reading that is! LOL.

Thank you God for my Birthday Boy Liam!!!!

Love y'all,
Abi





Sunday, July 31, 2011

Boy Cousins!!!!

I know that I have talked about my brother and sister in law a few times....got to have dinner with them tonight and it was a nice night! Choosing to enjoy opportunities like this as they pop up. :) We found out this week that Liam is going to have a BOY cousin just about two months younger than he is. How wonderful is that???? They will have lots of fun growing up together! Here is a picture of of us mommas with the boys still on the inside. Hoping this will be one of my last pregnant pictures! But may I say Mr. Liam - it has been a joy to carry you and I love you already sweet boy.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making A Choice

Hi again. It's me - and I'm still pregnant. :) Being in this position could be seen as unrelatable if you haven't been pregnant before - but in truth - it's just like anything else in life that feels 'overdue' when you think it should have come to pass a few moments ago.

Geez Louise! I tell you what - faith comes in to play when something seems overdue doesn't it? And here's what else I am realizing once again - the battle for faith is a moment by moment / hour by hour battle. It's not a one time knock down drag out fight. It's an ongoing nagging battle that we have to keep choosing to win in Christ.

Last night - the pity party I was starting to throw myself was ridiculous. The thoughts I was thinking were ridiculous! The emotional mood was in a downward spiral and you get the picture. So - I made a snap decision to get myself to the prayer/worship service at church and simply get my eyes off of myself. Thank you Holy Spirit for leading me is all I can say!

The whole time - I kept hearing things in my spirit like "Rise up woman of faith." And the verse "I lift my eyes up - to where my help comes from - my help comes from the Lord." (Little secret - as I looked up and found that actual verse in Psalm 121 I discovered that my memory paraphrased it lol. But it works!) Bottom line - I may feel like this baby boy's birth is late - but it's just not. And I do have a choice. I can choose to literally lift my eyes up to my Helper.

Of course, to lift my eyes up requires a cease and desist on the pity party doesn't it? Hmmmmm funny how that works.

So - by the grace of God - I choose joy in the waiting. I choose peace that is mine because Jesus said He left me His peace that passes my understanding. And I choose faith! And I choose a thankful heart instead of a grumbling heart.

Isn't it frustrating that so often it comes down to a choice we need to make that overrides the emotions we may feel? But time and time again - it's the way to victory.

So whatever you're waiting on - know that progress towards that goal is being made whether you can see and perceive it or not. Whether or not you can feel it...forward motion is happening.

So - yep I am still pregnant. And happy.

Love y'all,
Abi

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Liam's Space

Wellllll....here I sit. It's July 26 and it looks like Mr. Liam would rather wait a bit before making his debut. Today has been a somewhat unexpected roller coaster. I KNOW that only 5% of babies are born on their due date. I know it. But still - I thought that maybe this boy would choose July 26. Now that he hasn't - it's kind of cool to think "I have no idea what his actual birthday will be!" Maybe it will be tomorrow. Maybe it will be a week from now!

So what do I do with myself? I get caught up on blogging is what I do. Man alive it's been a tad too long!

But - I can officially say that Liam's room is ready to go in terms of details and so why not go take pictures at ten o'clock at night and then do a blog post? It seems only fitting. My mental state is transferring to all of the fun/satisfying things I can do before he comes. Bravo TV as my background music? Check. Cookies made? Check. Eating that hamburger from Webers that I have been thinking about for months? Check. Now I shall see how many things I can think up and then check off the list!

So here is Liam's room..... I must say that it's a happy space. I feel peace, joy, and calm when I sit in the glider in his room. I always wanted it to have a baby feel but be an extention of our style instead of overdone baby-land. It is so wonderful to see the bedding we had made be such a fun fit. So happy with that! And I feel so thankful for the great crib on loan from the Nelsons and the dresser/night stand I found on Craig's List. Also a big shout out to my parents who put in quite a few hours helping me pull the room together while Zion was on a work trip! God is good - He likes the desires of our heart and I kind of think He enjoys Liam's space too.

So here it is friends!












Love y'all and maybe I'll just keep this blogging thing up until L's birthday!
Abi

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update

Well....here we are and today I am 38 weeks! I promise that at some point I will return to blogging about a variety of topics. :) At this point though, it is fairly consuming to say the least. Hmmmmm....to take a picture at 38 weeks or not to? I probably will but let's just say it won't be today - it will be a day on which I feel fresh and cute (in relative terms!).

Prepare yeself for one rambling post....because frankly all my thoughts do at this point is ramble so I think it's the best we're going to get!

I have been loving QT Coke icees...for a few days in a row. I mean, it IS well over 100 degrees each day and it just seems appropriate. I would say that's my biggest repeating food offender right now.

38 weeks is crazy because all of the sudden he seems so big in there. Today we had our checkup and he is measuring at 7lb and 9oz. Only gained 6oz from last week which I thought was fantastic! I can tell we're making progress towards Liam's birthday but we've still got a little time on our hands. He is making his way south though - that's for sure! Yikes! Sometimes it is hard to wrap your mind around what is being felt. 'Are those little hands or feet pawing against my hip bones?' 'Wow - that was a jab to the bladder!' 'Did his head really just push a little lower????' I am thankful that I still feel him moving around a lot - it's reassuring to know he's still doing his thing and is so healthy. This one is going to be all-boy folks. I have a feeling that Liam will take on the world with his activity pretty early on!

Lots of people ask me if I am miserable....especially with the heat wave we're, ahem, surviving in Tulsa. But - God's grace is good. I'm not miserable! I get hot but my solution is just to stay in the AC and swim. Lots of people also ask if I am just ready to do this thing. Nope - I'm not. It's not because I am not 'ready' but more because of the fact that I think it's just not time yet. And I'd much rather Liam come at his and God's agreed upon birthday than an earlier day to make it easier for me to roll to the other side in bed during the night. :) (but that willl be nice!!!!)

We got to see his face on the ultrasound today....expect chubby cheeks my friends! Zion was with me at this appointment - and needless to say - neither of us were surprised when she mentioned his cheeks. :) More to kiss and both of us had chubbers for cheeks when we were babies. I am getting so excited to touch that baby boy!

I am very very remiss in not posting about baby showers!!! We have sincerely been blessed above and beyond anything we could have imagined. To each person who was involved with hosting a shower or came to a shower or sent a gift - my heart overflows with gratitude for you. It a blessing to give and a blessing to receive...and we've definitely been on the receiving end in this season! My goal is to do a post about the showers this weekend and hopefully fit one in with pictures of Liam's room as well. Lofty goals!!!

Mi familia really deserves a big shout out for all the help they have been offering over the past days and weeks. They've started bringing food over for dinner - to which I say, yes and amen. And THANK YOU! I love to cook - but it's not on the radar right now. Mom has supplied deep dish pizza, burgers from July 4th and a delicious pot roast that even became a delicious barbecue brisket sandwich after our first meal on the roast. Yum! Last night my dear sister-in-law Chloe made us honest to goodness Chinese food.... Delicious stir fry and spicy asparagus and mushrooms with fried rice. Wow! Tonight.... get ready for it....marinaded steaks will be grilled courtesy of mi familia as well. It's pretty amazing! On top of all that - my mom has been doing all of the shopping for me for my 'hospital packing list.' She's been all over this city! Whew! Thankful for the support though and grateful that we get to share this time with them. Liam is going to be blessed to have such great family on both sides!

You know who else deserves a biggie shout out? Mr. Zion Spencer! He has really been great from start to finish. I think each guy is different and you never know how yours will respond in pregnancy....but Zion has been a big blessing to me. He has encouraged me, taken care of me, never complained, gotten excited with me about fabric, gone to parenting and birthing classes with me, talked to Liam (via my belly button of course - because that's where you talk to a baby) and has given me the words of affirmation I have needed at the perfect times. I have never felt alone and when I have felt overwhelmed - he has been the rock. I am 100%, absolutely certain that Zion Spencer is going to be an unbelievably great daddy. I can't wait to see him and Liam together!

And now....just in case you're having one of those 'fluffy' days where you're not feeling very cute (because everyone does now and again!)....I thought I'd leave you with a picture of my beautiful calf/ankle or cankle if you will. This is not even as bad as they have been dear readers. So if today's not your day - just take heart that likely your ankles look better than this. LOL!!!! Home stretch baby!!!



Love y'all....my icee calls me!
Abi

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

36 Weeks In All Its Glory

Hello Many....or special few lol...Readers!

I know that I said time would fly in my 32 weeks update and guess what - I was RIGHT. I love it when I am right!!! :) Here we are four weeks later and only four weeks to go. Crazy!

You know God? He's smart. Four weeks ago I would not have said that I was ready for Liam to come. But now - yesssss I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am imagining delicious treats such as: laying on my stomach, easily turning over from one side to the other in bed, ankles that resemble days of old, wearing a wedding ring, and seeing my facial space diminish to its previous plot of real estate instead of its current expanded state :).

Here we go.... Mr. Liam in all his glory at 36 weeks!

Yes....that's a face that says "WOW." I mean what else can you say???





Needless to say, I am just not expecting a petite baby boy. And I am good with that! I have known many a petite woman who have delivered big babies - and let's just say - I have always been average v. small so I am confident these hips can handle it. LOL. My guess is that Liam will weigh in at 8lbs and 3oz. And I don't think he's going to be early. Or at least very early. Just a gut instinct...but the doctor did confirm that at 36 weeks we are dilated at a big fat zero so I think I am pretty right on!

I can't believe how quickly it has gone and on the other hand - finding out I was pregnant on November 17, 2010, seems like an eternity ago.

Oh SO much has happened since our last update! Beautiful and very special showers have been enjoyed, Liam's room has really started to take form, and Caleb and Chloe have arrived back in Tulsa. It really feels like a season of blessing.

I know I mentioned a room update picture for Liam's room - but I am thinking that will have to come next week. :) But in the meantime, here's a shot of the glider that I ordered and the blanket and pillow that goes with the bedding. I am so happy with the way it's all coming together!



So, in case you were wondering, I am still relishing food. LOL! Listen people, I have four weeks left of this excuse and I have zero intention of squandering the enjoyment. Soon enough - I will be back at my Friday noon Weight Watchers meetings with Dana (did you know they have a nursing mom's program???) and starting up my running and working on strengthening my core. Until then - bring on yummy stuff that comes with July 4! Bring on dates with the husband and late night Braums stops. Bring on frozen anything - coffee, icees, ice cream - yes and amen.

I cannot believe how crazy and miraculous pregnancy is. I cannot believe that the first time I saw Liam on the ultrasound he was a little white blip and now he is so developed that we can't get good pictures of his face anymore because he's down in the nether regions preparing for his big debut.

God is so creative. To be pregnant is to watch God do His thing - all on His own. I mean, the only cooperation needed is to make the decision to give an unborn child the right to life. Other than that - God has an intricate plan of preparation for creating each unique life and weaving us together with extreme detail. I cannot wait to get that little boy in my arms and study every single inch of him. I cannot wait to try to see which part is me and which part is Zion and which part is any other family member. My brother actually has distinct attributes of my grandfather and I have a few specific features from both of my grandmothers - so the possibilities are just endless and that is so amazing! Isn't it crazy when you look at some siblings and they look just alike and then other sets of siblings who get such different gene mixes? God is beyond my comprehension and that's such a good thing.

So four weeks till the due date means that in approximately four weeks I will be giving birth. Hmmmmmmmmm. How do I feel about that I ask myself. Well - hmmmmmmmmmmmmm........... lol! At this point, I am not nervous. I feel strangely confident - which can only be attributed to God's grace and Holy Spirit. We went to a birth class at our hospital and got some good strategies for handling the experience and we are really excited that we are going to have a doula walking us through labor. Bernadette is a great friend and momma of seven beautiful children. She's done natural birth with almost all of them and so that gives me a big shot of confidence that she'll be able to walk me through. I think my desire to do a natural birth came when I started running in 2009. I was NEVER a fitness buff and when I say never....I mean I never worked out. Seriously! And then, all of the sudden I started training for a 5K. Before I knew it - I was crossing that finish line with a decent time and wondering who this new girl was. By the time longer distance running started - I realized how much I was capable of physically that I had absolutely no clue about until I tried. And with that realization came the urge to want to, at the least, pursue delivering a baby without an epidural. My mom did it. My mother-in-law did it. I have know many women who have done it. So - I am committed to giving it my best. I am not putting a ton of pressure on myself - but at the same time - I really believe I can do it. There will be a wonderful team of people around me and a God who overcame death right there with me. So those are my thoughts today at least. :) We'll see how it goes right?!

I hope you've had a good week so far and are gearing up for a great July 4 weekend! It's one of my favorite holidays because I met Mr. Spencer for the first real time on July 4, 2000. That's right ELEVEN years ago!!!!!!!!!! Still love watching fireworks with him and feeling the spark.

I am thinking there will be a few more than normal baby-related blogs coming up in the next few weeks since we're now in the homestretch. I don't post every blog update to Facebook because I don't like to over-do it. So if you're that nosy person (like ME!) feel free to check back in on the blog periodically and see how the progress is coming.

Love y'all....
Abi

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two Little Thoughts From My Heart

Oh blogging world..... for some reason my brain hasn't been coming up with great content for the past few weeks! It will occur to me to blog - but what? But here I am and here you are. So today, I thought I would just share a few thoughts that have been rumbling around my mind/spirit over the past week. They're not connected but maybe you need to hear them just as much as I need to ponder them.

First, I do not consider myself a pregnancy expert by any means! Whew!!!! But - one thing that I do feel has been a great decision is getting chiropractic adjustments throughout the pregnancy. I have had no back pain to speak of and very little hip pain and I think it's really helped to stay in alignment. Hang in there because I am going somewhere with this!

My chiropractor has adjusted me once a month, but in the last month leading up to delivery, he will adjust me once a week. He explained to me that as the body prepares to give birth everything starts shifting a lot more and it is important to stay on top of keeping it aligned. Makes sense!

So here's thought number one: We all know what transition feels like and often, we can feel the new season coming right at us when it is time. I am a visual person. So - thinking about our bodies shifting so much in preparation for birthing and then thinking about how that parallels to our lives when the new is upon us makes sense to me. And what's important when we're in that preparation/shifting time? Alignment! I don't know about you - but for me - alignment comes straight from the Word of God. The Word keeps me lined up with truth instead of the fake truths my mind would love to dwell on. You know what I mean! Those fake truths that are based on fear, past disappointments, and a lack of believing that God is who He really says He is.

So if you're like me and KNOW that you know that change is upon you - watch that alignment and know that you need extra doses of truth to keep you ready to fully step into the new at the right time and in the fullest way.

And here's thought number two (briefly!!!): I Samuel 17:50 "So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword."

Zion and I were reading this chapter on Sunday and that verse just jumped out at me! The sword would have been the expected weapon of choice to take down the giant in front of him. It's what others would have used. It would have been a well-approved decision. It wouldn't have raised eyebrows or garnered verbalized criticisms as the shepherd boy approached the tall giant. But our friend David had never even trained with a sword, let alone possessed one. He didn't know any better so he confidently picked up the simple stones and a sling. It was what he was comfortable with and what the Lord had been training him with. Yes - the Lord HAD been training him to kill a giant while taking care of sheep. The two seem like such different circumstances and skill sets don't they? But - His ways are higher than our ways....and just plain different than our ways.


Sunday School anyone???? Bringing it back to the animated pictures!

So wherever you are, and wherever I am - I think it's good to take a moment and remind myself that God is my trainer. He is my provider. He is going to get me to the right place at the right time. I WILL be prepared to take on giant in front of me that stands in the way of my destiny - regardless of what my preparation looks like. And you will too!

Love y'all,
Abi

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm Funny

...or I wish I was funnier in my blogging world. :) Some of my favorite blogs to read are the ones that are just plain funny. My friend Brooke is hilarious and I seriously always laugh out loud at her stories. So I have determined I need to up the funny quotient of this here blog.

....however....if I have to determine that I am going to be more funny - will it actually be funny? LOL Probably not! And yes - this is a random post just because it's what's on da mind.

What I can tell you is that I married to a funny person. The other week he came out with a real zinger and I seriously laughed for five minutes. You may not find it funny like I do but here it goes... we had just tried Dickey's BBQ at Kingspointe Village. We're fans by the way! As we were driving away we were talking about what we liked about it. One thing he really liked was that it wasn't a 'sticky bbq' place. It was clean and it felt clean...which led us to talking about Rib Crib. Which doesn't feel clean to him. He's describing his dislike of RC when he pulls out the bottom line "I just feel obese when I eat there." And thus my laughter began. It's hilarious to me number one that his lean self could feel obese at all. Number two, that he used the word obese. And number three, that being around heavy bbq food made him think of that. I really like Mr. Spencer!

Here's another funny: I snort a lot now. I think that I've always had a hidden snort tendency but there is something about pregnancy that has made me snort more while laughing. And I do it in public - which makes me laugh all the more.

Here's one last one. This one may just put things into perspective for you more than crack ya up. :) We celebrated our sixth anniversary a few weekends ago and we were at a pool relaxing. Now mind you - when celebrating one's wedding anniversary - there is a desire to feel sexy, beautiful, romantic, etc. But in the current state of this body - those feelings are a tad hard to come by. So there I was - lounging in my swimsuit and all of the other tan skinny girls that this pool seemed to attract. Yessssss - I had to walk back and forth in front of them a few times to grab a towel, etc. And that point - you really just have to have a quiet little laugh on the inside! I mean, you KNOW they are checking you out as you strut in front of them with your quite large middle (and that is seriously no exaggeration my friends). But what can a girl do other than embrace those significantly less firm and significantly less small thighs, chubby arms, circular face and a baby that prefers to push straight out for space? Embrace the beauty baby!

So I think I'll be on the lookout for the funny a bit more. I bet you had some funny things happen over the weekend. Don't you wish we could grab coffee and belly laugh over them???

Love y'all,
Abi

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Can I Just Say....

.....Some days I wonder if the 'wonder-wife' thing will ever really kick in for me. Now hear me out. Granted - I am in the third trimester of carrying a baby boy but I don't remember being oh so different from this before pregnancy. It's like I get done working and I just want to stay glued to the couch.

I hear all the time - rest all you can while you can before Liam comes. And I do get that concept. Frankly - I think that I have the resting thing down for the most part! LOL. But seriously - I want to be a woman of excellence! Not just one who does a few things well and lot of things passably. Yes - that Proverbs 31 woman thing is in the back of my mind. But don't you feel the same way from time to time?

It has always been a good concept for me to take things one step at a time. So for tonight - I will head to the kitchen and unload the dishwasher and perhaps keep a few loads of laundry going. It's a little step and I think it's something. :)

Hope you've had a good day. My day has been good but I am about to add a shot of at-home-productivity to it so that we can end on a strong note. And who the heck knows - I may go crazy and take a little walk before going to bed. CRAZINESS!!!! :)

Love y'all and keeping it real,
Abi

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

32 Weeks Wowza!

Sometimes I forget that I am pregnant. And then I look down. Wowza!!!!





It's pretty amazing that Liam is getting as big as he is...and that we have approximately 8 more weeks of growing to go! I can definitely tell that he is taking up more space now... there are times when I can feel him moving or kicking on both side of my body. One of my favorite things recently is when he pushes out on my belly and you can definitely feel his strong little body if you put your hand where he's pushing. Mostly I think I am feeling his back and behind but sometimes it feels like he's jabbing that little elbow out. It still amazes me that there is a real little precious person right there!

At my last ultrasound the doctor was able to get some good shots of his face. It was so bizarre and wonderful because I actually felt like I recognized him when I saw his face. I am not usually a big fan of posting ultrasound pics because they are so hard to figure out - but this one has been my favorite thus far so it gets posted. :)

Now really - if you can't make out his face, don't worry about it. I am never good at looking at other people's alienish pictures lol! But if you step back a bit you'll see his face - forehead, nose (which does look a little inverted lol), eyes, cheeks, and lips....his face is mostly on your right side of the picture. And then you'll see his arm reaching up to the left of his face with his hand right there by his face.

I mean come on! That is one ADORABLE face!!!! I would absolutely love it if that precious face pops out with his daddy's dimples.... Just sayin'. (and it happens to be that his nose looks a little inverted because it is pressed up against my uterus - which is kind of a weird word to type in a blog post :)

When I get overwhelmed with the huge change that is about to occur in our lives - I just look at that little face. What a miracle! God chose this baby for us to parent and He chose this timing. Be at rest oh my soul.

At this point - both the excitement and the trepidation are growing in equal parts! I mean - 8 weeks is going to FLY by. And then I won't just be a friend, a girl, a wife, a sister, and a daughter. I'll be a MOM! It is humbling, thrilling, and overwhelming all at once. I just can't wait to see that little face in person.

I know I am not to that final stretch yet but there is something inside of me that doesn't want him to come too early (again - check with me around July 15 to see if my answer is still the same). I want him to come anytime after July 20. Liam is due on July 26 and there is just some instinctual thing that says - I want him to be in there as long as he needs to be. SO MANY people are experts in pregnancy/delivery/parenting! Did you know that???? LOL. One pregnancy - one delivery - one child automatically qualifies you as expert status. It's not to say that women who have given birth do not have valuable tips, advice, and insight to share. They do! But seriously - I am amazed that most women never stop to think 'wow - what was normal for me may not apply to every other woman and pregnancy!' Of course, there are those out there who fully realize this and they are a breath of fresh air. I have heard time and time again that lots of first babies (especially boys) deliver past their due date. I am totally fine with that. But - then there are those stories that absolutely contradict that expectation. Like my sister-in-law. Cherish has two little boys - both came early and were perfectly healthy....just ready! So this is what I am saying people - WHO KNOWS????!!!! I'll have my bag packed in case he comes early and lots of fun things planned in case I need to entertain myself and keep my mind elsewhere if the waiting gets looooooong.

We are making headway on Liam's room! The bedding should be here within two weeks and I cannot wait to see it! The crib is ready to be put together - we just need to move the guest bed out. I have ordered a great black picture frame for his room - found some really fun alphabet wall art - and imagine other wall thingies for his room. So - mentally - I am making tons of progress! LOL. Seriously I think it will come together fairly quickly once the bedding arrives. That will be fun fun fun! I bet by the 36 week update I will have some pictures to share. :)

On a random room note - we also decided to pull in a subtle lion theme into Liam's room. Number one - Liam the Lion is just irresistible. And number two - Zion loves lions! When I say subtle - I do mean subtle. The mobile has a lion - there is one wall piece that I like that has a lion on it - and I found a stuffed lion and lion play mat that are amazingly fun. That's it...no lion overdose!

Caleb and Chloe get to Tulsa on June 25 so I am guessing that we'll know whether Liam is getting a girl cousin or a boy cousin by early July!!!! I am guessing girl. In which case, it looks like her name may be Michaela Florence Booth. I LOVE it!

Speaking of names, it looks like Mr. Liam has a middle name. His official first name is William but we'll call him Liam. We were having a hard time coming up with a middle name. We did want something with a bit of an edge to it since William is more elegant. There were a lot of names that sounded great to us - but we take names pretty seriously. You're probably not at all surprised by that though lol! One night I was sitting on the couch thinking/praying about it and it was like - 'why don't you think of words instead of proper names?' And immediately the word popped into my mind! Zion came in from talking on the phone to one of his good friends in the back yard and I told him about it. He was like 'That really could be it because that is what Scott and I just spent our whole conversation talking about!' That's kind of how God gave us the name William/Liam as well. It came to me and then when I took it to Zion - God had been speaking to him about a lot of different Williams throughout history that He had used in the Kingdom.

So - it looks like we are going to have a William Justice Spencer. It is meaningful to us on lots of levels but most importantly - it coincides with what we believe God is saying about this little man. Come on little man with your destiny!

I wrap this up with a verse I have been meditating on. Maybe it's what you need to hear right now too:

Isaiah 30:18 "For the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up and show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"

Love y'all,
Abi

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cappuccino Dreams

Above Mentioned Cappuccino - 2006



I will never forget the first time I had a cappuccino that was so good it dived right into my permanent memory. It was right after I had graduated from college. Two of my dear friends - Rebecca and Megan - were studying for six weeks in Rome, Italy, that summer and I made the very wise choice to go stay with them while they studied.
It was one of our first full day in Rome all together and we were near the Coliseum. Seriously - I felt like it was the first time I had had a real coffee. That small white porcelain cup packed a beautiful punch! It was so strong but so rich and good (and yes - I added sugar :). On that trip - I think I had at least two cappuccinos every single day and it was glorious.

Isn't it funny the memories that stick so vividly in your mind? That first trip to Europe changed me forever. It birthed in me a love for adventure and it stripped the fear of planning big trips far away. I think that Rome will forever be one of my absolute favorite places because of that special first experience away from America. It stretched me. It wooed me. It absolutely won me over.

Some days - I just love letting my mind wander to some of the great adventures that I have had. Thankfully - I married an adventurer. We have both preferred to save and spend money on seeing far away parts of the world instead of driving nice cars or wearing cloths that wiped out our budget. We shop sales and we keep car payments low so that we can save save save and I have never regretted one dollar spent on adventures.

So today - I am savoring memories of Rome! I just neeeeded to get some of my memories out and on paper...or blog....or screen... :).

About a year and a half after we got married - Zion and I got to go Rome. A return trip for me and a delightful first for him. God really gave us grace for that trip. At the time, Zion's health was not good and he had been battling a lot of issues but we were still able to journey, discover, taste, and revel together in the beautiful Italian culture. God has been gracious.

Can I just say that arriving in Rome is simply nothing like you imagine. The airport is about 45 minutes from central Rome. You either take a train or a taxi into the city. And the trip in is not quite the picturesque images from "Under the Tuscan Sun!" You pass run down, not-so-nice apartment buildings and lots of land that isn't really rolling and you think to yourself 'I am not feeling this so far!' After that many hours of travel - there is something in you that craves beauty upon touch down in Italy. But - beauty comes. When Zion and I were there together we stayed in a B&B between Campo di Fiore and Piazza Navona. Google both of those....... beauty on so many levels.

It's funny how traveling together has shaped some of our family and life perspectives. Specifically our time in Italy. There is something about eating dinner on a piazza where people's everyday lives are happening. Some of the people live in the buildings surrounding the square, little boys kick soccer balls and play hard on the cobble stone ground until the ball flies into the fountain likely centuries old, older couples quietly stroll, and people savor life in a communal setting. It stirs us so deeply! The dream is to someday live on a piazza with our best friends. Why not dream big right????

I love Rome for the opportunity it offers you to reach back and directly touch history. There is nothing that can prepare you for standing in the Coliseum where thousands of Christians died simply because they chose faith in God. Or standing in the glowing shadows of the Pantheon at night where modern life swirls around it but where ancient architecture reached new levels with its construction. I savor stepping into a culture that has existed for so many hundreds of years. One that welcomes you if you respect it and is thrilled at your meager efforts to speak Italian.

Some days I just dream of walking into one of our favorite little espresso bars and pushing my way to the counter and loudly saying 'Due cappuccini!' Two cappuccinos please! I love that you have to be aggressive and let go of your 'I am a tourist' mentality and treat yourself like any other espresso-thirsty Italian who will be loud enough for their order to be heard and taken. I love pretending that I am Italian even in my white white skin lol. Delusional I know!

When we were in Rome we would walk and walk and walk. Which I think is one of the great joys of discovering a city like that. You get gritty with the everyday Italians. You sweat just like them....but you probably look a lot worse than most of them since they live that lifestyle everyday! LOL. You see things and stop to stare if you want. You fill up your water bottle in the water streams pouring out of spickets on random buildings because the water ducts STILL WORK and produce clean drinking water from way back when Rome was built. Wrap your mind around that! You stop and watch Roman brides and grooms taking wedding pictures by Constantine's Arch. And all because you're willing to walk until your feet just won't go anymore. And you eat all that you want because frankly your calorie burn makes way more space for pizza, pasta, and gelato than anyone's everyday life in America does.



Ohhhhh the food. I look forward to going back to Rome just to eat. I think I would be even more adventurous now. But let me tell you - I don't regret one margherita pizza I ate. The pasta has less sauce and it's so good. The homemade tiramisu tastes the way you always think it should taste when you order it here - but rarely does. Annnnnd the gelato. Oh my. Lemon gelato during the sweltering heat of the day and chocolate hazelnut after dinner. Yes - I did eat it twice a day on more than one occasion. :)

So I don't know.... there is just something so great about going back to some of these memories. The opportunity to see the world from different eyes and to experience life in a way that is not your usual - is so good. It is a gift and I am so grateful for the opportunities that we have had to open our eyes and be the minority.

Rome - I cannot wait to drink your cappuccinos again but until then I will hop down to Nordaggios and pretend I am drinking a cappuccino there with you and your aggressive, charming, and sweaty beauty.



Thanks for taking a little journey into my memories with me!

Love y'all,
Abi

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?!

Just need to say - this is one happy sister. My brother and his wife, Chloe, have lived in Beijing, China since the fall of 2009. Caleb is definitely called to China and we have (pretty much, wink wink) come to terms with the fact that we would be separated by continents for the foreseeable future. In circumstances like that - you think a lot about the concept that Jesus laid out - we lose our lives to find them. Sometimes that applies to relationships too! And at the end of the day - how horrible would it be to stand in the way of a person's destiny because you wish that they were closer for your own comfort??


Welllll.... I recently found out that I am number one going to be an AUNT!!!! And number two, that Caleb and Chloe will be coming back to the States for at least a while! I mean - WOW!!!! I did not really see that coming. First - the baby cousins will be about 2.5 months apart and that is going to be a precious gift. And then - I never thought that they would be coming back to America quite yet. They'll start out in Oklahoma but who knows where they will land. But seriously - even if they end up thousands of miles away it will still be waaaaaay closer than before.



Can I just say - I am looking forward to lattes and guacamole that Caleb makes like no one else. I am looking forward to sharing a few months of pregnancy with Chloe. I am looking forward to being able to hold my niece or nephew while the baby is still brand new instead of meeting that sweet little person via skype. I am looking forward to just hanging out.



I will enjoy this season for what it is. It may be years in America - but I have learned to not get too comfortable because Caleb and Chloe WILL follow the Lord if they feel Him moving. There is no doubt there will be more seasons of continents separating us but for now - I am LOVING this season and can't wait. They get to Tulsa on June 25...and it's going to be fun!!! Thanks Lord for this sweet surprise especially during this special season!! Like I said....I'm happy :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Recipes for Success

Happy Monday!!!

If you are a mom, I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and if you have a mom - I hope you thoroughly enjoyed celebrating that special woman! We had a really nice weekend. It was full of Mother's Day related activities. Saturday morning we went to a Mother's Day Tea at my mom's church and my pretty-much-sister Lili, lovely mother-in-law Lois, and super Aunt Hope joined us. It was fun! Next year we're wearing hats. :) Saturday night - the whole Spencer gang went to Dad and Mom Spencer's house for an evening of celebrating her, eating pizza, lots of boys playing in the grass, and celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday too. Whew!

Sunday morning I did worship team at church so my mom and dad came with us! That was fun. Then we headed back to our house for lunch on the patio. Yes - I did get a little stressed pulling it together at the last minute....which I told myself I wouldn't do! Grrrr....I do seem to make strides in this area and I think it's important because no one feels very blessed or touched if the hostess is stressed out. So thankfully - the stress was brief.

Having said that - I think I pulled off one of my favorite meals ever! I tried a few new recipes so that is always a gamble...but when Emeril and Ina are your sources - it's hard to go too far wrong. You know - as I was cooking - the thought occurred to me that I should take pictures of my 'recipes-in-progress' experience since I wanted to blog about the recipes. However - my cooking pictures would look faaaar different than Pioneer Woman's!!! You know - the glossy, no-mess, perfectly measured into little bowls - look? It just doesn't look like that when I cook! LOL. It's more like an Oklahoma tornado has torn through the kitchen. And I have plenty of counter space is the thing...this just must be my style. I do try to clean up as I go but still - it's not a picture-appropriate set of circumstances. So just use your imagination! :)

I made Emeril's Quiche Lorraine (and yes the homemade pastry crust IS worth it!) and also made his simple salad viniagrette that he included with the quiche recipe. Both were hits. Hey - a little extra bacon and swiss cheese never hurt anyone! :) We added a fruit salad and french bread and had the perfect Mother's Day lunch on the patio. AND THEN - came Ina's lemon bars. Oh. My. Gosh. I have been loving lemon anything recently and these reminded me of one of my favorites in Paris last year - tarte citron. If you like lemon bars - these are for you!

Here are the recipes:

Quiche Lorraine - Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients
•Flaky Butter Crust, recipe follows
•6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips (or “lardons”)
•2 large eggs
•2 large egg yolks
•1 1/4 cups half-and-half
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
•Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
•1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
•Simple Salad, recipe follows

Directions
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the edges. (Alternatively, a 9-inch pie pan can be used.) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard the fat or reserve for another use.

Arrange the bacon evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, and half and half. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust and bake until the custard is golden, puffed, and set yet still slightly wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Simple Salad.

Flaky Butter Crust:
•1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
•1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter in the processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and pulse quickly 5or 6 times, or until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the container. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and butter in a medium bowl, and mix with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together and is no longer dry, being careful not to overmix. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface according to the recipe, fit it into the pan, and allow to rest again in the refrigerator before baking.

Yield: one 9-inch tart or pie crust

Simple Salad:
•1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
•2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
•1 tablespoon chopped garlic
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•3/4 cup olive oil
•Mesclun salad mix or favorite greens, for accompaniment
Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and serve immediately.

If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.

MY NOTES: In an effort to conserve energy - I had to spread my cooking process out. I made the crust on Friday night and refrigerated it until Saturday afternoon. I just let it sit out for 30 minutes before rolling it out and it worked like a charm. I also made the quiche on Saturday afternoon and then warmed it up Sunday for lunch. Used a pinch of ground nutmeg instead of fresh. Used extra bacon and swiss cheese. YUM! This is a keeper!


Ina Garten's Lemon Bars:

Ingredients
For the crust:
•1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•2 cups flour
•1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
•6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
•3 cups granulated sugar
•2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
•1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
•1 cup flour
•Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

MY NOTES: I used extra lemon zest because if you like lemon - how could 2 TBLS ever be enough??? Made these on Friday night and Sunday they were still perfect. In fact, they are still perfect today (unfortunately!). They are best if they are served cold. Will make these many times over for the rest of my life!

So here's to a happy week ahead! I hope you had a great weekend!

Love y'all,
Abi

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

28 Weeks, a Bag, and It's Getting Real

Seriously - has it been four weeks since my last baby update??? How is that even possible?! There are still 12 weeks until Baby Boy makes his debut but then I think about how quickly the time goes between my every four week baby updates and it's a tad shocking. Just a tad!

So big boy is still growing quite well! LOL. At the 28 week appointment this morning he measured in at 2 lbs and 13 oz. That's almost a three pounder people - which seems large and in charge in my mind. :)

Here are the pictorial updates!



I am still so thankful to say that this pregnancy has been a great experience and I am really enjoying it. Today starts my third trimester which absolutely blows my mind - and I can tell that energy is getting a little less available. My mom went with me to register on Thursday night and then we finished up on Saturday afternoon. Dang! Let me just say - all that walking was something else. Plus - I think you need some serious grace to register. So many decisions and so many categories of products to research.

Took the glucose screening this morning and it wasn't that bad! The orange drink was gulp-able and the worst part was the time waiting for the stuff to process before the blood work could be done. You don't think that blended coffee drink (yes I still drink caffine) was a bad idea before taking the test do you? LOL. Yep - that's what I did. Had a coffee drink (no doubt including some sugar) and then went straight to take my glucose screening. I don't know - I just think that if my body was whacked with sugar stuff I would feel weird and I would know it. Right???

So - speaking of registering - one of the things that I have looked forward to long before I actually became pregnant was a great diaper bag. And let me just TELL you there are some great bags out there these days. Unfortunatley - a small fortune can be spent on said bags. I have been looking and looking and had almost settled on a bag by Timi and Leslie and then I found the bag meant for me at Peek-A-Boo Baby Boutique here in Tulsa on Saturday! I saw it and within five minutes I had come to the clear conclusion that the only appropriate thing was to get myself a Mother's Day gift. :)

Presenting the bag:


You know what's fun? The bag is made by Kalencom - a New Orleans company! My mom is from New Orleans so it's fun to support one of our favorite cities. Also - the lining is lime green. Not a necessity by any means but it is a little fun that it will compliment the theme of Liam's room. :)

Okay - so it's high time to wrap this up. All I can say is that I am consumed by this miracle. He is moving so much more and we are getting to know this boy. And more than that - God is supernaturally preparing our hearts for him and for this journey. I can't put adequate words to it but I have longed for this for so long and the realization of a dream fulfilled brings joy that is deep and true.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to temper my joy when I think about friends who still have that desire so deep in their hearts and are still waiting. But isn't that just like the enemy? I want to remain tender to where friend's hearts are - but not hold back celebrating this miracle even in the least. That's a fine line to walk in life regardless of which side of the situation you are on or what the particular desire is. But - I celebrate the goodness of God and am allowing my heart to burst with joy. This little boy deserves it and my God deserves it. The excitement is building by the day!

Thanks for putting up with this looooong post Friends.

Love y'all,
Abi