Friday, December 23, 2011


I remember sitting on our couch a year ago, in our new (but now old) apartment, purposely making myself sit down and stare at our Christmas tree.  It wasn't difficult to make myself sit down - I was doing that a lot, considering I was 5-ish months pregnant at the time.  But it was difficult for me to just stare in awe and wonder at the lights, the ornaments, the memories displayed before me.  I loved to stare at my parents' tree when I was younger...for some reason, the simplicity and the beauty touched a chord in me.  Yes, it reminded me of Christmases past, and family/friends, but it also reminded me of the mystey and beauty and glory of Jesus' birth.  As I stared at our tree last year, I was feeling the same things, but it was so different, knowing that in a short time, we would experience the same thing (well, almost the same thing - thanks, emergency C-section...) that Mary and Joseph experienced.  We were about to bring a son into the world.  I remember all of these crazy thoughts swirling around in my head and my heart, trying to get into the normal Christmas traditions, etc.  That was extra hard last year, considering we had just found out about Paul's brain tumor a few weeks earlier.  Everything I knew was changing, and although I claim to love change (and I do, for the most part), I was craving some monotony...I wanted some semblance of normal life.  Oh, how times change...

I'm now sitting here, a year later, mulling over the last year and everything we've been through, and I'm in the opposite camp...I want some change so badly.  Thankfully, the tumor is benign, and as crazy as the last two months of my pregnancy were, including the C-section, Isaac is the most amazing thing that's ever happened to us.  Paul and Isaac are truly my saving grace so much these days.  We've made it through two job changes for Paul, my maternity leave/going back to working a job I don't particulary enjoy, and are attempting to handle the constancy of an almost 9 month  But I'm tired.  We're in a hard season...we are surrounded by the struggle - the desperate ebb and flow of life - the pull between flesh and spirit, this life and the next.  I can honestly say I've never felt the divide so deeply before.  And so often lately, it's put me in a place of despair.  So while last year I had a hard time getting into Christmas for the reasons listed above, this year, it seems even harder.  Life is different, no doubt, and will continue to be change, as is the life of new parents and babies.  But tonight, as I try to stare at our new, smaller, tabletop-so-Isaac-doesn't-kill-himself Christmas tree, my eyes well up with tears for the place we're in.  I'm trying to be content in all things (ugh, Philippians 4), but I suck at it.

I was a grown-up last year.  I was a mature, married adult, and had been through some stuff.  I've always considered my experiences a gift from God, if not at the time, then eventually.  I knew what it meant to focus on the real reason for the Christmas season.  And although I would have said that we had been through some rough times, I now know what rough times really are.  I know things could have been and could now be worse...I understand that perspective.  But my heart is heavy, and I struggle with the point in life as we know it.

And yet, there's a glimmer of hope. 

Life definitely wasn't all joy, awe and wonder for Mary and Joseph.  I can't even imagine the thoughts running through their heads and hearts as strange men came bearing gifts, and dirty, smelly shepherds came praising their new baby boy, not to mention seeing angels in dreams and having a star follow them as they traveled.  I guess that's why Mary pondered...there weren't even words to describe her situation.  So Lord, help me to ponder during this me to see Your purpose in this craziness.  Help me to see this dirty, smelly, strange season as a gift from You.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Amazing giveaway

Considering I'm a newer blogger (well, new for now), I have never done a giveaway because no one really reads this.  But if you do read this blog, you need to click here for an awesome giveaway to help women attend school to make jewelry so they have a sustainable income.  Paul and I already support Light Gives Heat, which helps women do the same thing in different parts of Africa, but Noonday is another awesome organization.  Check it out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bad Days

You know you have them too.

This morning had all the intentions of being a bad day, and considering it's only 6:54, it may still happen.  My child is "sick" (only in quotes because he has poop issues and is kinda dehydrated) and I have to be at work.  To most people, that doesn't even sound like an issue.  But to a first-time mom, it's hell.  What did I do wrong?  How did I cause this to happen?  Why can't I do anything to fix it?  Will he be okay?

I'm sure he'll be okay.  Well, I'm not sure but I'm seriously thinking he'll be okay.

And poop (even a TON of it) isn't necessarily horrible and can be dealt with (even if it looks, smells and has the constancy of a GROWN MAN. Ahem.)

Dehydration is really the scary thing, but he's not dying.  I keep telling myself he just needs more liquids.  Our caregivers will make sure that happens.  I don't need to be worried...right?



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweet Sadness

I thought I knew what it was like to have my heart torn, to wear the pieces on my sleeve when I married my husband.  All of a sudden, my heart was no longer my own - it belonged to someone else, and their good was my main concern.  Not all the time, mind you - I'm a very selfish person in general, so don't read into that thinking, "Wow, she's such a great Christian..." blah.  It wasn't a constant was temporary at times...but that nagging sense of need, of the desire for this person to love me back, and even if he didn't, I would still love him with every part of my being.  It was scary.  But it was and is beautiful, especially as our love for each other ripens with time.


Little did I know almost 6 years ago that this same nagging, this same intense feeling would literally consume me at times in a totally different way.  Little did I know that I could love deeper, that I could pray harder, and that I could be forced to walk straighter.  Little did I know that my husband, although still in first place in my heart (besides Jesus, of course), would have to share my love, my concern, my hopes, my fears.  Little did I know...and his name is Isaac.

This little boy has totally reshaped my outlook on life, and as he ate "real" food for the first time today, my heart breaks a little more.  At almost 6 months old, this precious kid has stolen my heart and all the cheesy love songs (ok, maybe not ALL of them) that used to make me think about my husband have now been translated into Isaac-ness.  I miss him when I'm at work.  I miss him when I put him to bed at night.  I cried the first time he rolled over, knowing that I couldn't do anything to stop him from growing up.  This battle of giving up control to the One who should have it in the first place is terrifying, even if that doesn't sound "spiritual".  I'm in this place of I know, but I don't know if I want to know?  I know what I'm supposed to do, how I'm supposed to act, who I'm supposed to surrender to with this parenting thing (and marriage thing, to be honest), but it's SO HARD.

At the same time, though, I almost get a sense of how God feels when he, in all his splendor and glory, looks down on us just wanting us to want him a little bit more.  Desiring to spend just a little bit more time with us.  Wanting to stop us from doing things that he knows will hurt us in the long run...sigh.

As hard as this time is, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to use it to get to know God's character better.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A son is born

Dear Isaac,

Before Mommy’s brain is completely surrendered to motherhood, I want to write down your story – the story of how you came to be.  It’s a long story (even longer than what I’m writing here), but it’s a good story, nay, a great story.  You see, it took 6 months for me to get pregnant, but you were not late.  You were right on time – God’s time.  When we found out we were pregnant with you, it was one of the scariest and most exciting times in mine and Daddy’s life.  I took a pregnancy test around 6:00am, and said some bad words when the test came back positive (not because you were bad, but because Mommy was surprised…VERY surprised.  I had taken a test a week before and it was negative, so this was a HUGE deal.)  I ran into the bedroom and woke Daddy up by waving the test in his face, and we both laughed and cried and prayed.  I remember calling into work, because I couldn’t even think straight enough to work, and we were leaving for Chicago that day to see your Nana and Grandpa.  I took a picture of the test on my phone and sent it to your Aunt Lou – her and Uncle Tao were SO happy because they were waiting on your cousin Gabe at the same time!  We also told your Aunt Chris & Uncle Mike because they were waiting on your cousin Madeline – I know, crazy, right?  We didn’t tell anyone else until we saw your Nana & Grandpa (and Uncle Jim, Aunt Kari and Uncle Ken) that night.  We took a picture of the test with our camera, and while showing pictures to Nana, she saw that picture and realized what was going on.  Everyone was so happy, but nervous – it was really early to know about you, and we just prayed that everything would turn out okay.  I went to the doctor that next week, and although they couldn’t see you yet, they were confident that everything would be alright, even if Mommy was freaking out.  We waited another week, and when we went back to the doctor, we saw your heart beating on the big screen and it was one of the best moments of our lives.  We told Grandma about you too, of course – we had her come over and gave her a set of bottles to tell her we were expecting you.  She was so excited!  Everyone was excited, kid – they couldn’t wait to meet you, and neither could we.  But we had to wait – it takes almost 10 months for a baby to be borned!  :)

You were a great baby from the beginning, buddy.  My pregnancy was one of the best times of my life, and my heart and mind were changing for the better even before you arrived.  You were an answer to prayer in so many ways – you didn’t make me sick (thank you for that) and even though we had our trials while you were cooking (including moving, your Daddy’s brain tumor/surgery, gestational diabetes, etc.), and some great times (Ellie Camara was born, Gabe was born, Madeline was born, Mommy coordinated her second wedding, etc.) overall I had a wonderful pregnancy.  We took classes, got our apartment as ready as it was going to be, received a ton of gifts that you wouldn’t really care about for a while, and waited.  It seemed like we waited forever, but the time finally came for you to appear.  You didn’t really want to come out – we waited as long as we could, but eventually, the doctor had to help you.  Mommy had decided she didn’t want to use drugs while you were making your way into the world, but as you will learn, not everything works out the way you plan.

We went into the hospital on Thursday, March 31st.  Dr. McKenzie started me on Cervadil to see if we could get you to start the process.  That’s when labor first started, even though I had been having contractions for a few weeks on and off.  So starting around 7:00pm, the experience of a lifetime began.  I labored all night, but nothing was strong enough to push you.  Then Dr. Campbell started Petocin the next morning around 7:00, and I was in pain ALL DAY.  I kept trying to tell myself that it was all going to be worth it – that your life was so much more important then the pain I was in.  I tried a lot of things that day to keep my mind off the pain and to push you to come out.  I had made a whole playlist of music to help me.  I rocked in a chair.  I walked around.  I tried to sleep.  I yelled at Daddy, Aunt Lou, Grandma, Nana & Grandpa (yep, they were there too!)  I cried.  I was so hungry because I couldn’t eat anything – can you imagine that?  Not being able to eat?  It was bad.  The pain kept getting worse, and around 8:00 that night, I finally asked the doctor to give me an epidural.  It was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made because as you will continue to learn, Mommy is a stubborn person, and to change my mind about how I wanted to deliver you was tough.  Unfortunately, the epidural pretty much stopped our progress.  You and I were both tired from the hours and hours of labor, and even though the nurses tried to get the contractions back to the point where you would come out, it didn’t work. 

The doctor came in and said we would have to do an emergency c-section because your heart rate was starting to dip, and they didn’t want anything to happen to either of us.  I cried, Daddy cried, everyone who loved you cried because even though we knew God was going to take care of us, it was still scary.  So the doctor gave me some stuff to REALLY stop the pain and numb me, I got sick, passed out a couple times, and even though I couldn't act like it because of the medicine, I knew exactly what was going on in my mind.  I knew that regardless of how crazy those moments were, you were going to be here.  I was going to get to hold you, touch you, kiss you, say hello to you, see your face…be with the one I had waited so long for.  The c-section only took about 20 minutes, so after around 28 hours of labor, at 11:25pm, you were born.  Daddy and I had decided that Daddy would get to name you – we had three names picked out (Isaac Nathaniel, Noah James and Ethan Daniel), and he was going to get to pick one.  As soon as you were out of my belly, Daddy picked Isaac Nathaniel.  You were so alert – you didn’t cry much, even when you were poked and prodded, and you were so beautiful.  Your name was and is very appropriate – you were born on April 1st, commonly known as April Fools’ Day, and your name means Laughter, God’s gift.  And that’s what you are, babe – you are a gift.  You are the best thing to ever happen to me, besides meeting Jesus and marrying your Daddy.  I now know what it means to keep my heart outside my body, because you have it.  You have been a pleasure thus far, and even though we have had and will continue to have our hard times, you are such a blessing to us, and to everyone who meets you.  You have a lot of people who love you, Isaac – don’t you ever forget it.  You are our son, but you have been dedicated to God, and our prayer is that you give yourself to Him early.  We love you more than you will ever know.

Love always,

Did you think I forgot about you?

For the few people who read this, I have not forgotten.  This blog is a necessary slinks into the back of my mind a few times each day, urging me to write something.  I need to write.  I need to express, convey, cast out my emotions so they don't get all cozy in my heart and drive me insane.  I have too many ideas to even organize right now, but soon and very soon, this will be accomplished.  Stay with me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New blog, new life

Considering I haven't blogged since 2009, I figured it was time to re-do it all.  (If you want to see the old blog, click here.)  Nothing fancy, but something different.  I'm one of those weirdos who loves change, so this helps to ease my need for it.  In looking through my old blogs, it's amazing to me how much life has changed.  When I last blogged, we had just adopted our dog, Nacho, I was in the midst of losing weight (ha), I had just gotten my last tattoo (sadness) and life was...well, ordinary.  We hadn't gone to Philly on a mission trip yet, our church hadn't moved into our new building yet, I was doing a daily  Life was SO different.  One thing hasn't changed - I still love lists.  So, since then...

We not only adopted Nacho, we also adopted Roxie, a corgi mix, who originally belonged to our pastor & family.  Their son was allergic to dog saliva, come to find out, and this dog is a licker.  So, after keeping her for a week while they were on vacation, and seeing how well the two dogs got along, we said yes when Luke & Shana asked if we wanted to keep her.

My parents and grandparents came down for a weekend - that was one of the last big trips my grandparents took.  My grandma has since been diagnosed with dementia and possible onslaught of Alzheimer's.  It's been really hard being away from them as they deal with all of the changes these crappy diseases make.

Instead of Boston, we did a mission trip in Philly - it was a great trip, but a definite reminder that we are NOT 21 anymore.  Ugh.

Two of the most cherished people in our lives got married, and we were both a part of the celebration.  It was such a great day in the midst of a lot of tragedy and drama.

Paul's dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November of 2009, and he lost that battle (but gained heaven!) in February of 2010.  We miss him...

After 10 years, two colleges, 5 majors and a lot of junk in between, Paul graduated with a degree is Christian Ministry from Crown College in May of 2010.  We were all SO proud of him!  We went to MN to watch him walk across the stage - a huge acheivement, one that I wouldn't have let him miss for the world.

The rest of 2010 was kinda blurry and messy, with some good points thrown in.  We found out we were pregnant in July after 6 months of trying (this was definitely a good point!), had a contract signed on our house in August (it had been on the market for almost a year and a half), we celebrated 5 years of marriage in September, moved into an apartment that same month and had to pay double payments for two months because our contract didn't close until the week of Thanksgiving.  If all of that wasn't enough, Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December.  Whew.  We couldn't wait for 2010 to be over.  Starting in 2011, Paul had a brain biopsy done in February, and everything came back fine, praise God!!  They didn't remove the whole thing because of the area it was in, but he will continue to be watched closely with MRI's every 3-6 months. 

And then, April 1st, 2011, God blessed us with a beautiful baby boy (after 28 hours of labor, mind you) - Isaac Nathaniel Barnett.

I'll tell that whole story in a different post...

Isaac is now 4 months old, I'm having a biopsy done on an abnormal mole, and there's a lot of stuff going on with our church.  We'll be moving again at the end of the month, and it's nasty hot here in Alabama.  All in all, the last two years have been, by far, the most challenging years Paul and I have had together.  But you know what?  We're so much better for it.  I know it sounds cliche, but God is good and he truly doesn't give you more than you can handle, as long as you surrender what you're handling to Him.  Soli Deo Gloria...

A first post

Since I haven't blogged in two years, I figured I would start fresh and create a new space to talk about life.  I hope you enjoy, when I have time to blog.  Here goes!