Monday, December 26, 2011

Always in My Heart

I feel selfish when I say I miss Kenya at times. Here I am with an incredible husband, expecting a daughter, on the verge of owning our first home, and working in my dream career. Yet, there are days when I just ache for the countryside of Atemo with their maize fields and red clay roads. I wish Trav and I could pack up for a trip over there so he could experience a place that has captured a part of me. 

I also feel bad when sometimes I think everything is just too "white". Seems silly, right? I texted my sister in law a bit ago to ask if she ever just needs to be around other ethnic groups ( in my case, African) and if she ever wants to roam inner city LA I am more than happy to join her :) 

Thankfully it is when my heat is aching for the people of Kenya or when I feel that while I love my job and helping others in the medical field, I want to be amongst the lost and suffering, that God provides some way to fulfill that without sending me to the other side of the world. Right around Thanksgiving my in-laws hosted a night where they were providing a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless in Long Beach. What a blessing as it just happened to be at a time where I found myself longing to serve in a new way. Katie came along too and it ended up being a wonderful evening as we provided this community with a Thanksgiving feast. What I loved most was how they were served dinner at their seats. For some, I'm sure they may have never been served a hot meal or waited on in that way. I loved watching Trav interact with everyone there. From organizing in the kitchen to conversing with the homeless community while they ate just grabbed at my heart. While others passed out food my mother in law and I manned the kitchen, preparing more food or filling plates. It was such a joy being able to share moments like this with family and to know I married into a family who all have hearts for helping others.

At the end of the night we were all cleaning up. I heard my name called and I turned around to see Katie with these two adorable African American toddlers I had been eying all night. One of the little girls was leaning through the window with her arms stretched out my way. I did not hesitate to drop what I was doing and go scoop her in my arms. For a few minutes Katie and I had time with these two girls as we passed them between us. It was just what I needed to fill that hole although I did want to take those sweet girls home with us. 

That night I loved watching Katie serve in person. If you know her you know she has a heart of gold and changes lives wherever she goes. But usually I hear of her ways of service through stories, or blogs, or pictures from mission trips. But that night I witnessed it in person and was in awe. I watched as people came to her. From finding a family who often helps during these dinner Katie made sure they were welcomed by all and as much a part of our little group serving as we were. The little girls clung to her side and gazed at her with big eyes. I watched as she served dinner to the homeless community with a big smile and kind words. People responded when she was around. It was as if each person she passed by she touched in some way, leaving a little bit of light around their darkened lives. I also watched as she stood back at times and took in all in. I'm sure her writer's mind was racing with what she was feeling as she stood in their midst. It was such a special night and I look forward to going again with the Hardeman's church.

God used another family to show me a little bit of Africa. Many of you know the Brinks and there incredible adoption story. Their journey to Uganda, meeting their son, hurdles they jumped through, bumps in the road, and their journey home are living proof that our God is BIG and when something is in His plan He will most certainly guide the way. Following their journey through conversations, emails, and reading their blog was incredible to say the least. There were a few times she would write about Ugandan culture or post pictures of the city and I could envision myself back in Kenya with the people, "Kenyan time", the crowds everywhere, and the difference in lifestyles. They are home with their son ( Praise the Lord) and as I gazed at him wanting to kiss his soft cheeks I was flooded with memories of the precious children that came through our clinics. I was fighting back tears because here was one of those children right in front of me in a loving home with a huge future ahead of him.The Brinks are special people with having hearts for the lost children, the ones that may never experience what love is, and have been given a huge gift of a son who is now a member of one of the most loving families I know.

Our baby girl was given one special gift. One that will sit out in her room and will hopefully spark some good conversations at a young age. Her first doll straight from the heart of Uganda :

While I often search for a little piece of Africa, Baby H is going to have one with her from the moment she comes home. Maybe one day when she is old enough we will head back to Kenya as a family and I can introduce my daughter to some of the most incredible people I've come across. Until than, Trav and I will be open to the Lord giving us ways to serve right here. And pretty soon, taking our girl along with us!

Bowl Full of Jelly

Actually, a belly full of jelly is pretty much what it feels like right now. In fact the other night a friend put his hand on my belly to feel what it felt like and said, " It's like a water balloon." Yup, that is pretty much right on the dot. 

It amazes me how you can go from no belly but desperately wanting to be showing to waking up one morning and there she is! I swear mine popped out over night. Every morning I wake up, look down, and I am pretty sure she grew even more during the night. 

The best part is how feeling her went from "flutters" to full blown kicks, somersaults, and dance moves. I can feel her getting stronger by the week and I have to say, it's one of the most peaceful things to feel her move about in there. Until recently Trav was not able to feel her move. The other night I was laying in bed watching my skin move all over the place as she did a mini work out in there. Despite telling him it was not possible Trav decided he would see if he could hear her heartbeat. He placed his ear up against my abdomen but did he hear a heartbeat? Nope, instead he got one massive kick to the ear from his baby girl! He jumped back and yelled out her name. Than looked at me and said, " Holy cow that was her!" I imagine if she has some Kahler independence in her she was trying to tell him, " Dad, I'm doing my own thing right now. Let me be."

Another new thing with having a prego belly is how others react. Coming from a girl who has always fought with self consciousness and never wanted her belly looked at, exposed, or touched it is amazing how fast that flies right out the window. In the early stages of pregnancy Trav and I used to laugh about how people would try really hard not to stare at my stomach when we were talking but wanted to see if I was showing. I know I am guilty of doing the same thing to others. Now that our baby girl is having some serious growth spurts it has turned into a hand magnet. Co-workers I meet for the first time at work will casually come by my way and put their hand on my belly. A doctor I recently worked with was pregnant too and would come over to have us compare sizes or just to give my belly a pat. My girl friends even said they feel like their hand is just drawn to it and a long time guy friend couldn't help himself either much to his fiance's dismay that he needs to ask first. ;) Trav wakes up every morning and cradles his hands around it while he talks to her. Most nights too I wake up to him as he rolls over and somehow his hand finds her and rest gently right where she is.  But, I love it. I love how much our daughter is loved already. I love that all of these people are going to be snuggling her for real in just around 16 weeks. I love that she can hear what people are saying around her and familiarize herself with their voices. And I love having you all touch my belly. I'm pretty sure Baby H loves it too.

It's hard to believe we are at the 6 month mark and racing towards April. Although I'm not at the waddle around, can't sleep, unable to shave or tie my shoes yet I can't complain a bit about being pregnant. It is such a gift to be able to carry a child and know that everyday the Lord is designing something different in her. That He is making her unique in her own way already. And that inside me she is growing big and strong. It is as if we are already creating this incredible bond.

We are getting more and more anxious to meet our little one. And it's getting harder and harder not to slip with calling her by name in public!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


We are having a girl! I cannot even believe it! I'm pretty sure I squealed when the box opened and the balloons came out. What I loved even more was Trav's reaction.....
He had thought it was a girl all along. Dad's must know there girls =)
At one point I wanted to just open the envelope and find out but I am so glad we were patient and waited because it is a moment we will never forget. I can't thank my sister in law enough for the creative idea, for getting everything ready, and for capturing such a precious moment! 
 We cannot wait to hold our sweet daughter. I cannot wait to see Trav's heart be forever lost when he holds her for the first time. I can't wait to watch her grow up into a beautiful daughter of Christ and walk through this journey of life with her. I cannot wait to snuggle her and kiss her probably chubby cheeks. I cannot wait to rock her to sleep, to pray over her, and see her smile.

It is such a gift to be able to pray for our daughter by name now. For years we have prayed for our future family and kids. Than it was for "baby H'. And now, we can lift our daughter up in prayer together daily by name and it is the most incredible thing. While we won't share the name till she is born, every time Trav says it my heart fills with joy a little more.

Now, time to shop for some pink ;)

17 weeks...Time to find out!

Because our doctor would not do the diagnostic/gender ultrasound until later we decided we had no patience left in finding out if we were having a son or daughter. So my sister in law recommended an ultra sound place in Costa Mesa where they do 4D ultrasounds but they will also just do a gender one to find out the sex of the baby. For $20, how could we not!

We were both anxious to see our little one again. It had been 8 weeks since our last ultrasound and we knew there would be some huge differences.

I didn't sleep the night before. I felt like a little kid the night before Christmas or their first trip to Disneyland. We had a gender reveal set up so our plan was to have the tech just write in a note card what the gender was and we would take it to Heidi to get the rest ready.

I can't even begin to describe our excitement. I kept telling Trav, " This feels like our wedding day! " But we both agreed even better! The anticipation of the day, of knowing if we would have a son or daughter, and than the waiting to see what color the balloons would be in the reveal was too exciting.

Here is a picture before heading in to the ultrasound..
Nervous smile? Just a little ;)

The ultrasound tech got us all set up in the room and turned the tvs off until she found the gender, than we could see our baby. Our little one is stubborn already. The tech spent a long time locating what she needed and kept saying, " They have their butt up against your uterus with their legs crossed and curled up. I can't see a thing!" The "they" that she kept throwing in there was making me a little nervous so I finally asked, " How many are in there?!" Thankfully, still just one :)

 17 week profile
 Hello there legs
 Hardeman Toes?

After she was finally able to see the tvs were turned on and there was our sweet baby on the screens. We could not believe how big our babe was since the last ultrasound. And my, the legs were long! One pic showed them going all the way across my uterus. Uh oh.

 It was so hard to hold that envelope on the way to Heidi's house. It was a good thing we were both together because if it was just me delivering it, I can guarantee I would have opened it and tried to act surprised later!

We passed off the envelope and waited till it was time to take our pictures. In the car on the way to the park I was shaking. I could not contain my excitement! Heidi got everything set up and we found out we are having a.......