Promises

Amen

A year ago today, I welcomed my miracle baby into this world. Her birth was nothing like I had pictured, but perfect in every way. And while I could spend a lifetime telling stories about the last year, the milestones, the memories gained, and moments that are forever engraved in my mind, that’s not what tugs at my heart today. It’s funny how time can change so many things and yet leaves you with a taste of what once was.

No, what tugs at my heart is the text from a sweet friend of mine who was recently told children would not be a biological option for her and her husband. It’s the messages of needed prayer from another friend who is walking the path of adoption. And it’s the numerous conversations I have had with people since our journey began who have suffered miscarriages, month after month of negative pregnancy tests, and failed fertility treatments in silence.

I find myself torn between wanting to share every cute picture of Carolina with the world and yet not wanting to shove my blessing in the faces of those who have yet to receive theirs. But then I remember the promises my Father spoke to me…

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her." ~Luke 1:45 | Second time God has reminded me of this today.

And that for every sad longing moment I had, my Father replaced it with the reminder that He had put the desire to be a mother in my heart and that desire would not go unanswered.

I have no idea why some who seem so worthy walk down paths that seem so unfair. I do not have the answer for when my friends desperate prayers will be answered. I am not sure what even my future looks like. What I am sure of is how grateful this journey has made me, how absolutely honored I feel to get to hold Carolina in my arms each day, and how blessed I feel to get to pray for and walk with some of the strongest women I know. I will not forget my past, take for granted my present, or fear what the future may hold. My God has spoken promises into my heart that he will, in his way and time, fulfill.

9

Advertisements

He Has Made Everything Beautiful

everything beautiful

Looking back over the last year, I don’t think I could be in any more awe over God’s grace and provision than I am at this moment. I’m sitting here, 38 weeks pregnant, waiting on the arrival of our daughter who just a year ago was considered by the medical community to be impossible. But God makes the impossible possible in His own time.

Here are just a few highlights from the last few months:

*Carolina is a growing little bean. At our 32 week ultrasound she weighed 3lbs. 12oz. and they say is in the 39th percentile. She is head down and the placenta moved! The ultrasound tech felt so bad for all of the appointments we have had that she gave us some 4D images of her.

Carolina 4D

We cannot wait to see this precious little face in person!

*Daniel and I were blessed with a whopping five baby showers!  Yep, you read that right. Dear friends hosted showers in Birmingham and Auburn, we had a wonderful shower in Grove Hill at Daniel’s family church, a sweet shower in Greenville hosted by my Godmother, and a surprise shower at work that I never expected. To say this is one spoiled/blessed little girl is an understatement. We could not be any more grateful for all of the sweet gifts!

Auburn Shower

My sweet friends (Deanna, Olivia, and Sydney) who hosted my shower in Auburn.

Grove Hill Shower

My sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law at my shower in Grove Hill.

*I gained a sister (in-law) in early July when my older brother Preston got married. I was so touched to get to be a part of such a special day in their lives. I could not be any happier for them!

Agnew Wedding

My new sister-in-law Catherine who cannot wait to meet her new niece!

*We have steadily been working on Carolina’s nursery and are almost done, which is good since she’ll be here any day. I promise to share pictures once it is complete! Daniel has done a great job of putting everything together and putting up with my very particular taste, haha!

*I am still working and plan to up until I go into labor. It is hard, there is no doubt about it, but I want every day of my maternity leave I can get to spend with her after she is born. My ankles have officially turned into swollen hoofs, but I keep reminding Daniel that he married me for better or for worse. He has been so sweet and helpful and tried his best to make me feel as loved and beautiful as possible. I married a winner!

*As of last Friday everything is looking good for a healthy baby that could be born any day now. I am 2cm dilated and 75% effaced. It is such an amazing/crazy feeling to know that it’s just a matter of time before we meet our daughter in person!

38 week bump

And the obligatory 38 week bump shot.

So it’s prediction time. Carolina’s due date is August 5th, but when do you think she will make her arrival? Feel free to leave your guess of due date and birth weight as a comment below or on Facebook. It will be fun to see who gets the closest.

The Joy That’s Coming…

The pain you have been feeling cant compare to the joy that is coming. Romans 8:18:

I know it has been a while since I have updated and I do apologize.  March and April have been such busy months, but filled with a lot of fun and excitement.

First things first, we found out we are expecting a girl…Carolina Charlotte Clarke! We could not be any more excited than we are and cannot wait to meet our little miracle. Charlotte is my 93-year-old grandmother’s name, whom I am very close to. She was overjoyed to hear we were using her name as Carolina’s middle name and she cannot wait to become a great-grandmother. She claims she’ll be the best great-grandmother out there, and I don’t doubt that for a minute.

Cha and I

Charlotte (or Cha as we call her) and I on my wedding day. This may be one of my favorite pictures!

ultrasound

Carolina at our 23 week ultrasound.

However, at that same ultrasound we found out that I have marginal placenta previa. They played it off like it was no big deal and that we would go back a few weeks later to confirm it had moved. Well, we went back five weeks later only to find out that my placenta hadn’t move one bit. It was disappointing, I’m not going to lie, but I’m over that now and we are standing in faith that everything will work out. Regardless, she is healthy and that is all that matters. I will go back for another ultrasound in six weeks to see if it has moved. I am no longer praying for a specific outcome, but instead for God’s will in the situation and a happy healthy baby in the end no matter what. Oh and little miss was still breach too. I told her she needs to get it together in there, haha!

I am 26 weeks along now and feel her kick/punch/twirl around a lot. Daniel has been able to feel her as well. I feel pretty good these days and the only real pregnancy issue I’ve had up to this point is that my ankles and feet have been swelling pretty bad. The swelling goes down during the weekends when I am able to rest a bit, but Monday-Thursday while I’m working they go from slightly swollen to my 600 lb. feet. Oh well!

26 weeks 2

Many of you have asked, so here is my growing bump at 26 weeks along.

In none pregnancy related news, here are our highlights from March and April.

*Daniel and I attended two concerts in April and had a blast!

mumford and sons

At Mumford & Sons. We went with our good friends J.P and Kristin and had so much fun!

kenny chesney

This is at Auburn University’s football stadium where we saw Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney perform. It was a charity concert called Music & Miracles Superfest that I hear will be an annual event with different performers.

*We celebrated my 31st birthday at the end of March with good friends and great food!

*We also had visits from several friends over the last two months which has been a lot of fun. It was great seeing Blair & Charles as they get ready to get married themselves. I met up with my sweet college friend Amanda (Hotmanda!) one day in Pine Mountain, GA. My good friend Erin Weissman stopped in for a surprise visit (so much fun!). And our dear friend Lucy O’Kelley (who is also Erin’s roommate) came into town for a short visit. We are so beyond blessed to have the amazing friends that we do.

blair and charles

From left to right, C.J. & Lauren, Charles & Blair, Daniel & I, and of course Abe! The guys cooked us ladies dinner. So yummy!

*Our sweet friends Ben & Deanna dedicated their son Henry. It was such a precious moment and we were blessed to get to be a part of such a special time.

henry dedication

Henry and Carolina will be 10 months apart. We cannot wait to see them grow up together!

There are tons of other fun moments over the last two months, but I’d be here all day if I listed them all. Instead, I will end on this note. Since starting my new job I have had two co-workers open up and share their hearts regarding their fertility battles. Both are going through IVF and neither has had success yet. One even experienced an ectopic pregnancy as a result of her latest attempt. My heart breaks for them in one moment and fills with joy for them for what is to come in the future the next moment. I am believing for both of these women that God will answer their prayers and I ask you to do the same for them! I am so grateful that the Lord has put me in these ladies lives at this specific moment in time to be a living breathing symbol of hope for them! Because…”The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming,” – Romans 8:18

 

Blessed is she who has believed…

First, I would like to apologize for not updating sooner. The last few months have felt like we have been on a real life version of the game of Life. Needless to say, this will be a long post. So, grab a bag of popcorn and nestle in for the latest chapter of A Clarke Family Journey.

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her." ~Luke 1:45 | Second time God has reminded me of this today.:

The biggest news…we are expecting! Baby Clarke is due August 5th and we feel overwhelming blessed by this miracle God has given us!

After so many months we assumed my remaining fallopian tube was blocked due to the last ectopic pregnancy. So when I tested positive the last week of November I was shocked. We knew there was a high chance it was another ectopic pregnancy, but this time there was no fear or worry. God’s peace is so good!

After blood work to confirm my levels we went in for an ultrasound. The tech, who is familiar with our journey, immediately began looking for an ectopic pregnancy. After not finding any evidence after 15 minutes or so, she “just in case” checked my uterus and said “well, there is a little black dot in there”. Little black dot? Little black dot! She confirmed that she thought it was an early stage uterine pregnancy, but we would need to come back for further ultrasounds to confirm. I should know by now that those moments in life that I expect to play out a certain way, never do. I have decided that God has a really good sense of humor!

IMG_5443

Over the next few weeks, we returned for two more ultrasounds to confirm that we were in fact pregnant with our miracle uterine baby! We even heard the heartbeat…so magical! After the journey we’ve gone through to get here it all seemed so surreal. The world’s odds were against us, but God had different plans for us.

It was such a special moment to get to share the big news with our families for Christmas! We were with Daniel’s family in person when we presented them with the picture frame of the ultrasound. Daniel’s dad had the best reaction when the first words out of his month were, “Judy (Daniels’s mom), I told you last week when I was feeling nauseated that I thought Brandon or Christy (Daniel’s sister) must be pregnant. I told you!” They could not be any more excited than they are. We were unable to be with my family in person but mailed the same picture frame to my mom and an image to my Aunt and Uncle. This will be the first grandchild on either side. Daniel’s parents have already picked out names for themselves and the baby planning has begun!

So that brings us to today. I am 17 weeks along. I had morning sickness early on, but that has since passed and I am feeling pretty good these days. And the baby bump has started to grow. We go back to the doctor the afternoon of March 7th to find out if Baby Clarke is a he or she. Woohoo!

Also, we sold our house in Birmingham! As many of you know, when Daniel and I moved to Auburn we quickly rented our house to a young couple we trusted. They planned to rent for two years, but the husband got a job offer in South Carolina in the fall and they asked to be released from the lease early. It was not the right time of the year for us to try and sell, but having been in a similar situation ourselves we completely understood. When I was laid off a few weeks later we were a bit stressed about having to cover both mortgages, but God had it all figured out. We listed it for sale by owner at the beginning of January, showed the house a week later, and had two offers by the end of the week. A week later we closed on the house with an all cash no inspection needed offer!

In additional news, I got a new job! Last month I started my new job as a manager at a big box retailers distribution center. The hours are long and odd, but I’m adjusting. Plus, it’s a Monday-Thursday job so I am enjoying my three day weekends! We are beyond grateful for my new position. We actually found out I was pregnant in the middle of the hiring process. Not ideal timing, but everything worked out. My employer has been overwhelming understanding and are working with me on time off for appointments and maternity leave.

Lastly, I will sum things up with a list of additional highlights over the last few months.

*My mother had a health scare back in November, but seems to be doing better now.

*We have had some amazing friends, Adam & Olivia Ficken, live with us for the last few months. Adam got a job down here and they are closing on their new house in Auburn today! They are also expecting their first child this May. We could not be any happier for them and can’t wait to raise our little ones together! Abe may be devastated when they leave though. He has grown so attached. I see a lot of hang outs in our future!

IMG_0984

*My older brother, Preston, got engaged to a wonderful girl named Catherine! They are getting married July 3rd. We are very excited for them! I will be a 9 month pregnant bridesmaid, so be on the look out for those humorous pictures.

*My sweet 93-year old grandmother, Cha, fell in her home recently. She is sore, but thank goodness didn’t break anything. After spending a few days in the hospital she has been transferred to a rehab facility. I am so grateful she is alright and I cannot wait for her to meet her first great-grandchild. She can’t either!

*Daniel and I attended the Ignite Marriage Conference at our church last weekend and it was wonderful. Investing in our marriage is so important. I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing husband in Daniel!

Daniel and I are beyond thankful for all of the prayers and kind words over the last year. Your love and support makes sharing our good news all the more sweeter.

Deep Waters

Through all my troubles, I've been guided through and haven't been led astray.:

There are days you just never see coming, Friday was definitely one of those days. For those that do now know, a year and a half ago my husband accepted a job at Auburn University so we moved. The company I had been working for at the time offered to let me continue to work for them from home. It seemed like an ideal situation. With all of the medical issues this year it truly was a blessing. And then on Friday I was laid off.

I have unfortunately been in this situation before (twice actually), but that doesn’t make it any easier. I admit that I ugly cried for a few hours…some times you just need a good ugly cry. And I admit that there were feelings of anger, frustration, and “how can this happen to me AGAIN”. I have replayed the phone call fifty thousand times in my head and let me just say that hearing “it had nothing to do with your work performance” does not make the news any easier to digest.

But today I awoke with restored confidence and peace that only He can provide. Tomorrow the tough work begins…finding a new job. Our journey continues, with new bumps and twists around every corner. This was not in the plan, but it was in His plan. We know that God closes one door to open an even better door. So we remain steady. We remain sure. We remain faithful.

His Tomorrow Is Greater

There is hidden beauty in each season of life.  In our season of waiting I am constantly reminded of God’s grace and will for our family.

We have been co-leading a small group for 18-25 years old’s called “Making God Your #1, So You’re Ready For Your #2”. Basically, how to prepare your heart for marriage. I figured God put us in a college town, so we should take advantage of the unique position we find ourselves in. It has been so wonderful! And the funny thing is, I find such encouragement from these guys. I will find myself encouraging a young lady on being patient for her future husband and I’m instantly reminded that I too have to be patient for our future family.

Last weekend, I attended my church’s annual women’s conference, reCreate. It was fantastic! Not only was it so nice to spend some time with my girlfriends in Birmingham, but boy were the messages exactly what I needed to hear. Two of the speakers Charlotte Gambill & Karol Hobbs, as well as, Natalie Grant who led worship shared about their struggles with infertility. All three of these ladies have their miracle families now and it was so incredibly encouraging to see women who have walked down the same path and made it to the other side! I am so grateful these women shared their hearts, it blessed me more than I can say.

I also recently ordered a new daily devotional book Living Life Undaunted: 365 Readings and Reflections by Christine Caine. I actually heard Christine speak at last years reCreate conference and absolutely love her. Ladies, this devotional does not disappoint! Today’s reading was right on point with what I needed to hear.

“When we enter every season of life understanding that it has been carefully designed by God as a vital step on our journey and part of our ‘all,’ we can then live each one with purpose and passion, whether we fully understand God’s plan or not…Some seasons are more enjoyable than others; some more difficult; some dry and some abundant; but all are necessary. Don’t despise the season you are in; instead step into all that God is doing in and through you during the season.”

So incredibly good! So in this season of life I will choose to not soak in sadness, but hold true to the promises God has given me. My today may not be exactly what I would have chosen, but His tomorrow for me is greater than anything I could imagine.

Season of Waiting

My grandmother, who turns 93 next month, once told me to be content in every season of my life, because it was just that – a season. There are good seasons and bad seasons, busy seasons and seasons that seem to last a lifetime. For the last few months we have been in a season of waiting; a season to pause, pray, and anticipate. We have no idea how long this season will last, but I keep reminding myself of my sweet grandmothers advice…be content, every season has a beginning and an end.

I have to admit, part of me thought that maybe if I waited long enough to post that something (anything) would happen and there would be news to report. Instead, it’s more of the same and I have become okay with that.

The hidden blessing is that this season has allowed Daniel and I to settle into our new home. We’ve also filled our time with good friends and family. Below are just a few highlights of the past few months.

Displaying photo 3.JPG

Our friends Tyler & Alissa and their dog Harper stopped by for a quick visit on their way down to the beach. Abe desperately wants to be best friends with Harper, Harper desperately wants Abe to give it a rest.

Displaying photo 2.JPG

Our friends Sydney & Jeremie helped us host a baby shower for our dear friends Ben & Deanna who are expecting little Henry next month. We had a great time and even the guys said the shower was pretty fun. We all can’t wait for Henry to get here so we can love on him!

Displaying photo.JPG

My college roommate Amanda (or Hotmanda as I call her) came down to visit while her husband was on a mission trip in Uganda. We had a great time hanging out and I was very sad to see her leave.

Displaying photo 1.JPG

Abe became best buddies with Amanda’s dog Dude. They were two partners in crime and really milked their cuteness for all it was worth.

We also participated in our church’s semi-annual 21 Days of Prayer. It was a great reminder that while we don’t have the answer for when and how our future Baby Clarke will arrive, God has the answer. We just have to trust in Him and His timing.

Be Anxious For Nothing; 15 Scriptures To Soothe An Anxious Heart.:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7