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daddy + his dhara girl.

[teal kurta on fine young man, from FabIndia + vintage inspired petticoat dress, from Comfy Kid.]

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1 month old.

Today she is officially 1 month old.  We have a one month old!  Crazy.

She had her first outing yesterday.  We took her to church.  We thought that church would be the most appropriate place to go for the first outing ever.  It’s a strong desire of ours that our children know the importance of living a life for God.  That He comes first and everything else after Him.  So we also dedicated her at church yesterday.  And her great-grandfather got to do the honors.  What a blessing to have a great grandfather!  What a blessing to have such a godly heritage!

It’s kind of amusing because we tried to do everything in our power to have her asleep during the dedication, but she decided she wanted to be awake and let out a cry during the prayer.  Afterwards she went right to sleep!  Guess she wanted to make a statement on her first day out.  I’m not sure if she gets that from her dad or me?  : )

[teal kurta on fine young man, from FabIndia + vintage inspired petticoat dress, from Comfy Kid + covered button felt hair clip, from jellabee jr.]

banana bread.

This banana bread recipe is probably my all time favorite!  We first tried out the recipe on our anniversary trip in West Virginia back in November and we loved it.  I came across it on the Duggar’s family website — nothing like some good homecooking recipes from a family of 21!  Right out of the oven, top this bread off with some Woodbine Pumpkin Butter and you’ve got yourself some real tasty stuff.

Saint John Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large bananas
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon melted butter
cinnamon-sugar mixture

Cream butter + sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Mix in sifted dry ingredients.  Beat in mashed bananas.  Add nuts.  Pour into a greased + floured 9x5x3 pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.  While bread is still warm, brush with melted butter + sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.  Makes 1 loaf.

our baby story.

I decided to document our baby story because I feel like it’s a special one.  The following story involves a wife’s desire to have a baby, a husband’s desire for one too, a medical condition that made it hard, and a great great God who supernaturally granted the desires of His children’s hearts.

***

Back in August of 2008, my endocrinologist diagnosed me with a quite common condition found in women these days.  The condition makes it harder to have children — not impossible — but harder.  At the time, I was really discouraged, but Greg was not.  He believed by faith that nothing is impossible for God, and he encouraged me to do the same.  By faith, God would give us children. 

When given my diagnosis, my brain went straight to, “I’ll never have kids.”  It was something I thought about often.  I didn’t share this with Greg, because I didn’t want him to know I cared so much.  It meant being really vulnerable, and I wasn’t ready to go there yet concerning this womanly desire that dates back to when the world started going round.  It’s one of woman’s deepest longings.   

It remained a fear in my heart as we moved to Illinois for a 10 month internship in campus ministry.  We always said we’d try for our first child during the internship, so that by the time the internship was over, I’d be 9 months pregnant and ready for the next season of our lives.  It’s funny how our plans don’t always work the way we want them to, because 8 months into our internship, I still wasn’t pregnant.  And the thought, “I’m never going to have children”, kept playing over and over in my head.  I continued to keep this fear from Greg.  He believed in faith for our children, but I only believed in what I could see. 

I remember the time when Greg and I were sitting in our small living room — Greg on the couch, and me on the floor — and he said, “I want a baby.”  I nodded my head in agreement, thinking, “ohh, God knows I want one too, babe.”  One thing I really admire about my husband is that he always chooses to pray when he doesn’t know what to do next.  So that’s what we did that very moment.  We began praying.

That same month there was a couple that visited our church.  They came and were a part of our bible study that weekend.  Somehow the topic came up, and they shared how the wife could not conceive because she had an inverted uterus.  Their story was amazing because even though children seemed unlikely for them, they decided to stand on the promises of God, and believe that God was God of the impossible.  All three of their children were at the bible study with them.  I was so moved by their story that I whispered in Greg’s ear, “I want them to pray over us.”  He agreed.  They gladly prayed over us, and I could sense that they believed what they prayed for and who they prayed to. 

A few weeks later, Greg and I went to a conference in northern Illinois.  During one of the breaks, we were sitting in a Starbuck’s, and I don’t know what came over me, but I began telling Greg all my fears.  I’m usually a private person when it comes to sharing my fears, so I was surprised by my openness.  Greg was surprised by my fears because I never shared them, but he never made me feel stupid.  He encouraged me like a husband should encourage and love his wife.  He led me to Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.”  After feeling somewhat comforted, I continued to read my daily readings for that day, and for that day was God’s rhema word to me in Acts 2:39: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”  Also, in Psalms 6:8-9, “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

I stopped in excitement once I read these passages.  I couldn’t believe that God was speaking right to my fear.  It wasn’t a passage I looked for, rather, it was part of my scheduled reading for that day.  I was completely moved by the Word of the Lord.  I felt so uplifted and safe knowing that God heard me and He knew my fears.  That same day at an altar call, our pastor, without knowing our situation, prayed children over us.  As we were kneeling, side by side, at the head of the church, Greg and I looked at each other with surprise because neither of us told him our desire for children — and it was something we talked about just a few hours earlier!

The very next week, at church, our pastor announced that a couple in the church was expecting a baby.  After church that day, a woman in the church came over to us and patted my belly congratulating me on the pregnancy.  She thought we were the couple expecting.  I corrected her and said that it was not us.  She quickly apologized, but then retracted her apology, saying, “No, I think you are pregnant!  Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?”  I shook my head and told her she was mistaken.  Then with a glimmer in her eye, she spoke faith over me, and said that I too would soon be pregnant if I wasn’t already.

A week later, I was sitting in church during a sermon, and I quietly heard the words, “you’re pregnant”, in my head.  I quickly shook those words away thinking it was my mind playing tricks on me, because it tended to do that alot.

A week later, Greg and I were at home on a quiet Saturday morning.  He was making cinnamon pancakes for breakfast, and I was putting the finishing touches on a baby quilt for a friend.  I casually mentioned to him that my menstrual period for that month was late — this being a common occurrence for me because of my medical condition — so it didn’t surprise me that I was late.  He said I should take a pregnancy test.  I disagreed because it was probably like all the other months of being late.  He requested that I just try and see what happens.  I said no.  That morning Greg went to the grocery store.  As soon as he left, I quickly ran to the bathroom, took out my dollar store pregnancy test, and took the test.  The results didn’t look very promising after the first minute.  I knew it — it was just like all the other months.  As I was about to throw the stick away, I noticed that there was a very faint “positive” line.  It was so faint, I was almost sure I was seeing the “positive” strip through the stick.  So I took another test.  The same thing happened.  So I took a third test.  The same thing happened again!  (Hey, these were dollar store tests, so I didn’t feel as bad taking three!). 

When Greg came back from the grocery store, knowing me so well, he asked me if I took the test.  I told him to go to the bathroom and tell me what he thought.  He took one look at the faint lines on all three tests and told me I was pregnant.  We both just looked at each other and smiled.     

***

Many would say, “coincidence.”  I say, God works miracles.  I know how I felt during those many months of desiring and wanting, and not getting.  I know how it felt to not know what to do, and cry out to God because there was nothing I could do.  And then to have supernatural appointments like God speaking to me through his Word or people praying my desires without them even knowing my desires, and lastly, getting pregnant immediately afterwards!  God makes Himself known.  We have to decide whether we believe by faith in Him, or not.  “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:17-18       

I sit here today, holding my cozy sleeping baby in the crook of my left arm, and thanking Jesus for hearing our prayers, for holding my tears in a bottle, for speaking directly to me through others, for using other people to prophetically speak children over Greg and I, and lastly, for the gift of our Dhara dear.  She sure is a precious soul.  Thank you, Jesus.

“If I am faithless, You remain faithful.  You cannot deny Yourself.”

dharacakes outtakes – take 1.

We always have a good time trying to decipher what Dhara is thinking in that baby mind of hers.  We know it’s more than just, “I’m hungry”, or “I’m tired”, or “I need a diaper change.”  This girl has got deep thoughts, and the world needs to know.  Below are some fun little outtakes we came up with.  Josh, Greg and I had a little too much fun with this…  [Note:  Most of these outtakes are funnier if you read them with an English accent.  At least that’s what we did.] 

Another funny option for this second one would be, [angry ghetto accent] “hold me back zuma!”

3 weeks old.

Her eye color remains a dark brown, while her jet black hair is slowly turning brown.  She’s a funny one, this Dhara.  She sleeps with her eyes open so she can watch if you put her down.  A smart little cookie indeed.  She wakes right up so we have to start the sleep dance all over again.  Before taking these pictures, she tricked me twice!  So we got Aunt Zuma to do her aunt thing and get this baby down for a nap so the photo hungry mommy could get her fill. 

[red ruffle cardigan sweater, from Gap + floral cotton dress, from FabIndia.] 

2 weeks old.

Already 2 weeks old!  I look at her now and wonder how ever did she fit in my belly?  Dhara has been more awake these past few days.  She has a fascination with staring outside at the earth in white.  I wonder what she thinks of this new world she’s in — compared to her previous world of warm amniotic fluid, closed quarters and muffled noises.  I had a sweet time today putting ribbon in her hair, cute cloth diapers on her tush, and preparing our little girl for stories of Narnia by giving her her first wardrobe experience.

[cloth diaper in joel dewberry deer print in green, from esbaby.]

treehugger.

This post is specifically intended for Aunt Jenny who says that the name, Dhara Avonlea, could never end up being a corporate lawyer or doctor or engineer type, but rather a tree hugging, organic/nature loving, eco-friendly, think “green” type of gal.  Interesting that we have just the right outfit and acorned hat to go along with her treehugging ways…  Who wants to be a lawyer anyway?  (Just kidding, Jenny.)  : )

[organic cotton clover crib sheets, from Kate Quinn Organics + oak tree tapestry, from Ten Thousand Villages.] 

1 week old.

It’s so weird to think that we’ve had her for a week already.  A lot of times we just sit here and stare at her, wondering how this all came to be and how such a little one could be ours to keep.  I mean really keep!

I told Greg the other day that I think that God gave us one of His favorites.  Of course we are all His favorite, but I’d like to think He gave us one that He greatly delighted in.  It’s an interesting concept to think that He’s sharing His daughter with us.

To all of you who prayed for us while we were in the hospital, thank you for your prayers!  We came home on Tuesday after a 6 day stay at the hospital.  Dhara was released because her jaundice levels were progressively getting lower.  Praise God!  He really does answer prayer!

Our days with Dhara so far have been somewhat sleepless, wonderfully joyful, and super surreal.  We really don’t know how to be parents — it’s this learn-as-you-go thing.  But I guess this is exactly what God intended.  From what I’ve understood this past week, God’s intention for parenthood is to break you of your selfish streak.  It takes away your schedule.  It makes you forget to eat, because you are worried about when she’ll eat.  And the list goes on.  This parenthood thing really makes you into a better person…

[Here’s our little sunbather getting her daily dose of sunlight — per her doctor’s orders!]

[Here she is napping on a pretty little quilt handmade for her by her Grandma Smith.]

[knotted hat + patterned purple kimono sleep gown, from Kate Quinn Organics + Zutano owl onsie, from Comfy Kid.]