avonlea days.

A couple moons ago, my husband, who was feeling adventurous one Sunday afternoon, drove down a gravel road we had never driven before.  What we found was a lovely meadow by the river right down the road from our home, an avonlea is what I’d like to call it.

We finally had a free and quiet Saturday to enjoy this past weekend, so we filled up our picnic basket, restrung our fishing rods, packed our baby and headed down to the triadelphia resivoir during the cool of the morning.  We stopped at a yard sale on the way.  We saw a very cool old-school, miniature claw-foot tub.  It was the kind you would find in an old farmhouse — the kind of tub you had to bend your knees and sit in while someone poured steaming water over your back.  If we had a home of our own, this would be a very lovely addition.

For the most part, I never walk away with a yard sale purchase, but it always amazes me how much hope I have in every yard sale I go to.  The hope that I will walk away with some hidden treasure.  So, no, even though I usually never get anything, I don’t think I will ever stop going to yard sales, because there is always the hope that, “maybe this is the one that I will find something special.” I happened to pick up two doilies for .50 cents each at the one I went to on Saturday.  I’ll be using them for my little girly’s summer garden party next month, and then hopefully for a sewing project I’ve been mulling over in my mind.


I don’t usually write about my walk with Jesus on this blog.  I think it’s because I’ve been feeling lukewarm for quite a while now.  But just recently, in addition to feeling lukewarm and inadequate as a verbal follower of Jesus, I’ve been feeling fear.  Fear of my lukewarmness from Revelations 3:16.  Fear of not being ready for a King whose coming back for a spotless bride.  Fear because I have many many spots.  And fear of current events going on in the world which undoubtedly bring us closer to Jesus’ Second Coming — whether we want to believe it or not.  If you are familiar with scripture, you can already see world events aligning with end-time prophecy.

The reason I fear is because I know I’m not ready.  I know if He came last night, I would still be here.

Last night I couldn’t sleep.  Neither could Greg.  I lay in bed as he slipped quietly to the floor and went on his knees.  I asked him, “What’s wrong?”  He said, “I need to find my rest in Him.”  Once he was done praying, he came back to bed and went to sleep.  I was still awake and totally not at peace with the secret state of my heart.  So I quietly got out of bed and went over to the couch, put my headphones on, and listened to a song we sang in church the day before, called “Offering.”  It had been playing in my head since Sunday.

The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your Presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It’s only by Your Blood and it’s only through you mercy
Lord I come

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You

The baby started crying during this quiet time I was having.  I picked her up and brought her back to the couch.  She stopped crying and quickly went back to sleep.  For several moments I just sat there and watched her as she slept in my arms.  It brought a smile to my face to just watch her.  In those moments I felt God tell me, “This is how I watch you.  This is how much I love you.”  Tears literally rolled down my face, because I know how much I love my daughter; similarly, what made me emotional was knowing that the Holy One of Heaven loves me and watches me, His creation, with great delight — as a father looks over his dear child.  He’s not too busy.  He doesn’t have other things to do.  He’s satisfied just watching me and loving me.  But it’s not a father’s earthly love, but a love so far exceeding than what I know.

I felt my lukewarmness begin to dissipate.

I was reminded of what I read that morning in Exodus 34:6-7, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

His desire is to be compassionate and gracious towards us.  But, He cannot stand lukewarmness [Rev 3:16].  He cannot stand for people who love the things of this world and love Him.  He wants us to choose.  He wants us to choose, because it’s His greatest desire to have our entire heart.  It’s His desire that we go with Him when He comes.  To spend eternity with Him.  I can’t fathom eternity, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you for the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.”

I’m writing all this to say that lukewarmness does not have to be a constant thing even if it feels like it’s going to be.  We’re lukewarm because we choose other things over Him.  Only we know in our own hearts the things that keep us from Him.  I think the reason we become lukewarm is because we lose sight of God in our lives.  We know He’s there, but we lose sight of the fact that we desperately need Him everyday — every hour.  Without Him, there is no future.  The wonderful thing is that He’s always there, trying to get our attention.  He’s always there, watching over us.  He’s there always hoping we’ll regain sight of Him.  But time is running out.  He will only be there for so long.  What will we choose?


[The following celebrates my husband, while also documenting our travels in India in 2009.]  So, my husband has officially reached his thirties.  I can remember a time 7 years ago when I first met him.  He was the “boy-next-door-friend” — you know, the kind in the movies.  Just to clarify, I don’t mean boyfriend.  I mean “boy-next-door-friend.”  The kind you race with as kids.  Or the kind that your Indian mom lets come over because she knows, “he’s just a friend.”  Anyway, I never had a boy-next-door-friend growing up, so I was excited to finally have one in college.  

Little did I know that we would be married, have a darling Dhara, and live this beautiful life together.  God’s ways are amazing; that is, if we are willing to go there with Him.  And that’s what I love about my husband — he was willing to go.  

I’ve heard people say that when you’re in love, everything is more beautiful.  It’s true.  When in love, the world has a specialness about it.  It’s kind of like when you put on a pair of sunglasses — the world is tinted a different color — the same goes for when you love.  Life has a feeling of rarity, exhilaration and beauty because you want to live it with the one you love.  I feel so blessed to be married to the one I love.  On a God note, I think this is how Jesus wants us to love Him.  He wants us to love Him in a way that changes the way we view life — in a way that makes this life more and more beautiful each day we love Him.

One of the main reasons that drew me to this man was his devotion to Jesus.  [Second, was his playfullness and ability to love life and river dance.]  He inspired me to love Jesus more — and he continues to do so.  He’s always had a desire for righteousness and more devotion.  I love his understanding of growing in Christ.  We can’t rely on our yesteryear devotions — it must be a constant and ongoing relationship.  Greg is so good at reminding me of this.  I love his desire to see this kind of love for God unfold in other peoples lives.

The photo below was one of those beautiful moments I mentioned earlier.  As Greg was reading his bible one morning on a balcony overlooking Cochin, a pretty yellow butterfly found it’s way to his arm.  It perched there for several seconds before it flew off.  I personally feel that when God lives in us, even his creation is drawn to us.      

I think it’s neat that him and I could be going on a nightly stroll outside, and he always seems to be the one who sees shooting stars.  I always miss them.  He’s seen so many over the years I’ve known him.  I’ve only seen one.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that he’s like a watchman on the wall from Ezekiel 33.  God has given him the gift to watch and see the things that people wouldn’t normally see.  It’s even neater to see this characteristic in our daughter.  She is also an observant one. 

Happy 30th Birthday to the love of my life who makes this life so much more beautiful.  I love your enthusiasm for life.  I love the way you love our daughter.  I thank you for your selflessness — for putting the needs of others above your very own on a daily basis — it does not go unnoticed.  I love Christ in you, and who He’s made you to be.  I love you.  — your susie.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”  Proverbs 4:18

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.”

dhara avonlea.

Dhara Avonlea is her name.  (Pronounced “dar-uh avon-lee.”)  And she is just the sweetest little baby girl.  Dhara was due on Christmas Eve, but decided to make her appearance early on Christmas morning at 4:13 AM — probably the best Christmas present we’ll ever get in our lifetime!  Weighing in at 9.1 pounds and 21.75 inches long, our little cupcake took a while to come due to her cupcakiness!

Many people have asked, “What does Dhara Avonlea mean?”  Dhara is a name with more than one origin and many special meanings:

  • Dara is found in the Old Testament Book of Chronicles.  Dara was a biblical descendant of Judah known for his wisdom.  As a Hebrew name it means “pearl of wisdom” or “wisdom and compassion”, although in modern Hebrew dara is part of the verb “to live”, and in Aramaic it means “pearl.”
  • In India, the Hindi word dhara means “constant flow.” In Turkish and in Punjabi, dara means “leader.”
  • The Swahili version of Dara means “the beautiful one.”
  • In Indonesian, Dara means “girl”, “young woman”, or “virgin.”
  • Dara is the Irish word for “oak tree.”
  • Dara is also a short form of Oluwadarasimi or Oluwadara, which in Nigeria means “God is good to me.”

Avonlea is old English for “meadow near the river.”

Due to a high level of jaundice, we have been in the hospital with Dhara since her birth day last Thursday, Christmas Day.  She is constantly under light therapy, therefore making it impossible to hold her very much.  By God’s supernatural grace and healing power, please pray that these levels would come down so that we can take her home.  She’s super cuddly, and we want her to be home — safe, sound and warm in daddy and mommy’s arms.

the switch.

We made the switch at 35 weeks.  Some may think changing care providers (OBGYN/doctor/midwife) and hospitals so late in the pregnancy game can’t be done, or might be too much of a hassle.  To be quite honest, we feel so much more peace right now for doing so. 

See, two things happened.  One — back in September we began taking the Bradley Method childbirth classes.  We just finished our last class yesterday.  Can I say, amazing?  We loved it, not to mention that we had a fabulous teacher whose only concern was that we became informed and educated about the birthing process.  The class really made us more aware of what goes on in a hospital when it comes to birthing a child.  I told Greg that I wish I never knew what I learned during that class (“ignorance is bliss”), because then I could have just given birth at any hospital.  But now that I know, there’s no way I can go back to not knowing.     

And two, at 35 weeks of pregnancy, we finally took the tour of the hospital we would be birthing at.  I really should have thought about taking the tour sooner, but it didn’t occur to me that I would not like a hospital that much.  It probably had something to do with this being the birth of our baby and all, but I was just not feeling the whole vibe going on in the Labor + Delivery ward.  And that’s exactly how it felt — “a ward.”  The nurse seemed right out of a tv show or movie — repeating everything she had memorized about her ward.  I remember being the only one to really ask any questions about their procedures.  Everyone else just followed her. 

I would ask questions about 24-hour rooming in with the baby, or if the father could be in attendance with the baby while the assessments were done in the nursery — only to be told by the nurse that those privileges were not in place yet — but they are working on it for the future.  Well, great, because that brought no comfort to me.  I felt so lost in it all — I didn’t want to just be another person who went through their system.  The following thoughts went through my mind — “how can I change my provider and hospital so late in the pregnancy?”  “Would they even fit me in?”  “Should I even be making a big deal about it — babies are born everyday.”     

Greg encouraged me to give it to God.  When we got home, I spent time in prayer because I knew the only way I could get peace about the situation was by giving it to Jesus.  I laid out my options before Him, and told Him to choose.  In my daily bible reading for that day, I was reading the book of 1 Samuel 17:45-47 — the story of David + Goliath. 

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.  Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

My little issue of health care providers and hospitals is nothing compared to David taking down Goliath, but God really spoke to me that day that no battle is too difficult for the God of Israel.  He thinks no problem too small.  His only desire is that we ask Him and believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  In faith, I prayed and called another midwife practice I had heard great things about.

So at 35 weeks, we switched over to a small midwife practice and hospital in downtown Baltimore.  The midwife practice fit me into their schedule the same day.  My appointment was at 6:45 PM, but due to rain and traffic, I only got there at 7:15 PM.  Kathy Slone, midwife and owner of the practice, was there to meet me, talk to me for an hour about anything and everything, and walk me out afterwards.  (I just love the fact that she looks like Ina May Gaskin!)  The midwives are caring and really into the whole natural process.  The hospital we moved to believes in creating a natural atmosphere for father, mother and child.  I feel so much more at home now.  

There are 2 things I would advise any soon-to-be parents.  One, make sure you are happy and comfortable with your care provider, whether it be a doctor or midwife.  Two, take the hospital or birthing center tour!  And three, just for kicks, take a Bradley class!  It will change your view of having babies!

Deep breath.  Smile.

2 years!


It’s crazy to think that we’ve known each other for close to 7 years now.  But today, Greg and I celebrate 2 years of marriage (actually it was around this time, 3 PM, that our wedding ceremony began).  It’s simply amazing when you get the chance to live your life with your bestest friend.  Greg has been the utmost most special blessing in my life.  His desire for God is so appealing to me.  His prayers for his baby girl every morning are the sweetest things (he speaks right into my belly).  His ability to carry himself in completely different circles really rocks my socks off.  His love for me is special beyond anything else I’ve ever experienced (except for God’s love of course!).  We feel like kids when we’re around each other.  We speak in funny voices when no one is around.  We have our own special sign language when no one is looking.  Oh God, I love this man so much.   

To celebrate our anniversary we whisked ourselves away to a cabin on Point Mountain in West Virginia.  There we rested, cooked good food, prayed together, built fires and stayed toasty, and lastly, conducted a little pregnancy photoshoot of my ever growing 33 week belly.  To all those who persistently asked, enjoy.

edit2edit3edit4edit5edit6edit7[point mountains, elkins, west virginia]


In just six days, Greg and I will have been married for 2 whole years!  To us, that is unbelievable.  This weekend we will be taking a 4 day vacation in the Point Mountains, WV, and staying in an eco-friendly cabin that has a brick bread warming oven and a Swedish green system.  Our plan?  Just to sit, relax, enjoy each other, and bake bread.  That’s how we do.  I’ve been planning our meals, since we’ll be cooking all our own meals in the cabin — which I think is more fun than going out.

When Greg and I went honeymooning in Portugal, we cooked alot of our own meals.  We would walk the dusty roads to the grocery store and purchase items to make soups, sandwiches, and other tasty meals using Portuguese goods.  One of the foods I absolutely loved was their plain yogurt.  You may wonder why plain yogurt?  Well, I had never tasted anything like it in the US.  Plain yogurt in the US is bland and watery and not good.  Plain yogurt in Portugal was creamy, slightly sweet, and came in small, homey glass jars.  We would eat them with tiny metal spoons we found in our resort apartment — the tiny-ness of the spoons made the yogurt last longer.  It made me sad to think that I wouldn’t get plain yogurt like this back home.

But give it a little time, and things do start to look up.  One day my mom comes home from the grocery store and tells me to try this new greek yogurt she heard about.  It’s called FAGE.  One bite and I was hooked.  It reminded me of the yogurt in Portgual.  FAGE comes in different flavors, but the plain is good for me.  It’s a tad bit pricey at around $1.75 per individual container, but it is oh so worth it!  Especially during pregnancy, when an abundance of protein is a must.  The average yogurt has about 5 grams of protein.  FAGE has 17 grams of protein.  A favorite snack of mine these days is a FAGE yogurt with a dash of raw sugar or honey and a handful of whole grapes mixed in.  So very yummy.  A close second to FAGE yogurt is Chobani yogurt.  It doesn’t have the custardy goodness of FAGE, but it’s still good, and it’s cheaper.

FAGE — it’s “ridiculously thick yogurt”, and it’s got my approval.



One normal day I got out of the shower, got dressed, and came out of the bathroom to find this package of sorts on my bed.  If anyone knows I love packages, it’s Greg.  But, there was no Greg to be found — just this brown paper bag.

IMGP3136As soon as I saw it, I knew my husband had come home from work.  So I quickly ran to the bag and took out its contents.  IMGP3108What was inside?

Delightful little items from Roots Market, like,

1.  pecan splendor granola — for our “crunchy granola” tendencies.

2.  rainbow pre-natal vitamins — because we don’t want that “government fortified junk” going to our baby.  Thanks Sue Williams.

3.  nitrate-free hot dogs — because after only one bite, I fell in love with Hebrew National hot dogs over the summer, but could not indulge myself because of those nasty things called “nitrates.”

4.  ginger brew — because Greg and I are always always up for new kinds of ginger ale.  This one did not pass our taste test.  We still have yet to taste one better than “Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale” — yummy.

5.  heart-shaped “Love You” note — because I have a husband that falls under the category, “sweetness.”  The note didn’t come from Roots Market — I know because I found the paper he cut it from hidden in one of my drawers.



“The more I see of all this world, the more I am convinced I’m called to be a stranger to all it’s ways.  So do not hide Your laws from me.  For I know that they are my doorway to eternity.

I want to live a life that’s worthy of Your calling.  Remove the things which hinder me from loving You because I don’t want to regret upon the day I stand before You.  May I be found a pure and spotless bride.

I want to be ready.”