The gift of you.

3:06 PM


    What is family to you?  What feelings stir within you at the sound of that familiar, 6-letter word?
Is it warmth and comfort?  Dread and despair? Joy and thanksgiving?  Regret and remorse?

          Sometimes I'm tempted to regret how soon after marriage Randy and I became parents.  

   We were a few days away from our first anniversary and just a day away from Randy's 26th birthday when we discovered I was pregnant.  I will never, ever forget standing in the little bathroom of our 2-bedroom apartment, staring at those two pink lines and feeling the room start to spin.  "Now??  Me?  A mom??!"  I sank slowly until I was sitting on the floor, back up against the wall, the sound of my slow breathing drowned out by the thudding of my heart in my chest.

   I didn't feel ready to be a mom.  I didn't have my whole life figured out yet.  Gee, I didn't have MYSELF figured out yet.  I wasn't terribly young, I was 24, but I FELT young. Too young for someone to call "Mother".  Too young to be responsible for the raising and training and upbringing of a soul.

  I chided myself because this was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life.  So many, many, MANY women wake up every day wishing, hoping, DREAMING for that test to be positive.  I felt so guilty for not being ecstatic.  But I was scared.

  Wasn't I supposed to travel the world first?  Weren't we supposed to own a house?  Wasn't I supposed to already have been taking all of those prenatal pills and know who my doctor would be and own about 17 different "What to expect" books?  And be reading them?  I just didn't have it all figured out.  Actually, I didn't have anything figured out.

  Oh and little fun fact for ya......I was due December 17.  A Christmas baby!  Doesn't every child hate a Christmas birthday? What were we thinking?! If nothing else, that proved we didn't know a thing about planning for these sorts of things.

   Over the years I've received all kinds of comments.  Completely innocent of course, but to my already unsure and insecure heart they left wounds.  "So....HOW long were you married before you had a baby?  Wow, that SOON?"  "Well I'm just SO GLAD my husband and I waited for years before having kids because we had SO MUCH fun just by ourselves and we'll never, ever get those years back."   As if I needed a reminder that we were no longer newlyweds, and never, ever would be again, because now we were set squarely in the frumpy, uninteresting category of "PARENTS".

   Then, right about 9 months after Jocelyn entered the world, I saw those two little pink lines again.  I won't ever forget that time either.  It felt very much the same way as the first time.  "Now?? So soon after the first?!  They will only be 18 months apart!"  My heart began to thrash in my chest and everything else slowed around me.....I should be grateful....I know it's a blessing....I should be excited....BUT I'M NOT READY!!!

   I tried to get excited.  I made a little note that said, "Shhhh, Big Sister sleeping" and I was going to tape it onto the door to Jocelyn's room for Randy to see when he came home from work.  But by the time he came home from work, I still wasn't in the right frame of mind to be joyful, and he immediately could tell something was wrong.  I told him the news through tears, and although I'm ashamed to admit that, it's true.


(Ohhhh the glory in that single word.)

But God.

   But God had a plan in it all!   God knew what I wanted.  And fortunately, He knew what I needed.  God knew my selfish desires, but He also knew what would be best for me. What would mold me, shape me, change me.  He knew that these two little ladies would impact my world more than anything I could have ever imagined, and that when it was all said and done I wouldn't want it any other way.

And He was right.

    I've had the privilege of watching the most wonderful man I know become a father.  Oh, and he wears it well.  Their eyes take on a special kind of shine when he enters the room.  He captured my heart long ago, and now I get a front row seat to watching two more hearts fall deeper in love with him.  And it's a beautiful thing.

   Not only do I get to watch him rise up and take ownership of his role as "Daddy" but I get to partner with him!  I don't have to do this whole parenting thing alone.  Not the late nights, the dirty diapers, the time-outs, the shhhhhpleasepleasegotosleep........we're a team.  And for better or for worse, it has been, hands down, the best decision we've ever made, this side of the wedding aisle.  

Randy, Jocelyn, Charlotte.  Dearest ones.  

   Oh, the joy that you all have brought into my life!  I am not the person I once was, and I will never be the same.  You have given me an identity that I never had before....Wife....Mama.   You have given me a purpose that I never had before.  Living for someone else, other than myself.  You have inspired me to dream, as cheesy as that sounds.  Literally, I DREAM about the future and all of its possibilities.  I RELISH the thought of the next 50 years, if God gives them to us to share.  The memories, the love, the experiences, the laughter, the friendships, the tears, the ups, the downs, the highs, the doesn't matter what comes, as long as we're all together.

   Oh, my loves, you have captured me. Heart and soul. I am so glad I didn't even know what I wanted when I got you.  Because then I would probably try to take all of the credit.  But you were, are, and always will be, a gift.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Given to me by my Heavenly Father who knew what I needed long before I ever even thought I knew what was best.  

And I stand here today, grateful. 

Grateful for the gift. 


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  1. I love your story... totally opposite of mine but I can understand your feelings in those situations. I waited for every one of my pregnancies and was happy for them. Ladies are like, "I'm sure you don't understand when we say we didn't want to be pregnant." But yes, I do understand because if I would have gotten pg right after one of my babies, I would have cried too! :)

    Some day your beautiful girls will love having a sister so close in age!

    1. Thank you SO much for understanding that panic even though you waited long for pregnancy...that means a lot to hear! :)

  2. I absolutely love your honesty.. Your story gave me goosebumps! I really enjoy reading your blog and your family is absolutely precious:)

  3. wonderful post and beautiful pictures! Who took them?

  4. the photos are simply stunning! you are so blessed friend!

  5. Beautiful post and pictures!! Those pictures of you and the girls are priceless!

  6. These photos are gorgeous!! I would be so thrilled with these! What a treasure to hold for always ~ the beauty, the sweet little age of your girls, the love & warmth between you all.

    And I love hearing a little bit more of the story of your family... I love your heart, your honesty!

  7. i so get this! i was married only three months when i found out i was pregnant - and kate was also nine months old when i discovered i was expecting my second. my first two are 17 months apart. overwhelmed and not in my plan? yes, exactly! but as you said, God knows what we need and funny now, i couldn't imagine my family any other way. the biggest thing that's surprised me about parenting has been the fact that it really is more for ME than them! i'm the one learning and maturing and finding out more about my heavenly Father as a result - oh, the beautiful irony of it all!!!

    love your candidness in sharing. xo and gorgeous pics~ y'all are one rockin cute little family!

    1. You are so sweet. Thank you so much for your encouragement and thanks for sharing your story! Our stories are so similar.:) Blessings to you and your lovely family!

  8. Thank you for this. Our first baby was born a month after our first anniversary, and I had the exact same thoughts that you did when I found out I was pregnant. I knew that there are many women who wish so badly that they could get pregnant, and I should just be thankful, but all I could think about was how I was not ready to be a mom. And now my baby is almost 8 months old and I love him to pieces. But I still struggle with it. Especially when like you said, people very innocently say things that hurt. All of that to say that this post could not have come at a more perfect time. Its good to know that it keeps getting better. Thanks for your honesty! - Teresa (used to be Yutzy and used to be from Kalona) :)

    1. Oh my heart goes out to you Teresa! I just know exactly how you feel.:) Don't you worry one minute about what other people say....God can work ANYTHING out for your good. Thanks so much for leaving a comment, I loved hearing your story! Blessings to you and your little one.:)

  9. beautiful beautiful pictures of your sweet family!
    and I just want to say-as someone who is the oldest of ten kids born in 16yrs-it is the most awesome thing EVER to be close in age (and in spirit!) with a big gang of siblings and your daughters will THANK YOU someday. =) I'm so thankful that my parents were brave and let God bless them with all of me and my siblings. I've never been a mom but I've seen my mom raise my siblings and it truly is so much sacrifice and work, but it totally pays off in the end!
    thanks for posting this, shelley!

    1. I truly hope my daughters are best friends one day!

  10. I know how you feel. We had a honeymoon baby. Our first 3 months we spent apart due to paperwork(him being an American n I being Canadian) Once he moved up to stay we lived in a 1 room app cause our house had renters at the time. We moved in 4months before baby #1 was born. We did a lot of painting n tearing of wall paper n putting a floor in kitchen/dining room. This was all in our 1st yr of marriage. I cried many days, n had baby blues. We had baby #2, two yrs after:) I love them both to pieces and wouldn't trade them for anything. I cherish my time with Hub's even more, when its just us. Thanks for sharing n being so open! Love your family pictures! Blessings as you continue your mothering journey.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story!! I am continually amazed at how God can weave beauty into our story, no matter the timeline. Blessings!

  11. Beautiful pictures of you and your family!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this. I don't know you personally, but am part of the mennonite background and I think we have interconnected friends of friends or something like that. Not exactly sure how I stumbled across your blog in the first place, but back in the day I bookmarked it and just decided to browse around on the internet looking for some faith and marriage encouragement, so I thought I'd stop here. And I have to glad I did. This was so encouraging for me to read. I love your writing style as well as your openness and honesty. Way to help a sister out with such good insight into the things that I have yet to experience :)

    I am 24, was recently married (8 months ago), and every month I find myself fighting the fear of not getting my period. The real possibility of pregnancy now (since marriage) is something that I've never dealt with before, and so with this new territory comes dread and fear. You make it clear that even when things don't go as we expect, God can work with us. Yes, sometimes hormones and bad attitudes can get in the way, but....God. (As you said in this post). He can help us deal with these things.

    Anyway, I think I'll keep following your blog. That is, if your not creeped out by someone that you've never met on the other side of the US following your daily happenings ;) Thanks again for your honesty and integrity.

    1. It's not creepy in the least! I would be honored if you were to follow along.:) That's what I love about the blogging crosses over state lines and thousands of miles and makes it possible to build relationships across the miles. Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope to hear from you again!


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