This story begins during my college days. College was an interesting season in my life. I had great friends, lived in one of the most beautiful parts of Texas, spent most weekends floating the river, and I did well in school. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a constant feeling of emptiness that I tried to fill up with partying, attention from guys and an eating disorder. I was desperate to find the guy I would marry and be able to start creating a life with. This desperate search for love and acceptance didn’t go over well. I was looking for love in all the wrong places and didn’t hold very high standards for myself. Because of my past, I felt like I was damaged goods and believed I didn’t deserve the best in a relationship. This quest for love turned into a cycle of rejection and heartache that made me feel less and less worthy.
One day I had an emotional breakdown in my car. I felt so alone, hopeless and empty. I knew I was done living the way I had the past 3 years. I cried out to God for the first time and asked him to take away my pain. He was there immediately. I didn’t hear an audible voice or see an angel, but I felt the presence of God so strongly in my little car. I felt surrounded by His love, and a sudden peace came over me. I promised God in that moment that I would stop trying to pursue relationships with guys and I would start getting to know Him. That very weekend I found a church to go to all by myself. Seeking a relationship with God turned out to be exactly what I needed. My emptiness was filled up by the love of my Savior. God built me up and showed me that I was worthy, I was loved, and to Him I was precious.
A few months later my mom was going on and on about this guy my parents had met at our family Thanksgiving. She kept saying that there was something different about this guy and I just had to meet him. At this point I was still swearing off men and really didn’t think letting my mother set me up was the key to happiness. Turns out, my Mom is always right…. We were traveling up to Cheyenne, Wyoming to watch my dad rope at Frontier Days. My mom kept on me that I should meet up with Jeff while we were there. I finally gave in and messaged Jeff (who had been sending me messages since Thanksgiving) to let him know we would be in town. He quickly replied with a rendezvous spot for that very night.
My sister and I drove over to the Albertson’s parking lot Jeff had requested we meet him at. I was very skeptical as we pulled in. Jeff was already there and stepped out of his truck with a big grin as we parked. I know it sounds weird, but I could tell from the moment we made eye contact that this was the man I was going to marry. It was like God was telling me Jeff was the reason all those other relationships didn’t work. It wasn’t because there was something wrong with me; it was because God had someone so much better in mind. God knew I needed to find Him before I would be ready to find the man he had planned for me. God waited on me through all of my mess. He never gave up on me and He was there with open arms when I came running back to him.
God’s plan is always better than our own. Your story may look very different then mine in the end, but one thing will always be true. God will never give up on me or you.
Spoiler Alert: Jeff and I didn’t ride off into a beautiful sunset of a courtship. We had heck working out our differences and making it through a long distance relationship. The story just begins here, come back next week to see how it all went down.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Today I want to share a story that took place almost 4 years ago. This is the birth story of our first daughter, Grace Josephine Berry (aka Gracie Jo, aka JoJo) Disclaimer: If you are pregnant you may want to come back and read this one after you give birth. I know I hated when people shared their horrible delivery experiences with me when I was expecting. Also, anyone else that doesn’t want to know personal details of my birth story, here is your chance to duck out and catch me on the next post as well.
The story takes place in March of 2015. It was an abnormally nice week in Wyoming, and I had spent every day walking at the park getting my body ready to deliver it’s first baby. The night of the 17th I woke up and it felt like I had wet my pants a little bit, but the doctor had assured me the day before that if my water broke it would be a huge gush, so I wrote it off as another embarrassing pregnancy moment and went back to bed.
The next morning I woke up and once again it seemed like I had a mini pants wetting episode so I told Jeff about it. He had been with me at the doctor office the day before and reminded me the doctor said we would know when my water broke. I told him I wanted to get checked out anyway, and in true rancher form he said, “Okay. Let me go feed the cows and check everything and then I’ll take you to town.”
He got back about 9:30 and we got ready and drove to town. We both felt silly walking into the doctors’ office and calmly telling them we think my water might of broke. They looked at us like the first time amateurs we were and said they would let the doctors know we wanted to be checked out.
We got to see Dr. Story a few minutes later and he checked to see if I was indeed in labor. He decided to run a couple tests and was back in our room in a matter of minutes. Sure enough, my water had not completely broken, but I was leaking amniotic fluid and there was a risk of infection if we did not get to the hospital quick for delivery.
The moment felt surreal, Jeff and I were excited that we would be meeting our baby girl that day! We drove straight to the hospital, checked in and prepared to deliver our baby girl. The doctor on call that day was Dr. VanKirk. I had never met her before, but I instantly loved her the moment she walked in. She was upbeat and made us feel she had everything under control. We were giddy and excited, not knowing that the experience would go down as one of the worst and best days of our lives.
My body was not in labor even though I was leaking amniotic fluid, so I had to be induced. Since we were now on a time crunch to deliver because of the risk of infection, we had to be pretty aggressive with the meds used to induce me. The contractions came on pretty quickly and they were extremely painful with little to no breaks in between them. I received an epidural about 4pm. After getting the epidural in, I was able to relax and calm down. Unfortunately my body tried to relax a little too much, and my blood pressure dropped so low that I was not pumping enough blood to our baby girl. The baby’s heart rate monitor starting beeping loudly as the nurses and Dr. Vankirk quickly came into our room. I had discussed with Dr. VanKirk early on that I didn’t want to have to do a C-Section. She said we would try an adrenaline shot, but if that didn’t work we would need to go straight in for a C-section. I agreed, my babies well being and safety being my first priority. The adrenaline shot kicked in quickly and baby girl’s heartbeat stabilized. We were all able to take a deep breath and settle in for a few more hours of contractions.
A little bit after 8 pm we had another scare, the same issue we had before of our baby girl’s heartbeat weakening happened again, but this time we completely lost it on the monitor. Dr. Vankirk calmly told me that I would have to deliver my baby right this minute because she was in danger. She yelled out that we needed more nurses in the room and the room filled up with too many medical people to count. Dr. Vankirk stayed calm and in control of the situation, but I could see the urgency in her eyes. Jeff also stayed calm and supportive, but I could tell he was freaking out on the inside. He grabbed my hand. I had multiple nurses on both sides of me holding my legs and feet. I remember in that moment a feeling of extra human strength as I began pushing my baby out with everything I had. Everyone in the room was yelling out encouragement, telling me she was almost out. It took only 3 pushes for me to deliver.
Doctor Vankirk lifted our baby up and was moving to put her on my chest when we all realized she was not in good shape. She was so blue that she was black. She was not making a sound. They cut the cord and immediately took her to the baby incubator to start working on her.
I remember pleading with everyone around me. Asking them, is my baby okay? Is she going to make it? Is my baby all right? Dr. Vankirk told me that for right now she had to work on me, and that my baby was in good hands, but the look on her face expressed her uncertainty.
I looked up at Jeff and he was white as a ghost. He, unlike me, could see everything that was happening to our baby girl as the doctors and nurses worked so hard to get her to breathe. Immediately it hit me. “We have to pray! Jeff, start praying!” Jeff began praying a prayer that I will never forget. I actually remember thinking, “No! don’t pray that!” But I knew the words he spoke were faith filled to a God we trusted with everything.
Jeff prayed, “Father God, we pray right now for our baby girl. We know that she is yours. We know that weather you take her up with you or we get to keep her here with us that she is yours first. We want this baby girl so bad God! We pray your will be done.”
I continued praying as I looked around and noticed a couple of the nurses by me were praying as well! And then we heard it, the beautiful scream of our precious baby girl. God had so clearly moved in that room, he had opened the lungs of our baby. I busted out sobbing, letting myself go when I had been trying so hard to keep it together. We thought we would name our little girl Addison or Avery, but Jeff said right at that moment, “We are naming her Grace.” I was in complete agreement!
Our baby girl was completely fine. She had no health issues at all. They brought her over to me all bundled up and beautiful. Words do not express the love I felt for her and the relief that my baby girl was in my arms and everything was okay.
I share this story for a couple different reasons. First, I share it for myself. I want to document our story so I can always go back and remember the moment that we cried out the God of the Universe and He so clearly moved in that moment to answer our prayer. There is pain in this story, but it is washed away by the joy. I wish in the moment I would of had the same faith and firmness of my Husband to be able to pray God’s will be done no matter what the outcome. My heart breaks for the families that have prayed the same prayer we prayed but didn’t get the answer we got. I know we serve a God that in all things works for the good of those who love HIM, but sometimes His way won’t make sense until we get to be up with Him in heaven and understand that it was the best way. I thank the Lord for every single day I get to spend with the precious babies He has trusted us with. I know we are not promised tomorrow.
Lastly, I hope this story can be of encouragement and attest to the power and love of our God. He heard our cry and He cared about our prayer. He is the God of the entire universe, but He heard the prayer of just two of His children and He was with us. His presence was in that room. He wants to be there when you need Him too. He wants to hold you when you need comfort, He wants to give you strength when your situation seems impossible, He wants to love you when you feel unlovable. He wants to be with you through it all.
I pray that you know your value and how precious you are to our God. Until we meet again,
It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day as I sit here writing this post. Time is moving so quickly. My babies are growing fast. Life feels like a whirlwind, leaving me scrambling to get from one place to the next. I feel the world’s pull on me to do more, to be more. The weight of all my responsibilities build up, And I feel like I can’t keep up.
Then I walk away for a moment, and I open God’s word. The never ending cycle of life’s obligations come to a stop for a few minutes, while I seek wisdom from the perfect words of my savior.
My time with God has not always felt this way. In my early days of becoming a Christ follower, I would open the Bible and be so confused by the words. The Bible seemed too thick, too complicated, and to be honest, too far fetched for me to understand. That is when I learned about the power of Holy Spirit. I would pray for the spirit to give me wisdom and discernment to understand what I was reading. Once I had the help of the Spirit I started to better understand. Messages started to come out of the pages that were so applicable to my every day life. I believe the gift of discerning and understanding the Bible is available for anyone who asks for it. Once you have it, you will not believe the way the Bible comes to life.
The other thing I had trouble with when I first began studying the Bible, was knowing where to begin. My personality caused me to always want to begin at the beginning, in Genesis, therefor there are numerous times when I would set out to read the Bible cover to cover only to get lost and distracted before I reached Exodus, the second book.
My advice for beginners would be to start in the New Testament. The first four books are accounts of the birth, life and death of Jesus written from four different perspectives. They are easy to read and understand, especially with the help of Holy Spirit. These first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the actual words of Jesus. His words are written in red. We have the actual words of our Savior to read and learn from, that in itself is an amazing gift.
When shopping for a Bible there is no shame in finding a version that is easy to read. I would still be lost if I was trying to use the King James version. The version I use and love is the NIV Study Bible. There are many different versions out there to choose from. Lots of these contain commentaries and resources on every page to help you better understand what you are reading. I think the next Bible I buy will be “the Message” version which is probably the closest in translation to our present way of speaking.
That reminds me, a must have for new readers is the YouVersion Bible app. This app is so handy. I prefer doing my daily studies in my real bible that I can hold, but anytime I don’t understand what I am reading, I can pull up my App and read that section in different translations until it makes more sense. The You Version app also is full of reading plans based on topic or plans for reading the Bible cover to cover. It is really an awesome resource!
I know this post may seem elementary and may not apply to everyone that reads, but I truly believe there is upmost importance for every single believer to become experts on the book God has written for us. We must learn for ourselves what God wants to teach us, not just hear secondhand somebody else’s interpretation. Paul tells the Philippians they must “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
So I urge you to take responsibility. Make it your mission to not only read the Bible, but to know it. Your very salvation, and the salvation of those you love depends on it.
Good morning friends. I keep reminding myself that it is indeed a good morning. We are all alive. safe. warm. well fed. After that it gets a little hard to recall the things I’m grateful for as I sit here guzzling my third cup of coffee before 9 am. Last night was a nightmare, but not the kind you sleep through. It was a real life nightmare, spurred on by a 18 month old with a ponytail on top of her head and misery affliction in her eyes.
Jeff was scheduled to visit a customer up close to where my grandparents live, so we decided to jump in the pick up with him so the girls and I could spend some time with Gram and Gramps while he worked. We had a nice evening and a delicious supper. About 8:30 pm, I hauled the pack and play up the stairs and got it perfectly comfy and cozy to put Ella down in. We timed it just right so we were all ready to go to bed and wouldn’t wake Ella up after she was asleep. We layed her down with a sippy cup full of perfect temp lactose free milk. We sighed with relief as we shut the door to her room and tip-toed out and into our beds.
It lasted about 8 minutes, and then came the blood curdling scream. It sounded like she was being physically tortured. I rushed into the room thinking there had to be something seriously wrong for her to be screaming that way. Picked her up. She giggled. WTH… I rolled my eyes, bounced her around the room for a minute until she was yawning and rubbing her eyes. As I carefully laid her back into the pack n play, her eyes popped open wide and she crawled me like a cat. It was that moment I realized we were in for a long night. I could go on and recall the events of the evening that seemed to last a life time, but I’ll save you the anguish of reading it. I’ll just share a couple memorable moments.
At one point about 11pm Jeff and I looked at each other and cracked up laughing at the situation, if we wouldn’t of been laughing we would of been crying. We were of course worried my grandparents couldn’t sleep with all the ruckus Ella was causing in the bedroom above them, and about to lose our minds not knowing how to calm Ella down and maker her fall asleep.
At another point after Ella had screamed for about 5 minutes straight, she stopped abruptly and proceeded to happily chuckle to herself and crawl back and forth across the bed kissing me and Jeff on our foreheads. I thought to myself, “oh no, what if she has a multiple personality disorder.”
Then about 3 am she popped up wide awake from a 30 minute stretch of sleep. Desperate, I handed her my phone with a downloaded Netflix show praying for just another small block of sleep. She happily took my phone and began a cycle of watching the show for about one minute, pressing the home button which stoped her show and then pushing the phone in my face so I could get it back going for her. This lasted until my phone which was on 13% battery when we began, died a painful death. It was a special night.
I share this all in hopes that it will serve as an effective means of birth control for all of the young people reading this… only kidding. My main purpose for sharing is to let all the moms and dads out there in the trenches of raising small children, know that you are not alone. It is so easy to look at social media and the adorable pictures of kids being sweet and seemingly well behaved and think, “maybe I’m not good at this parenting thing.” Don’t believe that for one minute. You are absolutely killing it! You are “nailing it” as a parent. You are surviving the long nights. You didn’t throw the kid in it’s crib and drive far away at a fast rate of speed. You love that small, adorable, life sucker, with all your heart. Just like I love mine. You’re probably snuggling them right now as you read this. They are dozing off for a good nap, so they are rested up to cause terror once again tonight. Only kidding again…..kind of…. I remind myself often, that no one takes pictures when they are about to lose their mind and the kid is running down the hall after they dipped one hand in the toilet and unraveling the toilet paper with the other. No one posts moments like that. We only post the highlight reel, filled with the moments that portray parenthood as a blissful walk in the park. So don’t sweat it. Don’t compare. You are doing an incredible job.
I am going to sign off now, so I can find some more caffeine and spend some time alone with God. We are raising little world changers, little sons and daughters of the one true King. It’s a hard job, but it’s the most important job we will ever do. So keep up the good work. I’m praying for you and me both.