Behind the name: Nan Louise

I am aching to write Nan's birth story. It's always so therapeutic for me...NOT TO MENTION I will forget details soon if I don't get them written down. So first I need to write the story behind this beautiful third daughter's name: Nan Louise, just like I did for Blythe and Becks.

Stories are important to me. I want to gather them up and share them and keep record of them. And I have wanted all of my daughter's names to tell a story-- a story of people who have loved us well. A story of full of meaning. I always have viewed their names as little time capsules they can carry with them all of their lives.

Blythe Kathleen was so perfect and unique, when Becks Lynae came along we felt a little pressure to get her name just right. I loved giving a one syllable name that couldn't be shortened into a nickname [though they have been stretched into longer names :)]. I didn't intentionally do the B thing... and when I suggested a B name if we had a third daughter, we had to really consider what that would be like: Brent, Blythe, Becks. That's a lot. I just couldn't do another B name.


Little did I know, when the time came for our third child to be born, Nan's name would find us. She had to be Nan. 

If you don't remember the story, the day we found out we were pregnant with our third child was on August 3rd-- the same day we buried and said goodbye to our beloved Grandma Pat. That morning I took the test and hugged Brent in his suit. I put my hands across my abdomen covered in a black dress. The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Grandma was the only one who knew we had even considered trying for a third child, and as I plucked a yellow rose from her casket, I whispered our new found secret. 

And I knew. I knew this baby, if a girl, would be Nan. 

Grandma Pat's full name was Patricia Nan.

She hated her middle name. Her sister didn't have a middle name, and would make one up when people asked because she wanted one so badly. Grandma would tell her she shouldn't do that because having a middle name wasn't all that great. Her mother's name was Nancy, and her dad always called her Nan. He insisted that Patricia's middle name be Nan. And so it was. Exactly why she disliked it so much, I don't know, but I know she hated two things: Her middle name and Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales.

I really wish I could have seen her reaction when we passed it on to our daughter.

Nan means grace. Which is just about perfect.

Back when we were praying about having another baby or not, I knew that I would need a whole new level of grace if we had a third. When I wrote our announcement post back in October I wrote:

"The idea of three children terrifies me a bit, to be honest. That's an entirely new level of insanity. Was I ready for that? Was I capable of that? And the answer I came up with was: NO. I'm not ready. I'm not capable. I'm not strong enough. And that is exactly why we decided we should have three children. Because God is ready. He is capable. And He is so strong. And by having another child we would enter an entirely new level of dependency on Him. Our family will have to link securely with His strength and faithfulness and peace and forgiveness, and with His unending love as we welcome this new baby and figure out life as FIVE. "

And His grace. 

There is an old hymn that says, "Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe...grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin."

And Nan means grace. And I pray she is our reminder of this matchless grace that is given freely to us. And I pray that she is our reminder to respond in grace and live into God's grace as we parent these three girls.  

And then there is Louise. 

Louise is a name from Brent's family as well. If I remember correctly, his Grandma Hazel's dad was Louis. And the name started to get passed down. When it came to naming Brent's mom, her parents gave her the female version of this name, and she became Joan Louise. 

It's always been a middle name we've kicked around. It's such a feminine name, and when we stuck it with Nan? Well, magic happened if you ask me: Nan Louise. 

And just like naming her after Grandma Pat, naming her after her Nini Joan is perfect. A selfless, helpful, giving woman if ever there was!

And the meaning of Louise is renowned warrior. 

I love attaching this to GRACE. The bible uses war language time and time again, reminding us of the Enemy we face in this world. We must put on armor. We must fight temptation and sin. And we are promised that we will overcome this world.

1 John 5:4-5 says, "Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God." [The Message translation].

And Louise means renowned warrior.

Renowned. Known for being a warrior. And we pray that Nan Louise will be known for being a warrior of Christ. That she will remind us that the victory is ours because we believe Jesus is the Son of God. And we pray that she will claim this victory in her life.

I know a lot of people were expecting a B name. And if not a B name, people were expecting something a little different or modern, even a little masculine,  because Blythe and Becks are definitely those things. And we decided on Nan Louise-- an old fashioned and feminine name. And yet, still a name full of meaning and stories and wonderful heritage.

Our sweet Nan Louise, may you follow the wonderful examples of the women you were named after, and may you be full of grace and known for your love of Christ. We are so thankful it was you from the beginning.


baby bump three: week 40

Dear Nan,

We've made it to my favorite bump picture: you on the outside, a balled up, pink newborn. This day always seems so impossibly far away when those pink lines show up--when your dad and I hug in the bathroom and with our morning breath thank God for the new life He has started to form inside of me. And then all of a sudden it seems, we're on our way to the hospital. I feel the labor pains that were promised and cursed to me in The Garden, and then they lay you on my chest. Nine months is really such a short time.

Nan Louise, you are simply a dream. All along I thought you were bigger, and I was right [by a few ounces anyway]. They laid you on my chest after another fast, though induced, labor where you promptly peed while letting out strong and steady cries. Oh, those first cries from healthy lungs are music. Eventually, after your dad cut the cord that had bound us together for all those months, they took you away to measure and weigh and clean you. Six pounds and fourteen ounces of healthy baby girl.

You were pretty beat up from delivery. You were in the birth canal the whole time we labored, and you had some blood vessels showing across your forehead, a bruised cheek, a slight bruise on your arm, and a bloodshot eye. I told your dad that as traumatic as labor and delivery is for me, it has to be equally or more traumatic for you. You don't know what's happening and then all of that work and then, then!, you're outside in this crazy, bright, noisy world. I would have peed on someone too! By the time we left the hospital, two days after your birth, your bruises and swelling were gone, which made me feel better.

Your sisters were so excited to meet you. Blythe simply adores you and can't get enough. She's always checking on you and patting you and singing or reading to you. Becks likes to touch your face and make sure you have your blankets. She makes us a little more nervous, but don't worry we'll keep an eye on her so she doesn't rough you up too much. Your dad has been, as always, amazing. Those first days in the hospital he just snuggled you and studied you and smelled you and kissed on you. The second night you were fussy, and I kept having to feed you and I was pretty tired. Finally he just took you, stripped you down, took off his own shirt, and you nuzzled right in under some blankets against his chest and finally settled down. I know in no time he'll be your favorite human on the planet. And I won't blame you one bit.

You've really only had one or two fussy times during the day or night, and are otherwise alert when awake, eat well, and sleep and sleep. Your Nana and Nini have been here taking care of us all too. They are amazing. It's like having the hospital nursery staff...and cleaning staff...and cafeteria staff... all come home with us! Actually, while I write this your nana is cleaning windows. Our house will be cleaner now than you'll probably ever know it to be the rest of your life time! I've actually felt pretty good since having you. My recovery would have been near perfect had it not been for one pesky thing: the cartilage in my pelvis separated. It's only been painful to do certain things like step up, twist, and get in and out of bed etc. My doctor told me the less I am on my feet the sooner it will heal, and when I feel pain to stop whatever I'm doing. So that has really limited me, but I'm starting to feel much more stable, and still feel like this has been my best recovery yet, minus not being able to do much.

I want to kiss your cheeks a thousand times a day before they lose their super softness. And I want to watch you sleep and breathe and eat. These days can be hard, because even though you're teeny, you're demanding in a lot of ways of my body and my time. But I want to breathe you in and whisper love into your ears in these slow moving weeks. When I was laboring with you one of the verses I repeated was Zephaniah 3:17. It says, "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing." And now, as I hold you on the outside, I have prayed that verse over you many times as you snuggle against my chest-- that you would know this God of ours that rejoices over you, and that quiets your fears with His love.  Your dad and I will try and love you like Christ, but in our failures we pray that you'll learn to receive that love from The Source.

Nan Louise, we are so glad you are now a part of our family. We are excited to get to know you in all new ways each day. We pray you will be faithful to your Lord, and to your friendships, and to your future spouse. We pray you will be attentive to others, like your namesake was, and generous with your time and possessions. And we pray that you would be humble in a way that doesn't make you think less of yourself, but of yourself less.

At the end of my pregnancy with you, when things were tough, I had to keep saying, "I trust you, Jesus." Nan, may you trust Jesus, because I am entrusting you to Him.

We love you so very much.

Love, Mom




Nan Louise
Born: April 8 , 2016
at 3:33 p.m.
Weight: 6lbs 14oz   
Length:  21in
Hair: Redish?

Many more pictures and stories to come. 
Thanks for your prayers.  


baby bump 3: week 39

Baby girl,

This is my last chance to write to you on the inside.  In less than 12 hours, I will head to the hospital and we will start an induction. I don't know what that process is going to be like, but I know you're at the end of it.

This week has been humbling. I've had to rely on others for pretty much everything, as being on my feet at all has been a bit too much for me. Your grandma's have provided a lot of food and laundry folding for us, as well as some wonderful friends. I've tried to rest, drink lots of water, and just lay low as much as I could. It was hard because I wanted to be as present as I could with your sisters, since they are in for a big change too, but it was really difficult. At one point Blythe said, "I can stand up a lot longer than you because I don't have a baby sister in my tummy." True!

Tuesday was an interesting day. Late Monday I started to have contractions and, they weren't regular or consistent, but they were happening and they were stronger than what I had been having. Given my history with quick deliveries, and my doctor's advice to "come in with anything!" we decided to at least go to town and be closer to the hospital. I only had one or two contractions on the way. I knew I wasn't in labor, but I didn't know if it would get there, and if it got there how quickly it would become the real deal. So your dad and I walked around the parking lot a bit to try and see if things would pick up. I felt like I walked MILES but he claims it was maybe a half a mile. I'm still doubtful ;). At one point we got back in the car to warm up a little and see if anything was happening... and there was a BEE in my pants and it STUNG me! I'm not kidding! Craziest thing. Your dad pulled the stinger out of my knee, we killed the bee, and then we drove to a gas station. He got a drink and got me some ice to put on the sting. So weird. We went back to the hospital and decided I may as well have them check me and monitor things and make sure we weren't "silently" progressing [ that's a real thing!]. I was still at a three, and things didn't pick up. They told us we could stay as long as we were comfortable given my history, but at 1:30 we packed up and headed to a friend's in town to spend the night just in case [because this was eerily similar to what happened with your sister, Becks]. I had a few more contractions that night but then they stopped.

We came back home mid morning so your dad could get a few things done at work, and we could see your sisters, and then headed BACK for my appointment that afternoon. We fell asleep in the waiting room. Our doctor is so great and she was super thorough. She said she wanted to keep me, but since we were so close to our induction date we would wait it out. She said everything was really ready to go, and the only thing keep you in was the fact that I wasn't in labor! She emphasized again the need for us to come with anything, walked us through what the induction would look like, and said over and over again how quickly she thinks it will happen once we get my labor going. We will see!

We were both pretty exhausted after that night/day, and we were thankful the contractions stopped and we were able to get a couple of good night's rest. And now we're ready! Well, as ready as one can be. It's really strange knowing that tomorrow you'll be here with us. I'm not anxious about tomorrow, but I just don't really know how to process it. But here is what I do know: God is already standing there. And God is not only there, but He is also with us, and He is also inside of me. Oh baby girl, I know it doesn't seem possible that a God so big could be so intimate and near, but He is. I know it doesn't always make sense and that we can't comprehend that, but our finite minds don't change Him. So He is there waiting for us at the hospital. And He is here with us in this moment. And He is moving inside of me giving me His peace and transforming my thoughts to be His. I can't wait to tell you more about Him... while I look into your eyes.

We love you so much. These 9 months have been harder than I anticipated, but they have brought us to this moment. We can do this! You and I will work hard together tomorrow and then we will get to meet in a whole new way. See you soon.

Love, Mom


baby bump 3: week 38

Dear baby girl,

Well, we didn't have to make any hospital trips this week, so that's an improvement, but man oh man I've reached the point where I'm ready to meet you. It's taken me a long time to get over this junk, which my doctor said it would because I'm pregnant. So my body is somewhere between recovering from that infection and preparing for labor and it seems to be saying to me, "Whhhaaattt are you doing!?!" It's been an exhausting week and we've had to call in a lot of help. And people are so good to us. I took this picture at night, but that's not why I look tired.  As much as I look at it and cringe at how I look, it's an accurate reflection of where we are right now.

No matter what, at the end of this week you'll be in my arms. I won't feel you on the inside but get to hold you on the outside. I'm trying hard to rest in the peace of Christ and rely on the endurance that He gives. When we are weak, He is strong. You will learn this over and over in your life, sweet one.  Your earthly dad has been just unbelievable the past couple of weeks. He's had to take over pretty much every responsibility at home, plus work full time. Has he complained? Nope.

We re-packed our hospital bag and have it ready to roll. We have a few different people on standby. It really feels like "any minute" you could decide to come, and then another couple days go by. I've never had this at the end of a pregnancy... I've always been able to just rest knowing the baby would come when it was time. It's been harder to rest in that-- I just want you here. I want to see how you'll fit in our family. I want to see your nose. I want to see if your eyes are brown or blue or green, like Blythe predicts. I want to share you with others.

Last night your dad and I laid in bed and prayed over you, over me, over what will be happening this week. Over our delivery and your arrival. Over your spirit. It gets a little daunting to think about labor and delivery again. I obviously know I can do it. I know I will do it. But it doesn't really make me want to do it again ;). However, I'll be ready. We can do this. I keep thinking of the verse in Zechariah that says, "I will quiet you with My love." He is rejoicing over us with singing right now, baby girl, and He will quiet us with His love when it's time for you to make your debut.

We're ready for you. You may come any time now. We can't wait!

Love, Mom

2016 books update

 In January I posted a list of books I wanted to read this year. [You can see the list HERE and HERE is my list of books I read in 2015]. My goal is 52. Here is my updated list:
The Antelope in the Living Room
Sparkly Green Earrings
Let's All Be Brave
The Nesting Place
My Sister's Keeper
Lonesome Dove
The Boy on the Wooden Box
The Lightening Keeper
Calling Me Home
The Boys in the Boat
The Nightingale
The Red Tent
The Emerald Mile
Inside the O'Briens
To Say Nothing of the Dog
When Crickets Cry
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The Secret History
I Am Pilgrim
The Mountain Story
The Girl on the Train
Irresistible Revolution
A Spool of Blue Thread
I Just Want to Pee Alone
Everything Else
From Tablet to Table
Nobody's Cuter Than You
One Tuesday Morning
Just Mercy
Don't Give Up
A Star for Mrs. Blake
The Reason I Jump
Destiny of the Republic
The Book of Unknown Americans
The Beautiful Daughters
Big Little Lies
Marcelo in the Real World
Ordinary Grace
Everything I Never Told You
We Never Asked for Wings
Deep Down Dark
Hands Free Mama
Being Mortal
What Alice Forgot
Ava's Man
Thieves of Manhattan
Station Eleven
Shotgun Love Songs
The Long Knife
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Black Eyed Susans
Her Final Breath
Hotel Moscow
Reluctant Midwife
The Same Sky
You Changed My Life
School for Good and Evil
The Vactioners
Fates and Furies
The Best Yes
Ones I have read that weren't on my list:
I Said Yes
Messy Grace
The End of Me

Currently reading:
A Man Named Ove
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 
//The MUST READ so far is The End of Me, by Kyle Idleman.  [Goodreads summary here]. It looks at the upside down way of Jesus, focusing on the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount ["Blessed are those who mourn..." etc]. It was just really challenging and encouraging and created some great conversations between Brent and me.

//Shotgun Lovesongs, One Tuesday Morning, and The Nightingale were all good novels.
- Shotgun Lovesongs was set in Wisconsin and it is such a novel of place that I couldn't help but like it.
- One Tuesday Morning is a Christian novel, which I must say I usually stay away from because I usually find the writing not the best. But this one, by Karen Kingsbury, is about September 11th. I always like "historical novels" [strange to refer to September 11 as history], so I gave it a try and cried my eyes out.
- The Nightingale is set during WWII, in German invaded France. It tells the story of one family--two sisters. It was lengthy, but it kept my interest and I thought it was really good.

What have you been reading?
I'm having a hard time deciding what to get into next. Have you read any on the list that you really recommend that I should start right away?