Two Heartbeats.

This is what I can't get over -- I have two heartbeats. 

This week I went for my 12-week checkup. (By the way, I AM PREGNANT.) This is the checkup where they measure the baby's neck and nose, then ask if you want to do the bloodwork to check for chance of genetic disorders like Down Syndrome. When I left my last checkup, the doctor made sure I understood how important it was that I come in at 12 weeks. 

Yes, I understand. It's important. After 12 weeks, you'll only have a few weeks left to legally terminate the pregnancy if something doesn't look right. 

So I went. I went at 12 weeks. For 6 weeks I had been showing around my first ultrasound picture, which was basically a little blob, or maybe a bean. It wasn't much to look at, but what that picture didn't show was the heartbeat. In the same week that I got a positive pregnancy test, I also heard the baby's heartbeat. My doctor showed me how the little bean was sort of moving, and explained how that movement was actually the heart beating, then turned up the volume so I could hear. 

I went home and cried. I had one heart beating in my chest and one in my belly.

For the next six weeks, when I looked at the black and white image of my little bean-child, I could still hear the thump-thump-thump that meant it was alive. 

I knew the baby was growing and developing, but I don't think I was prepared for that 12-week checkup. I watched the screen as the doctor measured the neck and showed me the nose. I looked at the head and belly that had formed out of that first bean shape. I saw little feet kicking around. I heard the heartbeat again.

And then, with kindness and respect, my doctor asked me a question she already knew the answer to: "Of course you'll keep it no matter what, right? I know how you all think, that you always keep it." 

Of course I'll keep it. 

She's had enough patients of my kind to know that we keep miracles. We keep wiggly feet. We keep heartbeats. We keep life. 

I assured her that I still wanted to comply with every test and every recommendation she had for mine and the baby's health, but with the understanding that regardless of any outcome, I will keep it. She assured me that everything looks good, that all the measurements are normal, and that she understands. She knows that we always choose to keep the baby. 

I looked back at the screen and tried to process the reality that, if I'd chosen, if something hadn't been "normal," I could've terminated. I could've stopped the feet from wiggling. I could've stopped my second heart from beating. 

But how could I? 

I have two heartbeats now, and I could no more willingly stop one than the other.



Back in September, after much begging and pouting and pleading, I finally convinced Dani that NOW IS THE TIME! We NEED a puppy! 

Now, I know it may seem silly to pray about a dog... But I really wanted this to happen. So I asked God that, if it's meant for us to have a dog, He would help us find just the right puppy for us. With school having just started, I would be gone until around 2:00 every afternoon, so I wasn't sure how we would handle training. We also really wanted a Yorkie, since I know from my parents' Yorkie that they are good with kids and don't shed. But what were the chances of us finding a Yorkie that wasn't a tiny puppy? Nobody raises a Yorkie and then gets rid of it, right?

When we started to search local classified ads, guess what we found? A 6-month-old Yorkie, already partially potty-trained, whose owner was moving to Austria and really needed to find him a new home. Perfect! 

He is absolutely the sweetest puppy I've ever seen! Sometimes I'm convinced he's actually smiling. Aside from just being the cutest thing ever, I love how friendly he is. He has forced me to get out and go for walks more often, and to learn to talk to strangers. 

We live beside a river, and there are many older people who sit outside in the afternoons on the benches that line the sidewalk. Spike seems to have a special talent for finding the ones who need a little bit of joy -- he goes straight up to them and demands attention! I love to see how happy they are to pick him up and cuddle him, and it gives me an opportunity to talk with and encourage them. It's become one of my favorite things to do in the afternoon. 

So I guess I've become one of those people who gushes over their animals. I think we make a pretty good team!


Spring/Summer Update

Hello, everyone! I know I haven't been faithful this past year with sending updates, but in all honesty, there isn't always anything interesting to tell.

We spent the last year remodeling our apartment, and now that we've finished, we try to open our home as often as possible. We hope this a place where others can experience God's love and grace, and leave encouraged in their relationship with Him. We were both ministered to in the past by families who welcomed us into their homes, and now we want to do the same for others.

Otherwise, we spend most of our time doing very ordinary things -- me teaching, Dani working, and both of us helping at church in various ways. Last year I taught 8 classes, double the work load I had when I started teaching four years ago, but I love my job more and more each year. I was also more ready for summer vacation than ever before!

Here's a look at what's been going on this summer:

As in years past, I helped a mission team from New Mexico with two weeks of day camp -- first at Bread of Life Church, then with kids from villages surrounding Lake Surduc. I translated for the high school small group and led worship each morning. We had around 120 kids each day at both camps, where we went through the book "Lord, Teach Me To Pray," based on The Lord's Prayer. We learned that prayer is not reciting poems, but communicating with God. We learned how to pray so that God will listen and answer, and most importantly that prayer requires that we first have a relationship with Him.

I also helped with a 3-day leadership camp for teenage girls and youth leaders, where we went through a study called "Lord, I Need Answers!" We learned what the Bible teaches about some basic Christian beliefs, giving us a better understanding of our faith so that we can be ready to answer questions from our friends about who God is and why we believe the way we do. This was a small camp, with only around 15 girls/ladies, but we all enjoyed learning together under a wonderful and experienced teacher, Mia Oglice. Although I attended as a volunteer, I learned a lot, as well. While at this conference, a friend and I also began making plans for a girls' group that we hope to begin at church this Fall.

I recently started helping with Sunday School full-time (before, I was just filling in as needed and helping with special programs). I've loved getting to know the kids from the church neighborhood over the last few years, so I'm excited to spend time with them on a regular basis now. We just finished learning with them about the life of Abraham, so as a celebration, we had a pizza party and took some of the kids (who are well-behaved, and whose parents gave them permission) to the movies to see "Secret Life of Pets." Three out of four girls in the picture below had never been to the movies. I had a hard time convincing them to keep the glasses on during the film, but once we went outside they didn't want to take them off!

We finally finished remodeling our apartment in the Spring, so I've spent a lot of my free time working on some projects to finish decorating -- sewing, hanging pictures, etc. I also learned how to drive by myself in Romanian traffic this year, which has enabled me to visit my in-laws more often in the village. I always bring home lots of fruits and vegetables from their garden, so I've also learned how to make preserves this summer! Most importantly, I've had time to make new friends, and I'm so thankful for relationships with a few like-minded women that God brought into my life at just the right time.

Last week we enjoyed a nice vacation to the beach to end the summer, as the weather is already cooling off and I am getting ready to go back to school in two weeks. It is so nice to be able to return to work feeling refreshed, encouraged, and ready to give 100% both at my job and in ministry.

Prayer Requests
Thank you for your continued prayers, even though the updates are not as frequent as they were in the past. 
  • Pray for the girls' group that I mentioned, as we tried to start this last year, but without results. Pray that we would succeed in building relationships with the teenagers in the church neighborhood, and that we will know how to communicate His love to them in a way they can understand. 
  • Pray that the children, both at church and at school, will hold onto the Truth we've planted in their hearts as they grow older. 
  • Pray that we will continue to be faithful with the relationships and opportunities He sends us, that they would all be used to make Him known.