Wednesday, December 28

A new chapter

Last week marked my journey into the final trimester of my pregnancy. I'm getting a little antsy to say the least and I can't believe it's gone by this quickly.

So what does this trimester look like? Well... lots of working, planning, decorating, and organizing.

Funny thing about this final trimester is that it's a busy season with holidays and birthdays and lots to do. But have I even started preparing for this baby? Umm... sadly, no. We haven't even touched the nursery yet but I'm confident that it will all come together in the next 10 weeks before this baby arrives.

So much to think about and plan and prepare. We are so excited to paint Elwood's walls and put together his crib and his furniture and buy fun art and put away all those precious baby clothes but somehow I still haven't found the motivation.

We did pick Elwood's official birthday (unless he chooses to surprise us, which I'm praying against!) which will be March 14! Elwood will share his birthday with my brother-in-law, Lynn, who couldn't be a more perfect person to share it with.

Some of biggest must-haves for the 3rd trimester are the following:

-a good body pillow for sleeping. Support at night is very important to prevent cramping, soreness, and general discomfort.

-Sleep! Sleeping as much as you can is essential for your body and your mind. Sleep is hard to come by in the 3rd trimester, so soak up anything you can get.

-Tums. Heartburn can be one of the most annoying, painful and uncomfortable things. Bending over can give you heartburn and so can a PB & J. Keeping an antacid around can really ease this.

-Date nights. After baby arrives, dates will be much harder to plan for. You may not be ready to leave your baby and even if you are ready, finding a sitter that you can trust may be difficult. Relish in the time you have with your husband.

-Nesting. Take some time to dedicate to your baby's room and your house. Do extra cleaning projects, paint the walls, do all the baby laundry. It will fulfill the nesting bug and make your life easier when baby arrives.

-Shop! Buy new things for your baby. Even if it isn't your first, finding special things for a new child is important and will help you bond to your baby.

-Seek the Lord like crazy!!! A baby is a huge change and a big commitment and the Lord has some things He'd like to tell you. He wants to lavish you with love and confidence and sow in good parenting skills. He is the greatest guide you can have.

-Listen to your momma instincts. There will be so many people that throw their two cents into the way you do EVERYTHING -- from your pregnancy to the crib you buy to the books you read to the hospital stay... and etc, etc, etc. Consider their opinion but pray and seek God and follow those momma instincts that the Lord gave you.

-And don't forget to breathe. Take time to relax and do things for yourself. Take long baths, get a pedicure, read a book that's been sitting on your shelf for months. Don't forget to slow down and take time to relax while it's still available.

Ben and I are anxiously awaiting the moment we get to meet and hold this sweet baby boy. Lots to do before the day, but we can't wait!

Sunday, December 4

This life

I'm sorry it's been a couple weeks since I last posted! It's been a hectic couple of weeks full of busyness and time with family. It's been so wonderful to spend time with the people I love the most.

Right now I'm up in bed taking some time to myself while my husband is laughing hysterically with his guy friends outside on the front porch. Kind of hard to write when I hear such boisterous laughter :)

I'm in week 26 with baby Elwood and I feel like it's flying by and taking forever all at the same time. I'm sure a lot of you mamas know exactly what I'm talking about. One day you feel like it was yesterday that you found out you're pregnant and others you feel like this pregnancy could possibly last forever.

I've been honing in on life lately and can't seem to get some thoughts out of my head. Right now I feel like I'm this precious time where I get to be so close to my loved ones and really experience and walk out life together. We've cried, laughed, played games, ate, and talked transparently. It's been the kind of moments that you want to just take a picture and hold on to it as long as you possibly can. Just a raw kind of life where things are very real and life seems so fragile and precious not to take with all the seriousness you can give it.

I only have this one chance to live life here on Earth and I am soaking up each day for what it is and learning so much about taking things in stride and grace.

This morning at church I just broke down in tears as I thought and looked around the room and was hit for the 100th (but it always feel like the 1st) time with how precious life really is.

I am such a fragile being. But God has so wonderfully been working and blessing me with this life. Showing me who He is and walking each step with me. Working in my family's life in such beautiful and mesmerizing ways that I just cry every time I even think about it. What grace and abounding love He has lavished on us!

Aiden reminds me of the fragility of life and how important it is to live and be present in each moment. Even as we prepare for Elwood's arrival, grief is as strong as ever. Celebrating holidays wondering what he would be like and what stage he would be in. Thinking about what foods he would have loved on Thanksgiving and what we would have bought him for Christmas. Telling him about the new baby coming into our lives and how we would need him to be a good big brother.

Grief is such a strange journey. As a friend of mine said so wisely tonight, "Grief is one of the strongest emotions." Such truth and boldness. Grief has a mind of its own. It's not like happiness, which is based on circumstances. Grief can hit you like a ton of bricks even when you are happy and sometimes it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. And most times, grief is a front-of-the-mind presence that you can coherently live with even though you feel like it's stock-piling every day you are without the one you lost.

It's not the kind of thing that you ever get over or get used to over time. It's just this thing that is always there that you have to continually walk with and learn its kinks. Unfortunately it's not something you can see coming or come down off of because it's always there doing different things. It brings out the most wonderful and the worst in ourselves. It knows us deeply.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm slowly realizing this thing called life makes me want to be focused and intentionally involved in every day. And that I want to learn how to see God more clearly through it.

I'll continue to write about this over the coming weeks as I see God stretching me and teaching me so much about it.

To be continued...

Thursday, October 27

Boy, oh boy!

Well it's been a very fun and exciting week! We are so proud to announce that we found out we are having a sweet BOY!!!!

Introducing... Mr. John Elwood Tennant! 

Little Elwood was doing some pretty amazing acrobatic moves during the ultrasound! He is looking strong, healthy, and getting bigger by the hour!

It's so funny because as adults we don't really think about all the little parts that make up our very complex bodies. As I looked at our baby I was totally overwhelmed by God's amazing creation. I couldn't believe all the tiny little bones that make up his body and all of his organs and his brain activity and seeing his heart beating. I guess it didn't hit me as hard when I was pregnant with Aiden, but I just fell in love with my Creator as I watched my baby move around.

Every day I am sweetly reminded of how powerful and wonderful our God is. Babies are these miracles that remind us how incredible His creation is. I am very anxiously anticipating the birth of our next son. I cannot wait to hold, kiss, and take care of this bundle of joy.

Tomorrow is a big day for the Tennants! We are officially closing on our very first home together. We are so excited to settle into a new house. My nesting bug is in full force and I am so thankful I have a place to nest in and work on for the next few months.

It's a great season for us and we are so thankful for everything that's happening. We'll keep you updated as things move along!

Monday, October 17

The Father's love

Wow! The would be the word to describe the past week. Wow...

We've had some major milestones in the last week. We celebrated Aiden's 1st birthday, we remembered the last year without Aiden, and we rejoiced with dear friends and family with music to raise money for Banebow.

Aiden's Audience (our benefit concert) was beyond amazing. I looked around the room last night and just couldn't wrap my mind around the Father's love for us. The sermon at church earlier that morning was on the Father's love and I took some notes for my sister who couldn't be there and I didn't really think about what Jim was saying but wrote down some things to pass on.

I wasn't realizing that God was taking that morning to speak love over me.

I know so often I write in my blog about not noticing God right away or having to learn some lessons the hard way.

Truth be told, I am quite hard headed. God has brought me through a lot in the last year and you'd think I'd be more open and seeking after the Spirit but I'm still this little child that pushes away from Dad all too often.

I desire so badly to experience intimacy with Jesus and to drive whole-heartedly into His presence but I let myself get in the way and I don't communicate.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable of the prodigal son. The younger son demands his inheritance early, so the father splits it between the oldest and younger sons. The younger son goes and spends everything he has received and squanders this gift that his dad had given him even though he didn't deserve it. He then returns to his dad and says he'll work as a servant because he had nothing left.

Not only does his father bring him back into his household, but he throws a celebration of his return! He throws a huge party and celebrates his son.

Oh how I desire to return to my Father & be welcomed home. I know that I haven't abandoned God or left completely, but my attention has been about a million other places rather than on the one person who really matters.

Our Father is patient.
{The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9}

Our Father lavishes forgiveness.
{In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. -Ephesians 1:7-8}

Our Father is intimate.
{Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. -Isaiah 65:24}

Our Father shows unconditional love.
{The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. -1 Timothy 1:15-17}

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
                                           -Isaiah 64:8

Do you know who your Father is? I'm seeking Him out and desiring to know my Father more deeply than ever.

Thursday, October 13

Grief of a different kind

Grief is a journey. Today marks a big milestone in our path -- One year since we had to say goodbye. So grateful for our mighty God, but still stricken with pain. Today we grieve.

Wednesday, October 12

A glimpse of the future...

Yesterday little baby #2 made its debut and it couldn't have come at a better time.

It's the little things in life that give us hope, joy, and peace. God awakens us the most amazingly small things.

While drinking coffee (which probably helped!) yesterday I felt my sweet baby's first kicks :) I'm so thankful that God gave me such a gift during the week I probably needed it most.

On a completely random side note, my nesting niche is in full force. Two weeks until we close on our house and I am dying to start painting and redecorating! If you find any cool ideas, please send them my way!

Tuesday, October 11

Happy Birthday, Aiden.

Yesterday marked one year since I welcomed my sweet baby boy into this world.

After 40 very long hours of labor and an intensive c-section, I finally got to hold my baby and meet him for the first time. I will never forget when I heard him cry and Ben and I teared up and I got to see his screaming, new face.

The first moments I had with Aiden are unforgettable. After months and being 11 days overdue, I was more than ready to meet him. It's amazing how different babies are when they are born late because he was so alert and just waiting to listen and soak in the tones of our voices and to spend hours staring at us.

It was such an long awaited introduction.

Yesterday was a bittersweet day filled with many tears and few smiles but we are finding ways to remember and celebrate our son. We never thought that we wouldn't be able to give Aiden his first birthday party. And never did we dream that we wouldn't be singing to him.

Last night we baked Aiden's birthday cake and took time to remember him. I think it may be our tradition :)

But we got to celebrate that Aiden has been singing to Jesus for a whole year. We are so envious of him because he has the perfect party. He has a party that never, ever ends. And never has tears. And doesn't have pain.

I don't have a whole lot to say because we are still grieving and grief can leave you breathless.

We are continuing to take time to remember Aiden and to spend time together. This life is so short and I am not going to waste it without my husband by my side.

So until next year... Keep singing, Aiden. We love you SO much.

Tuesday, October 4

How to raise a baby

Over the past 2 weeks I have been reading nonstop about pregnancy and babies and breastfeeding and raising toddlers. I read a lot when I was pregnant with Aiden but I would just skim books and not really read them because I felt so prepared and that I was going to be this perfect mother.

This time around I am realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect mother and that you can never be prepared enough for the day your little one arrives. Even if you have read it feels like the day it actually comes you have totally forgotten everything you learned because you feel so overwhelmed and tired. It's hard to remember the facts in the heat of the moment.

At our next appointment we are going to find out if it's a boy or a girl. And I'll just say it... I'm kind of a scared of either! We don't have a preference and of course we are going to be thrilled with either! It's so hard to day dream and think about what this baby will look like or act like.

I feel so big already! Even though the scale doesn't reflect the way I look (not a single pound gained yet!) I still feel so unhealthy.

I know I need to be exercising more and eating healthier meals, but I'm still in survival mode! If you had advice for a healthy pregnancy, please pass them my way! I'm not ready to become a vegan or join a gym or cut out processed foods because let's just face it... they taste good! And when your sweet baby is making you the pickiest eater, I will take anything that makes me feel full and satisfied.

I'm looking forward to our move so I can go back through all our baby stuff to figure out what we need and remind myself of what we have. A lot of people have asked me if we are going to reuse Aiden's things and we definitely are! We picked out those things with love and affection and wouldn't give them up :)

Speaking of Aiden... next week is his first birthday and our first anniversary of his passing. I do not look forward to next week because I know it's just going to be hard. We really aren't even sure how to celebrate/remember on those days or how to handle it. We obviously haven't done this before. I know that this will probably be the hardest one. So many of my friends and acquaintances were pregnant at the same time last year and it's weird to see 1st birthday party pictures and hear about all the plans when I wish I were planning his first party.

It's going to be an emotional week. Please continue to pray that Ben and I will find a way to handle this and be honest with ourselves to grieve and hurt, but to rejoice in the Lord always.

Thursday, September 29

After the chaos

Well, hello all!

It's been a couple weeks since I've last caught up here and I can already tell you that this is going to be long one! Stick with me, friends :)

In my last post, I got to tell you about a dear friend of mine that saw Jesus for the first time. I am STILL in awe of this and I still get chills just thinking about the work that the Lord is doing!

My first big announcement is that after 5 years of work with Rising Above Ministries, I am resigning from my position. After months and months of prayer God finally gave me and Ben the confirmation we needed to resign. I adore this ministry and have loved every minute I get to spend with the leaders and families that have children with special needs. It has been a long road that has blessed me so much, but it is time for Ben and I to live our story. (As sweet Becky, one of the directors, said to me)

I will now be spending more time volunteering with Banebow. I am so thrilled to be able to give time to a ministry that changed our lives. I don't mean altered or influenced... I mean changed. When the hard days happen, they understand like no one else can. I am so thankful for the friendship we have been blessed with through Banebow and we are excited to serve alongside them. It's time for us to live our story of infant loss with other families who are going through this.

And let me put a disclaimer out there... This will not be easy. But the work of the Lord is rarely easy. The key factor is that Jesus was not a victim, He was a volunteer.

Two weeks ago I got to go and speak for a women's conference. It was my first time speaking without Ben and I was terrified. But of course, God totally followed through and gave me words to say. I was so blessed by these amazing women. Plus, we got to go to the lake!! The conference was held in a building right on the lake with a beautiful view and a pool! Not a hard day at all :)

Last week Ben and I went on our honeymoon/babymoon to Charleston, SC. It was our very first trip alone together! We never went on a honeymoon so we finally got some money together to get out of town for a few days. We had the best time getting to know Charleston. We slept a ton, ate wonderful food, walked miles upon miles, got massages, and simply did nothing. It was bliss :)

I'm so grateful that we got to get away and spend some much needed R&R time with each other!

Have I mentioned that baby #2 has finally made its debut? Our life has been so crazy lately that sometimes I forget I'm pregnant. I'm trying to dedicate more time to reading and preparing for this baby. I feel like it's speeding by and super slow all at the same time. I think I would answer differently depending on the day.

With Aiden's one year birthday & death day approaching, we are trying to figure out how to spend those days. It's so hard because it's not like we've had to do this before and we really don't know what we want or need.

One thing we are doing is throwing a benefit concert in celebration of Aiden's life and all the proceeds are being donated to Banebow! We have some amazing musicians that are donating their time and talent to this event and we are so excited to celebrate! So spread the word that this concert will not only be awesome but it's for a great cause!

Thursday, September 8

It's here!


This is my favorite time of the year. Coffee, hot cider, homemade chicken noodle soup, candles, leaves, festivals, cool weather, disc golf, apple pie, and lots of other yummy food...

And today is one of those really really good days. The kind of day that makes me want to jump up and down and tell everyone in my life how much I love them. The kind of day that I am so thankful for my family and for my husband and for this baby and for our time with Aiden and for such great friends that provide such an amazing support system.

It's the kind of day that reminds me of how good God is that I just want to cry. I want to cry in pain, in joy, in love, in kindness, and in complete awe of my God!

I met a woman who also lost a child about a month ago. When I met her, God wasn't the first thing on her radar. She was so hurt and in pain and lost. (I was feeling the same way when I lost Aiden) But even through the hardship, I knew God was faithful. I knew He was looking out for me. I knew He loved me and cared for me and wanted to heal me.

My dear friend did not know these things.

We had such wonderful conversations where we could cry together, talk things out, and just spill everything on our minds.

Today I met her for breakfast and she is different. She's reading the Bible. She is talking about God. She knows that He loves her. She knows that God is drawing her.

Today she recognized God in her life for the first time!!!!

So many tears of joy streamed down my face as I left the restaurant just soaking up God's GREAT goodness! The miracle that God draws us and that we don't have a choice in it. All we have to do is respond to His calling.

Today my friend said she wants to respond. She wants to seek out God and His mystery. Oh what amazing love washed over me as I heard these sweet words from her today.

Today is a great, great day. It is the day that the Lord has made. And man is it good! :)

Tuesday, August 23

Oh, brothers let's go down...

‎"Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to Him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence."

Oh, brothers let's go down, let's go down... come on down. Oh, brothers let's go down... down to the river to pray.

The past few weeks God has really opened my eyes. Our GOD is incredibly involved. He sees every detail of every single fragment of humanity.

After sitting through Kelly Minter's taping of her teaching series for her new study on Nehemiah, I have seen God begin to break my heart.

Nehemiah had a heart that could break. Do I have a heart that can truly be broken for anyone but myself? I don't think I do yet.

I'm not a stone-cold person, but by no means do I care enough. Do I love enough. Do I pray enough. Do I reach out enough. Do I mean enough.

I'm also reminded of Jesus' sweet nature when He weeps over his friends' hurt. Lazarus dies and Mary and Martha are torn in pieces. Jesus doesn't weep because Lazarus died, he wept because his friends were hurting and grieving and it grieved Him also.

Oh how badly I desire for Jesus to break my heart! His passion is not to sit in a holy huddle and sing songs. His desire is to see our faith lived out! To see lives changed from dead to being alive! Am I really about that? Do I live my life with the gospel on my lips?

I'm praying that God would truly break my heart and help me to see those that are without Him, those that are hurting, those who need help.

I don't want to continue to live for myself and keep Jesus under my own nose. Because it is NOT about me. It's about Him.

Oh, Father teach me to see with Your eyes and feel with Your heart, instead of my own.

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:18-19

Wednesday, August 17

All the Baby Blues

Most women get a case of postpartum depression after their sweet bundle of joy arrives. Stress, sleep deprivation, an extended stay at home, and a crying infant can surely induce some depression. 

I was given the book "Empty Cradles, Broken Heart". In the book there are some chapters discussing subsequent pregnancy and children. This topic has been so heavy on my heart lately. It has really hit me with the heaviness of this pregnancy. Not to mention our "year" mark is coming up for Aiden's birth and death. It's so hard because I don't ever want it to come. I don't want to think about the fact that it's been a whole year without Aiden and that I still feel like it happened four hours ago.

My heart still hurts.

Being pregnant this time around has put me in a very vulnerable state. I have learned that ignorance is bliss. Experiencing all the "firsts" of pregnancy are so fun! Such joyful memories and special times with your baby and your family. But not many pregnant women have to deal with pain of loss.

I feel like a ticking time bomb walking around. I know people have a million questions they want to ask and have certain assumptions about the way I must feel. It's so hard to not assume people are being judgmental. I feel like I'm under a microscope.

I know that keeping myself relaxed and calm during this pregnancy is so important. Staying healthy is my main goal. But it's so difficult to try to relax and enjoy this when I'm fighting so many fears and doubt and pessimism. This baby deserves all my dreams and love and attention. This baby needs our excitement and anticipation. But I find myself holding back all of that. And I don't want to do that to this baby.

I haven't thought so far as to how to deal with the birth or having the baby at home or anything. All I can do is take it one step at a time. One hour at a time. I can't let myself obsess about the care of this next baby or the nursery or how to raise this child. All I can do is take every morning to put all of my fears, anxieties, doubts, and dreams in the hands of Jesus and pray that He gives me the strength and courage to live this one day the way He wants me to.

I know that losing Aiden is the hardest thing I will ever have to go through, but this pregnancy is probably a close second.

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

Monday, August 8

The Must-Haves for the 1st Trimester

This second time around in pregnancy has already taught me a lot. In my first pregnancy, I would just sit in agony whenever I felt sick or tired. I never really knew what would help me.

This time I've been doing more research and trying to stay on top of that not-so-good feeling that this tiny baby gives me.

Here are some my tips:

1. Get enough sleep! There is nothing worse than a grumpy mama-to-be. Plus, if you get enough sleep you'll be one step ahead of the natural fatigue that will set in mid afternoon.

2. Munch all day long. Eat things that are actually good for you! Fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, popcorn... anything that is light on the stomach but still has nutritional value. One of my favorite snacks is a Luna bar! They are specifically designed for women and has a lot of vitamins that give you energy.

3. Seek out extra time with God. One of the most daunting things in pregnancy is confusion. God is NOT a god of confusion, which is why it is so important to carve out time to seek truth from the one person that can cut through it all and get straight to the heart.

4. Spend as much time as you can with your husband. Believe it or not, he wants to be a part of the pregnancy too! The closeness you experience with your spouse is one you cannot duplicate.

5. Keep going! It's good to take a rest from time to time during the day, but just sitting around will only cause you to think about your tiredness and nausea more. Having a good and balanced schedule can keep you on track :)

6. Finding time to relax. Take a bath, light candles, put on your favorite music, take a drive, cook your favorite meal. Do whatever it takes to de-stress and allow yourself to truly relax and be calm. Peace can cure your soul.

7. Keep snacks in your purse! I have taken advantage of this tip and it has really turned my days around. When I'm waiting on a table at a restaurant when I feel like I am dying of hunger, that little snack has gotten me through!

8. Take the time to read pregnancy books and dream about your baby. This is a particularly hard area for me in this pregnancy, but it is so important. It's hard for me to dream and desire this child, not knowing if I will lose another. It brings back memories and pain, but ultimately, I get to dream about this new baby. And this child deserves my dreams and wishes and aspirations. Dreaming leads to believing.

It's been a really good week. Ben has been working nonstop and will continue this through the next week, but the time we do have together we have been very intentional.

We had so much fun telling our families about the baby in special ways that surprised them! We even got some of them on videotape :) These are the kind of moments I will remember forever!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, August 4

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow...

Well our news is out! We are pregnant with baby #2!!!!!! We can't wait to welcome this child in March :) It's been a very emotional couple months but every day we're getting more adjusted to this amazing little baby growing inside me.

Over 4th of July I checked my calendar to see that I was definitely late. So a few days later, I took "the test" (the fun thing that no one likes to talk about...) and it was negative. I brushed it off and said, "Well, maybe next month!" I wasn't upset or sad, just relieved to have an answer. I figured if I was truly late than the test is 99% effective.

Two weeks go by and I start getting pretty sick. I mean... stomach flu sick. Feverish, stomach turning, feeling worn out. So of course I tell Ben that I need to go to a walk-in clinic because I'm pretty sure I have the bug going around.

Ben says, "Why don't you take one more pregnancy test just to make sure?" So I lightly get a test and take it. After a few minutes I picked up the test without even looking at it and yell, "Ben, I'm not pregnant!!" Only to look down and see a second line! And I say, "Oh my gosh..." Ben comes running in and says, "You're pregnant, aren't you?!" And I hesitantly say, "Apparently so!"

We cried, hugged, and sat in total shock!!! It was not even on my radar that I could be pregnant. God totally surpassed all our expectations and decided to blow us away with this baby!!

{Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.

Needless to say that things in the Tennant household are going to be changing over the next few months. And also, that means a bit of change for my blog as well!

I want to continue writing through this journey of grief, because I know it is only going to intensify through this next pregnancy as it already has. But I'd like to also write about some of my philosophies about pregnancy and birth. I'm not sure how it's all going to come together yet, but I'm excited to see what God gives me to write about.

Please continue to pray for Ben and I through this process. We have a long road ahead, but a blessed road it is!

Tuesday, July 12


For the past few days I haven't been able to marriage out of my head.

I am so deeply in love with my husband and I will always remember our wedding day. But marriage isn't just public on the wedding day... It is always on display.

When you get married there are certain mile-markers that are somewhat expected of you. You get married, go on a honeymoon, buy a house, get good jobs, have babies, raise them, have anniversaries, send your kids to college, start a new life with as "empty nesters", retire, travel, have grandkids, and grow old...

I feel like once you get married there's a sense of anticipation always lurking for the "next big step".

I am guilty of this.

I do feel the pressure of hitting certain mile-markers. Not because of a person, but because of myself. So to calm down all the anxiousness, I decided it would be most important to not focus on the next big step, but rather the very first step.

Our vows.

To focus on the things we promised to each other on a very, very cold December 12, 2009.

I, Amy, take you Ben, to be my husband, my partner in life and my one true love. 

I will cherish our friendship and love you today, tomorrow, and forever I will trust you and honor you I will laugh with you and cry with you. 

I will love you faithfully through the best and the worst, through the difficult and the easy. 

What may come I will always be there. 

 God has prepared me for you and so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you.

Therefore, throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life.

Ben and I didn't know what our vows really meant on December 12, but every day we are learning what they mean and how to uphold them.

We surely did not know how difficult our first year would be, but God did. God stood with us on our wedding day and witnessed and praised as we dedicated our lives to each other and to Him.

We have definitely shared thousands of tears with one another and we have laughed until we hurt. We have seen darkness and we have seen light.

We have seen God provide for us when we didn't deserve it. When we didn't earn it. And I've seen God transform our marriage.

Are we where we thought we would be? Absolutely not.

And I am so grateful.

So my prayer this week is that God would continue to erase "mile-markers" and mold my mind around His plan and purpose. His mercies and His wisdom. His grace and His love.

Monday, July 11

Daddy Diaries: Running Behind

I don't know what's happened to me over the past few years, but I've become that notoriously late person. That's not always how it's been, though. I was a band kid. I had the philosophy of "If you're not early, you're late." I don't know what has happened. Although I haven't technically been late to work, I haven't been able to consistently get in before 8:10 in like 2 months. It's not that I've just got too much to do, but it's just hard to get out of the house.

When I think about why I'm late, it's really a mixture of things. I mean, it's partly the fact that I hate leaving Amy at home and that I don't wake up quite as early as I would like. However, the biggest thing is that I've been feeling so tired lately. I just don't feel like waking up sometimes. I never feel like I've gotten enough sleep, even though I get between 7 and 8 hours a night. I think it's just the aftermath of a few weeks without a break. Amy and I have had a lot going on in the past several weeks. Not that it was bad stuff by any means, but we just haven't had a lot of down time. However, I don't think that's the main reason.

I believe it's been more of the fact that during this time of extra stress, instead of spending extra time in peaceful meditation and prayer, I've been seeking stress relief through online games, movies, and pretty much anything that distracts me. I've just been so plugged in to the world lately and I haven't taken time to unwind and seek out God. I don't say that as if I gain righteousness from spending time in prayer, but I do believe that the word of God is bread for our souls. I believe that without spending time praying and meditating on the truths of God, we can't live a full and healthy lives.

It's not only our bread, but it's our armor, too (Ephesians 6:13-18). When we're not taking time to sit in God's presence, we're leaving ourselves both weak and vulnerable, open to any attack. For me, during these stressful times, Satan really drives the dagger into my side when it comes to self-pity. When I'm feeling tired and stressed, it's so easy to go there. What's worse, the self pity is like a bleeding wound. The longer I hold onto it, the more tired and stressed I become. This opens me up to worry and various other non-fruitful tendencies.

So, what do I do to combat it? Relax. I take some time to be quiet and remember my freedom in Christ. I take time to bask in his truth. For instance, one night last week, I was having a pretty rough night until I simply brewed a cup of tea and spent the better part of the evening sitting on the front porch without music, tv, games, or internet. I listened to the sound of the birds. I soaked in the praises that creation was lifting up to God around me. I joined in in my heart. It was glorious.

I think this is the hardest part when we fall into these times of attack. We find ourselves trying to grow close to God by doing things. Though disciplines are a good way to maintain a healthy life, we have to remember that we're on the vine system. He is the vine and we are the branches. We produce fruit by being attached to Him. It doesn't work in reverse. We don't get attached to him by producing fruit. So, all we have to "do," is just take a step back, and enjoy Him and all that He has done for us. When we start to really remember that we are his children and find our identity in him, then the Spirit will start to move and stir within us and produce the works. That is when we will start to desire to seek out His words and will in our life.

Anyways, that's enough random rambling for tonight. Hope you all have a wonderful week and I will see you next month!

Friday, June 10

Daddy Diaries: Lifetime of Luster

I know it's cliche, but ever since my son passed away, I've found myself extremely sensitive to how fickle human beings are. Things are going "out of style" all of the time. Our culture is obsessed with always having the newest, nicest thing. Yes, there are classics, but how often do we find ourselves judging a business, or a person by their outdated look?

I had always heard this and I always assumed it was true. However, it never really rang home to me until I started trying to keep up with things. I started buying plaid and flannel shirts, v-neck tees, cardigans, and even bought a new MacBook Pro. These things are great and nice and I genuinely enjoy having them. However, I started thinking, "How long is it going to be before these things are out of style?" I mean, my brand-new MacBook will be a whole operating system behind by fall. I don't even have a Thunderbolt connection. I love my wintertime lumberjack look, but when is that going to be old hat? I even found myself walking into a brand new building at one of our clients at work and wondering what the lifespan of its luster would be. The floor was a gorgeous dark mahogany stained concrete. Nice, shiny wood tones. All of the furniture was rich, wood-grained material with clean lines. The walls were bathed in beautiful earth tones. Then, I thought "I wonder if this was how people used to feel about wood paneled walls in houses?" At one point, the things we consider tacky and overdone were great, cutting edge designs. It's exhausting.

No wonder so many people in our culture feel burned out and stressed. Our lives are a whirlwind of change and innovation. There is constantly something new, something irresistible. Our "things" have a lifespan of about 30 seconds. Then, something better comes out and we're just not happy until we get it. When will all of this end? It's no wonder that pollution is such a problem.

Think about how many clothes you have in your closet, or how many clothes have moved their way through your closet. I think back to when I was living in Peru. I brought one duffel bag of clothes with me for three months. I was pretty proud of myself for being humble (irony) and conservative. However, there were people in Cora Cora who were amazed at how many clothes I had. Why do we need so much? I mean really. I'm exhausted of trying to stay trendy and trying to always have nice things. Yes, nice things are nice, but I want nice things that last. I'm tired of these temporary and fading things that are so amazing today and by tomorrow are on their way to the dump. When will society realize value again?

I know I sound like an eighty year old man, but there's something about being faced with the shortness of life that makes you realize how fast everything moves. Also, when you start hoping in an everlasting life, it speeds up all the more. When you're living with eternity on your mind, life goes by fast. So, I would like to take this time to implore you all to start seeking after things of real value. Seek things that don't fade as this life fades. Seek time with God. Seek time with family and cherish time with friends. I don't mean this in a depressing way. I just want us to all pull our heads out of our ascots and get back to reality. A genuine person is more interesting than a trendy person, anyways. I would even venture to bet that most trends were started involuntarily by genuine people who weren't seeking to be trendy.

Sunday, May 29

Why I hate Sundays

Before you start reading, I need to put a disclaimer out there.

*There are all of my feelings and thoughts and do not reflect my church, my friends, or my family. No one "made me feel this way", I just simply do. No one made me mad or did anything wrong, this is just how I feel.

For the past couple months, I have begun to really hate Sundays. Sundays put me on an emotional and spiritual roller coaster that comes crashing to a big, nasty halt. The kind that makes your back and neck feel weird and sore. The kind that takes your breath away and you end up sitting on a bench drinking a slurpee to regain composure before you decide to attempt the next one.

Satan doesn't like Sundays either. It's his favorite day to drive right over me.

Sundays involve going to church. At church I see all the people that supported and cheered me on during my pregnancy. The people that screamed and shrieked in excitement that Aiden was coming. The place that threw me a wonderful baby shower. The place I sang sweet songs to my baby in my belly as I swayed to the music. The place I felt God's presence in the context of community.

Now I go to church feeling like all eyes are on me. Feeling like everyone either feels sorry for me, confused for me, or just plain doesn't know how to think or feel. I either get ignored or get the polite "how are you" but you can tell in their eyes that they are scared to hear the answer. NOT THAT I BLAME THEM! I wouldn't know what to say either!

Because of the fact of the matter is... There are no right words.

I have cried every Sunday at church since Aiden passed away. The Lord overwhelms me with His grace, His strength, His conviction, and His truth.

On Sundays my mind slows down long enough to realize how incredibly crushed I am. So of course... I have a breakdown every time the music starts or I hear our pastor speak scripture over us.

And every Sunday I spill my heart out to God confessing all of my hopes, fears, concerns, doubts, and desires.

On Sundays I tend to get angry. I get angry at God for taking my son. I get angry at God for not blessing us with another child. I get angry at God that I'm not pregnant. I get angry at God when I think of all of the pain parents who lose their child go through. I get mad at God when I think about the fact that I'll never get to see Aiden play t-ball.

I get angry at God because I think we'll never have another child.

And then I put on some Biblical perspective and hear God speaking to me and pouring out His love and hope over me. So I surrender. I lay down my anger into His throne room and get lost knowing He is good and faithful and true.

I leave church encouraged, light-hearted, hopeful, and happy.

Then... I go out to eat and all I see are babies, babies everywhere.

Everywhere I turn is a family... a newborn... and I overhear conversation after conversation littered with baby talk and all I want to do is wear a sign that says, "I just lost my baby" so maybe they'll lighten up on the conversations that crush me.

Then I go home and I cry. I cry for the second time in one day and I ended up utterly exhausted. I cry because as soon as I put my heart out there for God to take, He makes me face all the things that hurt me the most. He guts the knife harder into my heart. And I want to crawl back into bed and wish I never had to see another Sunday again.

This may seem dramatic, but I can assure you... it is.

It is a drama-filled, satan-induced coma of heartache that I am SO over.

I don't want to hate Sundays anymore.

I don't want to hate going to church or out to eat or to the grocery store.

I don't want to try to protect myself from God when really He is the ONLY one that can protect me.

I want to be able to trust God.

I want to stop spending my Sundays crying when I should be resting in Him.

I want to see God change me and mold my spirit to lean toward Him.

Monday, May 16


It's Monday morning and I am currently snuggled up in a blanket on our bed.

This morning I'm feeling so scattered. I can't remember priorities or beliefs or my foundation. Everything is shaken up. I heard about a family who lost their child this past week. My heart aches for them. I don't even know them, but I am suddenly thrown because I know their grief. I know their pain. I know what their life looks like right now and I cannot help but fall on my knees before the Father, interceding for them... praying for everything that they're going through right now.

This is not an "Oh, I stubbed my toe" kind of moment.

This is life when hurt isn't even the right word.

When the bottom falls out after you lose your baby, you cannot even see that up is even an option.

Something that I have learned is that the Lord is gentle. He lovingly and sweetly combs His fingers through my hair when I cannot even catch my breath. Jesus sings love, joy, and comfort over my sleeping and my waking. He stands in the gap where we have fallen.

Let the Lord speak this psalm over your heart today.

{For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him; 
 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
  As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust. 
 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field; 
 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more. 
 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children— 
 with those who keep his covenant
   and remember to obey his precepts.
  The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
   and his kingdom rules over all.
  Praise the LORD, you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word. 
 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
   you his servants who do his will. 
 Praise the LORD, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.
   Praise the LORD, my soul.}
-Psalm 103: 11-22

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Tuesday, May 10

Daddy Diaries: Kicking the Habit

Happy Tuesday, bloggers! I am so excited to finally unveil the very first daddy diary post by my amazing and talented husband, Ben Tennant. He is not only the most attractive man I have ever seen, but he is also the most caring, genuine, strong, manly, and godly man. I hope this post opens your eyes to a perspective that isn't often noted, but fundamentally important. Take it away, babe!

Hello all. I’m glad to be here at Joy Unbundled for my first daddy diary. Appropriately, I’m starting off with a post about remembering who I am.  Hopefully, it will help you guys start to get a feel for who I am.
I guess I will start this story out on Friday. I had had a pretty rough day at work. It wasn’t the kind of rough day where you’re just swamped with a ton of work, but one of those days where it feels like you are the one black sheep in the middle of a flock of white ducks. (Yes, the change of species was on purpose.) Basically, what happened was this: My boss told me that I wasn’t dressing professionally enough for my job. I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But, I went through this about 6 months ago and I bought a brand new wardrobe. However, this new wardrobe apparently still wasn’t enough. However, the point is, I sat on that all day long. Then, when I came home, I was finally ready to just relax and love on my wife. However, that’s not the way it was when I got home. 

Amy had finally had too many days of me coming home tired and grumpy from work. So, we had a big, long, and painful conversation where we discussed some of the things we felt like we were lacking. Through the midst of this conversation, I started realizing that the reason I was coming home from work all grumpy and burnt out wasn’t because I had been working eighty hours or working on creating the next hadron collider. However, it was because I was trying to live up to other people’s expectations of me. I wasn’t trying to do the best job I could, I was trying to show my boss and my coworkers that I was doing a good job. I wanted to please them. I started really pondering on this and I realized that it went much deeper than that, though. I wasn’t just doing this at work. I was doing this everywhere in my life, especially with Amy and with church. 

With Amy, I would constantly seek to do things that would make her happy. I didn’t pay attention to how I was feeling. I didn’t take time to tell her that I was upset, or that something was bothering me. I just did what I could to make sure that she was okay. I didn’t trust her to be able to deal with reality. I just glossed over things, suppressed things, and ignored things. This is not something that had been happening for a day or two, or a week. This is something that I have done since we got married. I even went so far as to turn arguments around so that they could be my fault. I believed that if I could take the blame for something, then I was in control. I could fix it at that point. However, I was cheating my wife. Amy couldn’t work on things. The same problems kept happening over and over again because I wasn’t letting her learn from her mistakes. She had no clue they were her mistakes. Plus, the longer it went on, the more the pressure started to mount on me to fix “problems” with me that just didn’t exist. I was doing everything as if she did not have the ability to handle all of this. 

At church, I would serve and strive to make delicious coffee for the people coming through the doors. I would try and make sure that everyone who was helping to set up was happy and in a good mood. I would even occasionally sweep and mop so that the floors looked good. Now, on their own, none of these things are bad, in fact, they’re great. However, I was doing all of them because I knew they should be done. I did them out of arrogance and out of pride that I didn’t think anyone else could do them. I got burnt out. I dreaded going to church. I dreaded having to wake up and go to work again on Sunday morning. Instead of being excited about going to worship my creator, I was worried about whether or not I was going to be able to keep the coffee pots full enough so that everyone who wanted coffee, got coffee. 

Through all three of these scenarios, church, home, and work, I was seeking to please people. The biggest problem with this is that humans are broken beings that understand things are broken. Therefore, they are immensely unsatisfied. Trying to live up to these standards are addictive, destructive, and consuming. I realized that through all of these things, I had forgotten who I was. I had forgotten those things that I used to strive for. I no longer made decisions on me or what I thought was best. I made decisions based on what I thought others thought was best. This made me deaf to God. I was out of touch with my heart and my spirit. My mind had taken the lead. I was confused, apathetic, and distant. I let myself get distracted and busy and neglected taking time to just be me. So, that’s where I’m at now. I’m trying to remember how to be me. I’m trying to start living more and worrying less about how I’m doing every little thing. 

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Wednesday, April 13


Six months ago my sweet Aiden was taken into Heaven. It was the most horrible day of my entire life.

What does that look like?

Well... yesterday I stayed in my PJs, didn't shower, cried a lot, didn't do anything and I laid in bed most of the day until Ben got home. Today, I woke up with Ben and am in a great mood... ready to take on the day and excited about what God is doing!

So the answer the question, what does it look like?

Every moment is different.

I honestly don't know what it looks like.

I'm probably just as confused as you are, if not more.

It's been a long couple weeks, which is why I have been absent from the blogging world. We've been in a tough spot. We've had a lot of friends and family have some really hard things going on and we ourselves have been struggling.

We're overwhelmed with finances, emotions, arguments, and chaos. We still don't know how to live and how to operate on a day to day basis. 

The days have become longer and things seem to be dragging along and I'm just here for the ride.

Here I am six months after my son dies and I can honestly say I still don't have anyone I can call and really tell them how I'm doing. It's been tough on me, it's been tough on our marriage, it's just been tough.

Yesterday Ben got home and found that I hadn't done anything and that I'd been upset all day. He had been that way a few days before and yesterday the LORD gave him some powerful words that switched my attitude pretty quickly.

When Ben and I got married, I was working two part time jobs and didn't even make enough money to pay rent. Ben was finishing his degree and was driving to and from Cookeville everyday. We were the definition of broke. We never paid a bill late.

Then in May I quit my jobs and Ben was still looking. We went 8 weeks without a paycheck and still, the LORD provided. After 8 long weeks, Ben was offered a job. Wow! We were thrilled.

If God was faithful to bring us through the desert of no finances and continue to provide for us, did we really think He was going to just stop?

Maybe it's time that I stop trying to get better, and I start leaning into God with everything (no matter how small it may seem) I have. It's been a long, long six months. The pain is still very real. I still miss my son each moment I breathe.

[Come, all you who are thirsty, 
   come to the waters; 
and you who have no money, 
   come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
   without money and without cost. 
 Why spend money on what is not bread, 
   and your labor on what does not satisfy? 
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, 
   and you will delight in the richest of fare. 
 Give ear and come to me; 
   listen, that you may live.]

-Isaiah 55:1-3

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