Monday, September 3, 2012

Best Day of Our Lives

I want to catch up on the blog, because I don't want to forget any of the past month.

Our sweet little boy was born on August 2 and 9:32 a.m. and he is such a doll.
Seriously, could he be any sweeter?

We checked into the hospital the afternoon of August 1 to start a scheduled induction. The medication helped my contractions to begin sometime in the middle of the night. Around 5 a.m., I had an epidural. The epidural was a blessing, but there is about 6 hours of my life that happened in my mind in about 20 minutes. I remember some flashes, but everything about the delivery is a little blurry. Around 6 a.m. they started the pitocin and Jack did not tolerate it well at all. That, coupled with the fact that I really had made absolutely no progress, meant an early morning C-section. We really had prepared ourselves for a long, arduous day of labor, so it was a bit of a shock to know that he was coming so quickly. None of our family was even there yet. I started feeling very woozy, nauseous, and I'm pretty sure I got a little gripey. Rush said I looked at him at one point and said, "I want my mom. Now!" What can I say, there is something comforting about having your mom with you when you're not feeling well.

This labor thing isn't so bad...

... nevermind. I take it back.

 They took me back to the OR and then Rush joined once he got his scrubs on. And shortly after, I heard that sweet, sweet cry. It felt like forever went by until they brought him around to me. And then there he was, perfect and precious. As soon as I spoke to him, he calmed down quite a bit. All of that talking to him in-utero actually made a difference.

Rush and I are so smitten with our little boy. 
You learn so much more about loving someone selflessly when you become a parent. 
We're both thankful for the lesson.

Jack wore the same outfit home from the hospital that his daddy wore. 
He didn't even seem to mind that the sleeves were a bit too long.

The hospital stay was wonderful and we had such incredible staff taking care for us. We would have been pretty content staying for a little while longer if they would have let us. 

We're still bouncing back and forth between Montgomery and Atlanta, soaking up time with family friends before we head to East Asia very soon.  

We've had so many visitors and we are so thankful for everyone that has loved us so well during this special time. We feel so blessed. We give all the praise and glory to the Lord for giving us the incredible gift of being parents to such a perfect baby boy.  
We love you Jack!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Wonderfully Full Summer

One day this blogging venture will get easier I’m sure. Until then, I suppose I will remain a little more sporadic than I would like.

The past few months have been an adventure and I don’t really have any pictures to shed light on our chaotic wanderings or to break up the whirlwind of words in describing where we have been and where we are going.

The week before Memorial day, I drove down to New Orleans and completed my last required on-campus seminary class, “Strategic Church Development through Sunday School”. I’m still trying to figure out how to contextualize that one for a life of ministry in East Asia… Oh, church methods, you are just a means, you are not the end, so I will not fret over you. I will just continue loving people intentionally and reaching them relationally, through Christ. He will make all the difference, regardless of resources available or cultural setting.

Only five more online classes for my Master’s degree. Thankful for my parents’ encouragement towards being a good steward of my mind and the importance of becoming more effective in ministry.

The weekend of Memorial day, Rush and his family drove down and met me in New Orleans for the weekend. It was nice being a tourist there for a change. It was mighty hot though. And at 30 weeks, the only things that looked more pregnant than my belly were my ankles. I looked like I had elephant legs. 

We spent time at the beach with my family which was so wonderful, but also a stark reminder that next year Rush and I would not be on the family beach trip. I’ve been to beautiful places in the world and yet I still have never seen a place that takes my breath away like the Gulf. Being there was good for my heart. It was calming and relaxing (two emotional states that I haven’t seen much of lately).

In June we had a lake weekend with many of our best friends to celebrate our sweet baby Jack. I don’t know what I would do without those friends. We have been richly blessed with men and women who understand what we do and why we are going. They celebrate with us and pray for us. They encourage us and commiserate with us. They provide wise counsel. They are the kind of friends that I can leave for the other side of the world on a one-way ticket and have complete confidence of where I stand in each of their lives. Distance doesn’t break those kind of friendships. It makes them stronger.

On June 13th, we arrived in Fort Collins, CO for our last training state-side. The training focused on long term cross-cultural ministry. It was exactly what Rush and I needed. It is a wonderful thing to feel understood and known, to be in the midst of men and women that don’t think taking your 6-week old baby to East Asia is all that crazy or courageous. To be in community with those who have a shared passion, but also an understanding of the struggles and joys that come with moving your life overseas for something so much bigger than yourself.

I’m so thankful for the time that we had in Colorado, because I needed the space and freedom to grapple with my call. Call is a funny word. Some people don’t like the word because they feel like it’s indefinable and vague. Some people use it to much to justify their own agendas. I had to write an entire essay on the meaning of the word “call” for seminary. I bumbled through about three paragraphs. A little fluff here. A little fluff there. I didn’t come to a great conclusion. But it is the only word to describe this force I feel inside of me. 

East Asia is not necessarily the easy route. Getting there has been one of the most trying seasons of my life. There are some days when I feel like a beggar. There are some days when I feel like a pariah. There are some days when I feel like I’m being selfish. These feelings have been a combination of what people have said to us, what people have said to others about us, and what I have allowed the enemy to put in my head. None of them are true. They are lies. We have been given a unique call and, oh, what an incredible blessing. I have seen what Christ can do in a sinner’s life, because I have seen what He has done in mine. Moving our life to East Asia is worth it because billions of people are living and dying without a Savior. Moving our life to East Asia is worth it because this life is not our own to begin with. 

1 Corinthians 15:19 says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men”. It’s true. If Christianity is a lie then my entire life will be considered a joke. A life in East Asia would be a waste. But without a doubt in my mind, I know that Christ indeed died for my sins and was raised from the dead. Knowing that, how could we do anything else?

That being said, I’m so happy we spent our summer in Colorado. With our sweet baby on the way and some more support to raise, I know that the Lord has brought us this far and he will continue to carry us as a family exactly where we need to be.

We made it back to Montgomery late Saturday night after a 22-hour road trip. I don’t suggest that anyone should go on a 22-hour road trip at 38 weeks pregnant. No joke, in my mind, I had to visualize Mary on a donkey on a cross-country road trip to Bethlehem. I think I started imagining that somewhere in Oklahoma around midnight the first day. The Jeep no longer seemed that bad…

If nothing changes in the next week, I’ll be checking into the hospital on Wednesday night to prepare for a Thursday morning induction. Prayers are greatly appreciated. We can’t wait to meet our sweet little boy. 

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful and full summer like the Stuart family has had!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just Like Daddy

Thanks to my sweet Mommy we were able to have a 4D ultrasound and I am so glad that we did!

Our little guy is just shy of 3 lbs and has been moving a lot!

And in my opinion, he looks just like his Daddy. 
I could not be happier! 

I've even included Rush's baby pictures for comparison.

Baby Jack, Mommy and Daddy love you and can't wait so meet you in a few short months!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Rush!

I love any and every excuse to celebrate this guy.

Rush turned 27 on April 12th
and we had a great time celebrating anothe
r year of his life.

The friends

And the family.
The next night we went to the Brave's home opener
thanks to a gift from Ramsay, Rush's sister.
It officially feels like Spring!

Rush's big birthday present was a Nikon D3100 from his parents, my parents, and me. Hopefully, incredible DSLR quality pictures will be making their appearance on the blog soon. Rush has taken it out and started playing with it, which I think is really one of the only ways to really learn a camera like that. We are both so excited that we will have a great camera to capture our life overseas, and especially, our sweet baby Jack when he arrives.

All in all, we had a great time celebrating!

I am so thankful to have spent another birthday with you. I feel so blessed to be your wife. You make me so proud every single day and I am so glad that you are the leader of our family. You make me a better person, you lift me up, and you always give me a reason to smile. On your birthday, I always tell you that "this year will be the best one yet" and this one is no different. I can't wait to see you as a father. Jack is such a lucky little boy to have you as a daddy. I can't wait to see you back in your element in East Asia. I can't wait to see all that you can accomplish in the next year. You are an incredible man and you deserve to be celebrated!
I love you!


Rush and I spent Easter in Montgomery this year.

Oh the baby bump! At Easter, I was a little over 23 weeks.

You know you're starting to show when your grandfather bursts into spontaneous laughter as you enter a room. He assures me that he wasn't making fun of me, but that he was just genuinely that happy to see me. Sure... Not that I blame him. I am continually becoming more of a sight to see.

I started my Easter Sunday observing the ninth grade girls Sunday School class at First Baptist for a seminary paper. I started going to First Baptist in the ninth grade and still treasure all of the friendships that I made there. I couldn't help but get a little nostalgic. Instead of heading to the worship service afterwards, I spent my time in the nursery with the bed babies. I love working in the nursery with my mom and I especially love the extra practice.

After church, we all went to my Aunt Sylvia's house for good food, fellowship, and the annual egg hunt.

This picture makes me laugh (notice the top right corner)... What Ben lacks in observation skills, he certainly makes up for in cuteness.

Sweet Preston did a great job this year!

Aunt Sylvia and Baby Huxley

I am so thankful for the time that Rush and I have had to spend with our families over the last few months! Holidays were some of my sweetest memories in East Asia, but holidays were definitely the times when I felt furthest from home. All in all, Easter reminds me of my Savior, who stepped into this earthly world because of His love for me. I serve a Savior that understands exactly what it means to be a stranger in this world. A Savior, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. What a sweet, sweet thought to meditate on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Last week, Rush and I got to go for our 20-week appointment.

Halfway there!

The 20-week appointment also meant that we would finally have a real glimpse of our sweet baby and we could finally answer the question: Boy or Girl?

This was Rush’s early morning excited face before we left for the appointment.

And we are thrilled to announce that IT’S A BOY!

And we’re naming him Jack Warren Stuart!

Rush picked out the name and I really like it. I had two qualifications: something short and something masculine. Jack covers those bases quite nicely.

We absolutely loved seeing him on the ultrasound. At that point, I hadn’t even felt him move, so to see our lively and very healthy little guy was quite a relief. The ultrasound tech said that he looked perfect.

He’s a stubborn one, just like his daddy. The ultrasound tech kept trying to get us a really pretty profile picture and Jack wasn’t budging. He was apparently quite comfortable in the position he was in. The tech pushed on my stomach pretty forcefully several times to get him to move and, at one point, baby Jack came up swinging. Maybe he has a future in boxing…

Jack also tried a few times to put his foot in his mouth and, when that wouldn’t work, he just decided that his hand would have to do.

I am so anxious for another 20 weeks to go by so I can meet my sweet little boy!

We had some family over that night to share the big news and there is one little boy that is particularly excited about having a boy baby cousin.