Twins Update!!!

In February, I found out I was pregnant with TWINS.

This came as a huge shock.  I actually thought the ultrasound tech was giving me the “peace” sign rather than telling me there were two babies in there!  Never in a million years did I expect this, want it, or think it could happen.  God obviously had much different plans.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

~Proverbs 19:21, ESV

I thought that surely this meant the Lord would be bringing us back to California where we have our family and biggest support network.  Surely He would not give us twins and expect us to do it across the country from our family!  Surely He would pave a way for us.  Pave a way He did…  Just not where we expected!  We are staying in New Jersey, and actually pretty happy about that.  My how God changes hearts.

Each week my belly grows.  I am now 26 weeks, I have gained 33 pounds (which is already 3 pounds MORE than I gained TOTAL with Maya!) and I look as if I will deliver within the next couple weeks.  Lord willing, I still have at least 10 more weeks!  Yikes!  How much bigger can I possibly get?!

I go to both a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor for all my ultrasounds as well as my regular OB for regular visits.  I am at the doctor all the time, getting blood work done and monitoring of my cervix.  So far, every two weeks I have two appointments.  One with the MFM doc and one at the OB.  If one of those has to change, I am going to the doctor every week.  Sometimes it feels like a lot, but mostly I am just grateful that these babies are being cared for so well even before they enter the world!

So far my pregnancy has been incredibly uneventful which I am very grateful for!  My cervix is closed and at an appropriate length, I have normal blood pressure and blood sugar, no swelling, and am able to walk and do most of my regular activities.  At my last appointment my cervix has shortened more than they’d like (which can be an indicator of pre-term labor), so I have to go back again for monitoring, but everything is still normal so that’s great!

My only complaints are that I feel very heavy and sore at times if I am in the same position too long. I experience sciatica, and if I have just eaten or am reclining my heart rate seems to increase from the pressure on one of my arteries.  I tire easily which is hard for me since I love to be up and doing things all the time.  Other than that, I can’t complain.

The girls are measuring at 1 pound, 14 ounces and 1 pound, 12 ounces!  This is GREAT.  I would love to deliver them at over 5 pounds, so we are doing great in that area.  From what I read, I should be gaining most of my weight by 28 weeks and then tapering off (which is opposite from a singleton pregnancy).  Weight gain in the first 28 weeks promotes healthy weight at birth and reduces chances of being in the NICU, so even though it’s hard to see that weight gain on the scale I know it’s all for these precious girls!

I crave meat, salads and fizzy drinks.  The complete opposite from the first trimester where those things made me sick!  Now I can’t get enough steak and hamburgers, cobb salads, greek salads, etc… I should buy stock in sparkling water because I drink it all. the. time.

I’ve started nesting, getting the girls’ room prepped and looking through all the stuff I have and will need for adding another infant to the nest.  It’s hard to know what to expect!  We have our hospital tour this weekend and I’m looking forward to that.

In other news, we put in an offer on a house, which is a CRAZY story that I’ll have to talk about later.  I’ll just say that out of 5 offers of which two were cash offers at full price (we couldn’t compete with that!)– the sellers chose US.  God’s generosity to us amazes me!  We still have a ways to go (did you know you need an attorney to buy a house in NJ? I didn’t!) but we are moving forward and I know no matter what happens, not for a moment will He leave us!

We have our last trip out to California before the babies arrive at the end of the month.  My sweet sister is throwing me a baby shower and Maya will be taking swim lessons from my old swim coach.  We also will be going to a family reunion which I am soooo excited about!  There is a lot to look forward  to :).

Thanks for going on this journey with me!  I appreciate your prayers for healthy babies!

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Finding New Rhythms

And just like that, we’re staying in New Jersey for a few more years!

I mentioned before how every door back to California seemed to close.  Even those we didn’t open ourselves seemed to shut quietly as we prayed and wondered what God was doing.  The two babies inside me would jab and kick, reminding me that I craved to know where we would bring these girls home to, wanting nothing more than stability for our growing family.  I was confident God would show us, yet so unclear on how…  Or when.

Then the promotion happened.  He started off with “it was a really good day…” and I knew something was up, because my steady husband never describes his day as ‘really good’.  Not only was it a promotion, but to a job with very limited travel.  For this field traveler’s wife pregnant with twins, it was the clarity we’d been so desperately searching for.

Here…  New Jersey…  Our family together every night (other than the occasional overnight here or there)!  Eating dinner together!  Getting into this new rhythm with two little babies on board together.  I cannot tell you the joy and peace that filled my soul.  I have never been so excited to be in New Jersey and to know– to really know that this is where our home is (for now.  There will be many  more moves in our future if David’s career continues as he’d like, but at least for a few years we are settled)!

So we are finding our new rhythms…  We’ll be moving after the babies are born, Maya will be attending preschool, I won’t be working anymore (three kids three and under is a full time job, can I get an amen?!) and our daily routine will be much different with two newborns.  Sometimes it all feels very overwhelming… Yet I know that God has purposed it for our family and because of that I am more than confident He will give us what we need.

It’s amazing how God truly gives you the “peace that passes all understanding”.  A couple weeks after all this, another call from a company in California came through for my  husband.  “Thank you so much, but I’m very happy where I am,” he told them.  And he honestly is, and I truly am, and we will find our new rhythm in New Jersey together. :)

Rachel Signature

What Is It Jesus?

Every night, the same thing.

After stories, we snuggle under the covers and say the same prayer we’ve been saying since she was a baby.

Lately, she’s been asking me what certain things mean in her prayer.  “We pray that you would call her, and nothing would hinder her from coming.”  She interrupts me and asks “what’s call and hinder and coming?  What’s that mean mama?”  She sucks her thumb and looks up at me ready for an explanation.

“Well…”  I begin, trailing off, trying to find the simplest way to explain this to my almost three-year-old.

“Jesus can speak to us, He can call us.  Just like mama tells you things, Jesus can tell you things too,” I say.

“But I don’t hear him.  What’s he saying?” She asks, so matter of factly.

“I don’t hear Him with my ears either, ” I tell her honestly.  “But He speaks to our hearts.  He calls our hearts and tells us things, things that we don’t hear with our ears.  Our heart can feel Him and we know He’s telling us something.  When we feel Him calling our heart, we need to stop and listen!  If He’s asking us to do something, we need to obey immediately.  That’s why I pray that nothing would hinder you from coming.  I want you to hear His voice when He calls your heart and I want you to listen to Him!”

She pauses, sits up and looks up at the ceiling.  “What is it Jesus?” she asks.  “Oh?  You want me to lay down?  Okay.”

Satisfied she asks me to finish praying and we snuggle back in, finish praying and give kisses goodnight.

As I’m closing her door, the sweet innocence and faith of a little not yet 3 year old is tugging at my own heart and begging me to ask the same.  What is it Jesus?  What is it?

So many days I am telling Jesus what I want, what I need, what I hope for.  All good things, yes,  How often do I just sit there and ask what is it?

So many days I am waiting on the thing, not waiting on Him.

What is it Jesus?

The hours and hours pouring before him the things I want, not asking what He wants.

What is it Jesus?

The simple heart of little toddler gets it immediately.

What is it Jesus?

I see more and more why Jesus tells the disciples to be like little children (Matthew 18:13, Luke 18:16) as I watch my little girl’s heart grow.  While there is still so much for her to learn, there is so much she has learned already.

What is it Jesus?  What is it you want from me today?  What is it You’re revealing to me today?  What is it you want to teach me today?  

Let me be like my little girl and simplify what I often complicate.  Let me just ask what is it Jesus?  May nothing hinder me from coming!  A prayer for my little babe, and a prayer for me… For always, as I will surely learn this time and time again. :)

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Good Friday, Through the Eyes of a 2 Year Old

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“Will Jesus protect me?  Is Jesus here with me??”  She sits up in the bed every single night and asks the same question.  Only until I reassure her that Jesus is always here with us will she lay back down and snuggle in for the night.  “If you get scared, just say Jesus.  He is right here with you.”  I tell her, and she gets comfy and closes her eyes.

Oh to have faith like a little child.  Lord let me learn from my daughter and have faith like her!

Putting her to sleep last night, I told her that tomorrow was Good Friday.  We would color eggs and remember what Jesus did for us.

“Good Friday?” she asked, looking at me with that 2 year old inquisitive look as if I needed to explain immediately.  “What’s good friday?”

“Good Friday is when Jesus died for us baby,” I replied, and she immediately looked at me with horror.  Snuggling under the covers, she said she needed to talk about it.  Tell me the story, she said.

So I told her how there were mean men who didn’t believe how good Jesus was.  They didn’t believe He was God’s son, didn’t know that Jesus loved them so much.  They wanted to kill him.  They made a cross, took nails and hammers and nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.  It hurt.  Jesus cried.  And he died on Good Friday.

She stared at me like this was the worst, most morbid thing she had ever heard.  Her little eyes, the corners of her mouth- everything about her face told me she didn’t understand.  How could Jesus, who was with her every night– die?!

“But the good thing about Good Friday is that He didn’t stay dead!  Three days later, on Easter, we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead!  He wasn’t dead anymore.  He’s alive, Maya!  He’s in heaven, and He’s here.  He’s always with us.  He died so that we could live with Him forever. He’s not dead anymore.  On Good Friday we remember that He had to die so we could be with Him, and on Easter we celebrate that He’s alive.”

She smiled.  “And He’s here with us in our hearts!”  She exclaimed.

Suddenly satisfied with the end of the story, she was okay and ready to go to sleep.  She didn’t even ask me if Jesus would protect her or was there with her that night, because I think she already knew.

She might just be at my favorite stage yet (although each stage I’ve said that so it’s likely her entire life will be my favorite stage!).  A ball of snuggles, a blanket (gabby!) and her thumb.   She’s a little piece of heaven on earth and I literally can’t handle it sometimes!  On nights like this when her little faith heart is so big and receptive, I realize how much responsibility I have as a parent to guide and cultivate her heart towards Jesus.  It is overwhelming at times.  I pray I will have the words and the actions and the heart to reflect a piece of what Jesus is, and that nothing would hinder her from coming towards Him when He tugs at her heart and calls her to Him.

Happy Good Friday friends!  May we take time to remember the somberness of today, the goodness today, the hope of tomorrow and the security of our future because of what He did for us!

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What Are You DOING?!

Lately I’ve been feeling frustrated.  Maybe it’s the morning sickness (or evening sickness for me, and really, I can’t complain because it’s manageable…  But it’s still there and annoying), maybe it’s the exhaustion, maybe it’s the double hormones from the two tiny humans growing inside my belly…  Maybe it’s the winter that is finally “ending” but still feels chilling to the bone (40 degrees is hardly ‘warm’!) or that my brother and his wife just had a baby and I MISSED the little man by a matter of hours (got off the plane and what do you know?!  Jenny’s in labor!).  Maybe it’s because my sister is going to have a major life event happen soon and I won’t be there to celebrate with her in person (this kills me, it seriously kills me not to be there!).  Every single door to bring us back to our family and friends on the west coast seems to close.  Multiple opportunities arise only to fall flat.

I’m staring at the heavens, literally wanting to shake my fists.

What are you DOING up there?!

It doesn’t help that I escaped the last few months by spending a total of 7 weeks away from here.  California, Florida…  Places that were WARM. :)  Saying it like that makes me feel like a modern woman-ish Jonah.

Oh please don’t spit me out and make me go back.

Yet here I am.

I know I’m not the first person to wonder what God is doing.  I know he’s always at work behind the scenes where I can’t see Him.  I know I’m just feeling overwhelmed.

But seriously what are you DOING?!

I bet Esther asked the same thing when she found out her people were going to be slaughtered.

Abram probably wondered similarly when it had been years since he’d been promised a son, and yet was still childless!

Moses surely shook his fists when Pharaoh continued to change is mind.

Mary and Martha certainly questioned when their brother Lazarus lay dead in a tomb for days when they knew Jesus could have healed him without even being there.

When Leah continued to produce son after son and was left unloved, I’m sure she wondered what God was doing!

When Rachel was left barren while her sister continued to conceive, I can bet she felt that God wasn’t doing ANYTHING.

When Bathsheba lost her son due to her husband’s sin, I would be shocked if she weren’t pounding the sky with her fists and shaking her head screaming “What the HECK are you DOING up there?!”

And these are just to name a few.

Yet if we stick around long enough– if we follow these stories through to completion, we see God’s hand at work and his faithfulness in and through all of it.  I know God’s hand and faithfulness are in my story too– even if I can’t see it right now.  Sometimes when I look around at the messes of toys in every. single. room and wonder how TWO more little people are going join this madness, I wonder what are You doing?!  How can you possibly think that I am capable?  I can hardly make dinner and clean it up without thinking about feeding and changing two more newborns at once!  What are You DOING?!  

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~Ephesians 3:20, NLT

No truer words said… I mean twins were definitely more than I could have ever hoped for or even imagined… :)

Esther, through God’s almighty power was able to rescue her people.

Abram became the father of all nations.

Moses led the people to freedom!

Mary and Martha witnessed their brother raised from the dead.

Leah is in the lineage of JESUS!!!

Rachel was blessed with not just one, but two sons.

Bathsheba became the mother of Solomon, the wisest man ever known.

Yes, what he’s brought us to He will see us through…  If only we would have the faithfulness to stick it out to the end of our own story!

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Twice the Fun

Things are about to get CRAZY around here.

Yes, I know.  My life is already CRAZY.  My husband has a crazy-busy (and yet wonderful and awesome) job, my two and a half year old tells me she needs her “personal space”, and I work full time from home.  Even so, my life is going to get even crazier.

Times TWO!

I had no idea.  Twins do not run in my family.  Other than feeling slightly more tired and nauseous than I had with Maya, everything seemed to be the same.  Yet when the ultrasound tech put up a peace sign (yes, I really did think she was telling me “peace!”  That’s how outrageous the idea of two babies would be for me!), I did not believe it.  “You guys hit the jackpot!” She exclaimed, and I had no idea what she meant.

When she showed me the two pulsating heartbeats on the screen complete with two separate sacs and two separate embryos, I was in disbelief.  Two?!  Oh Lord what the heck?!

My husband, being the calm, non-reactive one, just stared calmly at the screen.  He was more interested in understanding how this happened and what kind of twins we would be having (they’re fraternal, by the way). I began crying and then laughing and then crying and then laughing.  This was not in our plan ever.  How am I going to have twins?! I kept thinking to myself.

We had no idea.  There is no family history of twins in the family, and I’ve never been on any fertility treatments.  Talk about getting a real two-for-one special!

We have to move.  Our two bedroom is too tiny for a family of 5!

I will need a larger car (wait for it… A minivan most likely!  My 20 year old self would seriously die.  A slow. Painful. Death.).

How am I going to do this without my mom living nearby?

How is my body going to house TWO tiny humans for the next 6 months?

How will I be able to provide enough love and attention to two babies, a toddler and my husband?!

I can’t even begin to answer all these questions, but  there is one thing I’m holding on to and that is HE KNOWS.  HE will provide.  HE will make it happen.  HE will see us through.  HE is the giver of all things through HIM I can do all things.

The shock has worn off now, and I am excited at the thought that our family will be bigger than I ever hoped or imagined (ohhhhh God is funny how he works!).  I’m reading a book on multiples given to me by a friend.  I’ve switched doctors to go with someone who’s specialized in multiple births.  I’m praying for a continual healthy pregnancy and that God’s protection and hand would be over these babies.  I have no idea how I’m going to do it but I know He’s faithful and He will work it all out.  What He’s called us to, He will walk us through… Amen?

So now my toddler is painting her nails with white-out and currently has scissors in her hands.  I best be on my way.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. :)

 

 

I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

Ricky in field

I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

For weeks I have wrestled with how to say that, and then there, just like that, I said it.

For the last couple of months I have been MIA, I have prayed, eaten through an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos, and then prayed some more. Poring over and wrestling to death the question: What is it God wants from me?

Because I fondly remember the day I cursed a crockpot and blew up the blogosphere for reasons I still don’t understand – with half of a million people reading that post alone! And how I cried to the point of hyperventilation in the bathroom because of all the mean things people said about me. People, I would later name “Amy” in an attempt at humanizing ruthless internet bullies and making their words sting less. A sweet, but failed attempt on my part.

How Rachel and I had seriously considered shutting the blog down entirely after such unexpected traffic. Which always makes me laugh, because while some people strive for that level of attention, apparently we just cry. Its just not who we are. And for some reason I am insanely proud of that.

How what began with just 20 followers consisting only of grandma’s, our grandma’s to be specific, grew to a whopping 100 people we didn’t know and who were not genetically predisposition to love us. How shocked we were when 100 followers ultimately grew to nearly 1,600!

…But how cruel it felt when just months later my heart broke and my life cliff-dived into a horrific nightmare. Allowing each of the 1,600 followers to be front-and-center to watch as I screamed, questioned and threw punches at God. How even still, I made God a promise to write through the mess, and how surprisingly glad I am that I did. The writing part, not the throwing punches at God part. Though I am certain He would agree, I’ve got a wicked right hook.

How to my complete surprise, God used so many of you to speak into my darkest days and to pray for my family when all hope seemed lost. How you sent encouragement, care packages (with said Oreos) and friend requests on Facebook.

And how because of that, I am certain if we were ever lucky enough to meet, I would hug you. Maybe even exchange crockpot recipes with you and laugh about all the silly places I put commas, but mostly just hug you. Because mere words couldn’t possibly portray how genuinely thankful I am for each and every one of you. Prayers like yours, saved my marriage and quite honestly, my life.

Yet, I am not the same girl that started this blog with Rachel less than two years ago. Depression and heartbreak have a way of changing a person, I suppose. Yet even still I can feel God pressing, keep. writing. through. the. mess.

Because of that, I feel the need to venture out on my own – to obediently continue writing, all while unapologetically owning the fact that this life of mine is not going the way I told it to. And that the reality of that, doesn’t make my life wrong, it just makes it different. Different than I planned. Different even, than I wanted. But not wrong. And that it is my responsibility to love myself through that, and to mercilessly do whatever it takes to find God’s face in it.

And so after lots of prayer, I have decided to start my own blog which thou shalt be named kristaortiz.com – named in part because my name is the only thing that HASN’T changed about me in the last two years (Though believe me it almost did, if you know what I mean. Awkward pause… I make myself smile.)  And also because lets be real, Rachel is the more creative one of us and that’s all I could come up with on my own.

So my name is what it will be, and that is where you can find me.

I secretly hope to see you there. But in case I don’t, and given the chance our paths cross someday, please come say hi. And bring your best hug.

I’ll bring the Double Stuf Oreos.

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