Friday, April 27, 2012

Family of GRACE

We've been enjoying our time as a family. Each day is spent caring for these boys and growing them to be who Christ calls them to be. They are growing me.
  As much as I think I am growing them, they are growing me.
It's amazing how they draw me closer to my own heavenly father. I realize through my boys how DESPERATE I am for a SAVIOR. I'm IN DESPERATE NEED. There are times that I feel like such a failure as a parent. I feel as if I am in a constant cycle of trying to figure out how to be everything that each one of these boys, ALL THREE OF THESE BOYS, need me to be. BUT it's impossible. It's not humanly possible to be what they need. I'm out numbered. I can't expect perfection out myself. I am in desperate need of God's grace and the grace of my boys EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I'm so in love. 

John is such an amazing provider for our family. He loves his boys. HE loves me, even when I am most irritable and tired and just UNLOVEABLE. He still loves me. I'm so grateful for his grace.

Channing...sweet sweet Channing is an incredible older brother and gives love generously to his brother. Unsolicited love. I'm amazed at how gentle and caring he is towards him. He's precious. I love his heart. He has given me grace throughout these last eight weeks. He seems to understand that mommy needs grace. SO.MUCH. GRACE. He's been giving me a generous amount of unsolicited love as well. His open mouth kisses make my heart melt.

Xander. He is very cuddly and snuggly. I'm constantly having to remind myself that I must not expect the same things from him that is "typical" of a 2 month old. He's growing and changing every day. I'm excited to see who he becomes. Grace is key for 3 AM.

Friday, March 9, 2012


On Tuesday, February 29th we were so blessed.

Our day started out wonderful because Daddy was home with us ALL DAY! This is such a treat and we had been gone all weekend on a retreat with students, so John decided to have a family day with us on Tuesday. That morning we had our favorite Berry Family breakfast, blueberry pancakes. It was already gorgeous outside by 9 so we opened the doors & windows and enjoyed the weather on the patio in the backyard. Channing loves days like this because he comes in and out as he pleases. I had a list of a few things I really wanted to accomplish before the baby arrived and one thing on that list was to reinforce my garden walls & to weed and till the soil so that it would be ready for planting right after Easter. John decided it was a perfect day for this project so we got going as a family. Looking back now, I wish I had taken pics. It was so awesome that my omniscient  God knew that this was our last day as a family of THREE and allowed us such a fun, memorable time together. Channing was COVERED from head to toe in dirt. He loved helping daddy with the hammer and pitchfork and helping mommy with some weeds. We ate lunch on the patio & played with our neighbors little girl that afternoon. I decided during nap time to bake some banana bread & clean up down stairs all the way down to mopping the kitchen floor (note: this NEVER happens...I LOATHE mopping!) We grilled out that night & enjoyed bath time and putting Channing down around 7 together. He was EXHAUSTED from his very busy day. I was too and decided to take a little nap. I told John to come and wake me in thirty minutes.

I woke around 10 and went downstairs. John had tried to wake me up but said I was OUT and didn't budge at his promptings. I had to really force myself to get up at 10. I laid on the couch and enjoyed some ice cream while John gave me my nightly foot rub. But as I laid there I noticed some very uncomfortable feelings in my lower abdomen. That was probably after 10:30, close to 10:45 when it all started. I shrugged it off as just gas pain because my stomach wasn't tightening at all. (Note that I had NO contractions with Channing. I never felt one. NOT. ONE. PS. don't hate me )

So the pain continued and was quite uncomfortable, but I really thought I just needed to visit the ladies room. Finally around 11 I decided I was going to go upstairs and lay down. By the time I got up the stairs the intensity had increased to a bearable but uncomfortable level. I called John on my phone & he was upstairs in no time. He was beginning to see concern on my face and decided to time what we decided might be contractions. I finally called my sweet nurse buddy Hillary. Bless her heart, she gets all my medical questions. I sure hope she means it when she says she enjoys making her nursing skills useful. She suggested that I try a warm bath to see if that helped ease off some of the pain. I look back at my text to her & see that I says " Could this be contractions????" IT TOTALLY WAS.

We decided to call the doctor because it was not letting up & was actually intensifying. IT was the WORST THING I'VE EVER FELT IN MY LIFE! SERIOUSLY. EVER! John's time table shows that the contractions were coming every 3-4minutes and lasting for 45 secs to 1min long. The doctor said to come in, it was early, but they would hook me up to monitors and see if it was "real".  We called our sweet "grandma" Jadiene, the most precious lady from church who we had already arranged to come when it was time. Channing just adores her. She was at the house within 10 minutes. During all these things I must tell you what else was going on....BAG PACKING. This actually cracks me up because John had been telling me for about two weeks to pack a bag. Just a couple of days before he had told me to again & I suggested waiting until my next doctors appointment. So far there was no progress at my other appointments and I didn't feel a sense of urgency to get it completed. I asked him if he thought little Xander was going to come early? He just felt like I should pack my bag. I must admit that my husband is ALWAYS RIGHT. It never fails.  But alas, I am stubborn & had not completed the task. We threw a few things together in between contractions. I honestly had no idea what was in the bag.

Things really were intensifying. I could no longer get my breath or talk during the contractions and it was time to go. We got into the car and headed towards Spring Lake/Bragg Blvd. This is only about 10 minutes from home, if that. In the middle of little Spring Lake, John was on the phone with my friend Hillary & I felt a BIG CHANGE. No longer could I put my bottom on the seat. I yelled " get off the phone!!!! GO, GO, GO! & slapped on the hazard lights. John said he knew it was serious at this point. My bottom never touched the seat again & his foot never left the gas pedal. Luckily with it being 12:30 there was no traffic. This is far from typical for Bragg Blvd. during the day! As contractions continued, I prayed out loud. John was flying. I remember looking at the speedometer at one point & seeing 80.

We pulled into an active labor parking spot in the front of the hospital. I tried to get out & walk & that was not going to work, so John ran in and grabbed a wheelchair. As he was coming back a Sherriff's car pulled in behind us. I guess they saw what was going & decided to leave us alone. The hospital security guard who was a black lady no younger than 60 came out & before John could lock the car door had a hold of the wheelchair & was literally running me into the hospital. She had a license to drive that thing & had apparently had plenty of practice. We were RUNNING. I was having full blown contractions & pushing back against the chair because it hurt to put my bottom down. I apologized for pushing...she yelled " DON'T PUSH, yelled into her walky " LABOR & DELIVERY I'M ON MY WAY, YOU COPY?" We were on the fourth floor in no time & she stopped us at the registration window. In my mind I remembered how long that had taken with Channing & I knew I didn't have time for the wait. "HE'S COMING", I yelled, and the little lady ran me into triage.

Things moved very quickly at this point. My pants were striped from me. I told them I was 34 wks 5days  pregnant & heard "CALL NICU". I had not even processed that this was a possibility. I didn't think about the fact that it was too early for him to come & that something had been wrong. My ANXIETY level increased greatly at this point. I heard them say " her bag is bulging. Get her to a room." Honestly I'm not sure that I even had clothes on at this point. I still wonder what I had on when they moved me. It may have been a hospital gown. They took me to the same room where I delivered Channing & the room was bare. It was not prepared for the delivery that was quickly approaching. As I worked through contractions, John finally by my side told me that there was utter chaos in the room. Nurses were running everywhere to get papers in the right place, a baby crib prepared, NICU nurses there, an IV in.... and all the while my doctor had yet to arrive. This may sound like it was a long time period but later we realized i was in this labor & delivery room about THREE minutes before the cry of an infant filled the room!

The nurses were encouraging me to talk so that I didn't push when contractions came. It was all my body wanted to do! I said..." NATURAL CHILD BIRTH SUCKS! PEOPLE WHO DO THIS ARE STUPID". At that point, being the conscientious person that I am, I realized I may have offended some of the women in that room & said " I'm sorry if any of you did natural childbirth". Wouldn't you know the very one sticking a needle in my arm at that time would say " I did three times". OOPS! When I realized my thoughts were a bit much to be sharing, I just prayed out loud for safety for Xander and help for myself.
About that time my water bag bulged out & busted sending water everywhere & moving the "standby" midwife into motion.  She quickly pulled on gloves and arranged things to collect the mess and two seconds later a head emerged! I heard everyone go "WHOA! and the nurse said PUSH. One good push & a loud grunt from momma & a sweet cry filled the room.  As they worked, I asked for the girl who had done my IV and apologized for offending her. She of course said to not worry about it. I'll never forget that part of the story though. I was in labor for a little less than 2 hours. If I had to labor like that for 18 hrs or something crazy, I would kill someone for an epidural!

Our sweet boy was quickly carried off. This delivery was so different. No holding him chest to chest. No attempting to nurse. No love and admiration for a second old newborn. He was being observed. I looked at John, I'm sure with pure fear on my face & asked if he was ok. John assured me that he was crying and alright. He went over and took his first pic that I posted earlier but that was it. They came and told us that they were concerned about his lungs and that one may not have inflated. He was breathing very shallow and needed to be on oxygen and needed xrays so they were taking him. The nurse did allow me to kiss his cheek quickly and he was gone.

It was so strange. We sat in that room all alone going over how quickly it had all happened, but there was no baby with us to celebrate and it was very different. While they had told us that he was ok, it was just hard to grasp what was going on. We called family and let them know that he had arrived and just sat and waited.

A couple hours later they took us to our room and said he was ready to be seen. We went to the NICU and spoke with Dr. Carter who told us that he had fluid in his lungs during the quick birth. His temperature wasn't regulated and he needed help staying warm. His sugar was low so he was given some sugar water in a tube. All of these things, the doctor assured us, was typical of a 34weeker and he would be fine and grow out of it. It was just a matter of time. I'm not sure what else they said. All I wanted was to see my baby. I'm not sure I was prepared though.

I feel like these pictures are so misleading though. He was an itty bitty scrawny thing. He looks so thick & healthy in the pics. I wasn't prepared for my baby to have cords and be contained.  All we were allowed to do was look at him. No holding. It was quite possibly the saddest thing I had experienced. We stood by his bed that night, longing to hold him but unable to. I'm so thankful that God's word says when we don't know what to pray for, that they Holy Spirit cries out in prayer for us because I was at a loss as to what to do, say or how to feel.

Going to my room that morning without my baby was so hard. It seemed so strange. I slept for a couple of hours and then walked down to the NICU at 5am to see my baby. I couldn't take it any longer. Once again just sitting. Family started to visit that day and it wasn't until that evening that we were finally able to hold him!

Holding my angel made it finally feel as though I had given birth to this sweet boy. This journey would continue for 8 days, 8 very long days. More on the rest of the journey is to come.

A new arrival

12:51 AM
5lbs 12oz
19 3/4 inches long
born 5 wks early

Though we spent 7 days in the hospital, we were very blessed with wonderful nurses in the NICU who loved and cared for our baby boy & his mommy & daddy as his body healed. Can't wait to catch my breath & share the story. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

catching up...

THIS CHALLENGE HAS BEEN FAILED (must read in your most robot like voice)....I can only imagine why I've failed. A sick 16month old with the flu and a dbl ear infection along with a 33 wk pregnant flu stricken momma= who care's about the blog. Of course this all started on a weekend when John had no choice but to be at work for a huge event on Saturday & then had his normal Sunday responsibilities. I don't know if you've noticed, but this picture is pretty accurate...

The world definitely keeps revolving when momma is sick. So, I've had no time to keep up with the picture thing. My ability to balance it all has definitely flown out the window.

But right now Channing is running around the upstairs between his room, his brothers room & the playroom while momma lays on the playroom guestbed and seeks some relaxation through blogging & pinterest. 


Day 9: Front Door

I've really wanted to make one of those cutesy wreaths off pinterest for Valentines day, but you know it's one of those wants vs. needs & really I don't need it. So, it's just some something I've had for a while & CONFESSION...I put it up the day I knew I had to take my front door picture. My front door has been naked since Christmas stuff came down. I realized during my front door "setup" that I need to find a winter wreath or I need to make one OR the door can just stay naked. Who really cares?

DAY 10: Self portrait.....

I'm not really one of those self portrait kinda gals. You won't find my facebook loaded up with pics that I've taken of myself by holding my phone an arms length away. Yeah, it's just not me. PLUS, I would be EMBARRASSED for anyone to see the condition this momma has been in for the last week during all this sickness. My pj's & a hair tie have been about it. But here is a picture of the growing part of me at 33 weeks. ( all I can say to that!)

Day 11: makes me happy...
 The other night we couldn't go to small group so we hung out in the livingroom as a family in our FORT! SO.MUCH. FUN. Gosh, I love having these boys!

Day 12: (deviating from the original list) Ya'll don't want to see my side of the closet. 

Day 13: BLUE  dinosaur pjs on my boy & his daddy's boots from when he was little.

This was a display of LOVE for my man...a homemade skillet apple pie!

God's been teaching me alot about LOVE too! I got was blessed to serve some of my sweet friends who have husbands deployed, widows in our church & single mommas with a little gift of love.

It really is a blessing to bless others & when you're being obedient, I've always found that blessing follows. After a week of unexpected dr/prescription bills being figured into our budget, I almost didn't do this little act of love but decided to make the sacrifices to make it happen. Can I just brag on God????? He put it on someone's heart to hand me not just what I paid for the project but DOUBLE what I paid. She had no idea. BLEW MY MIND YA'LL. BLEW MY MIND.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 8: SUN

The SUN is such an incredible reminder that HIS MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY SINGLE MORNING (Lam 3:23).

Lately I've been running around to doctors appointments, church meetings, cooking 3 meals a day, washing the dishes for those meals, TRYING to keep up with washing clothes for 3(how do they pile up so quickly?), TRYING to serve my neighbors, TRYING to be intentional about my time in the word, TRYING to take care of myself (i'm the last one that I tend to remember to take care of), TRYING to keep a house clean, TRYING to maintain a marriage, TRYING to maintain a tight budget, TRYING to be a good pastor's wife, TRYING to be all that I feel like I'm called/expected/wanted to be.....TRYING, TRYING, TRYING.

I'm so grateful for the WORD. I tend to appreciate it more & more each day. With each sunrise I realize my need for more & more of God's WORD.

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 
Come to me. Get away with me & you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. 
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 7: Dinner

We LOVE dinner time. We make it a point every night except Wednesday, due to church, to eat dinner together. Channing has come to expect it & will rarely eat unless we are sitting & eating too. I actually love that!

So here's tonight's dinner pic. It was scrumpdidlyumptious!  (even if I do say so myself)


Those of you reading this & following the February picture challenge may have a puzzled look on your face. No, day 6 on the list wasn't listed as shocker. However, I messed up and that's the SHOCKER (sarcasm, just in case you missed it)! I myself am not the least bit surprised at my lack of 'put togetherness' that I feel in my life that has now boiled over onto my blog, so why hide it. Yesterday I totally thought all day that it was button day. I had thought it through, brainstormed some creative ideas & was totally on the wrong day.

SO.... here's DAY 6: cute as a "BUTTON" (guess, tonight will be dinner for this Berry Amazing Journey)

Yesterday I got to babysit a friends sweet little 14 month old daughter, Sadie. My sweet little Chanchan was overwhelmed with glee all day long! Sometimes I just giggle at how God created him to love others. Another testament in my mind that he's not created to be an only child which thrills my heart to death because it continues to affirm for me that no matter what doctors say, God is in CONTROL! It also makes me very excited for when his baby brother gets to the place where he can play & I get to see that joy everyday!

So here's a few shots of my cute little darlings from yesterday.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 4:Stranger

I only got out once today & I just couldn't bring myself to take a picture of a random stranger. It's just tough & you never know how they are going to act, BUT....

"There's a stranger in my house"... (maybe you know the song, maybe you don't)

Ever since about November a new person has entered my home. His appearance has continued to change over the months to this burly mountain man before your eyes! He started this because his buddy Ben, currently deployed to Afghanistan, had to grow out his beard & he has continued it in honor of him.

Luckily he's only strange on the outside. Glad I know the inside hasn't changed!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 3: HANDS

These hands are:


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 2: WORDS

Seriously, this has me surviving right now. Surviving. Not this particular scripture, but scripture in general. Seems no matter how hard I try to be obedient to God's word the stinkin' sin & flesh that I have wins at times. UGH...hate that. BUT I'm grateful for God's word and that it does encourage me to keep working towards becoming more like Christ daily.

Tonight at a meeting a friend shared how God has really been speaking to her through 1 Corinthians 13. I know we've all heard it but have you thought of it in regard to your fellow man, not just the one you love or a wedding? If God's second greatest command was to love my neighbor as myself, than I might want to review this. DAILY. HOURLY.
What if we really did love like this? REALLY? Wouldn't it make everything easier. Pretty sure this will be my next pinterest project (well, not this one but something with the scripture on it). There's a a few of those on that list that I just. don't. do. So, i don't love. That's so hard to chew when you really get right down to it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Accepting the Challenge

My sister issued a can read about it here. I'm going to face the challenge. I'm not sure that I'll be successful, but I will try!


This is my sweetness reading a book. Not only is he reading a book, but he's reading it to his baby brothers dog, Scruffy. He goes into the nursery and will ask for the dog. After his nap he took the dog, climbed into his rocker & began to read. Sweet moments.


I was tagged, so I thought I would play along.

 {The Rules}
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag eleven people and link them on your post
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

11 Fun Facts about me...

1. My real name is Pepper. REALLY? YES, really. Often times in college I would have to show my license because people didn't believe me.
2. I have a scar under my chin from a bicycle wreck when I was little.
3. I've never broken a bone. The first time I ever stayed in a hospital was when I had my first son.
4. I love to be creative. Making something and seeing the finished project really makes me excited.
5. I enjoy giving gifts. I used to be so much better at this when I worked full time & our family budget consisted of  TWO incomes. Not so good at it anymore. MUST IMPROVE AT THIS.
6. I enjoy receiving gifts & I get completely GIDDY when I get a gift. I think I'm a pretty good gift receiver with jumping up & down, squealing....the whole nine yards. P.S. It doesn't have to be new stuff either. A box of hand-me-down clothes from my buddies whose boys have outgrown them rocks my face off now that I have two boys of my own!
7. I really enjoy a sappy chic flick. You know, the ones that are so predictable.
8. In high school I was a princess; Carolina Carousel Princess. I really was chosen by default, I think, but it's interesting a that a special man in my life was in another place praying for a wife that had A) a different name & B) was a princess. SO COOL!
9.  I LOVE teaching. Originally I thought that I loved teaching kids and while that is enjoyable, the demands of the state within a classroom are wacked out so I"m totally done with that & have found my true passion is teaching God's word to kids, to ladies, to my son....whoever will listen. I don't know that I'm gifted in it, but I do love it! Anytime I have an opportunity to speak I go for it & I totally miss the ladies bible study that I did this past fall.
10. I used to spend alot ridiculous amount of money on stuff; clothes, shoes, household items, but I've really learned that NONE of that is necessary & I've been giving stuff away left & right. That "stuff" really isn't fulfilling anyway.
11. I LOVE eating out. Not having to plan the meal, buy the groceries, or clean up afterward just makes me so stinkin' happy.

Your 11 Questions:

1. What is your favorite book? and why? I really love Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The story of Gomer & Hosea written and aligned with the love that Christ has for me is so incredible. I might need to get it out and read it again!

2. What is your favorite holiday? I love Christmas, especially now with my own family and the traditions that we are creating. One of my favorite parts of Christmas are doing stockings and buying/making our yearly ornament!

3. Where would be your dream vacation? I love waterfalls. I just think they are so beautiful. I would love to take a trip around the world and see the biggest & most beautiful waterfalls known to man.

4. What do you like most about your spouse? He loves me. That's really selfish isn't it, but I have no doubt, even on the hardest days. My man loves me with an unfailing love. I do love his stinkin' loud laugh too (even when he is laughing at his own corny jokes)

5. What was the last movie you watched? We Bought a Zoo. SO CUTE!

6. What would you say is your best quality? um, can I skip this question..please??? Let's see....I"m honest. Not all people would say that is a good quality. Guess it depends on what end of the honesty they have been on. I mean, why beat around the bush or fake how you really feel?

7. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Some kind of lighting speed ability. Can you imagine how quickly I could complete laundry or housework?

8. What is your favorite time of day? I love mornings. I'm a morning person; one of those weird ones that my feet hit the floor BEFORE the alarm goes off. Strange, right?

9. What is your favorite smell? (weird i know) I love the smell after rain. My sweet man pointed this smell out to me years ago & now I never miss it!

10. Favorite hot drink? Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea made skinny, no milk. whipped cream & caramel, please! Thanks sister for introducing me to this!

11. If you could speak another language fluently what would you pick? Spanish. I know a little, but I'm not fluent.



Your 11 ?'s
1. Where's your favorite place to shop?
2. What's your favorite scripture?
3. What's the hardest lesson you've ever had to learn?
4. Morning person or night owl?
5. Favorite indulgence?
6.What's your favorite meal to prepare?
7.If you could spend the day with anyone, who would it be & why?

8. What do you wish you had known when you were younger that you know now?
9. Who has influenced your life the most?
10. What's one of the best item you use (makeup, cleaner, etc) that you think EVERYONE should know about?

Monday, January 23, 2012

our growing fella

He's so interested in being a big boy. Who am I to argue?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Daddy's are so important. I've always known this, but the more I see John with Channing, the more I am amazed at the difference that he makes in the life of his son. Last night we watched Courageous & the opening scene depicts a man running after his stolen truck & fighting the thief until he crashes. You're mind leaves you thinking it's for his vehicle, but you learn that his youngest son is in the back of the car. In the next scene a couple of fathers are discussing if they would have risked their lives to do that. REALLY? I have no doubt what John would have done & I sat there for a minute just grateful for a man that would willingly give up his life for his family.

As the movie went on I was overwhelmed by so many different things. The feeling of loss that I have experienced because I didn't have a daddy in my life for the majority of my years. But what this world meant for bad, God has used for good. There is still a void there & I miss my daddy, but God has given me so much. AND that's what I began to focus on.

MY BOYS ARE SO BLESSED! They have an INCREDIBLE daddy & I have an INCREDIBLE husband! I am so thankful for that. John does so much for our family & is such a wonderful leader. He is loving, caring, & compassionate beyond what I can believe sometimes. After long working days he comes home & steps right into working in the home with me. He'll do dishes, laundry, floors....gosh, he'll do it all if I need him to & the biggest thing is I NEVER have to ask him. He knows he's a busy man so he's made scheduled nights to work in the house & "nest" with me. Love that! He'll just stare at Channing and speak life and blessing into his little heart. Channing just sits there taking it all in. He will correct him when he's disrespectful to me. He works hard, sometimes even on his days off to provide all that we need. Not only does he do all this, but he does it for God's glory and not his own. WHAT A BLESSING my man is!

The other day he came home for lunch & I was blown away at how he could just read me & my body language and my need for his help with Channing. It had been a "trying" day. Y'all know what I mean? The days when you are TRYING to walk in the spirit in your responses to your children, but they are SERIOUSLY just pushing, pushing, pushing. (don't judge, just being honest) Anyway, I look around because it got real quiet & they were both gone. John had taken him up (without me asking .... gosh that does so much for my heart) & was putting him down for his nap! I was so thankful! After putting the baby to bed and heading out to the office he reminded me, " You don't have to parent alone, babe." HALLELUJAH! I'm so thankful for this man! I told him too! So many women have husbands in their homes & they STILL parent alone, but PRAISE JESUS that I am not one!

JB, you are an incredible husband & daddy & we love you very, very, very much!

Pepper, Channing & Xander (this sweet thing has no idea how blessed he is!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Nothing can explain how you feel as a parent when you see the joy in your child's eyes like this:

He enjoyed it...don't you think??