OLW | 2016

Every year our pastor takes us on a journey of walking with God through selection of “One Little Word (OLW)”. Each year around November/December I begin to pray about what that word might be. This year, the Lord put on my heart the word “joy”. I wasn’t excited about it. I wanted some profound word like my last two “acceptance” or”rooted”. Those sounded like words for which someone gave much thought. Earth shaking. Awakened.

Joy? Joy sounded like a word someone would pick out of the air without thinking. “I don’t know what word to choose, so I’ll pick ‘joy’.” Nevertheless, it’s the word the Lord has for me this year. So, I began to pray on it.

One of the amazing things about the journey we do as a church is that we don’t just pick a word and then cast it aside to be reviewed in a year. We all ask each other, throughout the year, “How is it going with your OLW?” We hold each other accountable in a completely shame-free way because we want to see God working in the lives of our friends and family. We love each other, truly.

To be completely honest, my journey with my one little word hadn’t really begun until now. I’ve toiled over it. I think about it constantly, but God hadn’t really jumpstarted my journey into joy until today. Today I was reading my devotion, something that’s very rare as a mother of two little kids who are early risers. In my devotion there are five minutes segments with one verse, two paragraphs, and a call to action at the end. Today’s title for my devotion was “the whole story”. The passage selection for today was Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Now, I look at the word sufferings and I think “yes my day is hard, but I’m not really suffering in the way that I think of suffering.” The suffering I experience is more day-to-day “sufferings”. One of my kids doesn’t like the breakfast I’ve prepared, one is torturing the other one, someone pooped their pants, the dishes aren’t done, I don’t remember the last time I took a shower, etc. But, I’v always struggled with the idea that motherhood equals suffering. I’m sure that whole part is an entire blog post in itself, but my point is that even though my sufferings may not be monumental, in small ways I am toiling throughout the day. I get discouraged. It’s hard not to be when raising a two-year-old. I love my kids very much but man, they can be pretty ungrateful and mean.

The writer of this devotion takes from the passage that God makes all things new. That essentially there’s one part of this passage but there’s also a second part to the passage. The first part is suffering, but the second part is Joy. If we only tell the first half of the story it’s incomplete. All of life is not suffering. She talks about a period in her life where she was going through the motions, she “wasn’t in a crisis of faith”, but she realized that the story she was telling was incomplete. She says, “I had been telling the story about how hard it was. That’s not the whole story. The rest of the story is that I failed to live with hope and courage and lived instead a long season of whining, self indulgence, and fear.”

Yes! That’s me. It’s so easy to fall into this rhythm of complaining when you’re mother. Mostly because, it’s really hard to be one. It requires your entire being. Your body, your mind, your energy. It can truly be taxing. I often say to people, “I never really understood what 24/7 meant until I became a mother.” It’s this painfully beautiful dance between thinking about your beautiful children every second of the day and worrying that something awful happened to them every second of the day. It’s simultaneously stress inducing and rewarding. But that’s just it… I feel as though so often I focus on the sufferings part, that I forget the joy part.

So, this is just the beginning of the journey. But I’m taking a step and turning the page so the rest of the story can be revealed.

Lord, guide me through this journey of finding joy. Continue to reveal the story to me. The whole story. Thank you for your word, thank you for loving me, thank you for your patience and kindness with me. Help me to be the woman I’m capable of being. Amen.

The Birth of Samuel William Lopez


Sammy’s birth was a “planned birth”, meaning I was going to go to the hospital, walk up to L&D, be admitted to a room, prepped and then walk down to the OR, receive a spinal block and then have the baby surgically removed from my body. We arrived at the decision to have a scheduled csection after discussing options with my doctor and discussing how my labor with Teddy went. So many times I went back and forth about whether a scheduled c section was right. Was I playing God? Was it too soon? Would the baby be ready to come into the world? Would we still be able to bond? Would I still be able to breastfeed? 

I went through multiple emotions leading up to the day of Sam’s birth, especially after having a previous miscarriage. I worried that this wouldn’t feel like a birth, that I wouldn’t bond with him and that without the natural process of labor I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and there would be complications. Some of that was true, and in huge ways God showed up to prove that wasn’t all true.


Alex and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 am. I had only slept for 2.5 hours so as soon as they gowned me and started hooking me up I started to doze off. Debbie and Wil showed up at 7 am for Debbie and Alex to be suited up! Debbie was pretty excited to see what a csection looked like from the other side having has two with her boys. 

I walked down the hall at 7:30 am and walked straight into the OR. The anesthesiologist met me there with the NICU assistant to discuss how to birth would go. And we started. My doctor duo was amazing. I started feeling the effects of the spinal right away and I even threw up a bit before Alex and Debbie got in the room. But as soon as it all kicked in, I was good to go. 

It’s so surreal to have conversations with the surgeons while you falayed open on the table. We talked about their kids, their recent trip to Africa, and complained about the air conditioning (or lack there of) in the OR. And then, they were about to pull the baby out! 

Alex leaned over the screen and said, “Oh! It’s a boy!” 

“I knew it!” I said. Because I did. 


Debbie was so great. She caught everything on tape and took pictures too. They had to suction him right away because he had lots of fluid. It felt like forever just watching them try and encourage him to breath. Then the oxygen mask came out. I started to panic. Alex was just standing there looking at him. I could tell he was anxious and just as I was about to shout out, “hold his hand!” Alex asked it he could touch him. Huge relief. The NICU nurse was fantastic. He let Alex hold the oxygen mask on and stroke his arm, talking to him. But, it didn’t clear up. 


I so badly wanted to hold him but as soon as they handed him to me and I saw his ragged breathing I couldn’t help but hand him back. I couldn’t fix him. And I had to stay where I was. But I knew Alex could be there. My other half.

Everyone kept saying he would be okay but I couldn’t believe them. 

Alex had Debbie go into the waiting room to update everyone. She said, “It’s a boy! And he’s WHITE! He’s so beautiful!” 

This little boy was/is so pale. I almost didn’t believe he had just come out of me. He looked so different from his brother. And he’s so beautiful! I was so glad Debbie was there to update everyone so Alex could be with our little pale baby boy I n the NICU. 

For what felt like hours (and it was) I waited. I had a bad reaction to the morphine and threw up for almost 6 hours afterward. That caused some bruising and also meant I couldn’t visit Sam in the NICU. I tried so hard to not throw up so I could hold him, but I didn’t get to actually hold him until 6 hours later. 

That 6 hours was hard for me. I know nothing was really wrong with him — he just needed help in transition, but I just couldn’t help escalating it in my mind. And the longer I didn’t hold him the more I felt that I wasn’t going to bond. 


When Alex brought him to me, I only had to try for 5 mins to get him to nurse. The NICU was so great and didn’t try to supplement until I could nurse. And he latched right away. A huge relief. Alex, who had been trying to hold it all together, burst into tears. He was so worried for Sammy and knew how much it meant to me to get him to latch and finally hold him. He’s such a good man. 

That first day was a blur. Everyone sweetly asked how I was doing. To be honest, it took me two days to feel truly bonded to him. I went through the motions the first day of feeding him and holding him and I allowed myself to be okay with that. I kept reminding myself that I have his whole life to love him. That I didn’t lose him. That he’s here and healthy. 

Now, I never want to put him down. He’s with me all the time or being held by someone. He maybe spends 4 hours in his crib a day, if ever.

39 Weeks and 1 Day!


 Little Baby, 

We are hours away from your birth. It’s your birthday as I’m typing this. I can’t believe the day is here. 

I’m so anxious and excited to hold you little one! Your Daddy has been snoring and talking in his sleep for the past few hours while I’ve drifted in and out of conciousness. I cannot believe in three hours I’ll be “waking up” and it will be time to go to the hospital. 

Little one, you are loved so much already and I can’t help but feel such a strong burden for you. The weight on my shoulders of raising you up right and showing you all of your amazing potential. I pray you know how amazing you are. I pray I can protect you. I pray you will always feel safe and loved. I know I can’t do all of it on my own and I know there will be times where you don’t feel those things, but I know the Lord holds you in His hands. He’s already written your story and it’s going to be beautiful. 

I love you so much little baby. 

Please come quickly and safely.



Third Trimester…

I remember actually enjoying my third trimester with Teddy. With this little one I’ve had anxiety, insomnia, muscle cramps, restlessness, and mood swings. I’m all over the place these days. I can’t communicate what I need or want. I’m constantly hungry, yet I have heartburn no matter what I eat. I guzzling water like a mad woman. I’m chasing a toddler around and having to sit down every half hour or so.

I’m huge. I’m tired. I cannot make sentences.

I had a dream last night that the baby was a girl. Totally weird, since I’m pretty sure it’s not. Anyway, I was giving birth in the cafeteria of the hospital, while all the medical school graduates were lining up for graduation. My doctor took Alex and me back into the kitchen and performed my c section, while I was asleep. I woke up right as he was pulling the baby out. He laid “her” on the scale next to his computer and told me she was 6 lbs and 9 oz. then he peeled her from the sack and showed me the proof that she was a girl. Alex and I said, “whaaaaaaat?” Then I stood up (yes, after my c section), and my doctor dismissed us through the kitchen into the cafeteria. We passed the doctors in their regalia as Pomp and Circumstance began. We walked through the doors to the long table where our family was sitting, and I (in my gown) said, “Whelp! We’re all done.” And Alex told everyone in a hushed and mediocre tones that the baby was a girl. Everyone said, “Oh, that’s nice.”

No one even really cared. Or at least they didn’t believe it.

Later I grabbed some food (still in my gown), and my mom came with me. I was handed the baby by a nurse and they put a huge pink bow in her hair. She was well over 10 pounds by now and she looked exactly like my 2nd cousin Megan.

Then Teddy woke up saying, “All done NIGH-NIGH!”

Only 5 weeks and 3 days left until he head to the cafeteria. I mean, hospital.

Send Help!

It happened. I’ve reached the point in my pregnancy where I get up, shower, do my hair, get dressed (no make up), and am so exhausted that I have to lay down. My back hurts so bad and I feel a migraine creeping on…

Send a chef.
Send a maid.
Send a nanny (for me, not the toddler).
Send help!

Only 6 more weeks left.

Feeling You Kick

Baby Bear,

You are making your presence known in so many ways these days. Between my ever expanding belly and your constant kicks there is no doubt that you’re growing! Daddy even felt you kick the other night when you were practicing your nightly dance routine on my bladder.

It never ceases to amaze me, the feeling of you moving inside my belly. You wiggle and sworn and kick and jab, just like your brother, although so differently. It’s amazing to me how different it all is this time, yet so much the same.

I still have similar cravings : peaches, pickles, milk, orange juice.

But there are new ones too: peanut butter, chocolate, cream cheese. Mmmmm, cream cheese.

(Insert cream cheese break here.)

I cannot wait to see you and hold you in March of this next year. So much is going by so fast this time, that I’m taking every little moment I have to soak all of you in.

See you soon little one,

Feeling Kicks Already!

You’ve got to be kidding me! At 14 weeks I’ve just felt you move for the first time. Wow! That was the craziest and it amazes me every time. I was just lying down on my side next to your brother for his nap and felt a weird flutter on my left, I sat up a little and jumped because then you kicked me a second time really hard! I swear if I had my hand on my stomach I probably would have felt it. How amazing! Wow.

Baby Bear Due April Fool’s Day 2015!

We are having another sweet little baby! We can hardly believe it! This Mama Bear could not be any more excited and nervous and anxious and tired. Papa Bear is freaking out and also so excited. Brother Bear has no idea what is about to happen — boy, is his life about to change.

I found out I was pregnant right before I left for the Havasu trip with the Cotsenmoyers. I felt off and was early, but I wanted to know for sure. So, I took and test and it was sooooo positive. I was beaming and I couldn’t wait to tell Alex — except that I was about to tell him, “Hey! I’m pregnant, now I’m leaving for a week and won’t see you. Have fun!” I couldn’t bring myself to tell him right before I left. I decided I would just keep it on the “DL” for a week. No one would suspect right? Right? WHO WAS I KIDDING? Do you KNOW my best friend Amy? I wasn’t even there two days before she cornered me in her bedroom accusing me of being pregnant. I tried so hard to play it cool but I’m such an awful liar. She hugged me and we cried for like two seconds because our children were screaming from the other side of the closed door.  We proceeded to have a great trip and Amy kept my secret very well.

I came home from my trip on Friday and I had wanted to tell Alex that evening on a date. As things do, it didn’t work out so I waited until Saturday. We were supposed to have an inspection on a house that we are interested in and so I thought I would do the whole “bear present” thing again and have the bear with a balloon in the possible nursery of the house. Then, I started second guessing myself. “What if we don’t get the house?” “How am I even going to pull this off anyway without him figuring it out?” “What if the baby doesn’t make it and I made such a huge deal about it?” Clearly, I was overthinking it. So, I started getting a bit overwhelmed by the idea of taking on a huge project house with this little secret growing away in my uterus. I just had to tell him. So, on Sunday morning Alex was making me breakfast in the kitchen, gave me a fresh cup of coffee and as I hugged him I said, “Whatever we decide to buy, it has to have a least three rooms.”

He looked at me with wide eyes and said, “ARE YOU PREGNANT?”


“I need to sit down.”

His whole perspective changed. Suddenly, this thing that we were planning for became and actual reality! So, we’re still on the hunt for a house and praying for the right direction. All we know is, God’s timing is perfect and we are beyond excited.

Little one, we are so excited to watch you continue to grow!

Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Brother Bear