Author: Jacquelyn

I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian with a passion for Christ and His Gospel. Also web developer, aspiring author, artist, frequent blogger, loving wife, and new mother to an adorable little boy.
His Encouragement: Psalm 27:14

His Encouragement: Psalm 27:14

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

Wait on the LordBe of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” — Psalm 27:14, NKJV

Waiting is hard!

Waiting is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Impatience is a common thread in the history of humanity, and in today’s fast-paced society addicted to instant gratification, waiting even just a little bit has become agonizing. Remember back in the 1990s when you had to wait for the Internet connection to dial up or for websites to take 3-ish minutes to load? Now we grow impatient if a website takes more than 30 seconds to load!

We often grow tired of waiting. It is much easier to either give up whatever it was we were waiting for or try to get the result we wanted ourselves. Then what happens when we have to wait an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or more for something?

Unfortunately, the expectation of instant gratification can weasel its way into our spiritual life as well. Impatience in spiritual matters can pose a threat to our faith and our trust in the Lord. The longer we wait, the greater the opportunity for our courage and conviction to waver. The human heart, after all, is a frail thing. Yet, throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded: “Wait on the Lord.”

But have you ever had to wait? Are you waiting now? Perhaps you are currently waiting for an answer to a fervent prayer regarding a big decision for your life and your family. Maybe you or a loved one are facing a health crisis and it seems your prayers for healing are going unnoticed. It could be that you are feeling alone, unheard, abandoned. Don’t be discouraged! Let’s read the second half of Psalm 27:14 together: “And He [the Lord] shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Even when it seems God is silent, He is never far away from us and He knows better than we do. We need to trust in Him and He will give us the strength to pull through the dreadful period of waiting. The answers will come, but in His time. Not ours.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

His Encouragement: Jeremiah 31:25

His Encouragement: Jeremiah 31:25

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” — Jeremiah 31:25, ESV

I was exhausted. Our second child is now nine weeks old, but the first five weeks were challenging beyond my expectations. He was a fussy newborn, at times unconsolable, and he had his days and nights all mixed up. On top of that, a short time after he was born, his big brother began getting his molars. For almost a month, if one was not crying at night, the other one was. I had never been so sleep deprived. I barely was able to get 2-3 hours of sleep a night, and even that was interrupted sleep! (Five minutes here, ten minutes there, etc.)

My mom can relate. In December, she injured her back badly, and while on a walk around her neighborhood in January, she was bitten by a dog on her leg. Trying to relieve one injury and ease aching muscles caused the back pain to worsen. Since then, she has been in severe pain every day. Often unable to sit or lay down, she, too, gets less than three hours of sleep most nights.

Anyone who has experienced severe sleep deprivation over days and weeks (or even months!) understands firsthand that it is not good for our bodies or our minds. Not only are we physically wiped out, but our minds start… doing unusual things. We also start behaving like a completely different person, a stranger, whose emotions are hard to control. Some of us may even start thinking things we never would have thought if we were well rested or without pain.

It can be very hard when you yourself or someone you love is in severe pain over an extended period of time. Sometimes it might feel like you (or they) are going through this experience all alone. Perhaps you (or they) even begin to question their faith. We may not be able to see or understand why the Lord allowed our situation; however, we should not give up faith or hope. Even during these hard times, the Lord promises to always be with us. The Lord has promised: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Let us grab hold and claim that promise!


Jeremiah 31:25 super-imposed over a calming waterfall.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design

This is the first in a series of interviews with featured bloggers, entrepreneurs, and independent ministries. Today I will be chatting with Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.

Welcome, Crystal, to A Heavenly Home. First of all, please tell us a little about yourself.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.
Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.

Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so happy to be here and talk about my life as a graphic designer.

I grew up in Upstate New York, in a town that has more cows than people. I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, so I was in Pathfinders and went to church-run summer camps.

After graduating in 2012 from public school, I wanted to know what it was like to have an Adventist education. So, I packed my bags and headed to Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. There I enrolled in their graphic design program. Before my senior year I married my childhood crush, Anthony Whitlow.

Since college, we have moved around a bit, but we are currently calling Kansas City, Kansas, our home. During the day I work for Champion, the collegiate clothing company, and at night I spend my hours building up my creative profile through my online blog, Etsy shop, and Spoonflower store.

That is pretty impressive! When did you discover your love of design?

I don’t know when I discovered my love of design because I believe I always had it. I love creating something myself whether it be crafts, paints or on the computer. In school, I did well in math and science but those topics didn’t interest me as much as my art classes.

Where would you say you find inspiration for your various graphics and fabric patterns?

How do I find my inspiration? That’s a great question! I am inspired by specific emotions triggered by activities. I really enjoy taking an activity, thinking about all the different parts of that activity, and expressing the moods through color theory.

For example, my Summer Cookout- Kansas City BBQ pattern. I created several items that make me think of a summer cookout. The colors reflect warm days and complementing that with light blues to keep things cool.

Kansas BBQ pattern by Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.
Summer Cookout- Kansas City BBQ pattern.

Your art encompasses a rather large variety; from branding to fabrics, from hand lettering to patterns, from elegant and beautiful to lively and fun. You are quite versatile! Do you have a favorite aspect of design?

I really think of Graphic Design to be my super power. I love that I can help businesses grow through branding and promotional materials, but I enjoy balancing my creativity with illustrations on surface pattern designs.

I really think of Graphic Design to be my super power. - Interview with @crystalwhitlow Click To Tweet

Super power! I like that! I have also enjoyed perusing your site and shops. Speaking about that, what inspired you to start your own online business?

I started my own business because I desire the freedom away from the 9-5 work day. Having my own business will open up more opportunities for me to grow in my creativity and expand my capabilities. I want flexible hours to be with family, have an organized home, help my husband and have time to workout.

Everyday I think of new ideas that I could design for fabrics, crafts and more, but it’s hard to work towards these ideas while working for a company.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design
This gorgeous “Creativity is my business” T-Shirt is available at Crystal’sEtsy shop.

Naturally, I am very entrepreneurial minded. As a designer, I understand marketing so I know what I need to do to grow my brand and community. I see a load of potential in myself, and every day I’m itching to keep going and keep growing.

Truly anything is possible with persistence. -Interview with @crystalwhitlow Click To Tweet

Starting and running a business can be time consuming. How do you balance family, work, and your business?

That’s a great question. First off, I have an amazing husband! Anthony is really helpful and understanding. As a Pastor, he is also very busy, so when he is out doing visitations, meetings and other activities, it gives me time to continue working on my projects. Both of our families are in New York, so I don’t have unexpected visitors coming over while I’m hustling.

Finding balance is really difficult for me, so I’m still working on it. After a really long day at work, I’ll come home mentally drained. I often struggle with feeling like I’m not achieving enough, and I’m not making enough progress. However, I hope to transition to working on my business full time within the next few months.

Until then I do the best I can by focusing on my main goal — bring in another stream of stable income — and daily goals of what I can do each day to lead towards the main goal.

I like how you have a main goal and then set daily goals to reach it. It can be tough to put into practice, though. What advice would you give someone who wants to follow their passion but might be nervous to do so?

Just start. I am a strong supporter for entrepreneurs, especially women. God created each individual with talents and He will bless them when they put their talents to use.

There isn’t anything that someone can’t learn how to do. Even though things like accounting, taxes, and legal documents scare me because I’m worried I’ll do something horrible wrong. I can’t let that stop me though. If I don’t know something I’ll ask around or join a Facebook group and look for answers. Truly anything is possible with persistence.

You are absolutely right! Persistence is key. If you don’t mind my asking, how does being a Christian affect or influence your work?

Being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian I am blessed with hope. I do not fear death, the future or the unknown because I trust that God has a plan and is taking care of me. With that hope I have a happy dose of optimism. I try my best to translate that optimism in my branding and the core of how people can identify CW Design.

It has been great chatting with you, Crystal. Before we say farewell, is there a Bible verse or passage that encourages and motivates you that you would like to share?

The Bible verse that encourages me the most is Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse gives me so much confidence that I have a purpose. As an artist, God has a plan for me. As I begin my freelancing career, I can rest assure that God will provide me the clients and the sales to make a living doing what I love and glorify Him along the way. It’s reassuring that my art work and skill set has purpose.

Amen! Thank you, Crystal, for taking time to be with us today.

Dear friends, you can see more of what Crystal does at her website, stores, and social media channels.

CW Design:

Breastfeeding Challenges, Round Two

Breastfeeding Challenges, Round Two

Disclosure: One of the links below is an affiliate link, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission when you click through and make a purchase. I use this product myself on a daily basis. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

For those familiar with Our Breastfeeding Journey, you already know that we experienced some challenges breastfeeding with our first son Peanut. It began due to his tiny size at birth (only 4 lbs 11 oz) and a very severe tongue tie. To provide breastmilk for him, I pumped from day one and during his growth spurts we had to supplement. He was able to finally nurse on his own by thirteen weeks old, though I continued to primarily pump because I was working full time. I was able to provide breastmilk until my supply dried up on its own at ten months, right around when we conceived our second son.

Our adorable son, Pickle, is now two months old!

I wish I could tell you that this time our breastfeeding journey was easier, but in some ways it was even harder. The first week and half went great. Pickle latched and nursed right away, and his latch was good. Yet when he was a week and half, we started noticing that he would spend 45 minutes on just one breast, fall asleep often during nursing, and would cry hysterically when awake as if he was still hungry. At our two week appointment, we discovered Pickle had not gained any weight. He was born 6 lbs 10 oz, but at two weeks old was 6 lbs 3 oz. The pediatrician was concerned because he had not even regained his birth weight.

We had to start formula feeding right away, and the pediatrician wanted to see him in two days. Two days later, he was 6 lbs 13 oz. We were relieved!

But I was also devastated… again.

Because Pickle latched and we thought he was nursing well, I had allowed myself to believe that this time I would be able to breastfeed and would only need to pump to build a freezer stash for when I returned to work. Unfortunately, Pickle was not draining the milk. This caused two problems: he was not getting the fatty milk to gain weight and my body was getting the signal to make less milk because there was “extra” being left. At two weeks, when I started pumping regularly, I barely was getting 2 oz a session. My supply was almost non-existent!

Baby Pickle at one month old.
Our adorable little Pickle at one month old.

I tried every trick in the book to increase my supply. I pumped long, I pumped frequently, I drank herbal teas, I drank tons of water, I ate foods with oats (and I absolutely detest oatmeal, but I forced myself to start eating it), I even began taking fenugreek tablets and adding milk thistle to some juice. Exhausted and sore, I was still barely getting 2 oz a session. Then I started getting dizzy spells and, after researching, discovered I must be one of the very rare individuals who experience side effects when taking fenugreek. I stopped taking it.

With Pickle not even a month old, I broke down and nearly gave up completely. At this time, Pickle was 90% formula fed and I was pumping so little milk that I came very close to just quitting. Was this torture worth it? Nothing I was doing seemed to be making a difference, and pumping takes so much time and was painful.

You might be thinking: “Why don’t you just let the baby nurse? If he is hungry enough, he’ll figure it out.” When we were forced to introduce bottles, Pickle completely refused to nurse again. I tried many, many, many times, but he completely stopped nursing. Putting him to breast only resulted in him shaking his head from side to side violently and crying hysterically. It was heartbreaking. For my own sake, I had to stop pushing.

In addition to the stress of a low milk supply and him not wanting to nurse anymore, Pickle was not an easy going newborn. He refused to sleep at night and often cried unconsolably for long periods of time. Usually these crying sessions were between 8pm and 1am! And when he did finally fall asleep, he would sleep for only an hour or hour and a half. At the same time, our older son Peanut started getting his molars and was also not sleeping well. There were many days where I barely managed to get 2 or 3 hours of sleep… and not in one nice deep sleep. Oh, no. It was ten minutes here, twenty minutes there, etc.

Due to the lack of sleep, the stress of an unconsolable newborn, hardly producing any milk, a teething toddler, and a few other stressors, I was quickly spiraling towards postpartum depression. But more on that in a future post!

We managed to push through with many tears thanks to the prayers of our family and closest friends and also a shipment of breastmilk from Bradley’s cousin-in-law, whose own baby is a few months older than Pickle. He still needed a little supplementing with soy formula at night, but her generosity ensured that Pickle was getting the benefits of some breastmilk during the crucial early weeks when I was hardly making any at all. Since then, we have gotten a second shipment. We are so grateful!

Then I found a method of pumping that replicates a baby’s cluster feeding before and during a growth spurt and encourages the body to produce more milk. I also ate lots of oats every day in the form of Nature’s Path Gluten-free Oatmeal, General Mills Cheerios, and a new probiotic almond/cashew milk with oats by Silk. (Mind you, oats and I have a love-hate relationship. I have to eat them for milk production, but oats cause me considerable digestive discomfort.) Very slowly, day by day, half an ounce here and there, my supply began to increase.

Pickle at two months. Photo by Jacquelyn.
Pickle at two months old! He tends to be a very serious-looking baby.

At almost nine weeks, I am now pumping 19-20 oz a day on average, though I am still trying to get more since Pickle is eating 35+ oz each day now. At a little over two months old, Pickle eats everything I pump, about 8-10 oz of frozen milk from our cousin-in-law, and 5-10 oz of soy formula a day. During growth spurts, he gets more formula. My prayer and goal is to continue pumping whatever I can until he is ten months old (the same age Peanut was when he weaned), but we just have to take it one day at a time.

So it seems that pumping — as tiring, frustrating, and sometimes painful as it is — is our normal.

Being completely honest, there are times when I want to just throw in the towel altogether. Pumping is not fun, it is time consuming, and it is not convenient. First, you need to buy a heavy duty double electric pump if you don’t already have one. I personally use Medela’s Pump-in-Style (Tote) but there are many other pumps on the market. You lose precious sleep to pump during the night, and during the day you have to plan every little task and activity around your pumping schedule. Need to run an errand? I have to pump right before leaving and right when we get back or I have to pack up the big double electric pump and find 15 minutes to hide in a bathroom to pump for 15 minutes. Delaying or missing a pumping session immediately affects my milk supply, which means I have to pump twice as long the next time to compensate or risk a blocked milk duct and engorgement. (This is extremely painful!)

So… Yeah. I, unfortunately, am one of those women who has to pump if I want my babies to get any of my milk. I just have to remind myself that it is ok and every little bit helps. Mind you, this is not an anti-formula post. Pickle gets at least one 5 oz bottle of formula a day, sometimes two during growth spurts. I understand even better now the very valid reasons why some women must or choose to formula feed their babies. Not every woman can produce enough milk on their own, or perhaps they have to return to work at three or six weeks, or maybe their workplace is not accommodating for pumping moms. Some women dislike breastfeeding, it can be painful or emotionally challenging for them.

What I am saying is that all reasons are valid reasons and you are a wonderful mother no matter what path your journey takes. You need to do what is right for you and your baby.

For me, I always wanted to breastfeed so not being able to do so with both of my children is disappointing. A dream has been completely shattered and it takes time to sort through the pieces. What truly matters, though, is that the children are well-fed and well loved. Breastfeeding challenges are not talked about often in our society, but they are actually fairly common around the world! I decided to share the details of our personal struggles to let other women who may also be experiencing challenges know that you are not alone, it is ok whatever route you take to feed your baby, and you are an amazing mother.

Our Breastfeeding Journey

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup. Photo by Jacquelyn.
A brothy bowl of Tofu Noodle Soup.

It is spring, though it feels like the beginning of summer here in the desert of Arizona. Lately, soup has been sounding delicious to me and my family. Homemade tomato soup, lentil soup, vegetable soup, dill stew with rosemary dumplings… All kinds of soup!

Today I am going to share with you an easy recipe for Tofu Noddle Soup, a vegan take on the classic Chicken Noodle Soup. This soup of protein packed, filled with yummy vegetables, and has tasty broth great for sore throats.

Tofu Noodle Soup by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan


5 sticks of celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 block firm tofu, diced
1/2 cup of peas
1 bag of House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles, Fettuccine Shaped*
1 can navy beans (aka northern beans or white beans)
5-6 chard leaves, sliced
1 or 2 vegetable bullion cubes (Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with Herbs or similar vegan bouillon)
Garlic powder
Green curry seasoning (The Gourmet Collection’s Thai Style Green Curry or something similar), optional


Using a large soup pot, add 6 cups of water and the vegetable bullion cube(s). Add the diced vegetables, tofu, and peas and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bag of tofu noodles, can of navy beans, and additional salt, garlic powder, dill, and curry seasoning (if desired) to taste.

Lower cooking temperature to medium, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables (particularly the carrots) are at the right softness/firmness you desire. Add the chard, stir, and simmer for five minutes.

*You can substitute other noodles but it may change the cook time. I have not tried this recipe with regular wheat pasta noodles nor with gluten-free rice noodles myself.

Servings: 4-6

Allergy Warning

Please check all ingredients for possible allergens before preparing for someone with a food allergy or sensitivity.

The nice thing about this easy recipe is that it is very customizable. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Soup is also a great way to use vegetables that are starting to get a little old and are beginning to lose their crispness. For us, that is usually the celery. We never seem to be able to go through celery fast enough. Preparation (dicing the fresh vegetables) takes about 5 minutes, give or take, but you opt for frozen vegetables if you are in a hurry. Cook time is between 15 and 20 minutes.

Our 19 month old loves soup, especially soups and stews filled with beans and vegetables. He thoroughly enjoyed this Tofu Noodle Soup, which we ate last night outside on the back patio with a cool evening breeze and gorgeous desert sunset.

What is your favorite soup recipe?

His Encouragement: John 16:33

His Encouragement: John 16:33

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33, ESV

These words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples only a short time before His arrest and subsequent execution. He was trying to prepare them for what was going to happen and give them the encouragement they would need to get through perhaps the darkest time in their lives. Even though He had warned them, the disciples had no idea that soon their Rabbi, their teacher, their leader — the man whom they believed was the long awaited Messiah — would be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish religious leaders by one of their own and die a horrible death upon a Roman cross.

Surely, as the disciples later hid themselves fearing for their own lives (John 20:19), they must have felt a very deep hopelessness coupled with sorrow and confusion. They had believed that as the Messiah Jesus would have eventually become king of Israel and somehow ousted the Romans from the land. They did not yet comprehend Jesus’ true mission. Those hours and days between His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and His resurrection, they must have been at their lowest point.

And it was for that time specifically that Jesus said these comforting words: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” Everything He said and everything He did was intended to teach His followers important lessons, from which they would find peace. You, too, can find peace and comfort in the words of Jesus Christ. No matter what your tribulation is, you can have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) precisely because Jesus has overcome this world through His death and resurrection.

So, beloved, take heart! Do not give up hope. May you be encouraged with the peace of God.

John 16:33 overlayed on a photograph of a desert landscape

Now it is your turn! What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday:

His Encouragement: Galatians 5:22-23

His Encouragement: Galatians 5:22-23

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” — Galatians 5:22-23, ESV

Today’s encouragement comes from two verses that you probably are familiar with. Our fallen human nature means that living a Christ-like life is foreign to us and not something we can do on our own.

In fact, earlier in Galatians 5, the apostle Paul talks about the “works of the flesh” and even lists many. He says: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” And then he adds: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

But immediately after pointing out our sins and our inclination towards these “works of the flesh”, he gives us hope by sharing the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (vs 22-23) Notice that the word fruit is singular, not plural. I heard it said once that you cannot pick and choose which characteristics you want. You cannot say: “Well, I have love and faithfulness, but I don’t need self-control or patience.”

No, the fruit of the Spirit is a packaged deal. Through the daily surrendering of ourselves to the Lord, His Spirit will transform our characters into being more like Christ. As we grow to be more like Christ, our lives will bear His “fruit”. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — the fruit of the Spirit — will become more evident in our lives and be a witness to those around us.

So if you find yourself struggling, take heart! As Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, ESV) Leave the works of the flesh behind and ask, in earnest prayer, for the Holy Spirit to make you more like Christ.

Now it is your turn! What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday:

New Beginnings: Our Birth Story, Baby #2

New Beginnings: Our Birth Story, Baby #2

It has been seven weeks since our second son, I am calling him Pickle here, arrived into this world. He was born Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 8:43am. He was 6 lbs 10 oz and 18 inches long.

For those interested, this is our birth story.

During the two weeks leading up to his birth, I was experiencing prodromal labor, or more simply put very real contractions that would not progress. Some days it would last for a handful of hours, other days it lasted all day long. Sometimes the contractions were mild and other times they were fairly strong. However, every time I thought: “Hey, we might be getting close…” the contractions would either slow or stop completely.

At our last check in with my doctor, she suggested we give Pickle the weekend to decide if he would come on his own and, if not, schedule to be induced early that next week. By this time, I was exhausted and agreed. So the induction was scheduled for 8am on February 6th, which happened to be my younger sister’s birthday. We went home and made all of the plans we needed to make. My in-laws were going to come over to watch our son, and my parents were going to meet us at the hospital.

Everything seemed all nice and neat, but I was praying all weekend long that Pickle would still come on his own. I tried whatever I could to encourage him. I bounced on the exercise ball, I raked our front yard, I did housework… Monday I really thought he would come. The contractions were more intense but never stayed at 5 minute intervals for a full hour. When I went to bed, the contractions stopped altogether. That night I had the best sleep I had had for quite a long while.

Proud Dada with our second son!
Proud Dada with our second son the day after he was born.

I awoke suddenly the next morning and happened to be checking the time when the first powerful contraction hit. The clock said 5:43am. I slipped out of bed, suspecting it might be labor, and decided to hop in the shower very quickly. It was the fastest shower I have ever taken in my life and I had two more contractions while in there. It was clear these contractions were only about 2-3 minutes apart and growing in intensity. I woke Bradley up and told him we needed to get to the hospital. Since we were already scheduled to go to the hospital that morning, he asked: “How long do we have?”

“We need to get there as fast as we can,” I told him. He jumped in the shower while I called my parents. Then I dressed and he called his parents. We did not have time to wait for the in-laws to get to our house so we decided to take our son with us to the hospital and they could pick up him there. We grabbed the hospital go bag, loaded up the car, and were on the road. The contractions were getting stronger each time. Thank the Lord, the hospital is only five minutes down the road from our house. Bradley stayed in the car with our son, as he was sleeping, and I went inside to check in.

A very short time later, I was in the triage room getting ready for the initial examination. Bradley joined me there and, though my water had not yet broken, I was in active labor. The nurse helped me into a wheelchair and I was whisked off to a labor/delivery room. My parents were able to join us there. It was nice to have my mom there. Like with my first, I decided to labor without pain medicine, but since Pickle was bigger, it was a little harder. I also had quite a bit of back labor that made pushing more of a challenge. In that moment, I completely understood why most women get pain medicine and even epidurals. I was a bit dehydrated since we had come directly after jumping out of bed, and I had the worst uncontrollable shakes the entire time. (I did not have that with Peanut!)

Exactly three hours after I felt the first contraction, Baby Van Sant (Pickle) was born! He was immediately laid on my chest and we snuggled for quite awhile. During my labor and delivery, the hospital’s computer system went down so the staff had to chart everything old school. That meant we were able to stay in the L/D room a lot longer than usual before being moved up to the recovery ward. My older sister, who was working that day in the Emergency Department, stopped by for a quick visit. After such a fast and intense experience, it was nice to relax. I ended up with a second degree tear and quite a few stitches and even just the thought of the wheelchair ride was painful.

Proud Mama holding our little Pickle.
Proud Mama holding our little Pickle before we were discharged from the hospital.

Eventually we were moved upstairs to a nice private room. My parents helped us settle in, gave me some food to eat, and then left to let us bond with Pickle and rest. The peaceful atmosphere did not last long. The nurse came in to help me use the bathroom and check my postpartum bleeding. I passed a rather large clot and the volume of blood was enough to concern the nurse. She brought her supervisor in to have a look and they decided to call my doctor back to the hospital. (Her office is, fortunately, two minutes down the road.) By now, both Bradley and I were getting worried.

My doctor arrived quickly and proceeded with a physical exam. It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life… and mind you, I birthed two babies without even a tiny bit of pain medicine. I remember screaming and crying. It was decided that the best course of action was to send me to surgery, be put under local anesthetic, and have a full examination to find the source of the excessive bleeding. Though the word was never mentioned by anyone, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about postpartum bleeding is hemorrhaging and that is often life-threatening.

In tears, I grabbed Bradley’s hand and asked him to call my parents. He did and then called his parents to let them know what was happening. Then he held my hand and said a prayer. Pickle was taken to the nursery.

Peanut being introduced to his new baby brother.
Peanut being introduced to his new baby brother. He kept shouting: “Baby! Hi, Baby!”

I was helped into a wheelchair (yet again) and wheeled back downstairs. It was all very surreal as the doors to the surgery ward opened and I saw the medical team waiting for me. Everyone was very nice, friendly, and smiling but at the same time there was a certain quickness to their actions and words that was serious. Bradley gave me a kiss and then I was taken into the operating room. I admit, I had many thoughts flash through my mind, some of which went like this: “Dear Lord, I don’t want to die. I’m not ready and I cannot leave Bradley to raise Peanut and Pickle on his own.”

I was given a local anesthetic that numbed me from the waist down (aka epidural!) but left a tingling in both feet. It is the weirdest sensation, and once I was lying on the table in that very cold room, the uncontrollable shakes returned. The team was very professional and nice. Someone got me a ton of warm towels and covered me thoroughly from the waist up. Besides the shakes, which had my teeth chattering badly and my arms flopping around, it was actually quite pleasant to be all wrapped up in those warm towels. I could feel the examination but it was a very light pressure and there was absolutely no pain. I am not sure if they ever found the source of the excessive bleeding. I do know the doctor removed something from my uterus, put a few stitches in my cervix, and re-stitched the outside some as well.

When it was all said and done, I was taken to a temporary recovery room for the anesthetic to wear off. Bradley, my parents, and my older sister rushed in as soon as they were allowed to. I know I was a little out of it… Kind of loopy and having a slightly hard time pronouncing my words. I was just relieved to be out of surgery and praying everything was alright. My dad said: “Don’t you ever do that again!” And my older sister was quite upset at me, too.

In that moment, I knew, looking at the mixture of worry and relief on Bradley’s solemn face that this experience was terrifying for the both of us. Praise the Lord, nothing serious was wrong but it easily could have been. I was glad to be taken back upstairs and reunited with our little Pickle.

Pickle… our most beautiful and amazing little gift from God. Our wonderful blessing, born on his aunt’s birthday.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14, ESV


New Beginnings: Our Birth Story

His Encouragement: Psalm 71:3

His Encouragement: Psalm 71:3

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3, ESV

Image: It Is Written

This verse is a beautiful reminder of God’s love and care for us, especially during the difficult times. The imagery of a strong fortress is used here to represent the ideal relationship between us and God. What is a refuge? A place of protection or safety. What is a strong fortress? It is a place intended for individuals to retreat to during enemy attacks. The Lord wants to be our refuge, our fortress, the place we turn to in a crisis.

Whether you are stressed, frantically busy, lonely, exhausted, worried, brokenhearted, or whatever you may be going through today, may you find comfort in knowing that God wants to be your “rock of refuge” and your “fortress” if you let Him.

Now it is your turn! What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday:

His Encouragement: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

His Encouragement: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, compassionate Father, God of all encouragement and comfort; who encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they may be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, CJB


This last month has been challenging and the last few days have been especially hard, mostly due to lack of sleep but also a few other stressful circumstances have contributed. Perhaps you, too, have been having a rough go of it lately or maybe you have experienced such a time in your past. It can be difficult when we are in the midst of our trials to see the bright side of things, but we should never forget that our God is a God of encouragement and comfort. We can always turn to Him!

When I am troubled, I find comfort in the passage of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Not only does it remind us of God love for us, but it also encourages us to use our experiences, our trials, to help others who might be going through a similar challenge or trial. Did you know that shifting your focus away from yourself and on to others helps your brain to break the cycle of negativity? I am not saying you should not think about your situation or give yourself the care that you need, but sometimes we can find ourselves dwelling too much on the negative aspects of whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. If we constantly dwell on the bad things, soon our minds will only notice the bad things and all good things and blessings will be lost sight of, forgotten, ignored. By praising God for all of his mercies and blessings, even in the darkest of times, we make a choice to not become obsessed with the bad things.

So praise the Lord for all of the blessings He has poured out upon you and find a way to use your trials to bless and comfort someone else.

Now it is your turn! What verse or passage is blessing you today?


Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday: