Saturday, September 20, 2014

My little surprise is 1.

You guys! Of course I was going to make a mad comeback (to the blog) to talk about the sweet emotions of my baby turning 1.

The first thing we say about Keating is, "he is the happiest baby...until he isn't". Thanks be to God for a smiley baby! I chose these pics and there were so many of smiles and from so early on.

It is hard to believe that a year ago right now, I was waiting for him to arrive and I didn't know that I was having a boy. It's no lie that his little life was a surprise and oh my goodness what a sweet surprise! He has brought so much much joy and laughter to our home. Foster LOVES him and is clearly happy to have a brother.  This year has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. Having two kids is hard...having two this close together may be harder and then adding jobs and volunteering...It is a lot and it is fulfilling and it is also exhausting...and the sleep...I kind of miss  sleep. BUT! This post is about this special little person that God chose to join our family. There is not a day that goes by that I don't look at Keating and laugh with him. He is trying so hard to keep up with Fos and I think it is awesome, but I also want to squeeze his little body (which isn't actually all that little) and keep his head in the crook of my neck for ever so I can breathe in his sweet baby smell! He is a light and a miracle and perfect surprise.


Now it's time for my "momservations":

This kids can smile for days and just seems content. I seriously think that he arrived with a smile on his face...And then he gets tired or hungry...and watch out! He fights sleep like a maniac - but when he gives in he, sleeps pretty well. 
His laugh is one for the movies. You know, that time when they dub in a baby laugh...that is Keatings laugh. It really is perfect.
His little curls hide this wicked cowlick! (is it really spelled like that?)
He eats EVERYTHING you put in front of him!
He has 8 teeth and constantly puts everything - including your fingers - in his mouth to chomp on! He drools like mad.
He sleeps pretty well.
He is walking. He started walking about 2 weeks ago and I am absolutely positive that it is so he can keep up with Foster.
He is using words. He says, "Hot, bottle, dad, and ball!"
Ask him how old he is and he will show you on his finger!
 Y'all, thanks for loving my kid. That is truly a blessing in my life that blows me away all the time.

And to you dear sweet Keating,

You were born as a complete surprise to your momma and daddy. This is not to say that you were unwanted at all. To say that you are more than we could have hoped of would be a massive understatement. Your dad and I find so much joy in watching you exist; in watching you watch the world and offer it your kindness and laughter. We joke that you will be the kid in school that everyone always wants around because you make everyone feel like they are the funniest and best person ever. I pray so hard that your lighthearted spirit is something that is ingrained into your soul. I love that you look at people in the eye and offer a smile so quickly. You teach me. Your little life has changed us for sure.
Your face is just an insane little ball of perfect and your eyes, gosh, we melt in the blueness of your eyes.  Your laugh and your smile are unstoppable. You could totally change the world for someone with that smile...and you have this silly, sweet noise you make like Donald Duck and I know multiple people in your life who do it in their own homes just to be silly - because it makes them laugh. You leave a mark on the people you meet and you, my sweet, sweet boy, have surely left a mark on your dad and me. We could not love you more and there is NOTHING that you could err do to change that.
We pray that growing up around church and college students only adds to your experience. The Lord has placed us in such a unique and wonderful position and I am so happy that our lives are all about teaching people about the Love of God...Here is the cool thing about this; You and your bro are a part of this. Even today we were at a football boulevard and I left you on a picnic blanket. I walked away for 5 seconds and turned around and there were two girls holding you and taking pics with invite them in and I truly believe that it is because of the Spirit in you. You are such a cool kid and I cannot wait to watch you grow up and be a silent and fun leader. As I have written to your brother, I pray that you want to Love Jesus so much and truly seek him. I pray that we lead you well.
I am so glad I am your momma, baby. Im just so glad.
Happy first year of life!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thanks, Andrew.

July 16, 2005 - behind the scenes.

July 16, 2014

Thank you, Andrew. Thanks for 9 years of wedding vow fulfillment. Thank you for loving me when it is hard to love me. Thank you for partnering so deeply with me in everything from ministry, to cooking, to laughing, to decorating our space, and these last two years-raising two little boys. Thank you for trusting me, confiding in me and doing that really cute thing you do when you justify what you are going to say before you say it just in case I may misinterpret what you are saying. Thank you for choosing to love me every day. Thanks for your passion for life, love, music, movies, HGTV, and the Food Network (even though we don't have those channels). Thank you for not being petty. Thank you for not expecting me to be perfect, but understanding that I am doing the best that I can. Thank you for making our marriage a priority by continuing to date me. Thank you for laughing at my jokes and making me feel beautiful (these are two different things, but when you laugh at me, It makes me feel awesome). Thank you for never saying a negative thing about me to me. Thank you for speaking truth into the things that need to change in my life. Thank you for your honesty and your gentleness. Thank you for pursuing the Lord hard and making Him the center of our home. Thank you for changing so many diapers and doing so many dishes. Thank you for cleaning up our kids puke, and for rocking our babies to sleep. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to use you, guide you, and develop gifts in you. You are truly my favorite person, you make me better and you make me want to be better. I love you. Thank you for loving me too. 
This is my current favorite pic of us, because what you can't see is foster playing drums on our stomachs. Those are faces of pain and anticipation.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Rec. Carry On, Warrior.

Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of a blog called Momastery. It is great. So great, in fact, that I had linked an article here a few months ago and didn't realize it was written by this woman until a few weeks ago.

The good ole Rev. Matt Tuggle used a story from her book Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life in a sermon and it peaked my interest. When I asked him and his wife Amy about it, they just handed it to me and said, "Read it!".
So, I saved it for our trip to the beach and then I devoured it. 2 flights and one afternoon at the was finished.

This book is a must read for any mom who is in the thick of it and needs someone to agree that it just isn't that easy. I was crying by page 4 and cracking up not much later. Loved should def. check it out. One of my favorite reads this year, for sure.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I have been overly nostalgic today. 
I don't know what it is. 
Twice today I have thought of friends and cried. Not sad tears, but like, "I miss them doing life next to me" tears. 

I am lucky enough to have women in different parts of the US who are kindred spirits...I say that, but what I really mean (and this is the only way that I can explain it) is that the Holy Spirit in them draws out the Holy Spirit in me. These friends are refreshing, life giving, and make me want to be the better.

Today I received a gift from one of them and I got to chat for a sec via text with one of them...Blessings. These women...(insert sigh and another tear here). 

When I see them, I cry - either because of joy or the depth of the things we talk about. 
These are friends with whom there is no "catching up", not because we talk all the time...we don't...not even close...but because we love each other, so we just pick up where we left off. 

These friendships are a treasure. I just wish we didn't live so dang far apart. 

Love you ladies. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Real Talk

Just a look into real life! This was actually yesterday. and "I work at my church" means, I work in the college ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Isn't Missouri Beautiful? part 2.

This where I grew up. 
If you look across the lake, you will see a blue paddle boat standing up. Right above that paddle boat is a "dock", as we call it. This place is special. Very special. It is special to me because I have had many, many important conversations about life in this spot. But it is SUPER special because this is the spot where Andrew and I had our first kiss...and also where he asked me to be his wife, proclaiming his undying love for me. We went for a walk on this particular day last week and as we stopped to tell our kids the story of our love (which they were enthralled by), Andrew says, "Wait, wasn't it 10 years ago today that we had our first kiss? July 3rd, right?"
10 years. And so of course we took a pic. Keating was really just imagining what that special day must have been like.

You may not be convinced, just yet, that Missouri is beautiful, but I have a few more post intended to persuade you. 

See you tomorrow (or the next day)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Isn't Missouri Beautiful? part 1.

This is a saying you will regularly hear from the mouth of my Father. It's sort of a joke, but Missouri really is beautiful, sometimes.

This last week was one of those weeks. It was absolutely beautiful. There was only one thing missing, my sister in law, Michelle (she started a new masters program, which is awesome, it was just sad to not have her with us).
The Welker family reunited at my parents house over the 4th. This is a super fun time because the family that was 4 is now 11 and we have a June 27th b-day and July 1st and 2nd birthdays, so obviously, we have a party - That was super fun and lasted all day (which is sort of how we do things at the Welker house).
The real highlight for me is that there are basically 2 guaranteed times that I will get to see my nephews; Christmas and summer.
And this summer meet up was just...sigh...sublime.
The first night we were there we were trying to get the boys to sleep and Fos wanted to go outside, so finally, I just said, "yes...lets go outside".
I want to pass out from the beautiful moments and memories we made. Keating crawling in the green grass, Foster running barefoot, temps in the 60's, the sunsets gorgeous glow, catching lighting bugs (this is the non romantic name for fireflies) the conversations about lightening bugs and how they are a natural source of light that isn't hot (which is so fascinating) and the laughter and screaming of 5 little boys. PERFECTION.
This is last years pic of the Welker/Beard Boys...for reference
I will be writing more in the next few days about MO, but tonight I reflect on the faces of 5 little boys on not one, but four beautiful summer days.  Just a note here...Photographing these boys together is no easy task. Here is why... they are boys. Keating is 9 months. Eden will be 2 in September. Foster turned 2 last week. Charlie turned 4 on July 2nd. Fred will be 7 in September. I don't need any other reasons, right?  Here are the results of my efforts (While Josh and Andrew WRANGLED).
Sweet Eden. He and this light are/were stunning.  I took at least 10 pics before he stopped looking directly into the camera.
This is my favorite.
One of the only shots I got of my kids together without a toy. It pretty much sums up the two of them. I love this image. 
Fred(6). Foster(2). Keating(9months). Charlie(4). Eden(1).
No joke, this is the first pic I took. There is actually a hand there on the far right. I didn't edit it out because I want to remember the efforts that wend into this image.
I was screaming "JUMP", the older two got it. I don't know, I thought it would make them at least look at me.
Eden clearly loved this idea.
I can only laugh at this picture! 

And this one is pretty much perfect. NAILED IT!
Thanks for checking out my family.
More on Missouri this week...See you soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

my Jesus year.

33. My Jesus Year. At least that is what we say around here when you turn 33. You know, "it's your Jesus year, make it count!". Things of that nature.

I feel like I can say with a good amount of self assurance, This has been a good year. I am aware that I could have rose tinted glasses on here, but the truth is, I have exuded much effort to become a more Godly wife, mom, and friend.
I have the curse of sarcasm and a quick tongue, I know that this can (and most likely does) result in hurt feelings. I know that this is not good, so I have tried hard this year to be slow to speak. This is sooo much harder than one may think it is.

I did a study this year called Freeway: a not so perfect guide to freedom with college students. I highly recommend it. I believe it was an 8 week study. On the last day we took a look back through the book. Reflecting on the change in my life was a little shocking. I saw that I started out the second half of my Jesus year pretty convinced that I was sub-par at most things including, but not limited to; my job, my marriage, keeping the house clean, being a mom, and being a consistent friend.
What I had learned at the end of the study is that I had set my expectations of myself a little too high...I am not Super Woman, as much as I try and convince myself that I am (or should be) on a daily basis. The truth is that the most important relationship I have is with the Lord and he has set me free from all kinds of ugly, including shame, guilt, and insecurity. Through the process of this study, I actually listened as the Lord led my heart to a place that he could whisper (through my pride) that he loved me as I am, and that I am doing the best that I can, and "now" is a season. I humbly said, "Thanks God, let's get working on things here. So, I actually made some changes that would help a few things in my life improve and allow me to say that it is not by is by the grace of God that I could even say that this year was a great year, and I feel pretty great about it.
Here are some highlights:

I had a second baby boy...he turned out to be pretty dang cute.
I did not fail at being a mom to "two under two". I mean, I am, therefore I am their mom. 
I have operated at full capacity. 
I have, I think, been a pretty good wife.
I have kept my house looking okay for at least a third of this year. 
I have allowed myself to grow and change.
I have made new wonderful friendships, and been able to maintain a few and watch some old ones have some new growth.  
I have hopefully allowed the Lord to love others through my life.
I have been able to see an amazing group of my small group girls graduate from High School.
I have been able to chat with amazing College age women about their lives. 
I have told my story. 
I have cried with, laughed with, mourned with and celebrated with friends and family. 
I have tried to be honest. (with myself, my family, the Lord)
I have LOVED HARD. My husband and my's a joy to love these people!
I have accepted help from the village that is helping me raise my boys (Oh, I cannot raise them alone. I need the help, I want the help, I have the help.)
The final things I am going to share is this; I have taken control of my health this year. Y'all, I was pregnant for what seemed like 2 years straight. I took a 6 month sabbatical, but got right back on it.
Being pregnant with K was so hard. Losing the weight from the pregnancy seemed to be impossible and I felt terrible. I was tired, slow, weak, and exhausted. I was eating everything off of my plate, Fosters plate, and the pans I cooked on as I cleaned the kitchen.  I decided in Feb (shortly after starting Freeway) that I would get things under control - so I walked into the doors of Weight Watchers on Valentines day. I started their new Simply Filling Plan...and as of Last friday I had lost 25 pounds. I have started running again too.
I feel so good. I feel healthy, strong and young. I can keep up with my kids. I eat almost exclusively "power" foods, so I am less tired, more energized, and my mind is much clearer. 

All in all...this has been an exceptional year!

So, let's all raise a glass...Here is to 34!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A New Chapter for the Beards

Nope. No. I am not pregnant.

Do you know how, when you go on road trips with family or friends, you talk A LOT. Well, one of mine and Andrew's favorite things to do is to talk about what we see ourselves doing in the future.  We worked together (likesoclosetherewasnoseparation) in ministry for 5 years and we loved every second of it! We dream of the time we get to work together again, and especially in ministry, precisely college ministry. The possibilities of that here=slim to none.

You may know that in March I was hired at our church, Highland Park United Methodist Church, as the "college ministry coordinator".  As of now, my job is a part time job and I love every single second of it. I love hanging out with the students here and I get to work with my dear friend Phil.

Drumroll please.....As of July 1 (which also happens to be my birthday) I will also be working with ANDREW!!
The short version is this.
The Wesley Foundation at SMU (Which is the Methodist campus ministry) was looking for a new director and wanted to work directly with/through Highland Park UMC...Andrew was given the opportunity and he took it.
Since I am on College Staff at HPUMC and he is the Director of the Wesley House partnering with HPUMC, we are totally working together again!!

A few nights ago we just sat on our couch talking about ways that we are going to be able to partner and just talked about college students and how to best love them...I thought, "This. This is why we got married."

Only the Lord could have worked this out the way it has worked out. The fact that an impossibility is actually happening, it's a miracle.

Here is a look at the next chapter of our lives...We will be spending a lot of time here!!
Hey SMU...LOOK OUT, the Beards are on campus!!!!! 

Now, to Andrew, who has already approved this message, but doesn't know that I am writing anymore. You are the Man. I love and respect you so much. Starting new things is scary and exciting and wonderful and full of questions, but you and your gifts are totally created for this role. You are going to kill it! I cannot wait to see what the Lord will do in your life and in our life and in the life of the Church. I am over the moon excited to be able to walk beside you through this as your wife, and a ministry partner...oh my gosh, I could totally scream in excitement! Giddy is a good word to use here.  I just feel all kinds of blessed. I love you and am so proud of you. Foster and Keating also told me that if they were in college, they would totally go to your campus ministry: I mean, it wasn't super clear, but that is what I could formulate. (winky emoji)
You are the best. Like, for realsies. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

His Second Year

As I was thinking about all the things I wanted to say, I went back and read what I wrote last year for Foster's big birthday post. It was almost comical how identical the things I wanted to say today were. I will close with that.

What do you say when this
becomes this

and you know it isn't going to stop?

You just pray you are doing the best for him, am I right? Gosh, it is such an honor to be his parent! This kid melts me on the daily. He is so full of personality. We are doing our best to be kids with our kids and let them EXPERIENCE childhood. This is harder than I would have thought...hurry, rush, business, and schedule seem to be the antithesis of childhood magic.
So, yesterday we played in the rain for a long time. 

Some facts about two year old Foster...or mom observations, momservations, if you will:
He is perfect. Just kidding, but that really felt like the perfect thing to write after calling something a "momservation".
For real though, Fos has this thing where he just naturally does things that are cool. It's really hard to explain it, but it's in little things; The way he sits, his demeanor...just, his way. If you are around him, you totally get what I am talking about.
He sings...all the time...but no words, just "la" and never the same melody twice, except maybe "let it go".
He doesn't speak as much as other kids his age yet, but he talks all the time. And you KNOW what he is talking about. Great communicator, a little slow on the syllables...really it's those consonants.
He is a climbing fool who loves adventure but not sweets, one bite and that's enough.
Loves Dinosaurs. He Loves to ROARRR! and if it has a dinosaur and a train=mind blowing!
He still hates sleep. Doesn't need it. (so he thinks)

The most obvious difference from last year (other than the fact that he is twice the age he was last year at this time) is that he is a big bro now. He is a caring brother and I pray that his caring nature toward his brother is just the beginning of the kind of person that he is shaping up to be.
Gosh. I just love him.

Fos, you are my miracle. You are so precious. The shape of your face, those lips, and the worlds longest eyelashes...ugh, I love your face!! But your smile...the way you won't just give it away, but then you do and it is electrifying. Your clear dark rimmed mischievous eyes. Your thoughtful nature with your maniacal spirit. I refuse to tell you that forts are for playing in because you get so much joy in climbing on them!

You are loved by so many people and so deeply. And as I said earlier,  I was thinking about what to say to you when I read what I wrote last said this:

"When I hold you while you sleep, I whisper into your ear about how much I love you and how much your daddy loves you and how much our Great God Loves You. We pray that you will know that God is Good. We pray that you know that following Him is worth anything you think you may be giving up.  We pray that you know that His plans for you are so much greater than the ones we make for ourselves. I pray that you are selfless, compassionate, kind, and a humble leader. I pray that you are an encouragement to those around you (like your daddy). I pray that you Love greatly. I pray that whatever you do, you find a way to glorify the Lord through it."

This is still my hearts cry for you, Fos. These are still the prayers I pray for you. They will be forever. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. I love putting you to sleep at night, because I get to sing you songs of God's promises and faithfulness. I am praying that those are imprinted on your heart.

Your dad and I are blessed to be your parents. We know you are on loan, so we are doing our darndest not to ruin you! You are an absolute pleasure be around. Thanks for the laughs, dude. I am so excited to keep having them!

Oh. And happy second birthday buddy.

That Moment.

The moment I was most anxious about was Foster meeting Keating. Basically ever.
I remember after finding out I was pregnant, I walked into the living room and looked at Foster and thought, he isn't my only baby anymore and HE WILL KNOW HE GOT JIPPED!!
The Lord and I wrestled through this a bit until I accepted the truth that he will never know anything else and he will love having a play mate for all of his life.
It still worried me that I couldn't really prepare Fos for it, so I thought he would want to "put that baby back." (That is quoted from, I believe, my nephew Fred in reference to my nephew Charlie.)

I had read that it was a good idea to not be holding the new baby when the older child is getting ready to meet him/her so that he would not feel replaced...So I thought that was pretty dang solid logic, and I went with that...and here is how it went down. My nurse was the best and decided that putting me in a wheelchair would be the least scary, so she "de-tubed" me, and covered me with blankets to make me look as normal as possible so it wouldn't scare my 14 months old, and then....


Sweet Andrew carried him in.

Fos saw me and smiled!

"Come here baby"

I explained (For the BILLIONTH time) that he was a big brother and he has a baby brother, and that he is about to meet him! 

Andrew picked up Keating

Me, still explaining. 

The presentation. (Work your hardest to make it seem like the coolest thing in the world!)

"You can touch him"

"Oh look, your brother brought you a gift"...THANK GOD, KEATING DID NOT ACTUALLY BRING THAT WITH HIM! 

Then it was his turn to hold his baby.

he found his nose right away.

almost love at first sight

Like, he really found his nose, and he was serious about it. 

That was a lot for an hour old baby, so it was time to say goodbye for a few minutes.

our first family of 4 pic.

Foster kissing Keating goodbye. 

At this point in time, my heart figuratively exploded in my chest and I almost died from the warm fuzzies. The relief was palpable and this is the look I gave Kari, right before my eyes flooded with they still do when I see that pic.


And that is the story about how is wasn't so bad after all...
See you tomorrow...WHEN FOSTER TURNS 2!!!!