Season of Harvest

Welcoming Ana Marie Garcia, born Sept. 30,
to Gabe and Kari and big brother Brandon.  She's 36 hours old in this photo. 

The boys in the family are enamored with this little princess.  

Tonight under a waxing-moonlit sky, I fly home from having spent the last two weeks in Santa Clarita, California, experiencing the wonder of birth for the second time in two months as we welcomed our first granddaughter, Ana Marie Garcia, into our family.  Gabe, Kari, and Brandon joyfully and thankfully expanded their hearts and threw open their arms to receive this  precious gift from above, delivered by c-section on Sept. 30.  Weighing in at 7#11oz, and measuring 20", Baby Ana is healthy and, two weeks in to her little life, is showing signs of thriving.

This is a season of harvest.

A baby changes our world once again.  In a most delightful way.

Paul and I are overwhelmed with gratitude to be witnessing the next generation developing before our very eyes and our hopes and prayers are caught up in the deepest desire of our hearts that these children will know of His great love for them and carry forth the legacy of faith to the generations that will come after them.

If you're following the sequence of events, it wasn't long after returning from speaking at Sandy Cove that we were in the air to California.  We did manage to squeeze in two days of counseling and the Patriots couples’ study as well as the women's study before we left.  And Paul did a couple of workshops at Berea's women's conference on Saturday the 28th.  He was the token male, and always appreciated.  We left town on Sunday the 29th and the past two weeks have been an “other world" experience.  

It was as though nothing else mattered outside of what was happening inside the walls of Gabe and Kari's home.  I know that plenty has been going the world of politics (the government partial shutdown), and sports (go Pats and Sox), and in the lives of family and friends (we've lost two dear friends in the past week, both of whom valiantly waged battle with cancer and "lost" their earthly status while gaining their eternal home).  What consumed us night and day was getting to know and falling in love with this little 7# bundle of cuteness and supporting Gabe, Kari, and  Brandon's adjustment from a family of 3, to 4.  Nothing preempted that as our highest priority.  Daily I was reminded of God communicating with me soon after Nathan's birth in late July, about how He wants that kind of heart from me towards Him.  

Admittedly I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.  I'm reading Linda Dillow's Satisfy my Thirsty Soul book and workbook out of a desire to be consumed by Him.

Most of these days have been filled with cooking, cleaning, playing with Brandon, holding, rocking, changing, and loving on Ana, and making sure that Kari allows her body to recover from surgery.  I've loved every minute of it.  We've shared so many sweet moments.

Though random and few, we did connect with the outside world on several occasions.  Paul and I spoke on relationships to the college group at Grace Baptist Church when Ana was only 4 days old.  We LOVE speaking to college students and this was an eager, open group.  Really fun night.

Paul, Lisa, and I spent a long evening over dinner with the UCLA women's basketball's head coach, Cori Close, and that was a treat.  It was especially good to get a glimpse into Lisa's new world as athletic trainer to this team.  We also spent some time helping Lisa get more settled in her apartment and Paul did "manly" projects for her, much to her delight.

We managed a few in-house projects for the Garcias as well, including repainting and redecorating Brandon's room with Pottery Barn accessories purchased at a yard sale.  Very satisfying on so many levels!!

Paul returned to Boston the 7th of Oct. and I carried on without him in California.  We really did miss him.  Brandon and Papa have a very bonded relationship so it was a loss to send him off.  But life does go on, I guess.

Papa and Brandon visit the turtle and koi pond for a change of scenery from the hospital.

The last highlight of our time together was having my mom and two of my sisters come up from San Diego to Santa Clarita to meet Baby Ana.  Though obviously not an easy trip for my 83-year-old Mom to make, it meant the world to us that they would make such an effort! 

Great-Grandma Essie has always had a soft spot for babies, and babies for her.

Four generations of women.  What a privilege to share these moments.

Great-Grandma Essie, Auntie Lucy, and Auntie Missy
paid a visit to meet Baby Ana, much to our delight.

It was really hard to leave the Garcias today, even though I have every confidence they'll do just fine on their own.  These are the times when the distance between us and our children seems so great; 3,000 miles from two of our grandchildren, and 7,000 miles from the third!  That makes us all the more grateful to have been so indulged with so  many sweet days shared with all these past 2.5 months.  

Derek, Julie, and Nathan are well settled in Mbale, Uganda, and Nathan is quite the Big Man On Campus at the CURE Hospital.  At 11 weeks, he's growing like a weed and is becoming very responsive.  His parents are having a blast with him.

Julie and Nathan check in from Uganda.
We're loving watching this little guy grow via FaceTime and iPhoto.  Such a cutie!!

Lisa is continuing to make the adjustment to her new job and is enjoying herself more than not.  All reports from her supervisors are extremely positive.  That makes the challenges of long hours and crazy schedules much more palatable.  She's loving the much shorter commute from Sherman Oaks' apartment, but is missing living with the Garcias.

Auntie Leelee and Baby Ana: love at first sight.
We are really thankful for a good start to the Patriots’ studies.  After losing a number of our faithful during the off-season, we had no idea how this year would shape up—but we have a good group of old and new.  Pray that God will draw these players and their spouses to Himself in a deeper way. The women's group is going strong and we're all being convicted as we wrestle with very relevant issues stirred by Linda Dillow in her fabulous book What's It Like Being Married to Me.

These have been good change-of-pace weeks for us.  Though not "restful," they've given us time to be refreshed and to reflect.  We're so thankful for the H.I.M. Board which has given us so much latitude to structure our schedule as we have.  It's been a gift to be on the front lines of these major family milestones.

It is a very sweet season of harvest.