Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorites from 2011

The best parts of this year included........................

Plans, hopes, and dreams for 2011 (a review and new challenge for 2012 to come soon!)

My graduation with a Master's in Counseling

Different challenges we did in February, March, (review) and April, (review)

Traveling to North Carolina for a wedding

Being challenged and evolving as parents and as Christians

Our 3rd anniversary

Mushroom hunting with Joel's extended family (and part 2)

Mylin's 1st birthday!

Attending Mat and Abby's wedding in Chicago

Our weekend away in Dublin, OH (and part 2)

and, finding out we are blessed with another pregnancy!!!

Some of the end of 2011 will be posted next week - but I will leave you with one picture that was arguably the BEST part of our Christmas break this year

An amazing dinner and game night with Mat and Abby Mifsud!

We love this couple SOOO much!
We haven't been able to visit with them in person since their wedding in July - and will most likely not see them for 2 more years :(
This night was so wonderful to reconnect with each other spiritually and relationally, and just enjoy conversation and lots and lots of laughing
We love you guys!

What were the highlights of your 2011?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday boy!

Happy 28th Birthday, Joel!

You are such a blessing to Mylin and me!
I don't know why God chose you for us, but am thankful every day for His provision!
You are such a calm, patient, silly, and loving father
An attentive, understanding, forgiving, and hilarious husband
And a selfless, giving servant to our family, friends, and faith community

I love you so much!!!!!!

Thanks for teaching Mylin how to color :)

Make sure to wish Joel a Happy Birthday today!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas family and friends! In 2011 we celebrated 3 years of wedded bliss. We continue to be amazed at how God grows the depth of our love for each other and Mylin. He is sooo good!

Joel celebrated five years of working at Franklin Electric in June. Since he is at the corporate headquarters, he will be part of the move to Fort Wayne, Indiana as they plan to build a brand new facility there within the next few years. We are thankful that the location is not too far away to commute, but will miss getting to share lunch together every day as a family.

Rachel graduated from Huntington University in May with her Master’s in Counseling! She has enjoyed the transition into part-time work and spending more quality time at home with Mylin. We are tremendously blessed with her job at Life Matters Counseling, which is a ministry of Youth for Christ. She works two days a week and truly enjoys the opportunity she has to minister to those in our community.
Our little Miss Mylin turned 1 in June! She has continued to surprise and entertain us every day. We love watching her sweet and silly personality develop! Her constant chatter has begun to form into words and even some singing – we say every day how she is just the best thing in the whole world! She’s so fantastic, in fact, that we thought we would ‘duplicate’ her. That’s right; Mylin is going to be a BIG SISTER!!! Just before Mylin turns 2, God-willing, our 2nd child will join the family!

Please stay in touch, letting us know how we can partner with your family in prayer. Through the joyful moments and the difficult decisions, we are so thankful to have family and friends to be vulnerable with and hold us accountable. We would love to be those people for you too!

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:12-17

Joel, Rachel, and Mylin

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worst weekend or Mini vacation?

So this past weekend I was 'sick'
I don't know what was going on...pretty sure it wasn't the flu, but it definitely kept me from doing anything for 48 hours

It all started Friday when Joel surprised me by coming home early to go with my to our doctor's appointment for the baby!
We then went out to eat at Logan's and to see New Year's Eve
Logan's was awesome - and I STUFFED myself
We got some truffles from DeBrand's to eat in the movie and walked around Jefferson Pointe for a few minutes
The movie was fun and cute and feel-good

We went home to a baby-free house (thanks Grandma!) and thought we were going to get a great night's sleep
Not so :(
I woke up at 4:00 with horrible stomach cramps!
This continued on and off for most of the day - keeping me in my pajamas and our bed or on the couch
Joel took care of everything - including all of Mylin's meals, playing, and diapers
It's starting to sound like vacation now, right?!
I know!!!

Anyways, as soon as I would start to feel better, I'd be flat on the floor again growning...
Only for it to mysteriously pass by the time I woke up Monday morning!

While it felt like a waste of a weekend...I did get lots of R&R and literally did not have to do anything I didn't want to - Joel is my hero!
I am so thankful that this happened during the weekend so we didn't have to have extra help and I didn't have to miss (too much) work (I took off part of Monday to continue recouping and not tire myself out!)
Also, Joel left this morning for a work trip (boooooooooo) and we are both so thankful I didn't get sick while he was gone!
I don't know how I would have done it!

So......does it sound like the worst weekend?
Or kind of like a vacation of relaxing with no resposibilities?!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My first Ugly Christmas Sweater party

So last night I was a part of my first ugly Christmas sweater party!
My creation was inspired by this commercial which I laugh at every time I see it :)

So even ghough I didn't win first prize (bummer!) I still got a lot of laughs and had SUCH a great night of fellowship with friends from MomLife!!

And yes, I totally found a sweatshirt at Bargain Hut with a cat on it - then safety pinned our random ice skate ornaments to the cat's feet - I know, I know, it is awesome.

And here's someone who can pull off any look in any season - even a straw summer hat in December!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Go Irish!

On November 19th we ventured to South Bend for a day of eating, tailgating, laughing, and cheering on the Irish!
Here is a very detailed excel sheet made over many painstaking hours by 3 engineers...

This is only our first course...(followed by the most amazing chili! and lots of yummy desserts and warm apple cidar)
The grill master!
Sweet Roni who got to come at the last minute!!! (and had to get up super early to meet us) :)
Josh and Michael were happy and excited about the guy randomly walking around selling cigars

A little pregame 'football'

While the ladies cleaned everything up!

 And finally -we're on campus!
 Our seatmates for the WINDIEST game we've ever been to! (Complete with windburn by the end!)

 Fun free pompoms
A wonderful day long date with the love of my life :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First trimester story

Remember in November when I blogged about the new stuff going on in our life: Mylin becoming a big sister?!?!
Well here's a few more details on how the last 3+ months of our lives have gone

Joel and I have been excited and anxious to grow our family!
While we feel extremely blessed that becoming pregnant with Mylin was very easy for us, we did not want to take that for granted and expect that in the future.......but honestly, I sure was hoping that my heart's desire would become a reality - and sooner rather than later!
While our heart's were longing for more children since January of this year, my body was still sustaining Mylin until mid-July through breastfeeding
Then, near the end of September, we were overjoyed to find out that apparently my body was ready again!
I was just over 4 weeks pregnant!
We kept our news quiet like we did with Mylin (we waited 11 weeks until we told our parents and then 14 until we announced it to siblings and friends)

The day I was starting my 6th week of pregnancy, I woke up with a concerning amount of bleeding
Not knowing exactly what we should do, Joel and I continued getting ready for work and I called the on-call doctor since it was only 6:30am
He told me to call when the office opened at 8:00 and come in for an ultrasound
I did not know what to do with myself at that point
Joel and I were in shock and trying to come to terms with the realization I was probably having a miscarriage (I didn't know that I could be bleeding that much and still be pregnant...)
He left for work and I cried myself to a staff meeting in Berne
I showed up to realize God's grace has clearly proceeded me there...

Only 3 other women could attend our meeting that day and I went only because I couldn't just sit around and wait all morning - I had too much nervous energy
I burst into tears as I walked in my boss' house and was immediately comforted by 3 women who had all grieved the loss of a child (which I was previously unaware of)
Thank you, Lord, for your divine organization!
They let me do and say whatever I needed that morning...we prayed, talked about worked, I think we might even have laughed a little, and the longest day of my life kept inching by
I found out I could get into my appointment mid-afternoon and at my boss' encouragement I didn't go to work that day (how could I care for the struggles of my clients when I myself was falling apart?!)
So I went to my parent's house to tell my mom what was going on
She kept Mylin for the rest of the day and I went home to sleep until Joel picked me up for our appointment
Another blessing in this day was our ultrasound technician who was very caring and informative as I was prepped for the appointment
She explained that this early in pregnancy we wouldn't see the baby either way, so to not be shocked if the sac looked empty
And even though it did, I was so relieved to see this evidence of life only a few minutes later:

We took this picture and met with our nurse practitioner who explained that while we don't know why I am bleeding I can take some precautions while we continue figuring out what is going on
First off, I thought I was 6 weeks pregnant but was only measuring 5 - which is NOT good news...
I was to be on 'pelvic rest' for 2 weeks until my next ultrasound was scheduled that would give us more information
I was told to expect regular bleeding and to not be alarmed unless it increased
So...we know now that I was pregnant...but not sure if our child was still alive or if it would remain alive

I went through the next several days in constant prayer and regular tears
We felt like zombies barely able to talk about anything else and waking up to cry and talk in the middle of the night wondering how we were going to have the patience to wait see what God's plan was for this child and our family
We were blessed with the reassurance that no matter the outcome...God is good!
He was good whether this child lived or died - that did not change Him and His attributes

6 days after my first ultrasound I woke up with increased bleeding and called the doctor immediately and we headed in for another ultrasound
As soon as the image came on the screen we had tears of joy!!!!!!
Immediately we could see the tiny baby in the sac and the HEART WAS BEATING!

We also noticed the distorted shape of the sac (we refered to our child at this time as 'africa baby')
The doctor explained now we knew for sure it wasn't my cervix bleeding, but a hemorrage inside my uterus ripping the baby off my uterean wall
They told us it was extremely common and that I had a 50/50 chance of carrying the child full term or miscarrying
I could maintain pelvic rest but that wouldn't guarantee the baby would live - but why not do all we can to possibly help?!
So we go home again with great reassurance and equally frightening worry

I think it was at this point that I decided I was going to be emotionally numb
I couldn't handle the up of the hope and evidence of life and the down of the possibility of death
I couldn't function like a zombie anymore and I was just going to wait it out until God revealed to us that our child was alive or in heaven
So - I stopped crying, but increased my earnest prayers
We told a few prayer warrior friends that would check up on us regularly and pray for us daily
We isolated ourselves from social relationships because we felt like we had nothing to talk about without going into our whole ordeal which we were not comfortable with being public

So we lasted 8 more days until another appointment and another glimpse at our sweet second child
Again, heart swelling excitement when our baby popped up on the screen and that heart was fluttering  again!

The doctor said it was good news - the hemorrage was thinning out and the placenta was only growing stronger - gripping that baby to my uterus
We were used to this information from the doctor of taking it easy and wouldn't be back for 3 more weeks to check up on the africa (shaped) baby

Surprisingly those 3 weeks went by quickly we had a good check up and heard the heartbeat without an ultrasound and were ready to announce our news!
While we still didn't know if I was 10 1/2 or 11 1/2 weeks - we called our siblings, texted our friends and stopped by a few houses to share our joy with others!
Feeling so good and excited about the prospect of the next 6+ months the worry of the hemorrage was finally gone!
Then just a few days later, the bleeding returned...

A quick phone call and 24 hours later there I was (this time without Joel, but feeling very positive!!! We had our prayer warriors in battle with us) back at the office and really excited to get to see our child that I knew was living and well - I was just ready for reassurance...
And up popped this:

No more africa baby!!!!
And no sign of the hemorrage!
I went excitedly to speak with the doctor and tried to pay attention to what she said, though all I could think about was calling Joel and sending him a picture of this picture :)
I was in the clear!
The hemorrage had disappeared and the bleeding I experienced was considering normal for pregnancy (which wouldn't have worried me if I hadn't had the previous 6 weeks of fright...)

Now I'm on the 'regular' schedule of once monthly appointments through this next trimester
I have no restrictions!
They said baby was measuring just a bit bigger which puts me closer to the original due date of May 29th...but my official one is still June 5th
I'm trying not to get caught up on the day - baby will come when s/he is ready to come!

Thank you for reading this excruciatingly long recap of what our 1st trimester with Wee One (official blogging name) has been like
And for those of you that have gone to battle praying for our family and particularly the health and life of this baby - we are so grateful to have you as friends and to be able to depend on you
Most of all, PRAISE GOD for His divine plan, timing, and goodness to our family - we are so undeserving!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

silly baby, silly daddy

Who knew a coffin over sized box would be our new favorite toy?!
And by 'our' I mean Joel and Mylin - I will often walk into the room finding them in it together, him pulling her and like 7 stuffed animals AND eme around in it...or using it as some sort of fort
I love my family :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the best little girl in the world

This first stream of pictures makes Joel and I laugh out loud! 
Look at the determination in her precious little face!

 Another day - another new object to wear as a hat...

 And lastly - could you not just eat up those cheeks?!
We thought they were big when she was a breastfeeding machine - they sure haven't gone down much...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catalyst Conference

Last week I was blessed to be able to attend a 1 day conference in Chicago with 20 of our Life Community fellow leaders. 
I was so blessed to have a husband and mother-in-law take over everything for Mylin so this trip was possible in the middle of the week for me!
Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel spent the day sharing with us about their history of becoming pastors of multi-campus churches and how life has transformed during their 16 years of pastoring.
They offered so much wisdom on organizational culture, values, building a healthy staff, and self-awareness (and so much more!)
This took place at Willow Creek near Chicago and Bill Hybels (senior pastor at Willow Creek) even sat and taught us a bit about central beliefs to our theology and what he has learned in his 30+ years of pastoring.

(For more information on the details you can visit here.)

Anyways...I went to this conference not really knowing what it was about or what I would even get out of it.
I didn't have too many expectations other than I love the relationships that develop on road trips and the conversations that are shared among like-minded people. 
After the first session on Thursday morning, I realized that I wanted to being praying for an answer to a specific prayer request be revealed to me that day.
I have been on a long quest to simplify things in my life and God is continually showing me areas that I can cut back in or change.
I had 2 small ministries that I served on a monthly (if that) basis and I was feeling God calling me to cut that down to 1...and keep my focus on my main ministry, MomLife, and 1 of these smaller ones.
I shared this with a friend I was sitting by and began praying for a clear answer to be revealed - my judgment was being clouded with pride, emotions, and over-thinking.
I am SO grateful that God delivered!
And it was VERY clear!
I won't go into too many personal details, but one sentence came out of the speakers mouth, "Loyalty is not a fruit of the spirit" and I felt released from one of my ministry obligations
Thank you, God!

Another cool thing that was happening to me was that God was giving me direction and wisdom on creating rules, or rather, a mission for my family.
Joel and I have been discussing this lately - what phrases, beliefs, values, we want our children to know and live by
While we are gathering wisdom from other parents that have come up with these already, we are molding some of the themes God echos in our lives into a Draper family mission statement
I do not know what this will look like for our family, but I envision having them framed and displayed in our house for our children to easily see and for us all to reference regularly
Some of what I feel that He is calling us concentrate on is:
All for the kingdom's glory
The joy of the Lord is my strength
All done to honor/give honor to God

I know there is so much more to add - and I know that it could end up just being the entire New Testament...but I want to make a concise, simple list that young children can memorize and obey
I hope to remember to keep my readers updated as this goal grows and transforms

Lastly, I felt that God was giving me many ideas of ways Life Community can improve as a ministry in our community and what I can offer/do to serve and help - I still am not sure what that looks like detail-wise...but I plan on working some of that out and having accountability to act on it!

What things has God been teaching you, lately?
I love to be vulnerable with friends and learn from each other - please share!

Monday, November 21, 2011

a visit with new and old friends

Several days ago we had a visit with our old friends, Dave and Kim, and our newest little friend, their son, Leo!
Kim ran in a local race, which she blogged about, and we enjoyed eating soup all weekend, playing rummikub, and just talking about being parents and our precious babies.

Enough of the recap, here are the only pictures I managed to take (even though there was plenty of picture-worthy moments!)

 Smiling Leo AND smiling Dave in the background :)
Hello buddy!

We are so blessed to have a great long distance friendship with this family!  We love you guys!

Friday, November 18, 2011

new stuff

Miss Mylin has so much new stuff going on in her life!
She'll be 17 months next week :)

She's been taking off her shirts while napping
Trying to take off her pants while playing
Pooping and peeing through her diapers at night
Getting anything she wants out of the cupboards (thanks Joel for baby-proofing them while I was gone yesterday!!!)
And just today she started walking down the stairs forward-facing like a big girl!

But the newest stuff going on in her life is this:

It took me many tries to even get this picture....she was being such a stinker!
So, while she's not showing her enthusiasm with smiling - we are all REALLY REALLY REALLY excited!!!!!
Wee one is due end of May/beginning of June - more details to come on the last 12 weeks of pregnancy soon....
Thank you God, for your abundant blessings!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

sweet shoes :)

If you thought that Mylin and I couldn't get any were wrong
Check out our newest way of matching

 And a close up just for good measure

Sunday, November 13, 2011

200th post!

It was only 8 months ago that I posted my 100th post!
I have really ramped up the frequency this year - besides my 2 week sabbatical that I took last month...

Maybe this isn't worth dedicated a whole post to...but what else would I be writing about?!

When I was in first grade we used to have '100 day' and we got to bring in 100 of something for like a show and tell...I think I brought in stickers
Other kids brought in other fun, small items like cereal or pennies or marbles...I can't remember them all, that was a long time ago...

So should I write 200 of my most favorite things?
Or post 200 of my favorite pictures?! (not likely since my virusy computer is HIDING ALL MY PICTURES FROM ME! grrrrrrrrrrr)
Or should I do a free right of 200 words?
I really have no idea, I'm just wingin it as I type this (very unlike the organized me.)

I do know 1 thing...I am glad that I have posted so many of my favorite pictures to this blog or on facebook especially now that I am worried I may have lost many of the pictures we already had :(
That makes me reflect on what I put my stock and treasure in...
I think I posted about this awhile back - storing our treasures in heaven and not on the earth
But I am thankful for circumstances in my life that remind me of this important meditation
It is so frustrating to think we may have lost not only pictures, but other important documents on our computer...and then we think about how much we rely on technology to do so much for us - instead of relying fully on God to provide what we need
We ought to be more responsible with what He has blessed us with and be good stewards of our technology, bodies, money, and relationships............

There are so many places to go from here!

I pray that I can not only be diligent to learn what God wants from me in these areas - but also be ripe for the teaching and be able to share it with my readers, since you all have blessed me with so much insight!

It's amazing that even after 200 one-sided conversations I still might have more to say :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Homemade cinnamon rolls

A couple weeks ago I made my first batch of homemade cinnamon rolls!
I used an easy recipe online that didn't require yeast (yay!)
Our sister-in-law Roni came over to keep me company too - what a treat :)

 In the midst of all this I began listening to Christmas music on my Pandora station...I know, I know, it was October 29th...and a virus attacked my computer!!!!!!! (maybe I was getting punished for my music choice?)
This was bad for several reasons, but most of all - I lost my recipe!
Luckily Joel is able to bring his laptop from work home so I could pull up the recipe on there - whew!

 The rolls pre-frosting (I think they would still have been delicious this way!)
And post frosting! (Notice that 3 are missing...Roni and I inhaled enjoyed ours before I got a picture, plus I had packaged one up for my mom to take to work that night)

This is a recreation of what Roni and I looked like when eating ours :)

This recipe is definitely a repeat!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So it seems that I have fallen off the face of the blog-earth...
After 2 years of 'regularly' posting...I hit a wall!
Many factors contributed to this:
1. We temporarily lost our camera - and I don't like to have too many posts without pictures!
2. We have been incredibly lazy in the evenings and veg on the couch reading or watching t.v. after Mylin goes to bed
3. On Sundays, when I usually post, I have been napping :)
4. We got a virus on our computer a week and a half ago - and I have spent barely anytime on it since!

So...this is my brief post of return and I will work on some new posts to start scheduling again...look forward to my 200th post!!!

What have you all been doing lately?! I'm glad you are still posting and haven't been hit by the same lazy bug I have :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

music I love

One of my favorite artists lately is JJ Heller
I was blessed to get one of her cd's for my birthday last month!

You can visit her website here

And view a one of her music videos below, entitled 'control'

What do you think about a Christian artist singing about cutting?

Monday, October 17, 2011

weekend with Ethan

Our nephew Ethan stayed with us last weekend

He loves his cousin Mylin and likes to say that he's her 'big brother'
He loves pinching her cheeks, tickling her toes, and reading her stories before naptime :)

We love you, Ethan!!! We're so thankful you're a part of our family :)