Monday, February 10, 2014


They say that every pregnancy is different. That it's unrealistic to compare woman to woman, or even among babies coming from the same mama.

Since lil' miss Kate will be our 4th daughter, I've noticed that this pregnancy has had many similarities to the others. I've had many of the same cravings: lemonade, pickles, and greasy food (in the beginning, probably because it was the best at keeping my nausea away for the longest bout of time). My belly button has popped out like a turkey timer on all four pregnancies. And I've carried all my babies high, and that probably contributes to the super-crazy amounts of heartburn I've experienced with each one.

Some things that have been a little different with Kate are the cravings I had for meat and salty things early on in pregnancy, the fact that I didn't throw up in my first trimester, the stretch marks that showed up on my belly for the first time, the fact that I'm able to sleep a lot better than with the other three (when the other three don't wake me up in the middle of the night) and...

I'm officially over my due date. 

Yup, who would have thought that the 4th baby would be the latest? Ella came right on time, Allie threw me into labor in the middle of a church service a week before my due date, and Caroline was induced a week early because she was due two days after Christmas, and we honestly didn't want to take the chance of missing out on Christmas if she came a little early...not with two little girls full of excitement waiting for us.

But Kate is enjoying her stay in Hotel Mama, and has requested a late check-out of sorts.

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I began praying about her delivery process and felt led to research the possibility of doing labor and delivery without drugs. At first, I thought that I was half-looney. After all, the other three all came with the help of epidurals, and truth be told I had wonderful experiences with all of them. I labored until I was about 7 or 8 and then got the epidural, took a nap, woke up, pushed a few times, and enjoyed meeting my new bundle of joy! What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, I say.

Perhaps the full explanation of how I came to agree with going natural and unmedicated in this L & D will require its own post in the near future (or after I actually deliver, and we can see my pre- and post- L & D thoughts). But suffice it to say that for now, I am believing that my body is ready and equipped to do what it was made to do, and I am actually excited about delivering Kate without the help of an epidural. Yes, pain and all. And so living out this decision necessitates that I wait for labor to start on its own.

But back to that due date. And her being late. Maybe it's a 4th baby thing...she's just going to be laid back and go with the flow, right? Let's hope so. Maybe she just is a little scared of the three energy-filled sisters she hears on the outside. I don't know why, but for whatever reason she is content to just hang out, even though we all think she should be done cooking.

Two weeks ago, we really thought she was on her way. I had been having contractions 5-6 minutes apart from dinner time on Saturday night, all through the night until Sunday morning. Brandon headed off to church (on my orders, to get things set up, and because his parents were spending the night anyway, so I felt confident I'd be okay), and by 10am, I was still contracting, but it wasn't painful at all, so instead of sitting at home counting contractions and watching my kids mess up my nesting-clean house, I decided we needed to go on to church. Remember, Allie began her arrival during a church service, so maybe Kate would kick it into high gear during praise and worship or something.

Well, Brandon was super excited, and from the stage, he actually announced that I was having contractions and that if we got up and left, it was because we were on our way to the hospital. I wanted to crawl under the seat, as everyone went into hyper-baby mode. By the time service was over, my contractions were 3.5mins apart, but still not hurting, and I knew it wasn't yet time to head to the hospital. So, despite the frantic people telling me to get to the hospital right away before 'that baby comes in this movie theater', we decided to get some lunch and get back to the house to put the girls down for their rest and go for a walk while the grandparents were still around. After the walk, we laid down to rest ourselves...

And the contractions stopped. Completely. Nada. Nothing. Womp, wooommmmmmpppppp.

Since then, we've been thinking every day..."today could be the day". That following week was so very unproductive, as we both kind of cleared our schedules thinking we were so close. Friends and grandparents all were on high alert, ready to help at a moment's notice.

By the next Sunday, I dreaded going back to church with my huge belly, but thankfully our folks were encouraging and supportive in their comments. Another week passed, and by then everyone (especially me) was wondering when baby Kate was going to make her appearance. Friends admitted to Facebook stalking me, searching for clues that I was in labor or pictures of a healthy baby. Phone calls, texts, and almost every conversation revolved around due dates, signs of labor, advice on getting labor started, and the like.

Back at church on Sunday, I was worshiping the Lord, and I heard Him say this to me,

"Nicole, you and everyone else are anticipating the arrival of this new baby and that is wonderful. My question to you is, 'what would your life look like if you anticipated beholding My presence like you're anticipating beholding this child?'"


How would our lives be changed if we waited, ever so hopeful, senses heightened, eyes peeled for any sign of God's presence in our day? What would our conversations, our prayers, our attitudes look like? How would our priorities and daily routines change when we clear our schedules to wait for Him? What kind of ministry would be done through us if we knew that He would be returning for us soon, and recognizing that there will be millions who don't yet know Him.

So that's what I've been chomping on for the last day because I'm convinced that eventually this baby will be born, but seeking the Lord in all His glory will be a lifelong endeavor, and I want to do it with great anticipation and excitement.
"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut 4:29

What about you?

Friday, December 06, 2013


It's been two years this week since our dear friends lost their firstborn son the day they were expecting to deliver him. Brave is still very alive in our hearts and we long for the day on the other side of this life where we will meet him face to face.

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy..."


I hear it every day. So many times every day.

I've been guilty of declaring, "that's not my name today," eager to hide from the little voices behind the needs that will distract me from my conversation, my tasks.

And yet, she longs for it. For the distractions. For the little voice.
It would be a welcomed and coveted beautiful sound in her ear.

To hear her baby's cry, as she feels her body preparing to nourish him and realizes her clothes are soaked and will need to be changed before she runs errands later.

To hear her toddler's sweet, squeaky voice call out for her,
tearing her away from whatever less important task she was accomplishing.

To hear her preschooler ask for help spelling his well-fitting name. 

These are sounds I hear every day.
These are the sounds I take for granted every day.

Lord, I'm sorry.
Friend, I'm sorry.

Two years. Two years without her firstborn.
My heart still wrenches for her when I think of how Brave she's had to be.

My children. Healthy. Here. Needy of my attention and love.
Everything else pales in comparison. Really.

Andrew & Christy have displayed incredible bravery as they have grieved these last two years. For more information on their journey, you can visit them here or here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The 5 Love Languages of Pregnancy

I remember reading Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages for the first time. It was so eye opening. It was then that I was able to see in words how most people give and receive love. I recognized that one of my main love languages is Quality Time. I love spending real time with people, getting past the surfacy conversations and getting to know and be known by someone. I also saw how I was giving love the way that I most desired to receive it, but had to adjust and find out what love language others were 'speaking' in order to tell them that I love them.

For instance, Brandon's main love languages are Words of Encouragement and Physical Touch. When I speak life into him, tell him that he's doing an awesome job, speak positively of him in front of others...or when I give him lots of hugs, kisses, back scratches, and er....well, this IS a post about pregnancy, so you get where I'm going with this....he feels loved. Me just buying him a gift simply won't cut it.

And that's no good.

Since I've been a Stay At Home Mom, I think that besides needing Quality Time (read: no screaming kids around while we try to have a conversation), my other love language that is high up there is Acts of Service. When Brandon helps with the nighttime routine (which is pretty often) or gets a wild hair to clean the entire kitchen or wash and clean out my car, I get all warm and gooey inside. He's much more likely to have that Physical Touch need met, too, so we both win. Having three small kids and being engrossed in everyday acts of service for others really allows me to appreciate it when others take small things off my plate.

But now that we are in the last few weeks of our fourth full pregnancy, I have come to find out that there are other, unpublished love languages that pertain to my life right now. My sister-in-law, who is always a wealth of wisdom and just so happens to be preggo too, and I were discussing some of these love languages of pregnancy.

Sleep:  For the preggo, sleep may arguably be the most popular love language. That first trimester is simply exhausting. Personally, I remember never being so tired in all my life. When I was pregnant with Ella, I would come home from work, sit on the couch, and wake up hours later. No dinner had been made, no cleaning or planning for the next day...I would simply shuffle from the couch to the bed and sleep until my alarm would rudely awaken me the next morning. And no, brushing my teeth was not a priority during those times. It only got worse with Allie's pregnancy because although I wasn't working anymore, I had 1 year old to run after, and that was a WHOLE lot more tiring than sitting at a desk. With Caroline, we were in the middle of moving to a new city, leaving our friends, family and connections, and...on the side...no big deal, WE PLANTED A CHURCH. (Note: don't do this. Just don't.) Now, with the fourth child...well, I'm still so tired I can't even express myself adequately. You get the point. It gets worse with more chil'ren. And it doesn't just end. The first trimester and the last trimester are both super sleepy times for Mama. So if you have a preggo and want to tell her you love her, give her a break to get some shut eye. Men, put the kids down to bed yourself and tell her to get in bed and not worry about a thing. Friends and family: offer to watch the kids or help out so she can get some much needed sleep. She'll feel super duper loved.

Food: This can go two ways. One, the preggo is going to have some serious CRAVINGS. This happens mostly through the first and second trimester, but in the third she will definitely know what she wants to eat most of the time. There's just something about having a craving satisfied that makes a preggo happy, happy, happy. And two, there are going to be some serious AVERSIONS. If your preggo can't stand the smell of fish during pregnancy, don't go to Harbor Inn at lunch and come home smelling like an aquarium. Don't even mention Red Lobster. Don't request shrimp scampi for dinner. Whatever her aversion is, note it and STAY AWAY. You'll be happier, I promise, when she feels loved in this way. And don't get upset if her aversions include your favorite foods or change suddenly. Just go with it, because like other pregnancy-related downers, this too shall pass.

Sanity: This is super important for a preggo because pregnancy is a time when our minds are racing. If this is a first pregnancy, there are no less than a gazillion things going through Lil' Mama's mind. It's a time when anxiety levels can be high, so if you know a preggo, give her space to collect her thoughts. Perhaps a Starbucks gift card (if she doesn't have an aversion to the smell of coffee, that is) and a journal so she can write down her thoughts, lists, To Do's, etc... Also, don't pile more on her plate than normal. This is not the time to announce to her that you are quitting your job to pursue your hobby as a full-time means of income, or that you want to take an trip out of the country that just so happens to land during her 36th week. This does nothing but make for more craziness going on in her mind. Finally, go with the flow when it comes to her forgetting things. Because she will. Often. Even the most organized, on-top-of-it preggos get pregnancy brain. We can't remember our own middle names sometimes, much less where we put that receipt that you need for reimbursement. Instead of scowling, just say, "it's okay, babe" and figure something else out.

Massage: Massage can often be tied in with Sanity (i.e. a massage definitely helps keep a preggo sane). My husband has always been good about hooking me up with an hour long prenatal massage sometime in my second or third trimester. During my last pregnancy, my dad actually sent me to the spa for a whole day of pampering...massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. Marvelous. Having the opportunity to put your big 'ole belly in a hole and lay face down in a dark, warm, relaxing room while someone massages your sore back is pure bliss. Especially when you are growing another person in your womb and haven't been able to sleep in your favorite position in over 6 months. If you can't afford a prenatal massage for the preggo you love, feel free to pull out the lotion or massage oil and offer to hook a sister up with a massage yourself, focusing on her lower back, neck, fingers, legs, and feet. Please note, massage should be reserved for the second and third trimester only. Also, be aware and stay away from prenatal pressure points that have been known to induce labor before your preggo is full term (at least 37 weeks).


Chop Blocking Anyone Who Tries to Touch The Belly: Many women may adhere to the self-loving aspect of this because they are the ones being violated when strangers or even well-meaning friends without permission try to touch the belly. But, men...friends, whomever is close to the preggo, can really tell her they love her by going Mister Miyagi on people who reach out unsolicited. Preggo feels protected and loved in unimaginable ways, I promise! I talked a little about this here, but I'll say it again. If you want to love on a preggo AND you want to touch her belly...ask first. I have no qualms about embarrassing someone in public or cutting their finger off if they come in unexpectedly. But I'd rather have someone else do my dirty work for me because I'm just too darn big, tired, cranky, etc...

So, there it is.  5 ways to love the preggo in your life. Find out which ones she needs when (she'll probably need all of them at some point over the 40 weeks), and hook a sister up. You'll be happy you did.

Your turn: What other pregnancy love languages can you think of? If you've been pregnant, what are some ways people have loved you well? Share, share, share!

Simply Sassy Designs

I took the plunge and started getting my creative juices flowing this spring. I don't know if it was moving into a new home and wanting to be able to re-create our style on the new pallet, or what, but one thing led to another, and Simply Sassy Designs has been resurrected.

I've had some success with it already...buying furniture at yard sales and off Craigslist and "re-loving" the pieces with fresh paint and hardware. I even have had one new bride who was the recipient of some hand-me-downs and has had me redo a few of those pieces for her and her new husband's home. It's definitely been a fun little adventure that has also been beneficial to our budget in this season of our lives!

Here is the link to my Simply Sassy Designs blog, for those interested in seeing more transformations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nerd Night

Truth be told, I was fairly warned ahead of time.

I remember Brandon's college roommates playfully giving him a hard time about being "deep". They'd refer to his sometimes ill-timed desires for deep conversation as "BBerry's getting into philosophical mode".  They recalled stories of how they'd be ready to go to bed and he would come into their room wanting to talk about deep theological issues until they finally had to kick him out to get some shut eye.

For some reason, I didn't take them seriously.

And then I got married to "BBerry" and we moved clear. across. the. country.  Just me and him. No friends, no mentors, no kids...just us. And in the midst of both being full-time grad students and newly weds, we spent a lot of time together and not as much time in big social groups.

That's when I realized these guys were being serious about philosophical mode.

I tried to track with him most of the time, at first. You know, the new wife thing where every word that comes out of his mouth is awesome personified. But somewhere between years 2 and 3 (ironically, right after we had our first baby), I was no longer able to keep up step for step with all of his topics of conversation. 

Most of you who know my dear hubby know what I'm talking about. He likes to go deep. Sometimes really deep. Sometimes so deep that you wonder if and when he will have to come back to the shallows for some air.

It's one of those things about him that I have a love/hate relationship with. One on hand, I love that I'm not the deepest person in this relationship, or we'd be stuck watching Napoleon Dynamite and this:

I love that he's a deep thinker and especially that he takes the time and makes the space in his calendar to meditate, reflect, research and study. I'm not good at that, and I'll admit that many times when he brings up something that is going to require me to put on my swimmies (read: a little too deep for my comfort level), once I actually go there with him, I usually feel pretty intrigued, and possibly a little wiser.

But there's this other side of me that wishes I had he'd have someone else to share some of this stuff with. And please understand that I'm not at all trying to dishonor my husband. I mean, for crying out loud...he's trying to explain Shechem to me, but at least he's not bar fighting. It could be a lot worse. When I'm really honest, it's not that I don't like going there with him (to the deep convos, not the bar), it's just that with three kids 4 and under and...nevermind, all I need to say is "with three kids 4 and under", I just don't have the time nor energy to track with him when he wants to explain why the red heifer is important.

So a few years ago, I was getting tired of trying to act interested when he wanted to go really, really deep...I'm talking seven bowls of revelation and stuff like that. So, I suggested that I bake brownies and he could invite his friends over to talk about stuff like that and let me off the hook.

And Nerd Night was officially invented.

It was awesome. Three of his buds (all Furman grads and self admitted to like to go deep) would come to the house after we put the girls down for bed, and they'd stay up all night mapping out scripture, talking through obscure verses, and praying. Meanwhile, I'd hide away in my bedroom with a novel or movie or just take that opportunity to go to bed early. Did I mention it was awesome? He got an outlet and I got a break.

In the process, Brandon has grown close with each of these godly men. I've loved watching him get excited to dig in with them. They've even driven all the way to Charlotte to continue the tradition! I'm so thankful for their friendship and their individual relationships with the Lord which encourage and challenge my husband.
So here's to Nerd Night! May God richly bless these guys with more wisdom and knowledge as they seek him diligently!

I'm still here...

My life has been crazy since my last post in February. Three kids and a new church ain't no joke. I longingly look at my blog shortcut on top of my internet toolbar throughout the day and think, "I wish I had time to write a blog."

So here is a start. A very small start.

Ella is beginning school next week. Allie will also be going to pre-school three mornings a week. I'm about to go from having three small children in the house all day long to having time with just Caroline.

Not sure what I'm going to do with the time. Study the Word. Play with my baby. Clean my house. Get on top of my To-Do list? Rest?

Maybe I'll blog about it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Day 7: Button

Okay, okay, okay. I didn't take this picture today.

"Why didn't you have enough time/energy/hutzpuh to take a picture of a button today, Nicole," you may ask?

Well, really, I had great intentions to do so. A button. Let's see. My girls have the cutest button noses. I could have taken a picture of them. I just made hair bows with button on them. That would have been perfect for a picture and blog post.

But truthfully, yesterday Brandon and I tried to live intentionally. Tried, is the key word here. Tried is so closely spelled like TIRED. 

Brandon woke up early. Got in the Word. Got his prayer on.
I woke up early. Fed the baby. Got in the Word. Got some prayer on.

The girls woke up later. Hallelujah. Could be because they didn't fall asleep the night before until 11pm, but that's a whole other story.

After Word and prayer and the sleepy girls got up, Brandon helped them make oatmeal and we had a picnic in our bedroom after I planned out our day of learning and engaging.

About that. We are trying to be more intentional about pouring into our kids. We've been so busy with moving, the church launch, being preggo, having a new baby, etc...that we have been guilty of letting Nick Jr. engage them more than we have. Not good. Not okay. Not anymore was our answer.

But after an hour of teaching them about Noah and his ark...practicing our N's, coloring, counting by twos, playing outside, etc...then making lunch and cleaning together and strategically waiting until they were 'resting' to get work done, and then playing outside again and making dinner and cleaning...

I was about to self-destruct. And I totally didn't care that I got into bed at 9:02pm without taking a button picture.

Being intentional is kind of like getting in shape. It takes a while to be able to run a few miles when you haven't run much at all in the last few months. So I'm gonna keep at it.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Day 6: Dinner

Berry Family Kitchen
Tender Ham Steak cooked in Cast Iron Skillet
Homemade Hash Brown Casserole
Hearts of Romaine and Spinach Salad with Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Bacon, and Cheese.
Beverage: Ice Water

Notes: Allie and Ella helped make the salad. Allie didn't eat it. Allie didn't really want to eat anything. Except the "hotdogs" with ketchup. Allie had a time out during dinner for getting out of her chair a bazillion times. Ella tried the hash brown casserole and liked it, Green Eggs and Ham style. "I like it Sam I Am!" Caroline was screaming when I put dinner down on the table, but I was smart and pre-cut my ham so I could hold her and eat without issues, allowing my wonderful husband to get his grub on without having to hold a crying baby. Selfless, I know... ;)  Actually, Caroline decided she was also hungry for dinner at the same time, so I go my multi-tasking self to work.

And after all that, I completely forgot to take the Day 6: Dinner picture.

But I did make cookies and the as the Berry girls were snuggling in with Daddy for the 17 thousandth viewing of "Tangled," I snapped a quick dessert picture. 

And here it is...

Day 5: 10am

Day 5 was Sunday. At 10am, we are in the middle of church. And at 10am today, we happened to be in the church that we helped plant and now lead as the campus pastors, RWOC Charlotte! This picture is the culmination of a year and a half of training, hard work, relationship building, and a lot of prayer! It's exciting to see it become a reality.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Day 4: A Stranger

These have become quite the strangers in the last 10 months. I'd like to get reacquainted with them real soon...