If you've been reading my posts diligently (thank you from the bottom of my heart, if you actually do that!) - you'll realize there's been a sizeable gap in my posting since around... oh, mid-April.

 That's because, after eight years of marriage and not even a hint of miscarriage or pregnancy, my world turned upside-down. I am PREGNANT!

This comes not only as a shocker because I've been considered "infertile" (a term I strongly dislike) by doctors, but because we did absolutely nothing special to make it happen. No IVF. No drugs. No thermometers. (Do we even have a thermometer in the house?) Nothing. No that there is anything wrong with these approaches - on the contrary. We've visited fertility docs and done tests, and if there was a magic potion we could have taken to speed things along, you bet we would have.

 Not that we're not satisfied with our one beautiful Ethan - no way! If he was the only child we'd ever have, we'd be more than blessed. He's the most amazing kid I've ever met - and I'm totally in love.

 And if we had no children at all, that would still be gloriously happy - because we have the love and salvation of Jesus Christ, who gives us new life and takes our sins away. What more could we possibly want when we have Christ and eternity in view? Even the most bitter life becomes sweet.

 But there I was in April, wondering why my bloated belly didn't recede with trips to the gym or running or sit-ups - and why I couldn't digest food properly - and why I was SO TIRED hiking up one of the local buttes that I was winded in an alarming ten minutes. My Google searches were hilarious! "Can hips spread after age 35?" I typed once. Or how about, "Metabolism slow-down after 35"?

And just like that, I started to have a weird feeling that something wasn't... right.

 I bought a home pregnancy test at Family Dollar (convinced that it would be negative, but needing something to tell the doctor) and was shocked when the lines formed - within seconds of the required two minutes - a perfect plus sign.

 OH. MY. GOODNESS. Few things in my life could possibly prepare me for this moment - that astonishment - that wide-eyed stare at the pinky-blue plus sign. There must be some mistake, I thought wildly, scrambling for the phone to call somebody - anybody - and scream. This can't be true! I must have taken the test wrong.

 When I couldn't get Athos, my leaden brain landed on Cheryl, our pastor's wife - and in a few minutes we were whizzing down the highway to a pregnancy clinic in a haze of disbelief. "I'm 35!" I told her. "This can't be happening! I'm going to be 36 in June!"

 And yet - it DID! It IS!

 As I write, I'm ten weeks along - and already showing a massive belly for my mere two months and something. The photo above was taken at 7 weeks, I think, and I was already big!

As you can imagine, our lives have turned totally upside-down. Instead of working on a fresh new story (now that I'm off my last book deadline, sniff, sniff) I'm buying truckloads of groceries and nausea medication and can hardly think in a cohesive sentence. Instead of focusing all my pent-up energies on heirloom tomato plants and fruit trees and marigolds, I'm paying for ob/gyn visits and trying to find clothes (already) that I can fit into. While my poor potted trees and vegetables get a trip out to the sunshine and... oh, right... maybe some water. If I remember.

 And on Friday night and Saturday, instead of enjoying my already-rounded belly and just-starting garden, I was heaving over the toilet. But let's not think about that too much...

 All in all, this unexpected blessing and swollen womb is a huge milestone in our lives. These past six months, in fact, have brought unimaginable change: nearly losing our son to hydrocephalus at the end of October, and then leaving Brazil with our stitched-up and blessedly alive miracle boy just one month later. We stepped into the plane in hot Brasilia tropics; we got off in Rapid City to sunny patches of snow.

 In just those few short months we've found work for Athos, rented a beautiful and *amazing* trailer in the middle of cow pastures and fields and blessed NOWHERE, down a dusty dirt road, joined a church, started ministering in the community through teaching Sunday school and volunteering at the local food bank, bought a car and furnished our little home with beds and sofas and photos and curtains and a cozy little kitchen table. There is space for a garden - gasp - after so many decades of deep and silent longing - and even fruit trees! A flower garden! Mountains just over the fields all begging to be climbed, and a burgeoning wish list that goes something like: lawn mower, wheelbarrow, camping tents, post-hole digger, roto-tiller, hiking boots, camp stove, sleeping bags, outdoor grill, deer-safe fencing, garden rakes and tools, and so forth.

Even the wish list itself thrills rather than discourages - for we LIVE here now! Little by little, dreams open like sunflowers along the dusty South Dakota roads.

After all these years, it feels like home.

 It IS home.

And by some miracle, we've finally found it. I could live here the rest of my life and never get tired of South Dakota's snowfalls, desolate country roads, and wind in the pines.

Another milestone. Another miracle.

Thank you for being patient with my (slow) progress, and thank you for coming along on this amazing journey with us!

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