Our Beautiful Babies

They are here!!! OK, so they have been here for 2 months now…and we should have introduced them to you that long ago. But alas, this is the best we have to offer, and they are so stinking cute I think you’ll forget their mommy & daddy’s delinquency! 🙂 Yes, I’m terribly partial.

The bottom 2 pics are from a day or two after their birth (Riley Elyse with me, then Bella Brea). The top 2 are their 1st photo shoot with daddy at 1 month. (1st pic, Riley looking at camera, Bella gazing curiously at her sister, 2nd pic, Bella’s head:).

In brief, the birth story:

Monday morning, July 26th, my water broke, but my contractions didn’t change any. I’d been dilated to 4cm for several days & had irregular contractions for weeks. After a leisurely breakfast (they don’t feed you in the hospital!!), we made the drive to Shawnee Mission Medical Center. Because regular contractions never came, they gave me an epidural around noon, then started the drugs to induce me.

After an hour or two, I was only at 5cm. Of course, the stinking doctors start talking about c-section if I don’t start dilating faster. So we sent a text to friends asking for prayer. Next time they checked I was at 7cm! Again, no change for a few hours. Again, they talk c-section. Again, we send out another prayer request. Next time they check me, I’m at 10cm and we’re rolling into the operating room! (All twins at this hospital are born in OR, just in case).

So that was around 9:30 pm. I started to get a fever just before they rolled me into OR, and let me tell you, that room was COLD! At 10:56, Riley Elyse Jackson (finally!) made her grand entrance! She was 5lb 14oz and 19 3/4 inches. Unfortunately, because her water had been broken all day long, she got a bit of my fever. So we didn’t get to hold her at all – they whisked her away to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Bummer, but I was exhausted and getting ready for Bella to come, so was plenty distracted.

At 11:45 Isabelle Brea Jackson was born! She was 6lb 7oz and 18 inches. Because she was a bit bigger than her sister, it was just as tough getting her out. But thankfully, she was healthy, so we got to hold her a bit there in the OR. So beautiful!

Chad went to the NICU to see the girls right away while I recovered a bit. At 2:30am they wheeled me in to see my babies. Now, I’ve never been much of a baby person…could take them or leave them, honestly. But wow, when they’re your own…it really is different. I had no idea I could love these 2 little people so much, when they had done nothing to win me over, and I really barely knew them. Yes, I’m sure it’s partly because of God’s hormone cocktail he mixes for new moms, but I think it also goes deeper than that. God gives us the smallest glimpse of how powerful and unearned his love is for us.

So I’ve been thinking on that a bit more lately. I’m a firm believer in original sin, and I know quite well that my beautiful little girls are also little sinners. As they grow more independent, they will also reveal their rebellious hearts at times (just like me & you and everyone else). But as their mom, I don’t dwell on that. I don’t walk around meditating on the glimpses of selfishness I already see in them at times. I think on how beautiful their eyes are, how fun it is that they are smiling now! and wondering about what kind of women they will be some day.

Sometimes I think we Christians (meaning me) presume God is always meditating on our sin (with a scowl). Of course he’s aware of it, and of course he’s far from impressed by it. But if we are in Christ, we are a new creation, and are slowly becoming all that God always intended for us. If I as a sinful mom find myself relishing in the beauty of my little girls, how much more must God find joy in us (his creation), and enjoy watching us become who he always intended us to be?

Just a thought. And feel free to comment on the theological accuracy or inaccuracy of it, as I haven’t really pondered what scriptural support I have for this. Maybe I’ll do that at my next 3am feeding:).

More later. For now, my bed is calling.


Hi all,

I promise we will update you on our 2 beautiful girls, soon! They are now 1 month old, growing well. For the moment, wanted to share this great video clip on how church is supposed to work.

It’s Monday morning, July 19, 2010. Isabelle Brea and Riley Elise have yet to make their grand entrance into the world. My OB gave us false hope on Friday! She seemed quite confident that the girls would show up this weekend, but the days came and went with no babies. In our excitement we flew my mom out from Idaho. It’s been great to have her here – for her help around the house, and to free Chad up to feel like he can work without worry. But I must say I am eager to meet these girls and begin a new stage in life! Not to mention that I’d love to have feeling back in my fingertips. Who knew that carpal tunnel can result from pregnancy??

3rd Trimester - 32ish weeks

So a brief update on how the pregnancy has gone. In a word, wonderfully. We only had 1 brief period of mild concern when I had some bleeding between the 1st and 2nd trimesters. Apparently that isn’t too abnormal for twin pregnancies. Other than that, the girls have looked healthy at each sonogram and BIG:). As of 2 weeks ago (34 weeks gestation) they were both over 5lbs. By now they are probably more than 6lbs. And considering I have 12lbs of baby in my (with a total weight gain of 50lbs), I feel amazingly well.

And I want to brag on how sovereignly kind God has been to us throughout these 9 months. In the most miserable part of my pregnancy (1st trimester), I didn’t have to work much at all. I was able to lie on our couch, read, sleep. And yet in the moments when I needed strength/energy to host friends or work, I felt exceptionally well.

As we transitioned into my 2nd trimester, we began the process of moving out of our loft. It was a whole ordeal, but God provided free storage space for our stuff while we stayed a couple months with Chad’s sister and looked for a home. It was perfect to have all this activity in the blessed 2nd trimester when I felt pretty darn good. In that season God provided the perfect house for us to buy – just a few blocks from the Art Institute, our church, and several parks. It’s a beautiful little home on an exceedingly friendly block in the heart of midtown KC. Should God call us overseas in the coming years, we should have no problem renting it out.

In the 2nd trimester, he also provided the perfect job for me with CrossWorld. They needed temporary admin assistant help – someone to tied them over for 3 months until they were ready to hire full time employees here in KC. Perfect!! April – June I worked for our Director, Paul. It seemed like a great fit for everyone, and they were so gracious and understanding of my “condition” :).

God also arranged Chad’s work perfectly. The month we moved into our house his workload was pretty light, so he was able to get us settled in way faster than I expected. Then, the month I had to back off my work at CrossWorld because of the babies, his workload increased. In that same month, God prompted some of our supporters to give us a generous gift which was a HUGE help.

We’ve had 3 baby showers and many other friends have provided tons of baby clothes and gear to help us get ready for the girls. And now, when I feel so uncomfortable and marvel at my fat cankles, I’m again free from work, and even have the assistance of not only my wonderful husband, but my service-oriented mom as well.

God has been very, very good to us.

E-Vite for Perspecives on the Crossroads

Hi all,

I am sooo proud to announce that my amazingly talented husband will have his first show in the 1st Fridays Art Walk TONIGHT!! It is titled “Perspectives on the Crossroads” and features creative perspectives on various iconic structures in downtown Kansas City and especially the Crossroads area. We hung all the pics yesterday & will put on the finishing touches today.

You are welcome to join us! Here are the details, in case the image above is too small.

Where: Urban Living Center
1705 Baltimore Ave
Kansas City, MO
When: 5:00 – 9:00pm **note! Invite above is wrong, we’ll be there until 9:00.
Why: do I need to answer this? ok, for kicks: because my husband has amazing talent, because we would love to see you again, because we’ll have food and drinks, because God is please when we reflect his image by our creativity, because the raininess is supposed to subside from 5:30-8:30, because 1st Fridays is a FREE date with that special someone!! Hope that’s enough reason.

That’s all for now. Hope to see you tonight!!

Hi everyone! I’ll skip the obligatory apology for our 2 month delay in updating this blog and instead jump to the excuses. They are the interesting part!

Many of you know Chad and I have tried to start a family for 5 years with no luck. Now it seems God is making up for lost time! In December we learned we are pregnant with twins. Yikes! Answers to standard questions: no, it doesn’t run in my family genetically. No, we weren’t on hormone therapies. And yes, as of last week, we do know the sexes. We will have 2 girls! (or ‘women’ as the male sono tech described them).

So for most of the last 2 months I was pretty miserable, and Chad was busy pampering me. He has been a HUGE support and has curbed me from taking unnecessary risks like walking on ice (hard to avoid this winter!), enjoying even the scent of alcohol, or bending over to clean anything. Yeah, he’s pretty cautious, but I love him for it.

The next question we usually get is “How will this affect your plans to go to France?” If the twins were the only X-factor in our journey to France, they probably wouldn’t change our plans much at all. But God, in his sovereignty, has determined that at this point in time, we don’t have teammates to go with, and we are still far short of our financial support goal. Considering all those things, we decided with our Director at Crossworld that we will hang tight in Kansas City for the next 2 years, get used to being parents and invest in our church and community. At the end of that time we will reassess where we believe God is leading. If it seems to be France, we are AOK with that and ready to role. If not, we trust God will make his will clear.

So what will we do in the meantime, you ask? Chad will continue to pursue his career as a freelance professional photographer, and he is also exploring the possibility of working at Crossworld’s headquarters in some kind of creative role. You may remember that Crossworld is moving their HQ from Philly to Kansas City this spring. I will be feeding, burping, and changing babies and hopefully sleeping a little:). I am not shy about receiving help, so if you want to swing by and lend a hand, feel free!!! I also hope to keep investing in the lives of women at Redeemer and in KC in general. And Chad & I will continue to pursue connecting with artists in our church and community.

So I think that answers most of the preliminary questions. Oh, except this one: technically I am due August 13, but thankfully my OB won’t let me go past the end of July with twins. And really, I figure any time in July is fair game for the kiddos to make their grand entrance into the world.

How you can pray:
1. For healthy babies that grow to love God with all their hearts.
2. For discernment as we pursue various job opportunities and housing options.
3. For adequate health care coverage, as our COBRA ends in July (hows that for timing?)
4. For grace to trust God with these new lives – and our own.

Here’s my belly at the end of the 1st trimester. I’m even bigger now!

We’ll share more soon.

One of the challenges of an artist and photographer is finding new inspiration. Finding things that truly inspire you and resonate with your soul deep within are few and far between. But when you do come across something truly inspiring, you know it. This morning I was checking in on one of the blogs I follow closely. Chase Jarvis, from Seattle, is really doing some great and inspirational things in the photography world right now. But even better, he is bringing to light other bits of inspiration whenever he catches wind of it. This morning, as I checked in with Chase, I noticed this post about street photography. I have always been interested in street photography and have always wanted to use it in a way that showed some deeper meaning in life, so this post and video struck me especially hard. Check it out, but be warned, there are a few graphic photos within the video. However, if you view the video as a whole, it is quite an interesting look inside our american culture today.

Today you get 3 semi-related snippets of thought:

First, I’ve attached my Culture Making book review for those who are interested.

Next, I’m reading a book called Crazy Love, and it alerted me to the following video, which I thought worth posting here.

(If the audio isn’t good on this one, try watching it here.)

And finally, a thought on horizons. In Culture Making, Crouch makes the argument that the cultural artifacts we create set the horizons of what is possible. For instance, the interstate highway system made some things possible that weren’t before (traveling across country in days), but it has made other things nearly impossible (traveling by horseback, or at least horse & buggy).

I found it interesting that in the first week of working here at Blacktop Creative, I felt more creative. Just being in this environment seemed to broaden the very narrow horizons of my creativity, inspiring me to write  witty emails and arrange the coasters on the lunch room table in unique shapes & piles. Little things, for sure, but for a task-completion guru like myself, significant.

For me, this experience supported Crouch’s proposition. It’s not just what we believe or do that changes the world. It’s also what we create. The culture that has been intentionally developed here at Blacktop broadens the horizons of what is possible creatively. In previous work environments, I felt no such inspiration, and even working at home in our gorgeous loft didn’t bring that about to the same degree. But being in a place where humble, creative collaboration is the norm did.

So in case you haven’t picked up on this yet, we think creativity matters. 🙂