December 9, 2013

The Whirlwind Year + December Tidings

Well folks, it's been a quite some time since we've last updated our blog, hasn't it? Here we are, in the second week of December already! I can't believe that it is already the end of 2013. It seems fitting, then, to do a little recap of our 2013 - with several pictures highlight what God has taken us through (and is still taking us through! Trust me, you'll want to keep reading this one!).


January 2013 - Winter Break in Hawaii
I don't think that David or I have ever had such a whirlwind year. In January, we welcomed in the New Year 2013 together in Hawaii while David visited me for Christmas break. It was the first time that we had been together since Lake Ann Camp - a separation of nearly 5 months! Those were some of the most difficult months on us in our relationship with each other because we went from seeing each other everyday at camp to a very long distance relationship! However, although it was incredibly difficult to see it then, God definitely used that time for His good because it was also probably one of the most foundational times for us as we learned more about each other and headed into a more serious relationship. You learn an awful lot about a person when all you have is communication! The communication lessons that we learned over this time and the following months are still the basis for the great open communication that we share to this day. On January 12, David returned to Chicago headed into his second semester at Moody Bible Institute, and I remained in Hawaii teaching at my beloved Mid-Pacific Institute preschool.


March 21, 2013 - Engagement: Spring Break
Before we knew it, spring break was approaching! God provided once again for David to be able to come out and visit me in Hawaii. What I didn't know, was that David had been all too cleverly planning to propose on this trip! By now, David and I were already making plans for David's Eastern Europe summer internship, and so I had been expecting a proposal during the summer and probably in Greece (David may have been a bit misleading with some of the things he had said to me about that! That sneaky boy…). However, on March 21st at sunset, David popped the question on the beach. As you all know, I said yes! We separated again as spring break came to a close, but this time there was no doubt that this long distance relationship would be closing the gap shortly!

Summer 2013 - Athens, Greece

This was, not surprisingly, an incredibly busy time for us! Not only were we planning to finally end long distance forever and fly off to Eastern Europe for the summer, but we were also wrapping up a semester at Moody, saying goodbye to Mid Pac, planning a wedding that was quickly approaching in just under 9 weeks, packing up things to be moved to Chicago, looking out for job opportunities, finding an apartment, plus we were also getting into the final days of raising the support we needed for our mission trip! We posted the full story here on the blog, but as a quick summary: in the course of one day, God provided 75% of the funds we needed to go on our mission trip! And in the next couple of days before leaving for the summer, the rest of the money came in. It was truly a miracle! And many of you were a part of it!
Summertime consisted of us traveling to various missions/organizations in Romania, Greece, and Serbia. We won't go into too much detail about it now, though, since we were pretty faithful with keeping the blog updated throughout the summer months! All in all, we were so blessed to be able to go to Eastern Europe and serve God throughout the nations together.


August 9, 2013 - The Wedding

Wedding bells were ringing! We returned to Hawaii and hit the ground running! With just a week to finalize all of the preparations for the big day, we were completely swamped! Somehow everything fell into place by August 9th, when we were surrounded by our loved ones as we committed our lives to God and each other. The next couple of weeks we honeymooned in Kauai, and before we knew it, we were flying off to our new home in Chicago.


October 2013

As many of you read in a previous blog entry, in October David and I made the difficult decision to resign from my position as teacher in the Jewish preschool that I had been working at while during our first weeks in Chicago. Over the past couple of months we have been more dependent on God than ever, trusting in Him to provide the right job for David or me in His perfect timing. It can be discouraging as job opportunities fall through or as the 20th resume gets sent out with no reply, but we do trust that God has a plan and purpose for this time in our lives, and really, He has never failed us yet! And He never will. We are not starving or homeless, we have a car and clothes to keep us warm in these cold winter months. It seems to me that whenever I am forced into a position of helplessness and total dependence on God, that it is then that my relationship with Him is strongest, because I know I don't have anything without Him. He is not just an option, He is a need. When life seems to be going perfectly, sometimes I forget that.

Well, this sort of brings us up to date, doesn't it? Well.....almost. There's one more thing we should mention. Although we can't say for certain that we know the exact reason that God has kept me from acquiring a new job over the past couple of months, we do have a guess. I think it's better to just show you what our guess is by this next picture:

Got this little message on Oct. 19, 2013!

Yep! David and I are pregnant (bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?!?!)! Now, although we found out about this pregnancy in October, we are only just now in the second trimester where the chances of miscarriage are greatly diminished. So we can now joyfully share this news with you today! Baby Graef should be making his or her appearance in mid-June of 2014.
David and I suspect that maybe the reason that God saw fit to keep me "jobless" for the past couple of months was due to the fact that I was thrown into full-time "baby-growing." I really am not sure how I could have successfully held even a part-time job during the first trimester. Nausea and exhaustion have characterized most of the past 12 weeks, making me scarcely even capable of being a good homemaker (although David strongly disagrees with me when I say that). I really feel so thankful to God that He 1) led David and I out of the stressful situation at the Jewish preschool before we even knew we were expecting. The stress levels there could have easily been very harmful to the baby and myself, especially in those fragile early stages of pregnancy. And 2) I am so thankful to have been able to rest and do what my body needed over the past couple of months by not having the cares, worries, and daily grind of an actual job. Baby-growing is really hard work! I am so thankful for a husband who has been so patient and so empathetic throughout the ups and downs of the first trimester (and now into the second!). I honestly don't know how single moms do it even in this phase of motherhood.

Mom's reaction to the news haha! Think she was surprised?
All smiles from Ash! Kingston & Meadow will have a new cousin!
The new great grandparents, parents, & grandparents
4 generations of Graefs in this photo!
I always pictured myself completely freaking out when I imagined telling people the news that I was expecting, but instead, it feels very surreal! I suspect that I will feel more excited as the weeks go by and I begin to get a legitimate baby bump and feel the movement of a squirming baby inside, but for now, I look virtually the same and definitely don't feel anything in my belly besides being extremely bloated haha! So I really don't feel pregnant yet..but I'm sure it will come allll too soon!
Now the reason we don't have an ultrasound picture to accompany this announcement is because when the doctor first sent us to get an ultrasound, it was still very early in the pregnancy. The ultrasound didn't look like much. Baby Graef was just a little gray oval then. However, now we're nearing the time for a second ultrasound and we hope to post Baby Graef's first picture in this next week or so. We are so excited to see what he/she looks like now!
Although the nausea and exhaustion and overall feeling of completely not being myself have been pretty unbearable at times, I am thankful for these symptoms because apparently they characterize a healthy pregnancy. Pretty much everything that has happened so far has just been directed at mommy, so I'm okay with that. As long as Baby Graef is safe and healthy and growing, I can take it!

Well, this seems to conclude our little "Highlights of 2013" escapade! We hope you will join with us in praise to God over this new little life and that you will also come alongside us in prayer as we ask Him to continue to keep our baby safe and healthy and growing. We really covet your prayers in this!
Now that the news is out, I expect that there will be more blog updates in the next few months, especially falling under the category of the new baby!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! We are so thankful for this crazy whirlwind year, and we wouldn't trade it for anything! We have gone from dating, to engaged, to newlyweds, to parents in no more than 365 days! What a crazy wonderful year it has been…

With love,
Randie Megan & David

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."

Proverbs 19:21

Baby Graef:
13 Weeks
Size of a Peach

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