Category: Family…

Preparing a Place for Our Baby…Part One

When we bought our house in December 2012, we knew we had a lot of work to do. Thankfully, we received a great deal of help from friends and family and were able to finish a majority of the house in just a few months. We didn’t take the time/energy/money to do the rooms we weren’t going to be using, including the bedroom that will become our baby’s room.

This is what it looked like when we bought it:

The Pink Room 178174_859492408730_1448902400_o


Lovely, right? It has affectionately been known to us as “the pink room” and I can’t wait for it to have a new name. 🙂 “______’s room” 🙂

The transformation began on April 19, 2014 when we were able to re-finish the hardwood floors in that room. We had done the rest of the house  over a year ago, but the pink room became the storage area for all of the furniture that went in the other rooms during the process and we couldn’t really do these floors. We didn’t think we’d be using this room for a while… 🙂

Now the floors look great and are protected by thick paper so that we can continue the renovation process!

Brennan removed the wallpaper border last night, and we’ll be patching/repairing the walls over the next couple of days. On Sunday a heavy coat of primer will be applied (thanks to some wonderful friends!) and then some fresh paint next week (thanks to my Mom who is coming all the way from California to help us prepare the room).

The preparation of her room is making this feel more and more real – in three months we’ll have a new family member!

First Pregnancy: 25 Weeks and Counting…

IMG_0289-2This post is more vulnerable than I tend to be on here, but I know that my struggle isn’t uncommon among women, especially those who are pregnant, so I felt that it was worth sharing.

Last week we had our “maternity photos” taken by a talented friend of mine who was in town for a visit.

I had hesitated to have them done because I am incredibly self-conscious of my appearance right now; however, knowing myself, I realized that I would likely regret not having done this to document our first pregnancy. We decided that even if we didn’t share any of them, it was important to have them taken for our benefit and for our baby girl to see some day.

We had these done the day after my 24-week appointment – the one where I was told that I had gained “too much weight” the past month, therefore making me feel even worse about my weight and appearance. The number I saw on the scale was truly horrifying and one that I never thought that I would ever see. Not exactly what you want to hear before having portraits taken!

It doesn’t help that I was already overweight when I found out I was pregnant (I had actually just lost 11 pounds and was doing really well with losing weight…figures 🙂 ). I was already self-conscious and nervous about gaining weight during pregnancy because of this, so hearing that from the nurses just made me feel *great* about myself. 🙂

I’ve tried to remind myself of a few things over the past 25 weeks:

1 – I am growing a human being. This takes a toll on any pregnant woman’s body.

2 – I am supposed to gain weight, and as long as I am doing my best to be healthy, the number on the scale doesn’t matter (much easier said than believed).

3 – After delivery, breastfeeding and a good diet/exercise will melt the pounds away, and I will be able to work toward being at a healthy weight before the next pregnancy.

4 – My husband loves me no matter what and he still thinks that I am beautiful. He tells me that daily, even though I may not agree 🙂

5 – I have to stop playing the comparison game! It doesn’t matter what other pregnant women look like. It doesn’t matter that they might look “cuter” pregnant than I do. At the end of the day, what matters is that our baby is healthy and I am healthy.

I know that this will be a daily battle for the next few months, especially when comments like the one I received yesterday are received (“you look like you’re ready to go any day!”). But, the most important thing that I can do right now is to just continue eating well and taking care of the growing baby inside of me, no matter what the scale (or my mind) says. That’s all that matters.



Other than the above, I am still feeling GREAT and am so very thankful that pregnancy has been so kind to me thus far. I am having issues sleeping because of hip pain, but Brennan’s massage skills are really helping to calm down the irritated muscles and allowing me to sleep more soundly.

I will be 26 weeks on Sunday and can’t believe that we’re getting so close to meeting her already! My last day of work is less than three months from now…crazy.

No, we do not have a name. Even if we did, we have decided to not share the name until birth for multiple reasons. 🙂

She is kicking and moving around frequently now (ever since 22 weeks), though not strong enough for Brennan to be able to feel yet.

The floor in her room was refinished last weekend thanks to Brennan and our friend Dean! Next is a fresh coat (or coats) of paint in the next few weeks and then decorating.

This is getting real.

Five Years Ago Today…

Sometimes I wish that God would help us out a little in terms of recognizing moments that we should remember vividly forever. 🙂 A little nudge would be amazing.

My best example: when I met Brennan. That was a slightly important moment in my life, and I honestly don’t remember much about it.

It was five years ago today, Easter Sunday, sometime around noon. It was at East Shore Baptist Church. My life was about to change and I had NO idea.

I remember that I had been up since 4:00am and had just helped lead three worship services. I was exhausted. I remember that his mom said something about wanting me to meet someone, and me (the exhausted introvert) reluctantly following her. I remember inviting him to our newly formed “singles” class the following week and not saying much else.

Why is it that we can often remember the boring, unimportant details about such important moments, but not the details that really matter? Why can’t I remember what he was wearing, what he said, how he looked at me, etc.? In these moments, a little nudge from God would be SO helpful.

Mr. and Mrs. Brackbill!

In the past five years, so much has happened.

We were friends for three months, dated for six, were engaged
for nine, and have been married for three and a half.
Since our wedding, we have had three addresses.
We are expecting our first child, a daughter, in August 2014.

And, much like the song we danced to on our wedding day says, “…and I thought I loved you then.”
I never could have imagined how much love grows and deepens almost daily!

“What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more – but I’ve said that before…”

I may not remember very clearly how we met, but I am no less thankful for what joy the last five years have brought to my life.

I wasn’t looking for love that day, or even a date. But God, in His sovereignty and grace, redeemed that uneventful first meeting and turned it into a lifelong love.

Like a river meets the sea, stronger than its ever been
We’ve come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then”


First Pregnancy: 21 Weeks and Counting…

I realized that I haven’t been writing anything down about this pregnancy. So, since people have asked, I decided to do a quick blog post.

I am 21 weeks and 3 days pregnant today with our first child – a baby girl.

Despite all of the funny/ridiculous “gender prediction” things we read online that said we were having a boy, we found out last Monday that our baby is a girl, and I’m honestly still adjusting to that fact. I had always envisioned having boys, and maybe a girl later…but, I trust that God gives us the children He wants us to have, and in our case that is a firstborn girl. I think part of the shock comes from insecurity about raising a girl to be a godly woman in this world/culture, but we will take one day at a time and pray constantly for her (and for us to have the wisdom to guide her).

We do not have a name chosen, nor do we have any contenders at this point. However, we have decided to keep the name a secret until after she is born anyway, so that gives us over 4.5 months to decide. 🙂

This pregnancy has been so easy and I don’t take that for granted. Most days, unless I look down or look in the mirror, I forget that I’m pregnant. I had some indigestion around week 6, food aversions to salad/vegetables through week 18, and mild heartburn after eating tomato-based foods consistently (ice cream makes it go away, though! 😉 ). That’s really it. I’m learning to sleep on my left side and my hips have had some pain from that, but, again, I can’t complain: many women have incredibly difficult pregnancies and are miserable throughout the entire ten months.

I am starting to experience “pregnancy hormones” finally – mostly taking the form of being more emotional than usual (and I’m not very emotional to begin with, so that has been weird) and having less tolerance for people’s behavior. It has surprised me because I’m normally very easy-going and let things slide…but in the past couple of weeks, grumpy/annoying behavior (including terrible drivers) has driven me crazy. 🙂 Thankfully, Brennan is so understanding and knows me well enough to know that this is NOT my normal personality whenever I complain to him about things like this.

We haven’t really started working on her room yet, as there are specific steps that have to happen in order. The floor will be refinished on April 19th, and then my mom is coming out to help paint in May. By the day of the baby shower, the room will be ready for furniture/decorations! 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already more than half-way done with our first pregnancy! It’s time to start reading up on caring for newborns, parenting, etc. so that we can be as prepared as we can be to raise our daughter well.

Tomorrow’s the big day!

Boy or girl?

Tomorrow’s the day we find out what our little baby is!

Here are the results from the survey we posted on Facebook:
53.85% said girl, 46.15% said boy.

We had some fun with the silly prediction methods we found on the Internet as well. According to the “Ajax test” and the “nose width” test, it’s a boy. 

Lesa’s guess is still that it’s a girl, but she would be perfectly fine with being wrong. 😉 Brennan’s guess is still that it’s a boy. Results will be posted at some point this week!

Family, Memories, and Meatloaf…

My great-aunt Dee passed away at some point this past weekend. I realize that I am fortunate to have known her as well as I did – she lived across the street from my parents’ house so we saw her often. She was always present at family gatherings, and much joy was had in her home. I know that many people don’t know their great-aunts and uncles; however, I knew most of mine well and cherished my time with them. I am so thankful for a family that loves the Lord because that brings hope in situations like this. I know she is reunited with her husband and her parents, and they’re having a great time in Heaven together.

Aunt Dee is my grandmother’s sister, and I believe that my grandmother met my grandfather as a result of Aunt Dee. Aunt Dee married Uncle Virgil, my grandfather’s brother, making all of their children “double cousins” as they like to say. Because of these two sisters marrying two brothers, our family has always been extra close, and I’m so grateful.

Aunt Dee was an incredible woman with so many talents and passions. Her full name was Descygne, which is French (I believe) for swan. Living up to her name, Aunt Dee was graceful and gentle like a swan. She was a great example to us all of what it means to be a loving, godly mother and wife, and I’m so thankful to have known her for thirty-one years.

I remember so many things about spending time with her – here are just a couple of memories: I remember that she was one of the first people in our family to have a computer and the Internet, and she would let us use it. I remember camping in her backyard with my cousins, staying up with Uncle Virgil singing and laughing for hours. I remember spending time with her talking about our family history and trying to glean as much knowledge from her as possible.

Aunt Dee made many priceless contributions to our family. Without her, our family wouldn’t know nearly as much about our family history and genealogy (including the fact that we are distantly related to the Earnhardt family!). Without her, we wouldn’t have our “reunion books” from each annual Madole Family Reunion, chronicling each year’s gathering with stories, pictures and relevant family updates – truly treasured possessions of us all. She recognized the importance of capturing these memories so that future generations would know their relatives. I’m also fairly sure she was responsible for our two Madole Family Cookbooks, which are not only filled with recipes contributed from many family members, but also with short stories about the recipes and why they are special/where they came from/where the person lived at the time of publication.

I had planned to make our family’s meatloaf recipe yesterday for dinner well before I heard the news of her passing. When I looked in our family cookbook to find the recipe, I noticed that my great-aunt is the one who contributed our now beloved meatloaf recipe to the cookbook so many years ago. It seemed fitting that we had planned to enjoy that beloved meal on that day, and we did so through tears.

My family in California had just gathered last week to enjoy meatloaf for my grandfather’s birthday (photo below), and Aunt Dee was happily present as always.

So now I share with you our favorite meatloaf recipe (in fact, the only one our family makes), in memory of my precious great-aunt Dee.

Everyday Meatloaf

2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated or chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sage

  • Soak bread crumbs in milk.
  • Add meat, eggs, onion and seasonings and mix well
    (hands work best).
  • Form loaf into loaf pan
    (use a “meatloaf pan” if you have one – it drains the fat).
  • Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
  • After 30 minutes, add sauce to the meatloaf and return to oven for remaining 30 minutes. If you use a regular loaf pan, you may need to remove grease before applying sauce.

Awesome Sauce: The sauce is definitely the best part
*note: we recommend doubling the sauce 🙂
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard

  • Mix all ingredients together and apply to meatloaf after first 30 minutes.

Farewell, my dear Aunt Dee. I can’t wait to see you and our other loved ones someday on those streets of gold.

Day Twenty: I’m Thankful For…My Pennsylvania Family.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/20/12 (with slight changes made today).

I came to Pennsylvania for the first time eleven years ago. I came as a “summer missionary” to serve in Williamsport, PA for ten weeks. It was my first time traveling east of the Mississippi and I was excited, but a little nervous at the same time: I left Southern California having little idea of what to expect, but I was armed with plenty of stereotypes that had been fed to me by friends. Thankfully, most of those stereotypes were proven to be incorrect (i.e. “everyone’s Amish there!”) and I had a fabulous summer.

I remember the first night in Williamsport so well. I spent time with the pastor and his family while I waited for the couple with whom I would be living to arrive. A terrible storm had come through earlier and the power had been out for a while in much of Williamsport. When we got to the house that would be my home for the summer (and the next summer), it was dark, raining, and we had to use candles and flashlights (so I felt like we were Amish!). I got to spend a couple of hours talking with Toby and Susan, and I met Cheyenne briefly…little did I know that these wonderful people would become my “Pennsylvania Family” 🙂

I lived with them for two summers and have stayed in touch with them ever since. They flew to California to be there for our wedding, which meant so much to us. Toby and Susan love Jesus and they have been such an encouragement and support to me/us over the past decade. I cannot thank God enough for allowing me to live with them and to know them. They helped my two summers of ministry be successful in so many ways.

God has always been faithful with placing people in my life who are great role models, who live out their faith genuinely, and who love others abundantly, and Toby and Susan are two of the greatest examples of those things in my life. 🙂

Day Sixteen: I’m Thankful For…Grandparents.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/16/12 (with slight changes made today).

I realize that I already posted about being thankful for “family”…but I feel that my grandparents deserve their own post.

I am SO blessed to still have all four of my grandparents living and healthy. All of them were at our wedding, which was a lifelong prayer of mine. All of them still live in Northern California and are still happy and active. Each of them are special to me for different reasons. All four of them have such incredible wisdom and life experience to share!

I am also blessed to have known two of my great-grandparents very well…my great-grandma Vera was part of my daily life until I was 18. That woman was strong until the end. She was still raking her own leaves and mowing her own lawn at 88 years old. Oh how I miss her. She was so much fun to talk to and she always had the best stories to tell us. Our annual family reunions are gatherings of her family–she had 7 brothers and sisters. My great-grandpa Irvin passed away when I was 9. It is from him that I received my musical ability: that man could play any instrument with strings! They were married over 60 years, and they were two of the godliest, most talented and loving people I’ve ever known.

Grandparents are such a gift and I am SO thankful to know mine so well!

Day Three: I’m Thankful For…Family

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/03/12 (with slight changes made today).

I have a unique and wonderful family…some I’ve known my whole life, some I’ve known for seven years (my dad’s biological family), and some I’ve known for four years (Brennan’s family). I have been surrounded by love my entire life and I am so thankful for that.

During our tenure as Relief Houseparents at the Milton Hershey School (nearly two years), we became so thankful for our family and childhoods. Our MHS boys long for the family stability from which I come, and it truly breaks my heart when they talk about not having (or not really knowing their) fathers. Many come from very broken homes…and these things have affected them deeply.

I am blessed to have a heritage of life-long marriages: my parents will celebrate 33 years on November 8th, my mom’s parents just celebrated 61 years, and my dad’s parents just celebrated 57 years. My great-grandparents were married over 60 years. We’ve been blessed to be a very tight-knit family. My mom’s side of the family just held their 52nd annual family reunion this past summer. My family is loving, caring, compassionate, welcoming, and hilarious. 🙂

I’m very thankful for my parents and for the example they have provided for my brother and I. Their marriage has faced its trials as life has thrown them some interesting curves over the years…but, they chose to grow stronger together and to fight these trials together instead of allowing their marriage to fall apart. They chose to love each other through it all and their marriage is incredibly strong because of it. My parents are willing to do anything they can to help someone in need, and that is one of my favorite things about them.

I’m thankful that Brennan’s family has welcomed me with open arms and has made me feel welcome from day one. Since they live in the area, it’s really great to have family here since mine is so far away.

I’m so thankful that we have had the opportunity to meet my dad’s biological family and that through this experience we’ve learned so much about our genetics and our quirks. I’m so much like my dad, so meeting them has solved some mysteries for me as well (including where my green eyes came from). I’m thankful that they also (for the most part) opened their arms to us and have made us feel like we’ve always been part of the family.

Thank you, Lord, for your provision of family…

New Chapter…

Friday marks my last day as an employee of my company. I am the second one in my department to be laid off due to budget cuts, which means that my small department has now lost 20% of their workforce.

I have been trying to leave this job for well over a year…I’ve been trying to find something that better fit my passions, skills, interests, etc. and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to “be” in terms of a career. This job was never going to be a career–it was a stepping stone to hopefully move onto different positions within the company…and I have now been here for two years and eight months, not due to lack of trying!

About three weeks ago, after God continued to close door after door, I had resigned myself to the fact that I needed to just stay put until we had a kid. I moved my office furniture around, dove into projects and was pro-active about taking an extra project on that needed to be done. I was actually enjoying my job for the first time in quite a while because I had DECIDED to enjoy it.

I definitely did not expect what happened last Wednesday to happen. No one did. My bosses were quite upset about it and apologized profusely to me. I was stunned. I felt strangely sad, though I had been praying that God would release me for a long time now, and the only reason that makes sense is this: I didn’t get to leave on MY terms. I didn’t get to give my notice, and it wasn’t for my reasons. This isn’t my choice. My choice was to stay here until the time comes to be a stay-at-home mother, not to be let go because the company is making cuts.

Over the past week I have grappled with this new reality and still have no answers. However, I fully believe that God is completely sovereign and that He loves me deeply. I believe that His ways are far more wise than my own. So I will trust Him and choose to be content.

We are not worried at all–we have no doubt that He will provide for us – He has done it continuously and will do so again and again. I am truly content and am excited to see what comes my way! I’m excited to be able to be at home more to take care of things like planting our vegetable garden, finishing projects that we need to finish, and doing other tasks that need to be done around the house on a regular basis so that Brennan doesn’t have to do as much in the evenings (i.e. yard work now that spring is here). I’m looking forward to whatever temp agency assignments come my way and excited to meet the people who God has planned for me to meet.

Friday begins a new chapter in our lives with no title. No introduction. Nothing written down yet. We’ll just take one day at a time and see where God leads. 🙂