Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

I know, Christmas is over and done with and all that, but I do want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Or Happy Holidays. Or something like that.

We had a really lovely Christmas. My Mom and Dad came up from New Mexico, and we had our "traditional" Duke Christmas Eve dinner: Green chile stew, tortillas, tamales, chips and salsa, and rice and beans.  Yummy.  And definitely over my carb limit.  Our Christmas dinner was much more diabetic-friendly, with a lovely beef rib roast, cranberry-pear salad, green bean casserole, and yummy little cream cheese and bacon-filled crescent rolls.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and wore myself out pretty well, but I love cooking so I was happy.

Katelyn made out like a bandit on Christmas morning.  She was very blessed with many gifts from many people, and she spent most of the day playing with all the Play-doh, Duplos, sticker books, and other goodies that she received.  Perhaps her favorite was her new Rapunzel doll, "Blondie," which was the last thing she was playing with at the end of the day, and the first thing she hunted for this morning.

Our white Christmas was pretty, while it lasted.  We got a little dusting of snow that had melted by the end of the day, despite the fact that the temperature never rose much above 20 degrees.  It was nice to stay warm inside and enjoy everyone's company.

Katelyn loves everything about Christmas.  She loves the lights, the trees, Santa, reindeer, and especially the baby Jesus.  I love watching her innocent delight in the season.  I've always loved Christmas, too.  This year, I especially love the opportunity to be with those we love and give gifts in honor of the gift that God gave the world: the Savior, Christ the Lord.

We had an appointment today and everything is still okay with Dukeling2.  We're counting down the time until we get to meet our new little one in just a few weeks.  Thank you for all the continued prayers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Old Normal

There are moments in life that are hard to ignore. Our family has had plenty of excitement this year, but thankfully this past month has been a bit calmer than the previous two. If you're a regular Herald-Gazette reader, you'll know that October and November did not qualify in the "calm" category. Dukeling2 has already brought plenty of action to Snukeville. Lately, we've been on the road weekly for doctor appointments in Colorado Springs. Blissfully, the product of those trips has been rather dull.

Baby's heart rate is right where they want it to be, so we are on schedule for January arrival.  We haven't done much to the house in prep for the new bundle of joy. Actually, there isn't a lot to change; we're still in diaper mode for Katelyn, so life won't change much there. We do know that our sleep schedule will once again be turned upside down.  Allison is officially TBP (tire of being pregnant), but really that happened at about twelve weeks along. Never having experienced the "wonder," all I can do is be the intentionally patient expectant father.
Yesterday, I had one of those moments in life where I could only appreciate the current circumstances knowing that things are about to get much more exciting.  About mid-evening, I was reading a book and noticed the pleasantness of the status quo.  Katelyn was playing with a puzzle, Allison was working on a Christmas treat in the kitchen, and it hit me that this wouldn't be "normal" much longer.  So, I thanked the Lord for that special moment. 
One of the things I have worked hard to be is content in the present.  Truth is, our life right now is pretty good. For the last 2 2/3 years, we have experienced the joy of being the parents of a sweet, silly only child.  I really have enjoyed this stage of normalcy.  Katelyn is (almost) pure joy. She entertains herself easily, and is always surprising us with the next thing she learns.
Now, normal will change.  The next month will bring a new little human to Snukeville. So, I am working to be content in this moment, simply because it will be different soon. 
I don't really have anything profound to say or report.  I am just thankful that God has given us this special time with a special girl. His promise is that His plans for us give us hope and a future.  But there is something about appreciating the present.
Just a few seconds ago, Katelyn crawled into my lap to snuggle up while watching "Winnie the Pooh." She knows there's a baby in Mommy's belly, but she really has no clue how her life will be altered when the baby shows up.  So now we love on her, because all she knows is "right now." And I am happy to be her daddy.
"Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 HCSB

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finally, an update!

Hi everyone! So sorry I haven't updated in a couple of weeks! The holidays are in full swing, and things are just a little chaotic at this time of year, even without considering everything going on in our lives right now.  There was a time when women went into seclusion for the last half of pregnancy.  That doesn't seem like such a bad idea at the moment.  I do not have the energy or the holiday spirit to keep up with all the various social events and other obligations we have going right now, and yet we're just as caught up in the holiday whirl as any of the rest of you crazy people!  I suppose it's probably fun and that's why we do it, right?

We had an appointment in Colorado Springs and saw the fetal cardiologist.  He confirmed what he suspected at our last appointment with him, which is that the baby's heart block is a 2nd degree block instead of a complete block, which is how he diagnosed it at first.  A 2nd degree block is not as bad, and as long as that heart rate stays in the "safe zone" he's pretty optimistic about the baby's chances for a fairly normal start to life.  A pacemaker is still likely at some point down the road. 

It looks like we're going to be making weekly trips to Colorado Springs until this baby comes (probably only about 6 weeks from now!)  Of course that means more expenses for gas, etc., and more juggling schedules to get Katelyn to and from where she needs to be, around all these appointments.  Just a few more things to add to the chaos of the Christmas season, no big deal!  Also, I don't like the doctors in Colorado Springs as well as I like my doctor here in Pueblo, which is something of an additional strain on me.  I've struggled with my attitude, particularly regarding food, as I munch on celery and hummus instead of the massive piece of chocolate cake and the Chick-fil-A Peppermint Chip milkshake that I really want.  So if I've been crabby and snapped at any of you, I apologize and I hope you'll forgive both past and future occurrences. 

Please continue to pray for our baby's health, our sanity, and our finances.  Know that we are still so thankful for all the prayers and love that have been poured out on us already.  We are looking forward to a few weeks from now, when we get to hold this sweet blessing from God in our arms!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

With humble thanks

We have been so humbled and thankful for all of the prayers and expressions of love and support since I posted the blog about our baby last week (in case you missed it, you can read that post here).  I'm going to really try to post some sort of update each week, even if it's just to say "nothing has changed, but please keep praying!"  We know that God hears and answers the prayers of His people, and we are thankful for this opportunity we have to share what He is doing in our lives.

We are seeing doctors every week right now, alternating between Colorado Springs and Pueblo.  This week I saw my doctor in Pueblo, and everything still looks as good as it can at this point.  The baby's heart is still beating in what we're calling the "safe" range, growing and developing normally, (except of course for that heart issue that has everyone so concerned), and there is no fluid buildup to cause any concern for the baby's well-being at this point.  The baby is still very active, which is great but somewhat uncomfortable for me!  The doctor was also pleased enough with my blood sugar numbers that I only have to test every other day now.  That is good because those testing supplies are expensive!  I'm still on a very carb-restricted diet, and still trying to figure out how to eat enough food while limiting my carbs.  I've taken it on as a challenge, and I know I can be a little scary when I'm working on a challenge, so my apologies to anyone who is tired of hearing me talk about food and how many carbs are in everything!

So, nothing has changed, but please keep praying!  The cardiologist in Colorado Springs has told us not to expect any improvement, because that's not likely from a medical standpoint.  I guess that means that no change is a good thing.  It means that the problem hasn't gotten worse.  Of course we know that God is capable of anything, and from that viewpoint, we are actually hoping and praying for things to get better.  We are thankful to have such a large network of people praying for this baby, and we hope that God blesses each of your lives as you seek His face and grow in Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unexpected twists

Sometimes life takes a turn you never expected. We’ve all experienced it; we're going along, living and doing and planning for the future and then, “Wha…?” God throws something into the path that shakes us to our core. It could be a major test of faith, spiritual warfare, or simply the result of being sinful people living in a sinful world. No matter the cause or the reason, the way we react to these events shows us, and the people around us, what kind of people we are, and what kind of faith we walk in. God knows these things; these tests, trials, and crises do not happen so that we can prove ourselves to Him. But sometimes, we need to know exactly what kind of people He has made us to be.

If you haven’t already heard the news, I am almost 30 weeks pregnant (that’s 7 1/2 months, if you don’t want to do the math). We haven't said much about it online because we've been having some issues. After our routine 20-week ultrasound, our doctor referred us to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, because the baby had an irregular heartbeat and he wanted to be sure there was no reason for major concern. Over the course of several appointments over several weeks, we learned that our little baby has a rare and serious heart problem known as a heart block. This means that the electrical systems that connect the various parts of the heart are there but not working, which means that the various chambers, particularly the top and bottom of the heart, are functioning but can’t communicate with each other, so they’re completely out of rhythm. It is an electrical problem that can cause all sorts of complications, and will mostly likely require a pacemaker at some point in this child’s life. Of course, before that can happen, we’ve got to get this baby safely delivered into the world, so we’re being monitored frequently to make sure that the heart is still working and the baby is still growing. In other words: lots of visits to doctors in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, lots of ultrasounds, lots of expenses, and the potential for lots of worry.

If you’ve ever been in the unenviable position of hearing that there is something wrong with your baby and that if all does not go well, the baby could die, you may have some idea of what we’ve experienced in the last ten weeks. It has not been fun or pleasant. I freaked out for about a week and was really starting to fall apart emotionally, when God stepped in and we had to have a very serious discussion. I realized that I could choose to spend the second half of my pregnancy as an emotional basket case, doubting God’s wisdom and power, and grasping at anything I could find for help and support, or I could stop just saying that I trust Him and actually trust Him, and lean on Him for strength. At that moment, I decided to trust. It has not been easy. In the weeks since then, we’ve discovered that there are antibodies in my blood that have attacked the baby’s heart and caused this problem. Because I was having trouble with dizziness and other symptoms, I’ve had to have my own cardiology workup. Everything seems okay with my heart, but I’ve also been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so I have that on my plate (and significantly less carbs, my favorite, on my plate!) as well. It has not been an easy road, and it right now, it doesn’t seem likely to get any easier. Still, there are bright spots: so far, the baby’s heart is working about as well as we could hope for, and everything except that heart problem, including growth rate and fluid level, keep looking good. We have seen some great doctors, and we get to see our little baby on ultrasounds at least every two weeks. And in case you’re wondering, even with all the peeks, we still haven’t found out whether it’s a boy or a girl – really!

A question that we get asked fairly frequently is, “How are you doing?” And I can honestly say that we’re doing okay. We’re not in denial, and we do understand the serious situation we’re in. There are moments when everything gets pretty overwhelming. Still, I believe with all my heart that God is good, He is faithful, and He is great. We feel a little like what Paul described in 2 Cor. 4:8-9, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." God is upholding us with His strength as we walk this unexpected twist in life’s road. And He has prepared us for this. Over the years, He has blessed me with absolute, unshakable faith in the eternal, unchanging goodness of His character, His love for His children, and His power to work out any situation for His glory and my good. I don’t know what He will do with this situation and this baby, but I trust Him. Greg and I have had plenty of conversations about it, and I know he feels the same way.

So, what do we need? Prayer. If you have a relationship with our God and Savior, please pray that the baby will continue to grow strong, that the heart rate will stay within the “safe” range rather than the “scary” range, and if you’re feeling really bold, pray that God will go ahead and flip that switch to get everything working correctly. We are believing that He will supply all our needs, according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phi. 4:19). What we don't need: sympathy, excessive hugs, and questions about how things are going. We don't have many answers, but we know that God does.  We want this unexpected twist to become a great story all about the greatness of our God. We will update this blog as we have time and opportunity, but meanwhile we want to thank all our friends for standing and praying with us in this interesting season.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Katelyn is in such a precious stage right now. Oh, there are certainly moments when she shows a stubborn, almost devious side that makes me want to scream, but for the most part she is just such a sweet, happy, lovable little girl.  She pursues everything in life with wild abandon. She loves her toys, her ABCs, her crayons...and most of all, her family.  If Greg or I come into a room after being gone for a few minutes or a few hours, we can count on hearing a gasp and an excited, "Mommy!" or "Daddy!" while she runs toward us with an enormous smile and arms upraised for a big hug.  I never have to wonder whether or not my daughter adores me.  Seriously, does it get any better than that?

I know this won't last forever.  As we grow we learn self-control, and while I'm sure I'll appreciate that in some areas of Katelyn's life, I know there will come a time when I will miss that wild adoration.  Someday I'll have to settle for an occasional quick hug and maybe a kiss on the cheek.  We grow up to me such mannerly, reserved, stoic people, compared to what we were like when we were kids.  For the most part, I think that's a good thing.  But I wonder if maybe we should show a little abandon and adoration from time to time?

"One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, 'Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.'" (Luke 18:15-17, NLT)

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father." For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children." (Romans 8:14-16, NLT)

As I was thinking about sweet Katelyn last night, these verses popped into my head, and I thought about how we typically approach God: perhaps gathered together in a traditional worship service, in our particular seats, half-heartedly singing old hymns and letting our minds wander to what's for lunch while we politely bow our heads for prayer; or maybe dozing off through our Bible reading before offering some variation of the same prayer we pray every day either when we get up in the morning or before we go to bed; or maybe even approaching God with some trepidation and doubt about whether He'll even hear us, because He is this great, holy, important, powerful being and who are we, really, to bring our petty concerns to Him?  And I wondered if maybe sometimes God wishes we would show a little wild, abandoned adoration.

Well, of course we can't run to God with arms outstretched, shouting, "Daddy!!"  Or can we?  After all, thanks to the price Jesus paid on the cross, we who are led by His Spirit are not fearful slaves but His own children.  He stood in the gap between sinful mankind and a holy God so that we could come to Him as children.  That is the sweet, rich, pure love that He showed for us.  Why would we think that we must always show our love to Him in ways that are unemotional, respectful, traditional, and maybe just a little hesitant?  Last night, as I pictured the ways we so often show our love for God versus the way Katelyn demonstrates her love for me, only one of those pictures brought me to tears.

I don't know about you, but I want God to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I adore Him.  And if that means going a little wild from time to time, I think He might be okay with that.  In fact, maybe it would really touch His Father's heart.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Katelyn is definitely a girl after my own heart. During a trip to Big R today, we told her she could pick one critter from the rack of Schleich plastic animals. She considered several horses and then settled on a cute little gray spotted pony. Greg suggested naming the pony Duchess but after I pointed out that it is clearly a boy pony, we decided to go with Gus. I just thought it was great that out of all the animal options, Katelyn definitely wanted a horse. That's my girl.

This afternoon, I watched I'll Have Another win the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the elusive Triple Crown, by a neck. What an exciting race!! I am eagerly anticipating watching him run the Belmont next month, and hoping that after 34 years we'll finally have another Triple Crown winner. I've always loved horses and horse-related sports (except for polo, which I've never really understood). Greg does not share my love for horses at all, although he did get pretty excited while we were watching that race earlier. Anyway, it's nice to hope that maybe Katelyn will share my love and appreciation for all things horsey as she grows up.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dear Katelyn (2.0)

Today is your second birthday. I don't know how much of it you'll remember, but it has been a great weekend. On Saturday we met your cousins' family in Denver for an awesome time at Lego KidsFest; I wasn't sure we would get Ryan and Uncle Jamie out of there without calling security. You and Emily had a blast going from station to station looking at and playing with things. You really liked the Duplos, and thought Lego Friends were almost as cool as Megan did.  The big hit for everyone was Lego Lightning McQueen!

After a fun day in Denver, we headed home to Pueblo where we hosted Uncle Jamie, Aunt Melissa, Emily, Ryan, and Megan overnight so Jamie could preach in our church on Sunday morning.  We had a great birthday lunch after church, and sang "Happy Day to You" (as you like to sing) many times over.  You were so brave and cute as the "other" Dukes headed home after lunch (no crying at all), and you headed to your nap.  After your nap, you looked out the door and said, "All done, Rynan."  I guess you knew that they really did go home.  We went for a walk with Rusty and Lucy, and then headed to bed.

Today, we woke up to a beautiful day in Pueblo.  Your mom and I spent a lot of the day planning for your party this evening, and I think you knew it!  You ate WAY too much ice cream at Sam's Club, and this evening, we hosted your friends Bethany, Matalyn, Ava, and AJ for your "official" birthday party over at the church.  A few more friends had planned to come, but other things came up.  After the party, we talked to Gram on the phone, and Grandma and "PawPaw" sang "Happy Birthday" to you before you went to bed.  Your mom said you didn't want to go to sleep, and that you knew a special day was coming to an end. And so, the three-day birthday has come to a close (although I've heard rumors of cupcakes tomorrow at Mom's Day Out).

It is hard to believe that you are two years old.  I am thankful for the joy and fun you bring to your lives.  I pray that your cheerful, generous spirit follows you throughout your life.  I am continually amazed at how smart you are.  I don't know anyone who doesn't "just LOVE" you.  We are so fortunate that we have so many friends and family that give so much to us.

I pray daily that you will trust Christ as Lord of your life.  I know you are smart, and I know you hear us talk of Jesus.  I can't control what you believe, but I do pray that my life is a testimony of God's grace and love for you through Jesus.  I wonder what you "will be" when you grow up.  Sometimes, I even wonder who you will marry (if I let you get married).  You are so bright, talented, and kind-hearted.  I pray that Jesus is number One in your life for eternity.

Thank you for blessing my life, my precious, beautiful little girl.  May the Lord protect you and guide your life in His grace.  May my life be a testimony of His love for you.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jesus Loves Me, part 2

We've been singing "Jesus Loves Me" at bedtime with Katelyn since we started her bedtime routine.  For awhile now I've had a suspicion that she knows the song, but was content to let us sing it for her. In the past week, I noticed that while she was playing, she'd start saying, "Jesus...Yes!" and wondered if she might be singing the song herself. Then she other night, she actually sang parts of it with us at bedtime, and then insisted that we sing it several more times with her. Then last night, after we sang it, she said, "Pay!" a few times, but we couldn't figure out what she meant.

This morning, Katelyn was playing downstairs and saying, "Yes, Jesus!" and signing "Bible," so I sang the song for her with the motions that we always do. Afterward she said "Pay!" again, and I realized she was saying "Pray," because we always pray after we sing at bedtime. So I went over, held her hands, and said a little prayer with her. She finished with a happy "Amen!" and left me with a lovely, thankful feeling in my heart. She may not quite understand why we sing about Jesus and pray, but I'm thrilled that for now, she is enjoying the process. And I am also thankful that Jesus does love her, and loves all of us, even though we can never completely understand why.

In this week leading up to Easter, what are some ways that you have been reminded to thank Jesus for His love? What are some things your children have done lately that have left you with a happy, thankful heart?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I want...

Katelyn has begun sharing her desires with the world.  Her words are improving to the point that sometimes you actually hear "I want..." followed by whatever it is at the moment.  Most of the time, though, it comes out as "IMA."  So, "I want to go outside" sounds like "Ima outside."  We've heard it for all manner of things: swing, slide, dogs, apple juice, church.  All kinds of fun.

This morning, she's in quite a good mood... been "IMA"ing all over the place.  I brought her to the church with me, and had her gated in my office while I was talking with Becky.  Along the way, it got very quiet... never a good sign.  She had procured the banana I brought for MY breakfast, and had attempted to open BOTH ends of it, which resulted in some nice gooey banana ends.  When I walked in, she was holding it up to me saying, "Ima bana."

So, I shared my breakfast... she got the ends of the banana.

She's a bit too smart for our safety.

 Enjoying her slushie at Sam's with Mommy

Thursday, March 1, 2012


At 22 months old, Katelyn is learning all kinds of new words. Some are very clear, some are ...well... unique interpretations of the English language. Following is a list of words, interpretations, and, when necessary, definitions of the English Language According to Katelyn A. Duke.

"flowf" - flower (slowly transitioning to proper word)
"apple juice" - any drink that is not water or milk. Tonight, blue Gatorade qualified
"W" - best letter ever (also what she calls her alphabet video, which conveniently has a W on the cover)
"pawpaw" - Grandpa (and sometimes Grandma)
"Bob" - VeggieTale double feature DVD
 "Joe" - Larry the Cucumber (thanks to the Ballad of Little Joe)
"MOO! cow" - Cow
"Wawoo" - Water
"KeestiCK" - cheese stick
"bottle" - milk
"eh... eh..." - pick me up, or I want that.
"Dots" - her purple zebra
"Yine...rar" - Lion
"orse" - Horse
"baby seep" - nap, bedtime
"teef" - brush teeth
"baf" - bath
"debby" - Ms. Becky (my secretary) could also be "Bebby"; still interpreting that one
"Bobbie" - Bobbie
"ZO!" - Ed & Linda's toy poodle Gizmo
"chuch" - church
"eat" - eat
"food" - food
"yewwow" - yellow
"bwue" - blue
"peet" - pink
"wed" - red
"geen" - green
"side" - slide
"off" - on
"wight" - light
"da-per" - diaper
"cat" - Talking cat game on my phone
"beep-beep" - either the coyote or roadrunner
"choo-choo" - any toy vehicle

She has  pretty much mastered her letters, and can generally sing the whole alphabet song (often she leaves letters out, though)

There are a few. It is a fun thing for us to learn to talk all over again.