Sunday, December 28, 2008


On December 26, I was reflecting on what a special day this has been over the years. In 2005, I announced my engagement to my family. They didn't take it well, to say the least, but it was a momentousness day for me doing something I was so afraid of. On the morning of December 26 in 2007, I felt Claire kicking in my womb for the first time. And on the same day in 2008, Claire began to crawl. I was packing our family suitcase for our trip to Solomons Island - from where I am currently writing as Claire snoozes - when Claire looked up from her play area, and crawled right over to me and began chewing on the suitcase. I called Scott, who put her back in her play area and filmed her crawling over to me again, as if she had been doing this forever :) It was a joyous moment... followed by some trepidation I admit! Isn't that always how it is with a joy-filled event? Anxiety quickly comes knocking, and we are faced with the choice of holding on to the joy, or giving way to the stress and worry.
That's how this short family trip has been for me. Claire is now crawling and just starting to eat mushy solids (is that an oxymoron?), and we just bought a hand mill to make some of my dinner plate into her dinner, and it isn't working at all. The contraption is either faulty or I'm not getting it. Finally, we just decided to feed her milk and fruit jars and figure this thing out another time, but it took 24 hours for me to relinquish frustration and choose joy.
In the psalms, David often says to himself "rejoice, oh my soul." Likewise, we sometimes need to out loud and on purpose say to ourselves "rejoice!" and remember all the wonderful deeds of the Lord in our lives and in history. I often begin my praise with Psalm 103 - "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, and forget not all of His benefits. Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with compassion... for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love toward those who fear Him. And as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." This quickly reminds me of who my God is, who it is that I serve and am loved by.
I encourage you to do the same today. Purposely call to mind the blessings that the Lord has bestowed on you and read about His goodness in the Bible. Then, when you are filled to overflow with His love and mercy, pray for your nation and your leaders, that they too would be led by their praise of the Lord. And pray for your military, that they would be righteous and safe from physical and spiritual harm. And pray for families, that they would humble themselves and love one another. And then pray for the Lord's guidance in your life - how is God calling you to make a difference in your community? Who can you take out for lunch and give encouragement to? Who can you say "I'm sorry" to and reconcile with in Jesus' name? How has the Lord blessed you and called you? Then share with us the results in the Comments below.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Welcome Break

Yesterday, Sunday morning, we were gathered around the breakfast table, and we were so irritable. I (Jessica) had taken a few days off work to work on my midterm, and it was stressful being home and getting anything done. On top of that, I got the stomach flu, so I was not in good spirits. But I so love being around my baby that I didn't want to leave and study at the library... So we had all been in each other's hair for a full week, and in an apartment like this it's easy for me to nag at Scott perpetually, and for him to get annoyed at me.
So Sunday came around, and Scott realized we needed to get out of here, so suggested that we take the day off and go to Harper's Ferry. I felt like a little girl going to Disney Land, I was so thrilled at the prospect. It's amazing how something so simple could make all the difference! So off we went, Claire in tow, to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. It is surprisingly close - only an hour or so away - and incredibly beautiful this time of year. It was a perfect day - sunny, cool and not very crowded. And Claire, too, was smiles all day long. We stopped at an old restaurant from the Civil War, now closed, but with an incredible view of the Potomac River and tree-covered hills. Then we shared a delicious, home-made pizza at a local cafe. Then we walked down and up the steep hills of the main street with tourists from around the world. We talked to some Japanese and Brazilians. Scott explored the town with his new flip video camera and made memories.
Then we stopped at Walmart on our way home and picked up some things for Claire. I bought a shirt for $2 - unbelievable!
All in all, it was a wonderful breath of fresh air. It was great for our marriage and our family, and it reminds me how grateful I am to God for my family. God has blessed me so abundantly with a wonderful husband, job, studies, ministry and now a baby girl that just thrills me. Thank you, Lord!
Check out our pictures at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

She thinks I'm hilarious!

What a hilarious day at the Montgomery house. Scott spent the whole day watching football (OK, only a couple of hours - an eternity to his wife) and during dinner I was making fun of how he reads the newspaper in the morning, going on about bad news and bad people (similarly during the football game). And all of a sudden, I hear giggling. Claire thinks I'm hilarious! As I kept doing it, she just laughed more and more. Well, Scott's running "joke" is that I'm a serious person, and I don't get a lot of his jokes (only me, of course), so we consider this divine providence - someone thinks I'm funny! I must admit, God uses Claire so much in our day-to-day lives, in particular when I start taking myself too seriously. She reminds me to lighten up. I sometimes do.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So Many Milestones

Scott and I are so thrilled as we watch the little - and big - changes Claire is going through. A few days ago she celebrated 4 months of being in the world with us by getting 5 shots. It was not a happy time for her, but since then she's been changing so much. As I'm writing this she's laying next to me on her belly sucking her thumb. She finally figured out to how flip over and she finally gets her way. She has also figured out how to use her arms, so she'll soon be crawling. She's got the position figured out and it's great not to have to rescue her from her flailing on her stomach. Yesterday I was chatting to her as I got dressed, and I said, "Brrr, it's cold." She thought that was hilarious! So I kept saying "brrr" and she kept giggling; it was her first sustained time laughing. Today she was seeking attention - anything to make her laugh; she loves it. However, still no success with the rice cereal but we'll keep trying. She periodically runs out of breastmilk, but doesn't seem to mind the formula, though I find the smell quite revolting.
So that's all for now. I will keep posting videos and pictures, so be on the lookout for those. I think you can subscribe to our YouTube page so you're alerted when new videos are posted. Now it's back to Saturday homework. God bless you, friend.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a long time later...

Well, parenthood should keeps you busy, doesn't it?! I haven't written a thing since Miss Claire was born, and she just turned four months old! My bad, and I hope to be more faithful to this, so please bear with me! Parenthood - or rather I should say being a mother to Claire - has been quite different from what I expected. First, having a baby requires a lot more attention than I anticipated. I definitely had a Romanticized view of motherhood, mother and baby lovingly looking at each other during the night. Well, truth be told, I fell more deeply in love with Claire when I heard her little cry after the cesarean than I expected. I cried out of shear joy and after months of anticipation for this moment to come. But after 2 weeks of breastfeeding, it was not the beautiful scene I imagined, but rather incredibly painful and frustrating. So while I was recovering from the c-section and not getting much sleep, I made the decision to ENJOY this part of motherhood and start exclusively pumping breastmilk. This also gave me a chance to have other people feed Claire and give me free hands, and it was also a blessing because we were able to stop supplementing in the evenings with formula. So that took up a lot of energy the first few weeks.
Then came the different parenting styles :). Looking back, I was a real mother hen, and Scott did not take parenting very seriously. He would have Claire "climb Mount Montgomery" (his belly) and slide down, and other tricks like that. I think he was surprised how non-responsive a newborn is :) But then after 2 months I returned to work, and for 1 month Scott took care of Claire full-time, and he quickly became a fantastic father. It was heart-wrenching for me to leave Claire behind - I felt like a part of me stayed home every day, but now I am blessed to work part-time from home while Scott is in class.
It's amazing how Claire has grown since the day she was born. For one, she hated being put down, and would only sleep in my wrap during the day. Now, she hardly likes to be held! Now, she not only smiles and coos, but she laughs and screams and does such cute, funny noises it's irresistible waking up at 6am! She really is a riot, and I have to remember to have 'adult' conversations when I'm home with Scott because it's tempting to just coo and aaah with Claire :)
Last weekend, Scott took the Praxis II test to become a math teacher after studying for weeks. The night before, he was nervous so we prayed out of Father Manjackal's book of charismatic prayers, believing for the Holy Spirit to guide him. We will find out in 4 weeks how he did. He is also finishing up his coursework at Catholic University and doing some coursework toward his teaching credential.
As for me, I am taking 2 classes this semester - Word & Worship and Catholicism in the Global Context. My reviews so far are mixed, but I have a feeling I will get a lot out of both of these, and also have a lot to share with my classmates! I have decided to finish my coursework this year, which will leave one year of formation and my thesis. Then it's onto a Master's in School Counseling from John's Hopkins University. As it turns out, they have a campus in our very town - Rockville, MD! And they offer evening and weekend classes, so I can't turn it down. I have begun to have a stirring in my heart about this - a passion to make a difference in the lives of teenagers - to be able to encourage them and build them up in their dreams. I was not blessed with a good guidance counselor, so I want to make a difference that way. And I am blessed with a job that pays for my tuition, so hopefully this dream is just a few years away. That way, with Scott and I both in public education, we will have our summers to travel with Claire (and her siblings) to see her grandparents and cousins. I truly look forward to this. It's amazing how dreams keep us going. Right now we are stretched financially, but I get so excited when I think about our future and make plans that this is all worth it.
We are not able to visit either of our families over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it hurts to know they are disappointed. But the way I see it, these are painful choices to not go deep in debt, while we will one day be able to easily afford these kinds of pleasures.
Speaking of family, my brother and his wife are having a baby! I'm so excited. The Lord announced this birth just a few days before conception. Just goes to show that the Word of God is true: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" (Jeremiah 1:5). Claire will be almost 1 when her cousin is born, and we look forward to their meeting this summer. She will also get to meet my cousin Karine's baby, Lola, who was born just 4 days before Claire.
As I read about cross-cultural missions, one thing in particular strikes me - how evangelization at one point moved from community evangelizing to personal salvation, largely due to Martin Luther's influence. But what a blessing it is when a whole family is saved and worships together and honors God. That is my wish for my family - that we would all make Jesus Lord over our lives - Lord over our careers, our families, our emotions, our minds, our futures, our relationships, our finances, our health... over everything! There is such freedom in Jesus Christ, and I'm not ashamed to proclaim that.
God bless you!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

God's Timing Is Perfect

Yesterday I started getting abdominal and leg cramps, and the pressure has not really ceased since then. So this body is getting ready! Claire is very active, ready to come out I think. But rather than focus on "when, God, when?" I've decided to say, "Thank you, Father, for Your perfect timing. You know the plans you have for this delivery and for this child, and I thank you for Your deep care for both of us." It's impossible to answer the question, "Are you guys ready?" All we can say is, "we're ready to have our lives transformed, but do we know what we're going? No!" The other night I woke up with the following Scripture in my head, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I think that will be a lifeline for me, in the inevitable moments when I question my motherhood. With the living God inside of me, what can I fear?
I'm finding that with the increasing unknowns, God is drawing me closer to Himself, and it's wonderful how He always provides grace for the moment. I am so excited to meet Claire Dominica, and for our family to grow. What a gift!
OK, back to Earth :) In terms of our plans for the summer and next year, it looks like Scott will be home more than me finishing his master's and getting his teaching credentials, so I will arrange my work schedule around his class and teaching schedule. I am so blessed to have an understanding boss, willing to give me flexible hours. One of Scott's classes will be daily at lunchtime, so I just might get to have lunch every day with Claire. We shall see... In any case, we both feel strongly that we want to be her primary caretakers - not a daycare or a babysitter. So we'll take it one year at a time... We are also looking forward to moving out further in the country to buy a house and land and raise our 14 children :) I have 2 years left at Washington Theological Union, so it won't be until after that, but our space right now is a tremendous blessing that I don't take for granted, especially after 2 years in the cramped room at WTU.
Well, it's fun to share my thoughts. Feel free to share yours, too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Gymnast in the Making

Last Thursday, we went to an appointment with a perinatal specialist, to see about some possible kidney problems Claire. The appointment went well, despite the discomfort of laying down for the ultrasound which makes me dizzy. The spots on the kidneys remain, but are just on the cusp of normal/abnormal, so we're going back in 5 weeks to check on them again. As the ultrasound lady (there must be a real title for her) scanned my belly, she commented that Claire was breech - that is, feet down and head up. So it was difficult to make out anything, and we couldn't see her face. I commented that "the days of glamour ultrasound pictures are over" and she said that was normal toward the end of the pregnancy as the baby takes up more room. However, Claire decided to give us a peek, and the lady was able to see her face. She then turned on the 4-D function of the machine, and wow! We saw a portrait of our baby girl. Unfortunately it's a PDF and I can't post it here, but it is truly amazing to see our daughter's face and features. She's a plump 4 1/2 pounds, with short limbs like the women on both sides of the family.
My first thought when she said Claire was breech, was "great! Now I don't have to worry about labor and delivery; hooray for a predictable birth!" But then my mind really started working, because after all she might continue her gymnastics and be head down for delivery, so I can't plan on a cesarean birth. But I prayed about it and received God's peace about it. He already knows how and when she'll be born, and I trust His plan for her arrival into the world. There are so many things we can worry about, but our Lord says, "be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God." And I realize that I don't even have a request for this, only thanksgiving at this true miracle that pregnancy and birth are. I am so blessed, and I am so in love with this little one, it's hardly imaginable.
It's funny how talking about anything else seems so trivial, but we are finally settling in, as I put the finishing touches to making our 'house' a 'home.' Scott has resolved his issues with our washing machine (which I hear is only used in the West Bank!), as after multiple floodings the maintenance crew showed him how to screw the machine in tightly to the sink faucet. Hooray for functioning equipment. I absolutely love our apartment, and have been enjoying every minute there, from sleeping in our new bed (almost a full night of sleep is unheard of at 7 months pregnant), to praying on the balcony, to eating home-cooked meals, to enjoying TV shows with Scott. Once I'm home, I don't want to leave! Claire's room is still piled high with boxes, but most of them are empty, so Scott will be moving her furniture in within a week or so. As we prepare for her arrival, the real question for me is making the distinction between needs (crib mattress) and wants (all those cute pink outfits that she'll fit into for a week). Mom gave me a good reminder - she won't even be in her own room for a 2-3 months, and more than anything she'll just need lots of love and attention. I think we can handle that! I'm so blessed that Scott and I will both be around - as well as Mom - so we'll be able to trade off on feedings and changings...
Alright, that's all from me for now. I'm finding it hard to focus, but I must do work and homework.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pentecost Baby

I had lunch with Lucy Coles today (check her out at, and I was half joking that I need to follow in her footsteps. The Lord putting her in my life has been such a gift - we met at a Mother of God prayer meeting, just as she was preparing to start a new job - on the floor above me! We spent the summer having lunches outside, and now in her office. Her friendship has meant a lot to me, and one of the gifts has been to see her through her pregnancy and now parenthood, as a prelude to my own! God truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and provides for all our needs (Philippians 4:19). I have learned a great deal from Lucy, and one of my resolutions has been to start a Family Montgomery page like hers to keep our distant family abreast and involved in our lives. The internet truly connects us. So I have resolved to post pictures, videos and blogs on a regular basis that you can check out whenever you want to see what's new with us. I hope you enjoy family time with us!
On another note, I was telling Lucy how since we found out we were pregnancy Scott has disagreed with the doctors on the due date. He has always said it would be May 11, while the doctors have said May 2. Well, lo and behold the date keeps getting postponed with every ultrasound we have. Lucy asked - what's May 11th? We looked it up, and guess what? It's Pentecost Sunday! And it's Mother's Day! So I think the Holy Spirit has got a good hold of Scott! We'll see when she comes, but for now, expect Pentecost Sunday.
God bless you all.