Her Name is Nora

Nora - sleeping

It’s been ten months since I began my blogging sabbatical, leaving the following message on my blog’s homepage for any of you who visited while I was away.

I’m thankful I took the break.

I needed it more than I realized I would.

Like many of you, I believe in an omniscient, loving God who goes before us, preparing our hearts and lives before we even know there’s a need for it.

And that belief brings me great comfort — but never more than this year — when our family embarked on an entirely new and unexpected faithsizing journey.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we finished the first phase of the lake house renovation the first week of August.

That was the expected part of our journey.

(I’ll post updates later.)

But what I did not share then, and what I can share (with permission) now, is that we significantly pushed up the timing of our renovation when our oldest child Emelie let us know she was pregnant.

That, as you can imagine, was the unexpected part of our journey.

I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to string the right combination of words together to express the overwhelming gratitude I feel toward our loving God who, in His grace, ushered our family through the months to follow.

Nor are there words for the abundant joy of being by Emelie’s side while she labored and delivered her daughter (our first grandbaby), Nora Lennelle Sanders.

Nora Lennelle

July 30th.

Be still my heart.

Emelie was a mighty, beautiful, birthing warrior through those 13 hours.

I wanted to take the hurt away from “my” baby girl as she labored, but then, I would not have experienced the blessing of being awed by her strength, calm, and determination.

I wonder if God felt the same about our family over the last couple of years, cupping us in His hands as we learned to love more deeply, forgive more completely, cling to each other more intensely, and push through personal hurts ever-so-tenderly.

He fashioned us as a family from the beginning, and He made sure we became whole once again.

As you can imagine, we are all in love with Nora, but none more than Emelie… of course.

Emelie and Nora

My heart melts when I hear Emelie sweetly speaking to Nora — and oh, how Nora’s face just beams with love for her Momma. I’m thankful God has provided for our family so that we can offer all the support they need, all day, every day.

Our family has grown up – each in our personal way. And we praise the Lord for it – every bit of it – because “through it all… it is well.”

We are abundantly blessed.

I wanted to share that with you.

And Emelie wanted to share it with you too.

We’ve been longing to do it and finally, today is the day.

If you noticed that I’m light on the backstory, that’s intentional; thank you for respecting that boundary. Just know that Emelie and Nora are on a remarkable life journey together with the loving support of family, friends, and now — you. πŸ™‚

Heather Sanders

167 thoughts on “Her Name is Nora”

  1. Pat in Indy says:

    What a wonderful early Christmas present to see your post! πŸ™‚ Nora is beautiful just like her mommy and Grandma! MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very BLESSED NEW YEAR to you all! I look forward to hearing more from you.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Pat – Thank you. I’m not biased or anything, but I have to say that Nora is simply stunning. She takes my breath away. And yes, it is a precious gift to celebrate her first Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you, too! Praise God for sending His Son. Oh, how we need Him from breath to breath.

  2. Christine says:

    I love you, Heather. I’ve never met you, but I love your heart, your attitude, your way with words. Glad you’re back!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Christine – I read your comment a few times now. It brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sending such open, loving and kind encouragement to someone who you only know through words and photos. I am humbled. You bless me.

  3. SAJ says:

    Wow. So much beauty!!! This site design has me swooning but then the baby! Oh man. She is everything! This is all really beautiful.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      SAJ – Living at the lake has softened my edges a bit — and I’m not just talking about my waistline (although, there too). I wanted to soften the design and take advantage of some of the photos Meredith and I have taken while living here. But yes, you’re right — no blog design will ever compare to the glorious beauty of a baby girl – our baby girl. She is everything to us in so many ways. A perfect little bundle of blessings!

  4. Andrea Sellers says:

    I was just thinking about you a couple of days ago, wondering what had become of you, how you were doing. Now I know your heart has been being filled with a sweet and precious grandbaby! They are so wonderful and how exciting that yours is right there with you each day.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Andrea — Yours is the perfect description: “[my] heart has been filled with a sweet and precious grandbaby!” I don’t know how I’ll be able to handle NOT having future grandbabies so present in my daily life. It is glorious!

  5. Janice bacon says:

    Beautiful, all of you. Glad you shared this.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Janice — (((hugs))) Thank you.

  6. Rebecca Celsor says:

    God is good, all the time. Praise God for your beautiful first grand baby.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Rebecca – Thank you, friend. We are most certainly lifting up thanks to the Lord for her. I hope you are doing well! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  7. Emmaline E. says:

    Welcome to the world, Nora! Congratulations to all of you on such a bright, lovely addition to your family. I’m so glad you shared this news, so we can love on her (and all of you) from afar.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Emmaline — We are happy to share our news now that the time is ripe for it. Thank you for celebrating with us!

  8. Julie says:

    Praise the Lord! We have missed you in blogworld….congratulations on becoming a grandmama. Your family is so blessed to have you!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Julie — Thank you for your encouragement. I rather think I’m blessed to have them! I have missed writing on the blog, and I’ve looked forward to this day for a long while now.

  9. med says:

    I’ve missed your posts and been concerned for you, but in that silence a blessing was forming. Nora is so beautiful, and Emelie is positively glowing. Congratulations to all for the sweet new baby.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      med — Yes, Emelie’s countenance does glow with the love of a momma, and Nora responds to her as anyone basking in unconditional love! Thank you for your concern. We’ve all had to make our way, of course, but oh my… such treasures on this side of the stretching.

  10. MaryElise says:

    How absolutely lovely to receive your email today. I am grateful for any words you share as I consider it an honour. I have missed you but that’s what Friends do; allow my-time-with-Father to pass and reconnected, we carry on, sharing our hearts, as before. No explanation is given. No explanation is requested. We all need our private time sitting on His lap, encircled within His arms.

    What a precious little bundle has been enveloped into your family of Love =^.^=

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      MaryElise — Your words — that you consider it an honor — is exactly what I write on my About page. To write is a treat but that anyone wants to read it… a wonder to me. It humbles me. Thank you for missing me, and thank you for understanding that some explanations are laid down — and left — at the Father’s feet.

  11. SS says:


  12. Kelli says:

    Well written piece. Congrats on your new family member and I love the balance of sharing and personal boundaries. Good luck on your journey together. I’m glad your blog is back.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kelli — As many of you know, I have erred in choosing boundaries in the past. Emelie and I wrote our posts together, sharing and discussing which photos to publish. It has been a celebration. I am glad to be back; thank you.

  13. Judy Smith says:

    Congratulations and thank you for your openness, for your respect for your family privacy and for your loving example to us all. We truly serve a loving God!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Judy — As I shared with Kelli above, boundaries are easily overstepped, so thank you. And yes, what a gloriously LOVING GOD we serve! AMEN!

  14. Briana says:

    No backstory necessary, all babies are blessings. Congratulations on becoming a grandmother.

    1. Pat in Indy says:


    2. Heather Sanders says:

      Briana — YES! She is amazing. Thank you. I enjoy this new role immensely!

  15. Mary Ann says:

    Life holds so many surprises. It’s wonderful when we open our hearts to the love and joy. Nora is so beautiful and so is her family. Congratulations.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Mary Ann“Life holds so many surprises.” — Indeed, it does. We CHOOSE JOY. We CHOOSE LOVE. Nothing else is worth living. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  16. Lisa says:

    Precious child and addition to your family. Prayers for all of you as you continue to pour into, mold & shape little Nora.
    To God be the glory!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Lisa — YES! To God be ALL glory. Without Him, we would not have any fathom how to love. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

  17. Kendall Smith says:

    Oh my word!!! I am so happy for your entire family, Heather! What a joyful and beautiful little girl! Life has some full circle since I celebrated You and Emelie at EMELIE’s baby shower!!! Our God is AMAZING and so faithful. All our love to you during this most special Christmas season!!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kendall — You were at Meredith’s baby shower as well! Life has come full circle, and we are celebrating with full, open hearts. Such JOY. Such LOVE. Such BLESSINGS. My cup overfloweth! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  18. LeeNJ says:

    Thank you. I feel as though I’ve been allowed back into your life. You’ve been missed!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      LeeNJ — Thank you for missing me. It means the world to be missed; really. I wasn’t trying to shut anyone out, but I found that trying to write around one of the most pivotal moments was impossible. So, I waited. So happy to be back. Blessings!

  19. Heather B. says:

    Oh, Heather! What an amazing gift all of you have been given this year! Thank you from sharing from your heart, as always:) All babies are a blessing from God and I just loved hearing about Nora from Emelie and you! Merry Christmas to your family.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Heather B. — Beyond my own children’s births, I cannot fathom a more meaningful gift! Merry Christmas to you too!

  20. Simone says:

    Praying God’s continued grace for your family. What a lovely gift he’s given! What an awesome family. Twenty-one years ago I stood where Emelie now stands and what I know for sure is that children are gifts from God and He is enough for life’s journey. Enjoy your grandbaby. Life is precious and shorter than we know.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Simone – HE IS ENOUGH. No more complete words are ever spoken. He is MORE than enough. I will enjoy her. How can I not? I’m so happy to hear your own testimony of life and love. Blessings! Merry Christmas!

  21. Jen says:

    Congratulations!!!!! This is such WONDERFUL news! I have missed reading your posts but this was worth the wait! Praying for blessings and grace for your family on this journey that I am sure is both challenging and rewarding! Is there anything that creates more smiles than a baby? I think not! πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Jen — I have missed writing my posts! Thank you for your prayers. We welcome, encourage and heck, even have begged for prayers! God’s grace has held us over every hurdle. To answer your question, nothing has the healing power of a baby’s smile and giggle. Merry Christmas to you, too!

    2. Catherine says:

      Agree!! Was drafting my comment in my head to share my excitement at your return and my happiness and congratulations on your growing family!

      1. Heather Sanders says:

        Catherine — Thank you, thank you! We embrace having more people to rejoice with us!

  22. Casey Veiseth says:

    You are an amazing woman of faith Heather! I have learned so much from you over the years as I have followed your blog and Instagram. God leads us on the paths he sets forth, and although they are not always easy, and surely not always expected, our faith and trust pull us through for good in the end. Nora is a beautiful gift from God, and is surely loved beyond measure! Thank you (and Emelie) for sharing this personal joy! God bless you all!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Casey – Thank you. You touch my heart with such precious encouragement. I long to hear those same words from the Lord one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Could there be anything more perfect than knowing the Lord God Himself smiles at our labored efforts — that He knows our struggles and counts us as faithful (even though we are so far from that in truth). And yes, Nora is loved beyond measure. Heaps and heaps of love. God bless you too!

  23. Wanda Veltman says:

    Congratulations on your precious Nora. A beautiful picture of Emelie and Nora! So grateful to hear all is well!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you, Wanda. I love that photo of Emelie and Nora. Watching her watch her daughter is a great part of being in the same home together. Blessings upon blessings.

  24. Cathy says:

    Heather, oh how I have missed you, my friend. God is so good that you would share this beautiful gift with us during the Christmas season. Your story gives us all hope, peace, love, and light. I am so happy for your family that God is bringing you closer to each other and to Him. Hugs to all of you, and a BIG hug to Emelie.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Cathy – God BROUGHT hope, peace, love and light. We are on the receiving end of His endless grace. Thank you for being happy for us. I’ll pass along your hug to Emelie. πŸ™‚

  25. CindyK says:

    What a lovely surprise to open my emails this morning and see your name! Ah, welcome back, Grammie. (or whatever you will be affectionately called). Enjoy your family. I have been singing the chorus of this song since my brother shared it with me. I wanted to share it with you. It starts slow but watch out, the chorus is awesome! Love to you and welcome back.

    1. MaryElise says:

      Thank you for sharing this video; the music, the lyrics and the beautiful scenery. In my little corner of Wales in Great Britain, I needed that encouragement. This video has cheered my spirit which has been slightly skewed. I was half-a-bubble off level. Bless you CindyK and Heather =^.^=

      1. cindyk says:

        MaryElise~I am so happy that our Lord showed up for you in this song. He is the great I AM and sometimes these songs can be a little kiss from him. He moves in the lives of His people across the oceans. So lovely (said with my best British accent)!

    2. Heather Sanders says:

      CindyK — I’m happy to have been perched in your inbox this morning! Writing is something I’ve sorely missed — well, other than my prayer journal, that is! My “grandma” name is Lovie. Oh my goodness, you sent me a Selah song. I have many of their CDs. Their music touches me to my core… such soul. I think it is the “blood harmony” of the siblings in the earlier music that got me hooked. That song was beautiful. Surprisingly, I hadn’t hear that one! Thank you!

      1. cindyk says:

        I lost my daddy this year in May, and one of the names he used to call me is Lovie. My heart stopped when I read that. So special.

      2. Heather Sanders says:

        cindyk — Losing your daddy (I call my dad “daddy” too) must be such a difficult loss. I know you miss him dearly. I think Lovie is a special name too. I’m glad we share that sentiment. ((hugs))

      3. cindyk says:

        Heather-Thank you. Hugs received. I smell my daddy’s Patriots beanie that has the scent of Brut aftershave. It has kept me close to him. Blessings.

  26. Precious says:

    Heather, so glad to have you back. I have checked your site a couple of times to see if you had returned. So glad to have seen your mail pop up in my box this morning.
    Nora is a gorgeous baby! Thank God for His blessings. Children are gifts from God. May God keep your beautiful family. All the best.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Precious — Thank you for continuing to check in. Like I told CindyK above, I am happy I was in all my subscriber’s inboxes this morning! We oooh and ahhh over Nora minute-by-minute, so I have to agree about her beauty and the blessing she is to our entire family. May we be the blessing to her that she is to us! Blessings!

  27. Diana says:

    I accidentally clicked on your blog a few days ago and noticed a change in the layout. Was hoping that meant you were getting ready to update. I must say it was a wonderful surprise to receive your email this morning! I enjoy(ed) the pictures on Instagram, but a blog is so much better. More conversational. A better way to see into your life.

    Thank you for sharing the past almost-year’s story. That you came through still together as a family and loving God is a victory! I’m sure the journey wasn’t/won’t be easy. But God was/is there.

    What a beautiful baby. Congratulations.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Diana — The past two years have been difficult. A regular rollercoaster of life and love and everything that rips at a family’s heart and with the Lord’s grace, heals us again. To God be the glory. He is always victorious. And yes, I’ve been playing a bit with the design. The other blog stopped feeling like home. I wanted something softer — like me. *heh heh* Blessings!

  28. Jane says:

    There are not many greater joys or heartaches than those brought about by our children. You continue to be in my prayers with a new name, Grandmother! May God bless your family as you grow through this new and unexpected season.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Jane — Yes. I am a grandmother. Wow. I always wanted to be a momma, and I’ve always looked forward to the day when I had grandchildren too. I am Lovie, and I plan to live up to that name with every breath I take. Thank you for the blessings.

  29. Karina says:

    She’s beautiful, Heather! I’m sure the journey has been difficult and joyous, all wrapped up in the unequaled package of new life. I’m so glad you are back to the blogging world, as I have missed your posts. Many blessings to your entire family!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Karina — the journey has been difficult but as you wrote, joyous too. It’d be difficult to understand the height of joy without the depths of despair, I imagine. I have missed writing. Thank you for welcoming me back with your blessings!

  30. Tara says:

    She is beautiful blessing!! So exciting to hear from you again!! You have been missed! I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers!!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Tara“I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers!!” Thank you. That would be much appreciated. And thank you for missing me. I will endeavor to be worthy of that by writing more frequently!

  31. Andrea says:

    I was thinking recently that I have missed the soul food that God gives me through your blog! It is so good to hear from you, and I am thankful to know that your time away has been blessed so abundantly. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing with us!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Andrea“Soul food” — I don’t even know what to say to that. Thank you. Your words are an embrace, and I’m teary taking in that precious encouragement. May God send you a blessing as deep for you as He’s just blessed me through you. (((hugs))) πŸ™‚

  32. Kate says:

    She. Is. PERFECT. Welcome back!

  33. Vanessa says:

    She is absolutely precious and perfect! Emelie is glowing and beautiful! No matter the story babies are a blessing from God! I will be praying for your families new journey. Loved your post and LOVE that your back! You have been missed. MERRY CHRISTMAS!?

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Hey Vanessa — yes, EVERY baby is a blessing! Thank you for your prayers through our journey. I’m happy to be back. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you, too!

  34. Jenny says:

    I was so happy to see your post today! I have checked in a few times over the months, just to see if you had started writing again. I have enjoyed your posts, and feel a bit crazy that I still think of you when I see monster themed kleenex boxes at Walmart! But thank you for your update, and enjoy your precious family!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Jenny — Although I do not collect monsters any longer, I do smile each time I see them. I don’t think I’ll ever move beyond loving those cute critters! Thank you for missing me and checking in along the way.

  35. Carrie Zinck says:

    She is just beautiful. Congratulations to you all on this serendipity. Good to see you back! πŸ™‚

  36. HisWife says:

    Beautiful, beautiful gift! Blessings on all of you! Have missed you so! Cuddle that grandbaby for all of us! Backstory is none of our nevermind! That beautiful blessing is all that matters! Zeph. 3:17

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      HisWife“Backstory is none of our never mind!” — That made me giggle. πŸ™‚ But yes, our “beautiful blessing” is all that matters in the end!

  37. Kristina in GA says:

    I have missed “seeing” you, but I’m glad you got some much-needed time off. Your posts and sharing of yourself, and family, have given me inspiration and comfort over the past few years as we began our homeschooling journey.
    What a wonderful addition to your family! Children (and grandchildren, I’m told) are such a blessing. I hope Mama and baby Nora (such a lovely name) are settling in well. I hope that y’all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas and New Year full of joy and family. Take care. πŸ™‚

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kristina — Yes, Emelie and Nora have settled in beautifully. The renovations didn’t wrap up until a week after Nora was born. During her pregnancy, Emelie moved into my parents’ guest room and they took wonderful care of her. I stayed with her (Meredith too) the week after Nora was born, and then we moved them both in the first week of August. They have plenty of room and all they need, and we all feel blessed to be together daily. It is good. It is very good. He’s a good, good Father. πŸ™‚

  38. Paola says:

    Love you and your family very deeply. I am grateful for all you share and know Nora will grow up to an amazing life surrounded by an amazing family. She is perfect.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Paola — Thank you. Really. Thank you for caring deeply for a family who you only know online. Thank you for reading and for encouraging. It touches MY heart deeply to know God so graciously weaves my family into the hearts of others.

  39. J Hill says:

    I have almost deleted your blog from my Blogshelf dozens of times, thinking you were done with blogging. Something made me pause every time. It became habit to simply say a short prayer for you and your family each time I saw that you had not posted anything new.
    And now this!! I am so excited for y’all – and I don’t even know you. What a wonderful blessing for your family! Hope you all have a wonderful, blessed Christmas.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      J Hill — It did seem as though I would never return. I’m glad you didn’t delete me! But more than that, I’m thankful for the short prayers — I call those “arrow” prayers because we say them quickly and shoot them right up to the Father. Merry Christmas!!!

  40. Sara A. says:

    Your granddaughter is certainly a beautiful creation and a gift from God. Merry Christmas and it is so good to hear from you again.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you, Sara A. — It is SO good to be here again. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  41. Sandy Manning says:

    How precious! I bet you have nuzzled and kissed those chubby cheeks a bazillion times! Isn’t she just adorable and such a blessing. Have a wonderful Christmas together.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Sandy — YES! There is a TON of nuzzling and kissing going on.! She is an endless bundle of blessings!

  42. se7en says:

    Well, hello little one, welcome to the world… what a sweet mama God has chosen for you… and what a lovely family to grow up in. What an exciting journey you are on. Sending loads of love to you all….

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      se7en — Thank you. Indeed, Nora is born into love upon love. May she never know differently!

  43. Nancy M says:

    We praise The Lord for dear Nora.
    Thank you for sharing your family and story with us.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Nancy — AMEN! Thank you for reading. πŸ™‚

  44. Kari J says:

    I have missed your emails (I am not an instagrammer) and when I saw this today, I rejoiced. Your family was brought to mind just recently (a prompting for me to pray from the Lord). Your precious grand baby girl is a beautiful gift from the Lord. Wishing your family a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kari J — I love that you were prompted to pray for me and my family. The Lord is gracious. He knows we’ve needed prayers! MERRY CHRISTMAS to you, and a glorious new year!

  45. Caron says:

    God bless y’all!

  46. Miss B says:

    I LOVED seeing your email this morning, and I was completely unprepared for the amount of cute contained in this post! What a wonderful surprise. Congratulations, and welcome back!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Miss B — Every morning, when Nora wakes up, Emelie changes her and then, brings her into my room where I work. By that time, I’ve been at work for 3 hours, and I welcome the break. And every morning I am “completely unprepared for the amount of cute contained” in that little girl’s puffy eyes and warm, cuddly body! I am HAPPY you loved seeing me in your inbox. I’ll be there more often!

  47. Carolyn says:

    What a blessed little baby wee Nora is to be surrounded by so much loving family. My very best wishes to your whole family during this most special of Christmases.

    Carolyn (Ontario)

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Carolyn — Thank you! This WILL be a Christmas we’ll remember forever! Merry Christmas to you, too!

  48. Debbie says:

    Heather, congratulations on Nora and how beautiful she is! God writes our story is such unique ways and who are we to question how or when or why. Backstory not needed because the present is where the Lord meets us.

    I’m so happy to see you post this, for the obvious reason, but also because I know how much a blogging community can feel like family and we need that always.

    I hope you’ll be writing again soon πŸ™‚

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Debbie“Backstory not needed because the present is where the Lord meets us.” Seriously, that needs to be cross-stitched somewhere! I agree. He is HERE, NOW. Praise the Lord for His love and constant presence. I’m happy to be here and writing again. And yes, you guys are very much a family to me. I’ve missed you too!

  49. Lesa says:

    WOO HOO!!! You’re back:)
    You gave been missed, but what a great reason for your absence!
    I am a Mimi/Grammie of 5 and there are just no words to describe having Grands!
    I thought having children taught me a lot about God, but being a grandparent took me to a whole new world:)
    Congratulations and welcome back!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Lesa — I certainly could not have dreamed up a better excuse. πŸ˜‰ I am a Lovie to Nora, but I do hope to add more grandchildren in several years from now. I look forward to the life lessons that they will bring my way!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Siobhan — I’ll make sure to listen with Emelie. Thank you!

  50. deb k says:

    such a beautiful baby girl! congratulations! nora means ‘light’, but you probably already knew that. such a mighty spark!

    i have two unexpected grandbabies (ages 5 and soon-to-be-4) and they’re the delight of my heart. their lives have been a tumult and we provide a solid rock for them to build on, me (grammadee) and my husband (grampadee). all seriousness aside, it’s SO FUN to drag out the old toys which after 30 years are curiosities to the little ones. did you know there is no plumpy in candyland anymore? *aghast* and modern lite brites are teeny tiny el cheapo versions of the real deal. and somebuddy’s getting a spudsy hot potato game in his stocking this Christmas. hopefully it won’t get aimed at a sister’s head as it did 50 years ago. >.>

    have fun —- make memories. flourish in love.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      deb — I have my old Fisher Price but not the kids’ toys. They used them up and what was of value, for the most part, went to local charities years ago. However, I can only imagine the joy you’re bringing your grandbabies with all those well-used, LOVED toys. Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  51. Stephanie says:

    She’s beautiful – congratulations!

  52. Mother of Pearl says:

    Lovely! So lovely! I’m glad to hear all of you are on a good path.

    I have missed reading your writing – it made me so happy to see this pop up today, especially when it contains news of such a blessing in your lives.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Mother of Pearl — Thank you for missing my writing. I have missed it too. It brought me more joy to be in each of y’all’s inboxes than you can imagine. And yes, BLESSINGS. It brought our most recent, greatest blessing!

  53. Liz C says:

    Days with babies in them are the BEST days! Congratulations, Granny. πŸ˜€ And congrats to Emilie–she’s done good work! What a lovely little girlie Nora is!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Liz — I’ll pass along your congratulations to Emelie (although, I’m certain she’s been checking this post). And, I’ll have you know, I’m a Lovie (not Granny). Although, if Nora decides to call me Granny, I’ll take it. Anything she calls me from her heart will be just fine.

  54. Bee C. says:

    She’s Gorgeous! Isn’t it funny how God knows there’s something missing in our lives, when we don’t?! Such a wonderful blessing of a new baby and member of the family…Your circle is growing and will continue to in the coming years…it always seems the first little ‘new-comer’ is the most special….but as each new grandbaby comes, they will each be the ‘most special’ in their time! Enjoy this time with Bella Nora and remember, your job is to Spoil Her Rotten!! LOL!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Bee — Each year I have learned there is no end to the depths of love God places in our hearts for each other. Nora showed me an entirely new depth, that’s for certain. She IS a bit spoiled. We say she has low-elevation sickness because she never wants to be put down. Well, almost never. πŸ˜‰

  55. Lanna says:

    Oh my goodness, your girls are just beautiful! I’m glad you’re all doing well, I missed lurking and reading about your family. I do have to admit, I was curious whether E’s as exuberant about cloth diapers as, ahem, some people I knew from years past (oh geez, was it almost fifteen years ago now?!).

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Lanna — Yes, I started working for Mothering in 2000 and that’s when I started Punkin-Butt. So.long.ago. It amazes me how many of us grew up, raising our kids together, absorbing what encouragement we could from other mommas online. πŸ™‚

      I did not even ASK Emelie if she was going to cloth diaper because I didn’t want her to feel any pressure from me. But I am THRILLED she chose that route — it was something she brought up and wanted to do. We’re all a bit crazy about Nora’s big ol’ cloth diapered bum!

      1. Lanna says:

        Hahaha, some of us are *still* growing up.

  56. Kimberly Forbes says:

    Congratulations to the entire Sanders family on their new addition! She is beautiful!!! I was so excited to see you posting again. Looking forward to more. πŸ™‚

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kimberly — Thank you! I look forward to writing more. πŸ™‚

  57. Emily says:

    The best part–CLOTH DIAPERS! Haha… just kidding! That’s how I met you and will always associate you and Mothering boards and PunkinButt! Congratulations on your grandbaby!!! Babies are the BEST!!!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Emily — Oh, you have no idea how easy it would be for me to fall into the trap of tracking down all my favorite old brands and seeing what they have NOW! heh heh But instead, for Emelie’s baby shower, I went to my friend Bryana’s site, Diaper Junction, and purchased various sizes of traditional Chinese Prefolds, along with a few Thirsties Duo Wrap Diaper Covers. We tried a couple of brands, but Emelie prefers Thirsties for Nora. So, she has Thirsties One-Size (Snap) Diaper Covers, Duo Wrap Diaper Covers, and Pocket Diapers. Nora is a heavy wetter and quite the chunky monkey. They fit beautifully and best yet, are affordable. We love her big ol’ cloth diaper bum!

  58. Shellie says:

    Congratuluations to all of you! What a beautiful, perfect unexpected gift. Thank you for sharing with us. <3

  59. Dianne Bell says:

    Heather, what a beautiful blessing, miracle and joy maker Nora is! Emelie is going to be a wonderful Mother as she has had a beautiful role model in you. I have followed you for a long time as you and your family have gone through your journey of ups and downs and I’m so happy for all of you as you now seem to be in the peaceful place God was leading you to. Your strong faith in the Lord always warms my soul and has helped me in my times of struggle and hurt. I agree, we don’t need to know anything other than the fact that Nora is a happy and healthy little angel. She is another of God’s gifts to you all.
    I haven’t left any comments in a while, but just wanted to send my love, support and JOY to you, Emelie and the rest of your family in the gift of Nora. (Love her sweet name)
    Have a beautiful Christmas. Wish I could give you a hug, but I’m sending you a warm hug.
    God bless you all, Dianne

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you for breaking your comment fast to offer love and encouragement, Dianne. πŸ™‚ Yes, Nora is one of many blessings the Lord provided us recently. And oh, how we have struggled to align our hearts and walk in faith through our hurt. We have fallen and gotten back up more times than I’d like to admit. I’ll receive your hug as if you were standing right here to give it. Thank you. God bless you! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  60. Sabrina says:

    This is beautiful. Congratulations and thank you (to both of you) so much for sharing with us! Many blessings and prayers for you all! Merry Christmas.

  61. HJ says:

    Twenty-three years ago I had to make that same difficult announcement to my parents. Although I knew they were disappointed and frightened for me, they were quick to gather me (and my unborn daughter) into their supportive and loving embrace. It was a challenging time, but none of us will ever regret choosing love and acceptance instead of shame and rejection. I couldn’t imagine this world without my smart, beautiful, funny, and kind girl. Like my Cora, your Nora is sure to be a bright, shining influence on everyone she touches throughout her life. My prayers are with your entire family, especially new momma Emilie as she travels this new road.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      HJ — Thank you for sharing your experience, and I’m thankful that you received love and support during your challenging time. We choose love. Jeff and I said those very words. They are the only TRUTH worth living. I love that your “baby” girl is Cora. Perfect. And yes, Nora is already a “bright, shining influence on everyone she touches”, so I expect great blessings for her future. Thank you for your prayers. ((Hugs))

  62. Mellisa says:

    Welcome home! I have missed you!! I have missed hearing about your journey of homeschooling, downsizing, failthsizing and…life. Bless you and your family. Bless the Lord who IS love and may He continue to guide each of you on this new journey. Merry Christmas

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Mellisa“Bless the Lord who IS love…” – Yes. Exactly. And thank you for missing me. I am THRILLED to write here again.

  63. Kristy says:

    Babies are so wonderful. They bring so much joy. Prayers for Nora and Emilie, and for the rest of you too! A grandbaby, a niece, a daughter!!!

  64. Laura in NC says:

    I am thrilled to see that you are back! When I saw Nora’s name I did a double-take. My niece was born in August and her name is Nora, too! Rejoicing with you in the arrival of your beautiful granddaughter!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you, Laura in NC. Glad you are happy to read me again. And? Awwwww… another “Nora.” πŸ™‚ I rejoice with you in the arrival of your niece!

  65. Kathy W says:

    I praise God that all is well with you and your family, especially for the beautiful new addition of your grand daughter. Have been praying for you during your time of sabbatical that God would shelter you in His love and guide you in the path He is taking you down. Welcome back -hugs

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Kathy W — You cannot know how much I feel blessed by the words, “I have been praying for you.” We all need prayer, of course, but there are times in our lives when the prayers of the saints are our very breath. We have been cupped in His very hands. Much love and many blessings to you!

  66. Rachel W says:

    Welcome back! I, like so many others, have missed sharing in the life of your beautiful family. Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful granddaughter. Babies are truly one of the greatest blessings!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Rachel — Thank you. It’s like coming back “home” to a warm, welcoming hug. It feels amazing to be missed — that I mattered enough to be missed. It’s an unexpected embrace, I tell ya!

  67. Laura in Little Rock says:

    I’ve followed along on Instagram, but I’ve missed you. So glad the “window” to your life is opening a bit more again. I’ve learned a lot from your example about the parent I want to be.
    My sister was 20 when my niece was born. I was -barely- 24 with my first. Babies change things. I’ve never really considered what it will be to see my own “babies” become parents. I’m grateful for your example of joy and love.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Laura — The Lord has certainly stretched me on this blessing called parenting. I have made my fair share of mistakes, but I just “keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” πŸ™‚ Babies DO change things. It is incredible to see your own babes become parents. It is a joy with depths you cannot reach. ((Hugs))

  68. Rebecca says:

    Dear Heather, I don’t think I’ve commented before, but have checked in regularly to see how you’ve been. Congratulations to your family and especially to Emelie on the arrival of beautiful Nora.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you, Rebecca; it’s such a joy to be back. I’ll pass along your congratulations to Emelie. πŸ™‚

  69. Katie says:

    Congratulations to the whole family and especially the new momma! I’ve checked in over the past few months to see if you were back and feel like I got an early Christmas present when I checked in today

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Katie — Thank you for continuing to check in on me. It felt like an early Christmas present to have the gift of telling everyone about Nora. We really thought it might be after Christmas before we were able. Blessings!

  70. Jody says:

    First – I’m a long-time reader, and look forward to hearing more from you on your blog. Second – Congratulations, and welcome to the most wonderful ‘club’ in the world! I joined 4 years ago. Due to circumstances at the time, I remember telling the Lord “But this isn’t the way I wanted to become a grandmother!” It’s a long story, and one I can’t share publicly. But that little baby has been a HUGE blessing from God. He has been a catalyst for healing, and is a constant reminder of just how much God loves us. I’m looking forward to more photos of your beautiful child and grandchild.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Jody — I understand completely not being able to share the story, but I also understand it doesn’t matter b/c as many have stated so eloquently here — all that matters now is what we do with the blessing. Sweet baby blessings! And oh, I’m so happy to be a member of the grandmother club!!

  71. janelle alberts says:

    Oh Heather! This beautiful post in light of a beautiful baby coming to your home in light of the season we celebrate a beautiful baby coming to earth…it’s too much and I love it. So glad to see your words. You’re an indescribable gift to so many my friend. Merry, merry Christmas.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Janelle — Merry Christmas to you. Yes, unto the world a child was born — Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He’s brought much joy, counsel, rest, and peace into our home, along with Nora — a most beloved baby girl.

  72. Monica B. says:

    Hello Heather!! I’m so happy to see you back on the internet pages! And what a mighty and wonderful way to return, this season, the closing of this year and ushering in a new year. Seriously, my heart is a flutter with this update. Such a beautiful little girl! She’s darling! Truly, Merry Christmas to you and your family! I look forward to visiting both places! Much love to everyone!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Monica B. — Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. Thank you for for the warm welcome and for joining us in our joy! Blessings!

  73. Carolyn says:

    I am so glad that you’ve all come out on the best side of your unexpected journey – your little miracle ‘Nora’ will bring you unexpected joys and delight that you can only experience as “Lovie.” Grandparents are have a very special role in their grandchildren’s lives and they in ours.

    Heather, we are going to be out of the country and, consequently, I will only be able to check in as time and wi-fi availability permit. I have tried several times to change my status, but am continuing to get all replies. Would you be so kind as to look into this for me. I will be following your faithsizing journey as often as I can whilecwectravel.

    Blessings for your whole family this Christmas and the very best in 2917

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Carolyn — I’m already praying about my “special role” in Nora’s life. That I will know what is a grandmother’s role and what is a mother’s role — always respectful of Emelie and her choices.

      Also, I have removed your email from the subscription of this post. If you run into any problems at all, please let me know. Enjoy your time while you’re out of the country. Blessings and safe travel!

  74. Betsy says:

    Let me add my congratulations to you, the new mom and your family. My sister gave my parents a sign for Christmas this year that said, “Grandchildren fill an empty hole in our heart we never knew existed” They agreed. I see the proud great-grandparents in your Instagram. I hope they didn’t caught in the freezing drizzle here and the interstate coming to a standstill Friday night. Not to mention the bitter cold we had on Sat. 29 was closed for much of Friday night and some of Sat morning. If they are out-of-town they chose the right time to be gone.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Betsy — We drove up on Friday afternoon before the freezing temps and heavy drizzle hit and drove back here to Huntsville on Sunday (mid-day) before the roads were bad again. It WAS cold and Jeff’s brother just purchased a lake house in need of renovation, so we woke to frost on windows inside and out! It was still a WONDERFUL visit and yes, the great-grandparents are just as taken with Nora as the rest of us! πŸ˜‰

  75. Ruthie says:

    I’ve been wanting to comment, but waited, wanting to be sure I was careful with my words. The last thing I want to do is assume anything or offend. Not knowing the backstory (which is none of my or anyone else’s business!), what I would like to say might come off wrong, but I mean it with sincerity and love.

    Reading these words and seeing the love you have for your daughter and now granddaughter in such unexpected times makes me pause and thank God for Mommas like you. I’m a 31-year-old married woman with 3 beautiful babes. And yet telling my mom I was pregnant with my unexpected 3rd was a difficult thing for me to do. We were done having children. We barely make it on my husband’s salary. We’ve chosen for me to stay home, which isn’t the most supported choice by my parents. Our now family of 5 lives in a rented 2 bedroom house. The list goes on and on. But her mercy and grace and JOY when I told her meant the world to me.

    I can only imagine if circumstances were different and possibly a bit more difficult the trepidation I would feel in telling my mother. A difficult thing for Emelie to say, I’m sure. And a difficult thing for you to hear, no matter the ultimate joy it brought in the end.

    I guess what I’m bumbling about trying to say is that it shows the depth of your unconditional love that she could come to you in what can be a very scary time and find comfort, security and help in her time of need. That will serve her well in years to come as she raises her daughter and faces her own unexpected events as a mother.

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Ruthie — It was difficult for Emelie to tell us. It was difficult to receive. It wasn’t the plan, but God already knew. Jeff and I were afraid for her because she was living on her own at the time and barely making ends meet. He warmed my heart when he asked her if she wanted to come home. It’s where we wanted her. The relief in her face said it all. During her pregnancy, she lived in my parents’ guest room. They took amazing care of her while the 4 of us already here moved into the 300 square foot living room for nearly 2 months while we fast tracked the renovation. The Lord was so gracious. He provided over and over for us this past year. There is hardly an end to the blessings we’ve counted.

      I remember being afraid to tell my parents when I was pregnant with Emelie. Jeff and I were married, but we were so, so, so barely making it and truly scared. He was trying to wrap up his Masters, and we were not trying for a baby…yet. But, it all worked out beautifully. Now 20 years later, we get an opportunity to help that same baby girl through her tight times.

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate it.

  76. Lynne says:

    I also received the gift of being the birthing coach when my baby had her baby. It was amazing seeing her being so strong through that process. If circumstances had been different I wouldn’t have experienced that joy and realized in such a tangible way that, even with ups and downs, things really do work for good. Even through the struggles, having the day to day contact with that precious baby offered an opportunity to bond that I wouldn’t trade.

    And 13 years later, I still marvel at what a strong confident woman she has become…through her reliance upon God, who gives her strength. It has been through her struggles that she’s grown. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it?

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Lynne — Yes. We definitely grow more through struggles than anything else, it seems. And Emelie has certainly grown through hers — she is gracious and loving and kind. Nora is blessed to have her as a momma. Basically, WE ALL have grown — the entire family. And yes, the day to day contact with Nora is a precious gift. She is my first break from work in the morning, and I look forward to it every day.

  77. Dedra Lane Rainey says:

    I am in tears for you right now. Though I’ve never met you, I have followed you for quite some time. What a blessing to see that beautiful baby girl and hear the testimony of how she has brought healing to your family. Love and prayers to all of you!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Dedra — She is a blessing, indeed. Thank you. When I sit back and look at how God orchestrated the hearts and minds of our family — both before and after we knew of Nora — I stand amazed.

  78. Blair Russe says:

    I’m late to the party, but wanted to say congratulations and what a gorgeous baby. Emelie looks so at peace as well. What a joyous Christmas this must have been. I stop in here by chance every few months so this morning was a wonderful surprise. I guess switching email addresses I didn’t sign back up and missed a notification. Anyway, hugs to you all. Hope y’all have a delightful New Year. Hard not to snuggling a baby like that. πŸ™‚

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Hey, Blair — let me know if you need me to add your email to the new email list. I hope to post once/week, so it shouldn’t be in inbox hog.

      And yes, it was a JOYOUS Christmas. I snuggle all the live long day!

      1. Blair Russe says:

        I think I figured out the subscription on your new (gorgeous) site with my new email and am signed up? I got the confirmation email and clicked that and at least got this notification so hopefully we are good to go. I missed my favorite blogger and am looking forward to you being a regular in my inbox again. πŸ™‚

      2. Heather Sanders says:

        Yep! I logged in to check and you’re there! Thanks for the sweet encouragement, Blair. I hope I continue to rank as one of your faves. πŸ™‚

  79. Ezra says:

    Oh my goodness, she is beautiful. Congratulations! Also, may I say, I’ve missed y’all! I’ve been following your blog since sometime in 2010, when I found you through PW’s homeschooling site – though I’ve been too shy to comment until recently, I figured this was a good starting comment! Happy New Year to all of you, and I’m wishing Emelie and Nora a wonderful life together. πŸ™‚

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Thank you, Ezra. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you decided not to be shy any longer. Happy New Year to you too!

  80. Audrey W. says:

    I wanted to chime in with a little bit of my story. I discovered I was pregnant when I was 20, not married, and still living with my parents. It was terrifying telling them. It wasn’t our plan either, but yes, God knew. He knew that I was addicted to methamphetamines and that nothing aside from another’s life being in my hands could force me to give them up. He knew that being pregnant would force me to get clean, get my Master’s degree (with huge parental support) and turn back to Him. 21 years later I’m happily married with two more kids and a strong, deep relationship with the Lord. I can’t imagine it any other way. And from my perspective, not knowing the backstory (which I agree, isn’t our business), I was in a very similar situation to Emelie 21 years ago. It was painful, it was hard, it IS beautiful. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you never really know what God is going to do; and that both Nora and Emelie are blessed to have you and your husband (and vice versa).

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Audrey W. — Thank YOU for sharing your story. What a beautiful story it is! And yes, I believe that God’s hand has been in and through all of this, and I’m humbled at how He has grown our family and strengthened our relationships. We all feel very fortunate, abundantly blessed and can’t wait to see how the future unfolds.

  81. Diane says:

    Its hard to see the landscape when you are climbing the mountain. But when you get to a summit…what a view! Congratulations to your whole family on Miss Nora. May she always know how very loved she is. What a blessing!

    1. Heather Sanders says:

      Diane — That’s a great analogy; and yes, I agree.

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