Man oh man! I am so far behind on this blog post! We promised you the third and final introduction to our family post weeks ago, and I am just now getting around to writing it. I have a ton of excuses, but I won’t bore you with all of them. But just for a reminder, feel free to go back and reread our love story and the story of our firstborn, Benaiah James.

This is the story of our spitfire, Uriah John. Be prepared to laugh at me. You may not want to read this if you are pregnant with what you think is a girl…..

When Benaiah was four months old, I took a pregnancy test and found out we were pregnant again. I was excited and distressed at the same time. Over and over in my head I asked the questions that I’m sure most mothers of multiple children ask. Will I be short changing my first child in any way? How am I going to change all those diapers? And is it truly possible for me to love anything as much as I love Benaiah? I spent many hours in tears behind closed doors. I didn’t want anyone to know I was anything but excited. I felt guilty for feeling apprehensive.

But God soothed my soul and I began to anticipate things about the pregnancy as I did with Benaiah. One of those things was finding out the sex around 16 weeks. We went in for an ultra sound and the doctor said it was impossible to say for sure, but he thought it was a girl. Then we had to have a second ultrasound a few weeks later and the doctor said it was for sure a girl. We hemmed and hawed over names forever, but finally settled on Esther Naomi. I began to gather all things purple and gray to decorate her nursery. My dining room table was constantly covered in lace and ribbon while making bows.

On December 17 we went to the doctor and I asked if we could go ahead and induce. She was to be due on Christmas day, and I didn’t want to be at home when we could be with family. My doctor agreed and so we headed home to get ready. We would have the baby tomorrow.

On the way home, Bubba said he wanted to talk. I was nervous. Remember how I said that he had three names picked out for boys? Well, after Benaiah James, he wanted Uriah John. I hated the name Uriah. I love the story of Uriah’s faithfulness to his king in 2 Samuel 11. And I loved that Uriah means Fire of Yahweh. But the sound of the name? It reminded me of urine…. So Bubba struck up a deal with me. I fondly refer to it as my deal with the devil.

He proposed that if for some crazy reason we had a boy the next day, we would name him Uriah. But if everything happened like it was supposed to and we had a girl, we would name her Esther and the name Uriah would be off the table for all future children. Hmmm…. Two ultrasounds said this was supposed to be a girl. And I would never have to worry about a child of my name walking around with a name that brought a toilet to mind? Yes, please! So we made the deal.

The next day at the hospital, I progressed quickly and so we called my dear friend Heather Graves of Sugar Creek Photography to come in. She was thinking about getting into photographing births, and I was a more than willing guinea pig.

So when the time came to push, Heather stood behind my head and started taking pictures of everything. When the baby started coming out all I could hear was a constant barrage of clicking in my right ear. Then it stopped and she gasped. Then my husband laughed. Then the doctor held up my sweet Esther and said, “It’s a boy!” What!? No way! It took quite a bit of convincing everyone in the waiting room until they saw him themselves.

So now we have our sweet Uriah John. I wouldn’t change his name for the world. It was somehow prophetic. I see fire in him every single day. He is not as active as Benaiah was, but constantly has a bed of coals simmering behind his eyes, soaking in every single detail. He talks all the time and looks at you as if waiting for you to understand exactly what he says. He just recently started walking and is so proud of himself. His temper tantrums are few and far between, but when they show up sometimes it’s just best to run! He’s learned to hold his own with his brother and has perfected the art of tackling someone as they run by. He loves his big brother and is constantly seeking him out. He has been such a joy in our home and our life.

We are so grateful for our Uriah John!

PictureBenaiah James Gurley, one day old.
     Welcome back! Now that you’ve read the story about how Bubba and I fell in love, let’s fast forward together a few years, shall we? Let’s fast forward to early 2011. I was teaching at Captain Shreve High School and working toward a teaching certificate in secondary math education. We had just bought a car and were enjoying our life together the two of us. We always knew that we wanted children, but felt like we just weren’t ready financially. Then one day, I just had a feeling. I told Bubba that I thought I was pregnant. I can remember being nervous about telling him, because I thought he would be stressed out. Boy, was I wrong! He was excited and in turn allowed me to have hope that maybe it was true.

I took a pregnancy test after work one day when I could no longer stand it in the Barnes and Noble bathroom. Low and behold, I had a sweet child growing in me! So I of course bought a few pregnancy books, including one for dads, and headed back to our church for revival that night. Once I got there, I texted Bubba a picture of the test that said “Pregnant,” and waited for him to receive the text. Apparently we had horrible service because it took FOREVER. I was waiting and waiting for him to check his phone and look at me and smile, but it just never seemed to happen. After what seemed like hours he finally got the text and we rejoiced and prayed together in the empty sanctuary. The plan was to tell our parents that evening and then slowly start telling other people, but Brandon had told everyone who walked through the door before I could even get a call to my parents! We were both filled with such joy.

Months before I even thought I was pregnant, Bubba told me that he felt like God had given him three names for the three boys we were going to have. (What’s annoying is that so far he has been right!)

The first name was Benaiah James. The story of Benaiah in the Bible can be found in 2 Samuel 23:20. There isn’t a lot of scripture about him, but it’s there. The crazy man chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and killed it with his bare hands! But the courage, bravery, and determination of the story struck a chord in our hearts. Benaiah means “built by God.” We prayed our first child would live up to his name.

The middle name, James, is after one of the disciples. James and John were the sons of Zebedee, but they were also known as the sons of thunder. My husband may have a complex……[I just want ESPN to have a good story to write when my boys are playing college football!]

After the name was finally decided, changes started happening in our lives. I was transferred to another school which was an awful experience, and Bubba was feeling as though it was time to move on from our wonderful church in Oil City. With all that being said, we ended up moving about 2 weeks before my due date. But through it all, I prayed and prayed and prayed for my sweet baby boy that I would soon hold in my arms. I prayed for his wife. I prayed for his job. I prayed for his salvation and for his character. I prayed for his adult years, his teen years, his child years, and his infant years. And I prayed for his arrival.

My labor was induced a day after the due date, and I went to the hospital a little nervous, but very excited. Everything was going well. I went from a four to a ten in such a short time that the nurse all of a sudden had to run and get the doctor! But by the time it came to push, things started to get a little strange. I do not remember a lot of this, and much I did not learn until much later. Every time I would have a contraction my blood pressure would bottom out and Benaiah’s heart rate would sky rocket. Everything seemed to come in and out of focus, but I was determined to do what my doctor said. I had no idea there were complications, or that he called for forceps. He was nervous that the cord was wrapped around Benaiah’s neck and was causing distress. All I remember was that all of a sudden the nurse was on top of me pushing down on my stomach every time I was told to push. Fifteen minutes after I started pushing, Benaiah came into our world. He was completely healthy, had no cord wrapped around his neck, and as soon as he was delivered my blood pressure leveled out. It was like nothing had gone wrong at all. Here me when I say this. I am so. thankful. that I spent many hours in prayer for that moment. I had no idea what was going on and did not have the wherewithal to pray during labor and delivery. But I had stored up prayers for my son. God heard the cry of my heart, and he answered my prayers.

Benaiah is now almost two (!!!)  years old. It is truly amazing how time flies. Everyone always tells you about it, but it’s not something you can understand until you have experienced it yourself. His baby dedication verse was Joshua 1.9 : “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We pray this over him daily. That wherever Benaiah goes, that he is strong and courageous. Wherever Benaiah goes, the Lord will go with him.

Benaiah James Gurley is laughter and a temper. He is a jedi and a cowboy. He doesn’t talk a lot, but you can see in his eyes that he is constantly learning, exploring, and planning his next adventure. Herbal tea and coffee are both drinks he loves (and steals from mom!), but he is just fine drinking water. He eats like a full grown adult (literally as much as I do at some meals) and is growing like a weed. He is a doting big brother, even when all he wants to do is wrestle. And he is a loving son. 

We are so thankful for our Benaiah James.

PictureThis is the first picture of us on record!
We were so excited to see so many people come and read our first post about the Faith section of the blog. Thanks for being interested in our crazy life! The next area of the blog we would like to explain is Love of Family. I will actually be writing this in four parts. We will put lots of things in this section about our family life. Recipes, food preservation, interesting stories, funny pictures, and many other things will be discussed in this section. But the first four posts in the Love of Family part of our blog will be introducing our family. The first part is a love story….

Bubba has named a syndrome that a lot of women have. More than likely, there’s already a name for it. Nevertheless, he says that many women have what he affectionately calls “Romantic Novel Syndrome.” Basically, he’s talking about how women or young girls read books like the Twilight Series, or a Christian romance, or old school Fabio books, or even watch chick flicks. Then, they base their view of how all men should treat women on these fictional “men.” Sadly, because of this, many women end up never loving their husbands as they should, and young girls are disheartened when their boyfriend’s world does not completely revolve around the girl and their relationship. But you know, there are still some pretty amazing love stories out there! I happen to think mine is one of them….

It was August of 2005 in Magnolia, Arkansas. You could fry an egg on the asphalt. And there were a bunch of people wandering around a field in the middle of the day. What were those crazy people doing, you ask? Why, Southern Arkansas University Band Camp, of course! I (Ashley) had never marched in a band before. There were no marching bands in Alaska when I was growing up. Who wants to march in the snow!? But with it being so hot, I was burning up. I was a bit of a novelty coming from the north, and so many people wanted to talk to me. But honestly, all I could think was “Holy cow I’m hot, which foot goes first?”

Bubba happened to be one of those people to introduce himself to me. Once I was there for a few days and was able to work through the sweat without tripping all the time, I started to notice that tuba player that always came up to talk during breaks. Somehow, he got my phone number (he asked my RA, I’m pretty sure there are rules against that….) and we started dating almost immediately. We had an amazing few weeks. There was always an adventure when we were together. That is, until one day, he blurted out in the middle of our conversation, “God told me that I’m going to marry you.” Here’s a freebie, guys: If God tells you that you are going to marry a girl, don’t tell her after just a couple weeks. [Occasionally I will chime in on a blog that Ashley writes and vice versa. I just want to echo what she said here guys, not a good move to tell a girl that within a few weeks, even if God told you!]

So with that, I bowed out of the relationship. I wasn’t up for some crazy guy getting visions from God and wanting to marry me! I was only 18! However, I was passionately pursued (he used to sing the Veggie Tales song “Cheeseburger” to me all the time…). In fact, Bubba pursed me for almost 6 months. During this time we both grew exponentially closer to the Lord. Although I knew he wanted to get back together, I knew that I was done. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to return to SAU after the first semester.

But I did. And I became very involved with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at our campus. It was hard to avoid Bubba there, because he lived there as the caretaker. Our friends were the same, our passions were becoming the same, and we were at a lot of the same events. In fact, over spring break of 2006, we both went on a mission trip together with the BCM to Helena, Arkansas.

The SAU BCM was not the only BCM on this mission trip. There were three or four other school’s BCMs there as well. And with other BCMs, come other Christian girls. At first I was relieved. I was hoping that Bubba would find some other girl to chase all week so I could focus on serving and learning. In fact, that’s exactly what he did. [That's not exactly how that went, but who was I to ignore a lady?] (He told me later that he prayed one night and just gave me up to God. If the Lord wanted us together, then He would have to do it because Bubba was done.) But as the attention started fading from me to some very sweet other girls, I noticed I felt uneasy. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. So I started praying. About three days into the trip I was praying about this uneasy feeling and realized with a gasp, “I’m JEALOUS!?!?!?!?!?” I know you aren’t supposed to use that many question marks and exclamation marks at once, but that’s really what it sounded like in my head!

So with great humility (and quite a bit of embarrassment…) I went to Bubba and told him how I was feeling. He graciously listened and said that we should talk about it when we returned from the trip. I was able to focus a little better the rest of the trip. At least when he wasn’t playing card games with all those girls….

It wasn’t long after we got back that we started dating again. But this time we both knew it was different. We weren’t dating just for fun. We were dating because we knew we wanted to pursue marriage. When my mom came down to SAU at the end of the school year we had been dating not quite two months, and all I had told my parents was that I was dating Bubba again. She called my dad and told him that wedding bells were in the near future. It was just obvious.

That summer was the longest summer of my life. Bubba had already made the commitment to serve at Trail’s End Ranch in Montana. And I already had plane tickets back to Alaska. We knew the summer would either make or break our relationship. Many letters were exchanged that summer. I wrote him over sixty letters. I think I got five! (I still have and cherish those letters.)

Once we got back in the same state in August, we both knew that we would get married as soon as we could. We patiently anxiously waited for December. My family was coming down for Christmas and it would be the first time Brandon would meet my dad… and ask him for my hand.

Brandon proposed on Christmas Eve of 2006 in my apartment. He had just started playing guitar and played and sang “My Last Name” by Dierks Bentley. I still cry every time I hear the song. We were married on the side of a mountain in Alaska six months later on June 4, 2007. We were both just babies at 20 years old. But we were in love and knew that God had plans for our life together.

Since our engagement we have poured our hearts into the ministry God has called us to as a team. I am so thankful for my husband. You have no idea. God wrote (and is still writing) our love story. And that’s better than any old romance novel.

Getting married on the side of Lazy Mountain.