"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 
2 Corinthians 4:6

As I blew out the candles of my 26th birthday cake, I felt complete.  My family was complete, this past year was complete, and the amazing experience that we had in the NICU had finally become complete.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what God had in store for me last year when I quietly whispered the words, "Use me, God."  When I began my 25th year of life, I knew that I wanted that to be a year of change.  I knew that something was missing in my life and I timidly took a leap of faith in order to find what that was. When I decided to take this leap, I knew I had to go for it and not do anything half-way.  That would be like doing a belly flop off the diving board instead of a back flip.  Yes, I had desires and dreams that wanted to be fulfilled, but I also knew that in order for me to achieve these things I would have to completely submit my life to Christ and trust that even if these birthday wishes did not come true; I would still be completely in love with my Savior.

As the year progressed, I continued to pray for the desires of my heart.  I prayed for children and I prayed for God to show me the direction He wanted to take me for my spiritual walk.  Soon, my wish for children was granted!  As my belly grew, we began to make plans for our expanding family.  We were overwhelmed with joy that God would give us not just one child, but two. We picked out colors for the nursery, had baby showers, and did research on all things twins.  Around the seven month mark, our plans changed drastically.  I woke up early one morning with painful cramps and we rushed to the hospital.  Shortly after arriving, I was rushed into the delivery room for an emergency C-section.  I was scared to death and all I could do was close my eyes and pray.  God delivered our babies at two pounds each and not a cry was heard when they entered this world.  As family and friends packed my post-par tum room, I assuredly smiled back at them saying everything would be just fine.  I was thankful that we made it through the C-section and I decided to focus on the positive instead of the negative.  That is great and wonderful, but reality ordered me to rip off my mask so I could fully realize the severity of the situation.  What I saw in front of me were two beautiful little girls desperately fighting for their lives.  They came into this world premature and we had a long road ahead of us.  As the days progressed; I kept tripping on rocks and holding on to the edge of the cliff instead of following the hand that was holding mine.  I desperately clung to what I knew to be true and safe instead of becoming fearless in my faith.  Satan proudly had his shoulders held high since he knew what a grip he had on me.  He knew my greatest fear and he did everything in his power to drag me into his murky, slimy pit of darkness.  Satan unleashed great amounts of uncertainty, guilt, and doubt on my head and in my heart in order for me to play on his team.  His offers were tempting me like Snow White with the red apple.  He kept saying, "Just take one bite, it will make you feel so much better."  So many times I wanted to eat that apple.  I wanted a break from this world and I wanted to go far, far away.  Just when I started to lick my lips and take a bite, I felt a loving hand on my shoulder telling me to stop.  When I glanced back to see whose hand was on me, I was blinded by light.  Light so bright and pure that it made me fall to my knees in thankfulness.  The light was with me and it started to fill my heart and my head with love and truth instead of the wretched mess I almost gave myself to.  Just as God saw in Genesis 1:4, I saw that the light was good, and I started to separate the light from the darkness.

 Each morning, as I prepared myself for the day ahead, I would look into my vanity mirror and asked, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" Each time, I looked into the mirror, I saw Jesus' reflection staring back at me. I began to wholeheartedly follow my fearless leader because I knew that the more I mirrored Him, the stronger my faith would become.  Earnestly seeking His truth prepared my spirit for what lied ahead of me each day.  I felt his presence throughout my day and often I confessed my fears and doubts to Him.  He assured me of his faithfulness and He kept showing me the direction that I needed to go in to stay strong through my journey.

As the days progressed, so did our faith and the girls growth.  Each day, we got to do a little more with them.  They started to breathe on their own and we were able to finally hold them in our arms.  As the weeks carried on, they began to bottle feed and grow into themselves.  They actually started to look like real babies!  We began to realize that God was using our sufferings to glorify his name.  Soon, we realized that He was granting the other desire of my heart which was to write for His kingdom.  When we started the blog a year ago, we had no idea what direction it would go in.  All we knew was that we wanted to be disciples of Christ and to share His truth with others. Through this life-changing event, we decided to meagerly become like John in the Bible.  "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.  He himself was not the light.  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (John 1:4-9).  We began to fully rely on the power that the light has over the darkness.  We knew that Jesus had already defeated our enemy, and he had also defeated death itself.  Our love for Jesus taught us that He will watch over us in our darkest hours and carry us into the sunshine.  He promised that those that ask will receive.  He heard our cry for mercy and He carried us on the feathers of His wings.  As the girls continued to grow, we continued to give thanks to Him for the blessings he continued to show us. "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another (John 1:16).

Without this NICU experience, I would not have learned how to let go of Satan's strongholds in order to hold on to the truth spoken by Christ.  This journey taught me that Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the light.  Without him, I would never have made it.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to face my darkest fears and persevere through them.  He continued to give strength to the weary and we are now so much stronger that when we started.  As the final days of our journey came upon us, it was weird seeing it end. My high school senior yearbook stated it perfectly, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end."  We were so ready for the girls to be home but a part of us didn't want to let go of the experience that we had.  It was so hard saying our goodbyes but we joyfully said hello to the new road ahead of us.  My heart is so full of joy right now and I know that He still has so much in store for us.  As I begin this new year of my life, my greatest wish of all is that I will continue to seek Him first in everything that I do.  I want Him to be the center of everything in my life - Raleigh, the girls, my future....everything.  Even though this experience was not planned by me, it was truly God's perfect timing in my life.  This experience has taught me so much about His love for me and I pray that I continue to show that love to others.  It is my wish that each of you will continue to follow us on our new journey and as we all become better disciples of Christ we will move mountains with our faith.  We won't be able to deny His presence in us and we will shout it from the roof tops to bring others closer to Him. "Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.  You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:6-8.

Below are some pictures of the best birthday I have ever had. These pictures will forever be keepsakes to me!  Blessed be the name of Jesus, for he is GOOD!

We roomed in on Tuesday night.  It was so weird to see the girls' room all packed up and ready for us when we arrived.
It was the first time that we saw our girls not hooked up to the monitors and without tubes on their faces.
It was kinda sad saying goodbye to that room after spending 83 days there!!!!
Early Wednesday morning, the night shift nurses woke us up to give me birthday doughnuts!
It was so neat that they thought of that because it is a tradition that Raleigh and I eat doughnuts on our birthday.
We got to be so close to those nurses and it was so hard giving them one last hug!!!!
After the girls had their final exam, we got to dress them up to go home!  I wasn't able to find any preemie bloomers,
so Mom bought us some monogrammed diapers. We put them on top of their real diapers
(didn't want a blow-out on those new dresses!!!!) and they were just too darn cute :)
Ms. Kirby was our discharge nurse for the day.  She was one of the nurses that had the girls' the most.
All the other nurses would joke with her about how much she loved our girls.
She wore pink scrubs just for the occasion!               
We love you Ms. Kirby!!!!!!
Ms. Casey was another nurse that had tears in her eyes as the girls left the hospital.
She helped us tremendously through Adeline's scary time and she was one of the nurses on the day they were born.  Saying goodbye to the NICU staff was by far the hardest part of the day for me.
More than once my eyes welled up in tears because
these great people made this experience a WHOLE lot easier!!!!!
Leaving the hospital and ready to go to our new home!!!!  Tears were literally steaming down my face at this point.
I couldn't believe that the day had finally arrived.  It was surreal.
Thank you Baptist East for being our home away from home!!!!
Raleigh is such a great dad.  The night before we roomed-in, he watched the car seat video one more
time to make sure he had them secured correctly :)
Riding home from the hospital, I remembered the first time I left those doors without the girls.
What a great moment to finally have them with us coming home!!!!!
Earlier that day, our parents put out our yard sign and hung pink bows on our door.
We had to have a proper homecoming!!!!!
Home at last!  I am holding Adeline and Raleigh has Maralee.  What proud parents we are!!!!!
I'm not happy, am I?  :)
Maralee Simms Price & Adeline Summers Price at 11 1/2 weeks.
Maralee weighs 4 lbs. 8 oz. and Adeline is 4 lbs 12 oz.
God's perfect timing!  It was the best birthday EVER!!!!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen