new life.

The Emery Effect from Michael Muniz on Vimeo.

It's been a wonderful and trying past couple of days. We arrived back in San Diego from Denver on Tuesday. San Diego had an all day black out on Thursday. Saturday morning we woke up to a mass of texts and calls letting us know Jen, Ricky's younger sister, was in labor. By the time we rushed to the hospital, Jen was an hour away from starting to push this little one out.

I was able to film the actual birth and time in the delivery room. It was one of those moments you can't relay. To watch Jen take on labor with such determination and then to see such a smooth labor and delivery really brought healing and hope to my heart. It was such a contrast to the 50 hours of labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing I experienced 10 months ago.

After holding Emery and kissing her beautiful, Mexican (and .2 Asian) forehead - I spent the following days rejoicing with the Lord. Not only for little Emery, for her miraculous birth, and for the beauty that is life - but more specifically for the Valdez family.

When I met Ricky, I was naive and in love. I cast aside my life, my family, and my dreams to take on his name. I packed up all I knew and drove across the desert to join his life.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know that when the romance of a "recklessness in the name of love" died down - I looked around and realized I was the only white girl in the closest thing you can get to Mexico in the states. I was surrounded by chiles and chicken tacos - and a people that did things WAYYYY different than how I grew up. Everything from eating to talking to church was foreign to me.

And here I am, 3 years later, standing in a hospital room watching my sister-in-law do the most vulnerable and triumphant thing she may ever do. I'm hugging my mother-in-law while we weep watching a bloody, raw, and freshly born baby clear her lungs on her mother's chest while her father pushes back his wives sweaty hair and gazes for the first time on her little baby face.

It was like slow motion. The nurses were running around, everyone was straining and crowding in to see her face, and I just sat behind the camera and stared.

When you fall in love and take a ring, your gaze is very limited. You see your husband. Your taken over with love. You dream of your home and kitchen curtains and future children and midnight laughters and, though it may happen for a brief moment here and there, you have no idea the entirety of what you are gaining.

When I met Ricky and when the Lord in His jealous kindess asked me to leave "father and mother for the gospel" - all I knew was that I was losing everything and gaining my husband and the will of God. I had no idea I would be welcomed, as if I too were born and raised in his very home, into Ricky's family and world as I was.

And this isn't normal. It's not. Not for everyone. Sister-in-laws don't become everyone's best friends. Mother and Father-in-laws come over for dinner here and there, and you cook a roast and clean your home and send them away at 8:30 PM sharp.

But I inherited, by the hand of marriage, a second family. One I have grown with for 3 years. I've wept with them (a lot), laughed with them (even more), handed them my son, and was reborn in their midst - reborn into a family from a totally different world than my own.

And they don't replace my own. I have one sister. A dashing young nephew. A mother and a father. All my dearest friends, my flesh and blood (or closest to it), the source of the most prayers of my own and for my own. All survivors of our own 25+ year battles. And ones I wish (so much I have to avoid thinking on it) could be nearer than they are.

But in the Lord's kindness, I married a man and a family. They've taught me to linger at the dinner table when the food is done and to spend money on celebrations, because people are worth it. I now know how to make a mean cup of salsa (as they call chile). I don't think it's odd to invite my mother to stay in our home when she retires. They've erased the concept of debtor's ethic in a community of family and friends. Saturday mornings seem incomplete with out a huge, rather unhealthy, breakfast. And it would be absurd to leave an event without saying goodbye (with a friendly side hug) to every friend and stranger in the same building.

I'm still a white girl, but I wake up to a boy who is half me (and my family and their stories), and half of this entirely other world. And it's beautiful.

And I'm thankful. Thankful that my loud, outspoken, vegetable loving, small talk hating, midwestern self was so quickly given the Valdez stamp of approval. I love them.

So while in that delivery room, thinking of my husband who tricked me - who stole my affections and threw me into a whirlwind of imperfect (as we all are), yet beautiful, BEAUTIFUL people... it was just a picture of our journey with the Lord. He steals are hearts, rips us from our old world, and throws us into a family. And when the newness of salvation settles into a clarity for the call - we see our new brothers and sisters. Of every nation, tribe, and tongue. And all of us are going to live forever. Forever. Watching the old things pass away - through much labor and trial, and the new and beautiful, like little Emery Hope, come face to face in the light of the Son.

"Behold, I am make all things new."

"I... pray... that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."


  1. wow. the beginning of that video gave me CHILLSSSSS!! and i wanted to just cry for her. happy and sad tears. how beautiful!!

  2. Beautiful story! Your descriptions gave me a visual of Kyle & Maria's life and the changes that each have experienced with their new life together. I love reading your blog, Tiffany :)

  3. that video was so beautiful. I don't even know them and it made me cry! And i love that shot of Amos looking at her and smiling. so sweet!!

  4. I am occasional reader, never commenter - but I looooved this post. I'm so, so happy for you and your family. <3

  5. @Sarah Von - thanks for stopping by! New life is so exciting. :)

    @Stacey - I, too, can't wait until little Shiloh enters the world. Praise the Lord for babies!

  6. that was so beautiful! i cried! thank you for sharing that!!!


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