And then there were 5…

Well, the last few months have left me feeling a bit like an ostrich with my head buried in the sand.  *wipes forehead*  The end of a crazy pregnancy left me feeling dizzy most days and just plain sick other days.  Then, the glorious (but by far NOT glamorous) day to welcome our newest family member arrived.  So, now we have made the transition from a quiet family of 4 to a slightly more chaotic family of 5.  I know it sounds completely insane to many people, but we couldn’t be happier and never imagined the joy that our new little one has brought into our lives.

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It has been a strange mix of emotions as we have learned how to manage the insanity of being outnumbered. Haha, I never could’ve imagined how difficult it could be at times, but that has only served to draw me to my knees to seek wisdom and strength from the Giver of all good things.

To say that I am tired would be too obvious, but the reality is that I love my life.  I wouldn’t change a single thing.  I wouldn’t take anything back or even change the timing of it all. 

 

Each day is full of new challenges as I continue the journey of homeschooling, housekeeping, marriage and simply life in general.  The days of a quiet cup of tea while meeting with the Lord and pouring over His Word seem like a distant dream. However, I am encouraged as I am reminded of how short these days are and how quickly my children are growing. It seems only yesterday I was holding my oldest in a tight swaddle as he slept and I wondered how in the world I would manage this new role as a Mother of even one child.  And, now, here I am with 3!  

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Perhaps the most shocking thing about this journey has been the reactions of people when they see our family, or when they ask of our future plans.  When #1 arrived, everyone was thrilled and kept asking when #2 would come along.  When #2 DID finally come along (really #5 when considering our 3 that live in Paradise with Jesus) people spoke often of the perfect balance of 2 kids and the blessing that we had “one of each” to really give us a full experience in parenting. But, this time around, the most common thing I hear is “Are you guys done???” Sometimes the simple question is posed with gentleness and an open mind, while other people can hardly contain their disgust at the thought that we might want more.  

Pardon my own disgust at this approach, but the Scripture calls children a blessing and a sign of God’s favor and I choose to think of them as exactly that.  Ok, I’m getting my feathers ruffled a bit, but it is so sad to me that people can’t contain their judgement when looking at the family that I so dearly love. *sigh* And, while I know it isn’t that simple and that there are many valid reasons one might state for said judgement, that doesn’t make it any less hurtful.

So, my response has become vague and simple: We will love and accept as many children as the Lord will give us. But, Lord forgive me if my inner rebel gets the best of me sometimes when I sense judgement from people and follow this with “Well, we actually hope to PAY to add children to our family someday since we have long prayed to adopt!” 

Ramblings aside, my sweet baby is sleeping but probably not for long so I must tend to the screaming mountain of laundry that awaits in the next room!  

*takes a deep breath*

Aaaand, I’m off and running again! πŸ™‚

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Counting days



So here I sit, with my belly so big I can barely reach the keyboard and breath at the same time. How is it that time in pregnancy flies by so quickly…until the last few days??? Haha, it’s a silly thing to complain about, but I really miss bending over with ease!

What a journey this has been. It’s easy to forget what miracle this little girl truly is. A year and a half ago, I would have laughed in your face had you told me that I would have such a problem free pregnancy. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just imagining it all…not just this pregnancy, but all the tears leading up to this time of my life. I feel like the woman I was a couple years ago almost doesn’t exist anymore. I have learned infinitely more about myself than I ever thought I would in a lifetime…and even more importantly, I have learned infinitely more about my God than I ever dreamed. There were days that I felt completely rejected and betrayed by God and now there are days that I am in such awe of Him that I can hardly utter a prayer for fear that I will ruin that sense of awe. How can such a huge change happen in such a short time? I still don’t fully understand.

As I look back on it all, I remember a few moments that I’m certain were pivotal and I’m not sure if words can truly capture them, but I’ll try. A Sunday when I knew that the Lord was calling me to stand in front of my church and, tearful and trembling, give an impromptu testimony of what the Lord was teaching me in my bitter and hurt state. I found myself begging the rest of our church family to let go of whatever it was that they were holding against God or each other and to stop allowing fear or anger to control their lives. Uttering the words brought conviction on my own soul that I still had so much to release into His capable hands and yet, it seemed that the Lord was showing me, through my own testimony, that He was going to follow through on His promise to never leave nor forsake me. It was as if He was using my own words to reaffirm His promise of deliverance to my still frail and fragile heart.

Again, about 6 or 8 months later, I found myself sitting in church. This time it was a church we were visiting. I was praying and suddenly felt a fear come over me that I had never felt before. And then, a question. The kind of question that every parent dreads facing. The kind of question that Abraham must have asked while walking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice. “Will you completely release all of your rights to your child’s life into My hands? And if I choose to allow the end of that life, will you still trust Me and follow Me?” It was as if I was sitting there in the church service and my precious son was dying as I struggled with this question. I felt compelled to go peak at him through the window of the classroom door….and in nearly hysterical tears I did and stood watching helplessly yet relieved to see him happily playing and laughing. My answer to the question? I knew I couldn’t go look at my son without first releasing him into the only hands that can truly carry him through any given moment of life, and so release is what I did.

Why would such moments of utter and complete brokenness be so pivotal? I can only imagine that they are moments where I let go of things that were never mine to hold so tightly. What is that famous saying from Jim Elliott? “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Whatever the case, I am so thankful for each day. I am so full of life and freedom. I am experiencing the power of my God in ways I never dreamed possible and I am fully aware that it has nothing to do with me…except that I was willing to let it all go.

Oh the freedom and joy of a life lived for a greater purpose than success or money or even happiness! I am truly free indeed! I am forever broken for the good of my own soul….and I wouldn’t have it any other way. πŸ™‚

8 weeks and counting

Well, I think it’s been WAY too long since I last posted anything so I thought I’d share some of what has been happening in our lives.

I am now 32 wks pregnant and feeling about as big as a house! The other day my Grandma asked me how I was doing and we laughed together over my first response: “I forget what my ankles look like NOT swollen. I’m hardly sleeping at night because I have to pee 4 times every night. I can’t get a nap because every time I lay down the baby gets excited and starts kicking the living daylights out of my hips and ribs, and, oh let’s see….I can’t really eat much because everything gives me heartburn! Oh, and did I mention that I have almost constant leg cramps regardless of how many bananas I eat or how much exercise I get? So, basically, I’m exactly how I’m supposed to be at this point!” (giggles followed)

It’s a journey, that’s for sure, but it’s a wonderful blessing too. So many people have told me that I’m crazy when I tell them that the 3rd trimester is my favorite part of pregnancy. What can I say? Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the time that I start to feel like I’m getting to know the baby’s personality and natural schedule. It’s the time that I truly start to appreciate the simplicity of life that we so often take for granted. It’s that time that it becomes a real and present reality that there is a little tiny person growing and developing…not just the adorable “alien baby” that earlier months reveal on the ultrasounds. She has a personality. She has likes and dislikes. She sleeps. She gets the hiccups. She is truly her own wonderfully created person.

What’s hard is suddenly realizing how little time we have to take care of all the details of preparing our home for her to come. It’s been rough to be so busy with crazy and unexpected life situations that I feel like we haven’t been able to just enjoy the pregnancy and the miracle of this little blessing. I just keep reminding myself that, after she comes, her newborn fragility will necessitate a month or so of slowing down and focused family time. (Which, for me, also usually means a MAJOR case of cabin fever!)

What’s amazing is not feeling all of the anxiety about how this will change our lives or how we will be able to afford all that comes with a new baby in our home. I still have anxiety about giving birth(seriously not a fun part of the whole deal) but at least this time I have an idea of what to expect. I still know that my husband and I will be paranoid about her health through her first Winter season, but at least we know how to handle just about anything normal that flu and cold season can throw our way.

This time around I think I have more anxiety about how in the world to help our 3 year old through the whole process. I’m not the most patient mom and I wonder how the early days of total sleep deprevation will affect my ablity to patiently guide him through this major transition in HIS life. I wonder if he will be as excited to “help” as he is now? I wonder if we will get lucky and avoid him trying to hurt her out of pure jealousy or even from trying to “help”? Or will we be among the lucky ones who have a child so protective of the new baby that the only thing we worry about is him hurting someone else! πŸ˜‰

*sigh* I guess the worrying and wondering of parenthood never really goes away, but rather, it just shifts and changes as the journey continues.

As for past miscarriages and heartaches regarding having children? God’s healing has been complete. My fears aren’t linked to that history, but to the normal emotions of welcoming a new family member. Have I forgotten? Nope, but I think that is God’s way of reminding me of the great and miraculous healing He has accomplished in my life. I know that He doesn’t always choose to bring about that healing by giving another child, but in my case He did….and I am thankful. Those whom He chooses other ways of healing have a much harder road in some ways, but no less blessed or full of wonder. I still can’t claim to begin to understand why these things happen. Nor can I begin to think that I have all the answers. I’ve hurt people along the way. I’ve been angry with God and man. I’ve screwed up and made a fool of myself and others. But I also know that God won’t waste any of it. (Though I am certain I’ve given Him a little more work because of my foolishness.)

So, to those I’ve hurt or wronged along the way, I truly apologize. I pray that you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I am but a foolish little girl with only very little wisdom and I pray that you will be able to look beyond me to see the amazing Savior who has saved and redeemed my junk.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for leading me even when I tried to get away from You. Thank you for healing me and helping me to learn what it truly means to “praise You in the storm” and to praise you in the sunny days. Please continue to grow me and make me into a tool that is useful in Your amazingly capable hands.

This journey isn’t over….just moving on to a new chapter! πŸ™‚

Health and Life!!!!!!!!!

So now what do I do? How do I take this new challenge to expect life and health and wholeness and walk forward in faith?

As we went to bed that night, my husband and I prayed again. We reminded ourselves of what we had learned and we asked for much of the same healing and wholeness that my friend had prayed and proclaimed. What was this??? With our hands on the little “bump” I had already begun to grow I felt something I’ve never felt before. My tummy was hard as a rock, a few inches bigger for a brief moment and then warmth…warmth that seemed to come from somewhere I can’t explain with simple words.

And it was complete. I knew it in my spirit. My body was different again…different meaning pregnancy “sensations” returned. Where hours ago I wondered if there was life, I suddenly KNEW that life and wholeness had been restored. This baby would be fine.

The next morning as we got ready to go to the doctor, my husband asked me if we needed to get a babysitter for our son. My response shocked even me, “Nope. Everything is going to be fine. He needs to see his new baby sister or brother.”

Wow! Where did that come from??? I don’t know, but it was fun watching the ultrasound tech’s response to the same tentative type of questions. Then, as if to reward our faith, it took only a split second to find and clearly see the tiny beating heart.

Life. A new, tiny heart beating strong as an evening wind.

Newness of heart. A new kind of faith, consuming the depths of me like I never dreamed possible.

A renewed spirit. A hope for the future without fear or doubt. And joy like I have never known before.

“The Lord on high is mighty.” (from Ps 93)

…and mighty is HE!!!!!! πŸ™‚

A New Heart….A New Heartbeat

Cold winter months are slowly turning into warm Spring afternoons…and I’m not just talking about the change of weather.

The end of February brought news that has both warmed my heart and soul, and challenged my faith to new depths. A baby. Yep, I’m pregnant again! Now I’d love to tell you that the news brought immediate joy and excitement but that would be a lie. The first month I was in constant turmoil. Do I want to cry or allow myself to smile? Can I start planning for this baby or should I wait? Torture. Pure, emotional and physical torture. ….or was it simply an exercise I needed in order to grow and trust the Lord…to TRULY trust Him?

So everything was going well for a few weeks. I successfully kept myself emotionally detached from the baby. No signs of problems, nothing that reminded me of any past miscarriages. Then, just like when the last precious life slipped into eternity, at 10wks I suddenly stopped feeling sick, food tasted good again and I had more energy…as if overnight. Most might call this a blessing, but to me, it meant something was wrong and something in my spirit told me that something truly was wrong. So, where do you start? Call the doctor. Spend some time praying. Call a few friends and ask them to pray. And then simply wait and “hope for the best.” But something told me that simply “hoping for the best” was not going to be enough this time.

The doctor couldn’t fit me in until the following day so that meant 24 hours of heart wrenching waiting and each hour brought me to a place of feeling like I was no longer pregnant. I was trying desparately to hold my emotions back and not allow myself to feel anything for fear that the emotions would overtake me and I would go to a depth of despair that I might not recover from. Five hours into waiting and I could no longer hold back the fear….or the flood of tears.

“I’m scared.” I confessed to my husband through a tidal wave of emotions. “I just can’t help but feel that something is just not right with this baby and all of our hopes for growing our family are gone.”

What is a husband to say??? “Just try to trust. Try to give it up to God.” He was trying to hold it together so that I could have a rock to lean on. What I would learn in the next couple of hours would remind me that there is a greater Rock to lean on and He has the power to change anything…and everything, but He needs me to exercise the faith He created in me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about a dear praying sister-in-Christ from my Bible college days and was compelled to try and contact her to ask for her prayers. Desparate for ANYONE who might have more faith than me to ask for the ridiculous. And so I found her and “hoped for the best” without expecting to hear from her directly. Then the phone rang and I KNEW it must be her.

“Can I pray for you guys? How are you? What is going on specifically? How are you feeling?”

Then she went on to explain how she felt led to pray:
“Look at this situation with eyes like a dove; fresh, pure and untouched by past pain.”
“Focus so hard on Jesus and His cross that you even forget about the baby.”
“Remember that we have been given power on this earth to reclaim God’s territory and to walk in His victory without fear or doubt.”
“Remember that this generation has a great calling and the enemy of our souls knows it, and hates it. The enemy wants death but God never intended for the womb to be a grave. God desires life and health.”

….and so she prayed. She asked for my fear to be completely gone. She asked for the pain of past miscarriages to be healed entirely. She asked for victory and proclaimed life and health and wholeness. She prayed for vision and hope for the future and joy in the meantime.

…..and moments after hanging up, the flood of healing began. Suddenly my fears were gone. Suddenly I knew that, although something still didn’t feel quite right with the baby, that by the time we saw the ultrasound the next day that the baby would be fully right, whole and healthy. Suddenly, I had hope for the future. It was almost as if I could feel my spiritual healing in my physical body. The Savior of my soul was bringing life and a new heart of faith into the very fiber of my being. He was mending the brokeness of my spirit and showing me how simple it can be to take Him at His word so much so that I am willing to be a fool if I am somehow wrong.

Faith to move a mountain??? I thought that was for those people who were radical in faith by NATURE…not nurture. Faith to believe for physical healing and spiritual wholeness despite past trauma? Isn’t that for those people that live in some wild jungle and encounter funky diseases and stuff like that??? Or could it be? Could it really be true that God might want to give me that kind of faith to live out in suburbia? To live out as I homeschool my 3 yr old boy? To live out as I rock the babies in the infant room during Sunday worship services? And the answer came as clear as a July afternoon sky….YEEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want that for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow! What’s next was amazing!……………………

The Long Journey Home

Days later the replies came with all the love and promises to pray that I had hoped for. They were sad for me. They wanted to hug me. They didn’t know what to say. They knew that words meant nothing ultimately. They were still the wonderful friends that I needed to be “standing” with me through this…to keep asking me how I was REALLY doing even if they didn’t know what to say. Even though my heart was still aching, I somehow was more and more convinced that I would someday get through it and be able to say that I was stronger for it.

Now the question was…how long was it going to take? *sigh* (I’m SO impatient!)

I’d love to tell you that a few short months later I was happily praying my heart out. I’d love to tell you that I quickly returned to my daily times of reading Scripture and journaling all about my day and the wonderful things that the Lord had taught me. But, truth be told, I am writing this not far from the one year anniversary of the last miscarriage and, have you noticed that this is all written in the past tense? It has been a long and laborious journey and I am only just beginning to feel the joy I knew was possible.

So what got me to this point? Looking back I can say that the email I sent that cold night WAS a turning point after all. Those women have continued to follow up and make sure that I am putting my trust in the ONLY one that can really see me through….Jesus Christ. I can also say that having a group of friends that my church calls a Small Group or LifeGroup was a lifeline for our marriage and my weekly sanity. They cried with us. They prayed for us. They listened and even would talk when I had no more words to speak. They didn’t judge me when all I wanted to do was throw my hands up and walk away from all I knew to be true. God even brought another couple, only for a season, to join us who were having(and continue to this day to have) fertility issues of their own.

Most importantly, it was a small ray of hope that the Lord gave me in His word that I have continued to read at least weekly. I’m not sure when it came to my mind or even if I had memorized it sometime in my earlier years, but it came to my mind just as clear as day and has stuck ever since.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance ; and perseverance, proven character ; and proven character, hope ; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:3-6)

Hope. Hope is the word that really stuck. It struck a cord in my heart that I couldn’t explain. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have to have the faith of a giant. I didn’t have to spout all kinds of “Christian-ese” that meant nothing just to keep from depressing the people around me. It was a ray of light, a breath of fresh air…call it whatever you want, but to me, “Hope” meant freedom. It meant that all I had to do was “hope” for the faith I knew was possible. All I had to do was “hope” to understand why God had allowed this pain. Hope. That was all God was asking of me.

*ahhhhh* THAT was freedom. THAT was what I needed.

In a world of people telling me it was all going to be ok when I knew deep down that I WASN’T ok. In a daily existence of cliche statements that well intentioned people spouted to my ever hardening heart, it was the release I needed. I didn’t have to be ok today….or even tomorrow. I could be sad for months and it was ok, as long as I kept that “hope” on the horizon.

“…and hope does not disappoint…” I can tell you that is the truth. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun to live through a time that depends solely on “hope” but it IS truth….and I am, today, living beyond hope. I am slowly making the journey back to faith and love and passion.

There are days. I have days that are back to simply “hope” but I know that it will pass and I will move on.

Thank you, Lord Jesus for “hope”…for without it, I would be lost.

A Sun Break….

One cold evening, after the physical effects of my last miscarriage had subsided, I found myself listening to the sound of my husband sleeping and wondering how I was going to sleep while my mind was spinning 3 million miles an hour.

I finally gave in and sat myself down at the computer thinking there MUST be someone that I could contact that might be able to help me. And, in the back of my mind, I remember thinking, “If I can’t get through this night, I don’t know how I’ll continue to follow the God I’m so desperately trying to rebuild trust in.”

My fingers navigated me to my email and, before I knew it, I was halfway through a long and vulnerable telling of my desperation. There were only 4 names that came to my mind. Jody, Shara, Shae, and Janis….my girls…the friends that have stood by me through the hardest times of my life. If I couldn’t reach out wholeheartedly to the Healer of my soul, maybe they could do it for me? I could only hope that they would sense my absolute need and somehow directed me to SOMETHING that might turn a light back on in my darkening heart. So, hoping for a miracle, I hit the send button and proceeded to cry until my face hurt. I eventually made my way back to my pillow and cried myself to sleep.

The morning brought a numbness and still no reply from the girls…but somehow, I knew it was gonna be a better day. Somehow I knew that I had crossed a line toward the help and healing I needed to get through even one more day.

It wasn’t much, but it was something. It wasn’t a break through, but it was a step and a bigger step than I had been able to take before that day. And somehow I knew, I really knew that everything was going to be ok.

One Day At A Time

How did I keep going on?? One day at a time. That’s the only way I could manage. Sometimes even one whole day was too much to bear. There were many times that it was all I could do to take one LITERAL step at a time….one bite of food at a time…one movie in the VCR to occupy my son so that I could get through until bedtime.

Was there relief? And what about my faith? What did my faith have to do with this whole nightmare? That, truly, was my burning question. Suddenly, after facing so much unmoved, I was faced with something that wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. Something that “just trust God” didn’t solve. Something that made me scoff at “God’s in control.”

Was He in control? Could I trust Him? Was He even paying attention? Was HE the one doing this to me? Was He punishing me? What did I do to deserve this? How could I “trust” a God who couldn’t stop this from happening? ….one day at a time….one desperate prayer at a time. “Please, Lord, I BEG you…don’t let me walk away from you!”

What else could I pray? What else could I ask of a God I suddenly didn’t understand? It was all I could do to even acknowledge Him rather than spit in His face.

And the same question….What now?

The Darkness Sets In

“Where do we go from here” was maybe the easiest question I would have to face in the months and weeks to follow that dark day in this chapter of my life.

Screaming out to God “WHYY!!!!!!!!!” Begging Him to keep me from walking away from Him. Wondering, “Am I broken? What is wrong with me that I suddenly can’t carry a child?” Was I sick and had yet to find out? Was I dying and had missed the signs? Was God mad at me? My mind began to race and still medical decisions needed to be made.

The weeks that followed were filled with uncertainty, more questions and, of course, medical procedures that only served to remind me of the loss of this precious little one I so longed to meet. A girl. I’m sure of it. I have little doubt in my mind that I had to entrust a little girl into the eternal arms of my heavenly Father. Her name? We still haven’t ventured to go there just yet, but she has a name: Beloved and missed.

It was all I could do to wake up in the morning and get through my day without screaming and going out of my mind. It was all I could do to make eye contact with even those that I loved. And then, there were the questions from my innocent little boy. “Mommy, where’s the baby? She’s in there??”(pointing to my tummy that had already grown beyond my normal) How many time could I stand to explain to him that the baby was with Jesus now? How many times could I explain to him that, yes, Mommy was sad, but that I was ok? Was I ok????? I don’t know….I didn’t know. But I knew I had to keep going somehow.

…..but how???????

Let’s go back a bit…..

I’m not sure if anyone out there really wants to read all about my life, but if you’ve found this…perhaps you need to. So, maybe you can take a bit of time to walk with me through a few salient ramblings to see if you can relate.

A couple years ago my wonderful husband and I found ourselves staring at a positive pregnancy test amazed that we already needed to prepare for the impending arrival of #2 mini bundle. We made all of the relevant phone calls and started dreaming and preparing for what would be coming our way in a few short months. Two weeks later, we found ourselves staring stone faced at the emergency room doctor and nurse as they explained that the baby was gone.

Why? What did I do wrong??? Did I lift something too heavy? Did I eat something I shouldn’t have eaten? I simply couldn’t wrap my suddenly grief stricken mind around it all. We cried. We prayed. We sat silently for a few minutes. Then we signed the papers we needed to, listened carefully to what the next week or so would hold for me physically, and headed home to our almost 2yr old little boy and his babysitters.

Can I tell you, I have never been so thankful for his smiling, healthy little face as I was the moment I was able to hug him that day? ….but what now?

The days to follow were physically VERY difficult for me, especially. After that horrible process of saying goodbye to the baby we’d already come to love, the emotions took over and I was overwhelmed. Still so many questions, and no answers.

A few months passed and we became hopeful again. Deciding to leave the past behind we started thinking of trying for another little one. That bit of planning was the beginning of a journey that we’re only now beginning to understand.

A couple months later we had another positive test, followed quickly by another miscarriage. Then a few months later, another positive test. We made a quick OB/GYN appointment and were able to see the tiny little heart beat. Life.

This time, unlike the first two, I was sick. I could smell everything and anything from 3 miles down the road. I was hungry. I couldn’t hardly eat ANYTHING. You know, the typical signs that all is well. Then, you guessed it… suddenly I started feeling better. Not just over time, but suddenly, almost overnight. I knew. I simply knew that something wasn’t right. No one had to tell me, my heart already knew. However, we headed to the doctor’s office to make sure there was still a heartbeat. Sure enough…suddenly, that tiny little life was lost.

Strangely, I had no tears. I had no emotion. I think it was the emotional equivalent to the physical shock one feels after a traumatic experience. A numbness set in like dark clouds over my once vibrant heart. Where do we go from here?