Friday, September 06, 2013

What is Unseen

It's been a while. :) But lately I've had so many thoughts and lessons running through my head and life that I know must be written down. Not out of obligation or duty or the need for responses (although I love those!) but out of a deep need to not forget what God is doing in my life. And always, I think and process better when I write it down. I wrote a great post the other day, a serious one, about seeing God in the suffering and sharing a new Shane & Shane song I discovered and many other deep things. It contains this paragraph, which is where I pulled the title for this post from:

"Romans 8 says this:
'24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.'

Look to what is unseen. WAIT for it. With perseverance."

I've been struggling daily, sometimes hourly lately with a situation in my life and heart. I'm struggling with the feeling/thoughts/conviction about some choices I'm making or have made that maybe others don't agree with. This is vague but I prefer not to share details. Basically though, it comes down to what I believe most mothers/people with struggle with at least once in our lives. For me, probably yearly. What is my role? You read Proverbs 31 and you read of this amazing woman who cares for her family and brings income into her home. You read blogs about utilizing your time as a stay-at-home Mom and helping your family out with the finances while caring for your family. You have friends who's every post on Facebook is evidence of their success in this area, about the money they are bringing in or the lives changed or the success won. And me, I feel like I'm not doing enough. I'm an incredibly competitive person by nature, and so especially when I feel like someone is doing something I should do, or do better, I get a nasty ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I have a very hard time saying that it's the Holy Spirit. :)

The rub is that I would LOVE to write a book, or update my blog daily, be "famous" in the blogosphere, be wildly successful in an at home business that allows my family to run off to foreign countries and have lots of fun toys. I'd love to decorate a house to my exact tastes no matter the cost, to hire someone to sew designer clothes for my family (because I have given up on being a great seamstress at this point in my imagination), to be known for cooking amazing dinners, etc... And while I think some of these things are so good and so attainable, I'm also desiring relief from the pressure I put on myself.

Romans 8 grates on these desires. Because they are MY desires, born from my sinful selfish flesh. That does NOT mean that for everyone these things are wrong, but the simple act of taking a photo of my children on my phone and immediately posting it to Facebook has convicted my soul. Why do I do this? Is it to share in the joy that I believe is my children? Or is it more often than not to brag on some accomplishment they are doing? Or to make others feel like I'm such a good parent because I took them such and such a place and did something fun with them? Is it to gain recognition as a Mom who's with her children? To be the fun or smart Mom? To share that my child must be super smart or super athletic or super nice? What's my motivation? I "don't" care about your motivation, that's up to you and God and your husband too. :) But I'm so devastated by my own prideful and competitive heart. When I give in to the pride that says "I will show the world I'm supermom"

And then Romans 8 "why does one still hope in what is seen?". I often feel so inadequate as a person that I look for my validation in what is seen, in portraying to the world that I'm supermom, that I'm doing what I should, that I'm worthy I guess. "But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." Oh how that rings hope to my soul, along with conviction. We EAGERLY wait for what is unseen with perseverance. What is unseen in my life? Right now, this baby boy growing inside of me. (Well we get to see him on ultrasound, for which I'm thankful, but overall, he's hidden away in my womb) What is unseen? My children's future. The unseen in their lives that I can hope for and persevere for is that they will be called by God and saved and glorify Him in everything they do for all of eternity. This is the biggie. And how do I hope and persevere for that? By this moment, and the next. By desperately praying and trying and striving to be a Momma who points them to Jesus. And God gives small moments of hope. Like when Levi was asked at an assessment this week to draw what I would say was a plus sign. He did (!) and then said "It's a cross, like where Jesus died". And did I pray that was a testimony to the other person? Of course, but my Momma's heart sung because it was a small glimmer of hope that Levi was understanding what God has done. Do I share that now for praise and a good job Momma? No, because in my failures I know it's only by God's immense grace that my child could understand anything about His love and precious gift.

So how does this all tie together? Let me share my week's/month's events with you for application. I've been struggling, like I said. I LOVE what I do, I love being a wife and mother, but lately, it's overwhelmed me. Yes, I know some of that is from being pregnant and hormones and physically dealing with it all. And when I say overwhelmed, I don't mean in a "I can't cope!" kind of way. I mean overwhelmed in a "Lord is this all worth it? How am I making a difference? Am I really doing what I should?" Kind of insightful way. Insightful, ha! ;) Last weekend my husband went on a camping trip with some guy friends. I had finally had a successful week budgeting our groceries and had already gone shopping before I realized he'd need to provide at least one meal for all of them. So not out of resourcefulness, but out of sheer "I WILL NOT GO BACK TO THE STORE!" craziness I made cinnamon rolls and cookies for them to take. And they were good! (Yes, they ate more than that, but that was the staple I was lacking in his meal.) Guess what? No big pat on the bag or even eaten by all the guys. Pride, demolished. In the same weekend, I was blessed to take my kiddos up to one of the guy's wife's family's cabin for a day on the lake and not alone with my kiddos. It was so fun, and I was just relieved to not be alone with them. Seriously. I was so tired and so desperate for Daddy's help I was just glad to be able to go somewhere. Now, let me say my husband definitely deserved a weekend away, so he's all in the clear here. But my biggest lesson? No pride needed. There is NO way I could have cared for my children in that setting alone. At least not without going crazy. I was overwhelmed by the love shown to myself and my children. I got to try Stand-Up Paddleboarding because others swam and played in the water with my children. I got to eat lunch because others played with and chased them. I got to sit and just visit with friends because another dear couple played puppies and other random kiddo things with my 2 munchkins. Not out of duty or obligation, but out of hearts of love and kindness. I saw Jesus in my friends and their family. Could I have cared for the basic needs of my children alone? Yes, by God's grace. But would my babes have had as much fun or been as loved if I had? Not by a long shot.

See, God knew what He was doing when He designed the body of Christ. He knew we needed each other. And after the weekend, Tuesday morning I woke up knowing I was getting a cold. My pride tried to fight it, and say it'll only last a day or two and I'll be fine. So I worked hard on Tuesday on some projects I wanted to get done. I felt like crud by the end of the day and leftovers for supper it was. Wednesday I knew we had our big anatomy scan for the baby in the afternoon so I worked hard all morning/afternoon on cleaning my house and supper in the crockpot and getting lots done. When we got home and thanked the dear friend who watched our kiddos and ate supper, I knew I'd overdone it. But I wanted a totally clean house for the first time in weeks and for my husband's admiration. I went to bed that night sicker but looking at my house like "finally". And let's be clear here, there are windows that needed washing and dusting to be done, but overall, toys were picked up and floors cleaned and the bathroom sanitary and all the dirty laundry fit in the hampers and all the clean laundry was put away. Now, 36 hours later, guess what? There are toys on the floor, toothpaste in the sink, laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed and crumbs on the floor. Does it matter? No, because we live here, but my temporary pleasure in what is seen was so quickly undone. Now, no harm in being thankful for a clean house or HAVING a clean house. It's a good thing. But I was feeling way too proud of myself for getting it done while sick. And since then? No denying, I probably prolonged my sickness. Today, I'm down for the count. I still fed my children and ran an errand and played with them, but ugh how cruddy I feel. No supermom awards today. Except this, I am a mom, and God has given me the day with my family.

All these examples to say this. We need each other. I need my husband to pick up pizza for supper and take the kiddos on a walk when I'm done in. I need friends who don't expect me to do it all and who love to play with my kids. I need older women who enjoying giving me a break or going to an appointment by watching my children. I need a friend who drives her daughter to baby-sit to save me buckling in my kiddos twice. We NEED each other. God never expects us to do this life alone. The gift of salvation should teach us this. It's not by MY works of righteousness, but in HIS mercy He saved me.

So what does this mean? It means that my guilt/frustration/heaviness that I place on myself for wondering if others think I could be doing this pregnancy thing better is SO wrong. Do I care if you think I look fat or pregnant? Yes, unfortunately. But here's what I do know to be truth. I was able to run and bike far longer into this pregnancy than any previous. My pants may not fit still, but my son is kicking me. I may not be an excellent example of helping my family out financially by bringing in lots of extra income, but God has given my husband a new job that pays more and still allows me to do things that save us money. Even now as I write these things, I sound justifiable.

So let's backtrack. I am writing this before you today to say, relax. Open the Scripture. Talk to your spouse. Get your requirements and expectations from God and your spouse alone. Not Pinterest, not your friends lives, not Facebook pressure, not your own warped idea of what you should be doing, not your own prideful ambitions, none of the "seen" things. Does your husband want to take trips to exotic places, or does he simply want supper at home every night? Does he want ironed clothes, or simply a made bed everyday? Does he want you to spend your time earning money from home (possibly while using the TV as a baby-sitter, because I'm not sure how else you do it?!), or does he want you to shop less and be home more? What does God say is important in your children's lives? To know all their letters by the time they are 2 or to be able to know He wants their entire lives to be about Him?

Am I saying you can't do both sides? Nope, not at all. That's why I'm saying it's between you and God and your spouse. Because obviously here's my confession. I'm a horrible example of getting it right. And that's why I'm broken, needing more grace than ever before.

Because I can't go for a run, I can't make an incredibly healthy meal my children will eat for every meal, I CAN'T do it all. Can I do some of it some of the time? Absolutely. But my heart needs changing. And if that means that in the in between time we have pancakes for supper and candy for a snack, will my children die? No. I don't think we have to choose between health and spiritual or health and character building. But I AM A HUMAN. And here's the truth from Scripture. I'm dying. No matter what I do someday my body will fail and I will stand before my creator and answer for my life. Do I believe I'm covered by God's grace? Yes. Should I strive everyday to become more like Christ and therefore more of a set-apart person? Yes! Will it all be perfect tomorrow? Nope. Not even close.

I look into my heart and I see serious character flaws that are affecting my family far more than what I serve for supper does. I see anger and short-temperedness that needs addressing. Because I may feed their bodies healthy food, but if I'm crabby during supper that will have a far greater impact on eternity. I want my children to see a Momma who adores and loves their Daddy and shows him appreciation far more than they see a Momma who wants Daddy to "get it right" (ahem, her way) so that life looks perfect.

So I'm praying and desperately begging God today for that perseverance. To look to what is not seen. To realize even greater how my children are eternal beings who need God's grace and they will learn that from us. To love them for who God made them, not for what they do or don't do. To sit down on the dirty kitchen floor for hugs instead of saying "go play, Momma's busy". And yes, to do my dishes and teach them to help. Because LIFE does need to happen. They do need to go play. But while knowing if they need me, I'm here for them, not just a clean house.

This doesn't wrap up in a tidy neat applicable bow for everyone, because it's my life. Your conviction today may be that you need to clean more, that you NEED to make more money, that you need to ____. Because you're you. You're not me. We're not the same because we both see Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter. God made us dependent. So please, hold me accountable, help to say "wow, please help me do what you're doing" "thank you for helping me!" All of the above. Because that doesn't show our failures. It shows our desire to grow more into what God designed. We're not in this alone. So I for one need to stop pretending I can do it alone. So here's my weakness, out for you to see. I'm a Momma of 2 little and growing another life inside me. I'm tired, I'm not perfect, I'm not incredibly strong. I'm me. I'm the one God gave to them, and by His grace I'll be more of who He needs me to be for them everyday.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Redeemed for a Future

As I shared last month, redemption has been on my heart so much lately.

There is a family who has been attending our church who are such a perfect picture to me of redemption. They have both been saved within the past few years and months, and they are divorced, but they are now getting remarried this month. They have lots of struggles ahead, but as they were both baptized this Sunday, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by God's redemption.
He takes what we've made a mess of and puts the pieces back together. He redeems not only hearts and souls, but lives and choices.

And I'm so thankful. Because my family would be a disaster without God's redemption. Even today He redeems us. It's never too late until death. There is always hope with Christ.

This applies to so many aspects of my life.
My time can be redeemed. When I've wasted it, God can redeem it with His blessings.
My mind can be redeemed. When I've dwelt on things I shouldn't, on the negative, the destructive, I can turn to Him and He can renew it.
My soul HAS been redeemed. The work He did on the cross and the forgivenss I asked for has been given.
My days can be redeemed. A bad day parenting or as a wife doesn't mean the next has to be a struggle. It might be, but God can redeem my attitude too. ;)
My marriage can and has been redeemed, many times. It's an ongoing lesson and experience, to blend to selfish sinners into one union before God. It's a lifelong process, and one that we just keep working on.
My health can be redeemed. I honestly believe we've been fed so many lives about what is "good for us" as a culture and society, and the 27 years I spent in ignorance or partial ignorance can be redeemed. My children's health has a better start because of it.

This is something to think about. We were discussing a generational view of our faith in church (sort of Sunday School) on Sunday, and the lesson was on Grandparents and the impact they can have and should have and used to have. And the concept was also taught that if you don't have that, a Godly heritage, and that if you're kids themselves won't have Christian or even active Grandparents, then you can be the first generation. Make a goal NOW to be that for your grandkids someday. Adopt surrogate Grandparents for your children. The message was HOPE. Life isn't going to be perfect or ideal, but make the changes to help the future generations.

This resonates with me. My life may be too short to make every change and blessing that I want, but I can make an impact on the future generations. Any change or blessing I can pour out on my children will only bless them. I don't have to "get it right" everyday to not screw up my children. God redeems. He blesses. There is hope.

So yes, there are still boxes of mac&cheese in my cupboard for "emergencies". There are still days when Mommy & Daddy are struggling and not being great examples of a loving marriage. But there are days, when the joy and love and healthy eating overflow with abundance, and I know God is at work, redeeming what sin and evil would love to destroy.

So as I said, it's never too late. Make small changes. Say something nice to encourage your spouse with no motive other than to love and bless. Speak encouragement into your children, not just critical words. Make dinner, even from a box, instead of going out to eat. Offer strawberries instead of fruit snacks at snack time. Go walk, go to a swim class, whatever, instead of saying it's too hard. Call your friend, instead of expecting them to call you. Reach out. Pick up your Bible if you feel God is distant. Just start, God is still there, waiting.

Because that's what He does, because He loves us and is all about His glory. He redeems so we can better glorify Him and paint a picture to the world of that redemption. I'm so glad there is hope.

Sort of a Sidenote:
My baby girl turns 1 next week. This song was the "anthem" if you will of my pregnancy with her, and therefore a song I've claimed over her life. And it's so fitting for this discussion. He IS Mighty To Save.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now We See Dimly

I've been thinking a lot about this blog in the past month or so. It's obviously not been full of writing this past year, and I've been wondering what to do, to remedy that, or chalk it up to "all done" as my kids would say.

But as I think back to where I was a year ago, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our precious miracle Emelia Grace, and the fact that it was practically summer already, and here this year we've been "blessed" with at least 9 inches of fresh snow in the past 24 hours, I realize it's time to write. Even if I do use run-on sentences.

Because here's the deal, I am NOT the same person I was a year ago. So much has changed, and not just with the arrival of baby #2. (I choose to call her #2, even though we have 3 in Heaven. It makes it so much easier for those who can only see the 2 that we feed and love everyday.)

Right now, I have a 3 year-old little boy watching the city department clean up all the snow outside our window on the street, and an 11 month-old big girl pushing down balls in her toy over and over again. And laughing. And my heart is full. I woke up with a discontented spirit today, a tad discouraged about a few things in my life. But as I thought about writing, I realized how many blessings I wanted to write about. And I can't help but feel oddly peaceful. So I better write fast or you know the chaos of life will snatch that away. ;) It's all going to sort of spill out versus and organized fashion, because well, it's life, and it's never neat and pretty all the time.

I wrote you about Andrew's station closing and all the chaos in our marriage and life. Well, currently he has a "new" temporary full-time job. It's just north of town about 10 miles and he loves it. I am SO proud of him for getting it, he had to work hard and make some sacrifices, but he got it, and it's such a great fit for him and our family. We're praying and we'd ask you to pray that it would become permanent.

After I wrote in December, that was really the beginning of our lives changing immensely. In January I started some new whole-food natural supplements. And boy, has my life changed. This blog isn't dedicated to selling you on them, but rather to share how they've impacted my life, and I can't share about my life without sharing about them, because I want this great life for everyone.
This was a very risky step for me, money was short, but I was desperate. I trusted my friend that shared them with me, so I went for it. A 30-day money back guarantee helped too. :)
My life is forever changed. It wasn't just that I lost weight, I did, it was that I finally found healthy nutrition in my life. Literally by the 5th day on the products I was craving vegetables and choosing to cook with them, for me, not just my husband! If you know me, you know this is huge. I won't defend myself too much and say "It was a gag reflex, I wanted to eat them!" Or "I am a people pleaser, my entire childhood is marked by feelings of rejection because I didn't eat what my extended family thought I should." Trust me, I wanted too.
The important thing is what I'm learning, so that will be part of the journey and sharing. I'm learning how nutrition is key to our health and weight. Our culture pushes exercise as the perfect solution to our obesity problem, but research shows it just isn't true. We SHOULD exercise and be active and strong, but our core needs are good nutrition. And frankly, I don't care how organic or healthy you eat, our food does NOT have the nutrition it needs to give us what we need. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, needs supplements. "But I grow and raise all my own food!" you say. Great! Good for you! And I mean that, but ever consider how depleted our soil is? I have a friend who's husband's company is working on helping farmers replenish their soils, but oh it's a long process in our world.
So to get personal, what changes have I seen in my family? I have a baby girl who's diaper rash is no more after we tried EVERYTHING to help her. These whole food/vitamins/minerals/probiotics have helped her so much. I have a son who's digestive system is SO much more healthy than it's ever been. It's been a huge struggle eating and bathroom wise and it's finally becoming much less stressful in our lives. I have a husband who's putting on a few pounds. Which is really good news after his battles and weight loss with the stomach flu this winter.
And me? HUGE life-changing differences. Not only have I lost weight, had huge balance in my emotions/moods/seratonin levels, gained muscle, and gained tons of more energy, but my life is finally healthy. I am choosing to make MUCH better food and meal choices for my family. Sugary snacks aren't our go to. Chips are healthier options and less often. Do we still eat pizza and other less-healthy options? Of course! We live in our world after all. But that's the awesomeness. These supplements allow me to live a real life, but by being healthy in it. I could go on and on, but I'll just say my life has been changed, our health is better, and I am so thankful. If you want more info, just contact me, and I'll be sharing more in the future. I'd love to help you make life-changes that really are for life, not a week or month.

These products have also given me the chance to have my own business. Without all the hoops and pressures of other direct-sales companies. I just returned from Orlando from an amazing conference, and what I was thinking about the whole time I was there was about my family and about sharing with you. Because I was overwhelmed by the power of balance, and of goals and dreams. It overwhelms me at times, this desire to help my family. Because that's why I'm doing it. For my family. I honestly struggled last month with knowing how to balance business and family. Because I didn't want to take away from my family, with the pretense of helping my family. And I was honestly so torn about how and what to do. But this one quote keeps reliving in my brain.

"Don't give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now." Richard G. Scott

When I made it home Sunday night Andrew and I had a big conversation. About life, our marriage, our family, and our goals. And we both agreed, we have some goals to achieve. And here's the thing, we believe. We believe that sometimes life has to be out of balance before it can be balanced. That there will be sacrifices. There will be days when our kids come before our marriage, when our marriage comes before our kids, when business/work comes first, when simply putting dinner on the table will be the goal. But the goal overall is balance, and raising our family to know Christ, and to help others a long the way. As you can see, the goals are relative and ever-changing too. :)

The opposite of Faith is Fear. So which side of the fence will I live on? With fear? Or with Faith?

Because I am a Christian, a disciple of Christ, my life needs to always come back to the spiritual. So how does this all connect? How does my daily struggle to build a business, be a great wife, continually be growing our marriage, be a good mom who points her children to Christ, who builds children who know it's all about God's glory, to be a great friend, to run a balanced and healthy home, to be, well everything, how does this all come down spiritually?

I'm doing a study once a week on the basics of the Gospel. And it's not boring, it's not old, it's not the same old same old. Because the Gospel is never-ending. My biggest challenge so far from the study? Redemption. What areas of my life have I not yet let be redeemed? Where am I not letting the Gospel be applied?

My challenge? This quote:

"God isn't interested in making us 'spiritual' if by spiritual we mean detached: Jesus was God stuck in. God isn't interested in making us self-absorbed. Jesus was self-giving personified. God isn't interesed in serenity: Jesus was passionate for God, angry at sin, wept for the city. The word 'holy' means set apart from or different from, our sinful ways. It doesn't mean being set-apart from the world, but being consecrated to God in the world. He was God's glory IN and FOR the world."

We are to reflect God's image to the world, and with sin that mirror image is broken. But now it's as if that mirror is being healed and is slowly reflecting an accurage image again.

So here it is:

"This process - us becoming more like Jesus so we reflect more accurately what God is like - is the number one thing God is ALWAYS up to in our lives."

"A disciple is someone who is learnign to apply the gospel to absolutely every part of life. Discipleship is all about letting God bring about change in our lives from the inside out so we look more like Jesus."

There you have it. That's who I am. A broken mirror that wants to be healed and accurately reflect Christ. A Disciple that is letting God bring about change from the inside out.

And guess what? That isn't just about my soul. Our bodies are truely body, soul/spirit, and mind.
My soul has been redeemed, but our world is cursed, death abounds. God wants to redeem my mind and body too.

So when I lose weight and heal my physical body from the inside and get healthier? God is being glorified.

When I work daily and being a better wife and mother and loving others? God is being glorified.

When I spend time in Scripture everyday studying and soaking up God's promises and being convicted of sin? God is being glorified.

The mirror is being healed. Won't you join me on the journey?
Oh there will be days of failure, days that the image is distorted. I am a sinful creature. But my goal, is to be redeemed in ALL areas of my life.

There's a lot of change to happen, but for the first time of my life, it doesn't overwhelm me. I am learning to set goals, big and small. To do today what will help me get attain my goals tomorrow. To do today what will make me like Christ. And to never again seperate my life. Because it's all interwoven. God's plan for our lives body, soul, and mind is so amazing. He wants to REDEEM all of our life.

Join me as I strive to let him. And as I share about the struggles of doing it. The days when the 3-year-old is driving me nuts and we have boxed mac & cheese for supper. And the days when it's calm and productive and everything is from scratch. Because both days are life. And God's redemption should be reflected in both of them.

Keeping it REAL.

And real was the panic when I thought I lost this entire post and about slammed my computer shut in tears. Praise God He redeemed this post! :)

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I haven't posted in months. I know. Because it wasn't important anymore. Since Emelia joined our lives, well, they have changed drastically. Not because of her, but in spite of her really. I don't have the energy for a long, long post tonight, but finally, I must write, no matter how long it takes.

This has been the hardest 6 months of my life. Adjusting to Emelia was fine, good, great even. She was a dream baby. Full-term, slept through the night by 6 weeks, smiling, very content, so happy. She was just wonderful. (Still is actually.) But about the time she was 6 weeks old, our lives were flipped upside down, and they just kept flipping. Andrew learned on June 26th that the station he worked for was closing. Like that day. Talk about no warning. He was offered 2 more months of work (with a bonus as incentive to stay those 2 months) as well as severance, insurance, and more for quite a while. And while we were thankful he had those two months when others only had the 1 day, we suddenly knew life WAS going to change. We had no choice in the matter.

Then, the end of July, just after my birthday, we were going camping for the weekend with Andrew's sister and her husband, and we were running late, as usual when we're going someplace for a few days, and I had to run to the grocery store for syrup because I had spaced that out before. I pulled onto the street, 4 lanes, 5 really, 2 going both ways with a turn lane in between. I moved into the middle lane and realized the car in the other lane had stopped for someone in the crosswalk, so I stopped too. And looked in my rearview mirror, just in time to see a car switch lanes and be behind me, and they weren't stopping. I was rear-ended. The jolt of the impact sent me forward way past the intersection. Thankfully the pedestrians were not in front of my car. Praise God. But I freaked. I pulled into a parking lot and desperately tried to find my phone as I got out of the car crying. Because Emelia was in the back seat. I was so scared. She was crying, because she was scared I assume, but she was fine. I was fine. There was a cop driving by that the other driver (a very elderly WWII vet) flagged down. I got ahold of Andrew and he came with Levi. Praise God Levi wasn't with me. He would have freaked too I'm sure.
Long story short? Our car was totaled, we spent several weeks with a tiny rental, trying desperately to find a new vehicle we could afford while dealing with the insurance and estimates and checks and new carseats and ugh. It was a nightmare to me. It could have been HUGELY worse. The other party's insurance covered everything, including x-rays and carseat and a new/used van, even giving us more than we had originally paid for our car. But it was stressful, and physically painful. And in the process our house was being reroofed by volunteers from the church. Off and on for weeks, almost months. My kids were being woken from naps by pounding and shaking. Men were outside my windows every day.
Oh, and Emelia started teething at 3 months old. By her 3month birthday she had 2 bottom teeth. CRAZY. She was so good, but fairly fussy and we didn't know why.
And then, Levi got sick. I mean like puking sick. Off and on so randomly. Then he was better. But it was by then the end of August and Andrew was done working. And he didn't have a new job. Now, he was getting severance, but we were both stressed. So we decided to go camping. Family time you know? Except Levi kept puking, and pooping, and feeling generally horrible. The day at the campsite was NOT fun. We finally packed up after one day and night and drove home at 10pm. Not good. Dr.'s visits and ER visits and he'd be fine for a week and then randomly puke again. It was awful. No answers other than a bad bug that just wasn't working it's way out fast enough. No tests showed anything wrong.
By this time it's September, and I was losing it. I mean really losing it. Like can hardly make dinner and get my children alive through the day. It was awful. I didn't recognize the depression at the time. Looking back it just seems like "huh, that wasn't fun" but at the time, it felt like our entire world was falling apart. And our marriage? Oh man, not good. This is where you don't get details, except to say it wasn't good.
So not good that I was at my wit's end. I didn't know what else to do, other than leave, but I knew that wasn't the answer. But it hurt so much to keep living my daily reality. I honestly was just tossing up which would hurt worse.
We had our home group from church one Thursday night, and some things happened that day and that evening that made me so upset with my husband. So much so that we came home and got our kids to bed and had it out. I mean OUT. I've never seen either one of us like that. But it was needed. Sort of a "Wow we both realizes this sucks and we're hurt and we're angry so what's going to happen?". Your move Bobby. (chess reference from my youth, don't ask me why) And I was honest, with myself, with my husband. And he called our pastor, and set up an appointment for the next day. I was so angry and sad still I could barely sleep or deal the next day. But we went, and got help. And are continueing to get help. God is picking us out of the miry clay.

Oh, and ironically, Andrew's truck died this fall too. The same week we ALL got the stomach flu, BAD. So new car again. Praise God for that bonus paycheck. New/Used vehicle shopping was getting old, but once again God guided us.

A friend asked me once this fall if sometimes I just felt like screaming. And the answer was "Yes, but what good would it do?" It almost felt like God was using a huge REDO card on us. Just wiping everything clean to start over. And frankly, maybe we needed it. I did sort of wonder if our house was going to burn down at some point though.

For the first time in a long time, I have hope for the future. Yes, I talked to my pastor and then saw my Dr. about my post-partum depression. I never thought that would be me, but between being post-partum and everything falling to pieces in our lives, I needed help. And it did help. It helped me sleep, something I don't think I had done well in months, and help me be excited about the day, about life. About living it.
But above all my hope is in God. He alone can bring us forth from the darkness.

And so we're here, December 8th, almost 9th actually. And I'm crying tears of overwhelming sadness. Because it hit me today. I missed it. The date in November, when I lost my baby. And I frankly don't even remember what the actual date is without looking. In some ways, this means I've healed. That I am and have moved past it. I don't think you ever "get over" it, but you can move past it. To where sorrow doesn't consume you.

But I'm crying, because I didn't mourn on that day. I forgot. And I'm angry I forgot. I never want to forget my babies. My 3 children who are with Jesus. Where there is no pain, no sorrow, and where there is no night.

And it's December, and this time of year always makes me cry. Ever since Levi was born. I remember those days, those days of waiting for his birth, and those incredibly lonely days after his birth. Of sitting in the NICU and just not wanting it to be real. To not want to be the Momma of a preemie, but to just pretend he would go home and we'd be fine. To hope against what would be the reality of several years of carefullness because he was so fragile, his lungs just not up to par. Even now when he coughs I cringe, waiting. The lonliness of that time can overwhelm me if I let it. The pure sleep-deprived willing myself to carry on emotions that threatened to overtake me. The memory of sobbing my eyes out in my car with my Dad because I didn't have the energy to drive myself back to the hospital by myself. It all comes rushing back and blindsides me when I'm not looking.

And so I sit here tonight crying. Remembering, and mourning again. Not wallowing, but letting myself return to those moments. With my newborn tiny son in the NICU. To that Saturday night after passing my baby, making my husband be the one to...To those days around Levi's 1st Birthday, loving and celebrating him, and mourning the baby we lost. Even to that June day when we lost 2 more babies. It all aches in me. And the ache spreads to the hurts in our marriage. The repair that is still being processed. The years of hurt and sorrow, and the years ahead of sheer work.

And then there was this song, "stumbled upon" as I started to write this post.

And God overwhelmed me. In a huge way. In these past 6 months, I have felt lost. From my God and my Savior. I've never questioned His sovereignty, I've even seen His blessings in my husband's life and changes and attitude. In the amazing way my sweet baby girl is so "Easy". In a new friend, a dear kindred spirit of a best friend who I never expected, but who has walked along with me as we go through our own valleys. And carried each other along the way at times. In providing us with the resources for 2 new/used vehicles. In so many things. In our son finally going several weeks without puking. But even while acknowledging God's blessings and sovereignty, I was still going "THIS HURTS GOD!!!" Screaming it, obviously. But He's still God, patiently waiting for me to realize my finite mind will never comprehend. Because if it could, if I could plan it, His Son would never have been sent to Earth. There had to be a better way right? But "oh, the glory of it all".

So I'm humbled, and this Christmas season I'm making progress. I'm ready to celebrate more than just a 3-year old's birthday, to celebrate more than just presents and a fun time with family and friends. I'm ready to let go. To let God heal my heart. To let God handle the whole picture. Because I just don't. And I'm sure I don't really want to.

Christmas isn't just the beginning of the story. It IS the story. Because as this song says
"Oh, the glory of it all
Is He came here
For the rescue of us all
That we may live
For the glory of it all"

There's the purpose in Christmas. The Babe who was Jesus was born, For the glory of it all. It would lead to the cross, and our redemption, but it was about Christmas too. The hope of the redemption to come.

So my heart needs to heal. I need to give forgiveness, and to beg for it. I need to mourn and remember, but to be thankful. Because there are lyrics in that song that get it so right:

"All is lost
Find Him there
Find Him there
After night
Dawn is there
Dawn is there
And after all
Falls apart
He repairs
He repairs"

I've been through so much night, but He was there. It's all fallen apart, many times over, but He repairs. And I'm so glad.

"Oh, everything will change
Things will never be the same
(We will never be the same)"

We will never be the same. Praise God. For the Glory of it all.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Emelia Grace

I should have written this post in May, I thought about it a lot, but just couldn't bring my thoughts together enough to do it.

Emelia Grace arrived safely on May 14th at 7:14pm. Apparently she likes 14's. Before any further story, here is our beautiful girl shortly after arrival.
She weighed an amazing 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long. Our BIG girl! As they were laying her on my chest the Dr. literally said "That's a big baby!" And yes, I got to hold her right away. We had a successful VBAC. I'm still crying as I write this 3 1/2 months later. God was SO gracious through the whole delivery, and I'm still somewhat in awe of having my precious baby here so safely. Her birth was everything and nothing like I imagined.
I want to share her birth story because already some of the details are getting fuzzy in my mind. I hesitated to do so because there are several parts that could be judged by others and I could be made to feel guilty about. But I don't. Andrew and I both made the decisions and we are so glad we did. God took care of us in big ways.

We had been seeing my OB every week since like 30 weeks or so due to it being a high-risk pregnancy. As the weeks went by we all would laugh at every appointment that I was still pregnant. As the weeks went by I got REALLY uncomfortable too. Now I understand those last few weeks of pregnancy, I had never experienced them with Levi. Now I get why everyone is usually SO ready for their baby to make an appearance. I'm still so thankful for them, especially as I look at my big healthy baby. She needed those weeks.

At our 38 week checkup my Dr. did an ultrasound as was normal and this time measured baby to see where she was at. Now, I know these are always just estimates, but she was measuring at 8 pounds. Andrew was over 9 pounds at birth and I was close to 8 pounds, so we knew a big baby was a possibility. My Dr. asked us how long we wanted to let me stay pregnant. She was concerned if Baby got much bigger I could have a hard time delivering her due to the complications with my uterus that I have. Andrew and I had already been talking and praying and we had decided the week after her due date we were okay with inducing. My Dr. suggested the Monday before my due date, at 39 weeks 2 days. I just sat there and looked at her and then at Andrew and I literally said "You two need to make this decision, I can't. I'm not impartial, I'm too uncomfortable to be impartial." So for basic safety reasons and the unknown of what my uterus would do, they decided May 14th was the day. I was excited to know the end was in sight, but didn't really want to share that we were going to be induced, many people have WAY too strong of opinions and I wasn't emotionally able to handle that.

So we told our parents and a few close friends and spent the week preparing for baby and enjoying Andrew. I was hopeful that I'd go into labor on my own, and while I had some contractions, nothing worth writing home about.

We dropped Levi off on Monday morning with our dear friends and pastor and headed to the hospital. My parents would be coming down around lunchtime to pick Levi up and watch him while we were in the hospital and take care of the dog too. :)
We checked into the hospital around 7am and by 8am I was in a bed with an IV starting a pitocin drip and the Dr. had arrived. I was actually having several contractions already so they were encouraged by that. Makes it easier I guess. The Dr. checked me but I wasn't any more dialated than the week before so it made it difficult for her but she was able to break my water. Weirdest sensation ever...Dr. Shawn jokingly asked me what time I wanted to have baby. I told her Levi had been born at 2:06pm so lets shoot for that. Ha...I wish.
By 9 or so Andrew and I started walking the halls. I wanted to help this baby out as much as possible. We did this several times and it was always my goal to make one "lap" for each contraction. But they started coming slightly faster so I didn't make a full lap. :) We would also come back to let baby get monitored for a while and Andrew would watch "American Pickers" This is my big memory of that. I also ate orange jello at some point. I was starving again but my nurse suggested not eating a ton just in case I had an epidural or c-section. Fine, I'll be hungry.
I think by noon I was done walking pretty much. Baby was doing a little bit of decelling when I would have contractions, but they were always during the contraction which is acceptable and somewhat normal I guess. (We learned after she arrived that she had a fairly long cord which would explain this, as she would probably press on it a little during the contractions.)
I do remember Andrew eating his lunch that he had packed, and my nurse teasing him about being thrifty. My nurse by the way, Michelle, loved her to pieces. She was exactly who I needed to have that day. God knew.
Right after lunch things started getting pretty intense. I kind of lost track of time at that point. I do know I spent some time on the birthing chair and the ball. At which point it became harder and harder to keep track of Baby's heartrate so the nurse did put an internal monitor in on her head. So bizarre that the nurse touched my baby many hours before she was born. I think it's kind of cool actually. This monitor on her head allowed me to be able to switch positions without worrying about keeping her heartrate on the monitor. Very nice. The monitor was necessary due to us attempting the VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). A necessity that I was willing to have to be able to try. I do know that at some point the nurse went and got a CD player and Andrew put on my new Casting Crowns CD and some Shane & Shane during the really rough parts. I know this helped calm me but it was getting pretty hairy. I was losing the ability to control my breathing and my anxiety. I would literally almost pass out/fall asleep between the contractions and then wake up for the incredible intense pain and just try to breath. I remember thinking it would have been a joke to have timed when they started at home because although they were over a minute long from start to finish I was only aware of the crazy intense part.
By 2:30 I was in agony, I couldn't labor in the tub due to it being a VBAC and Baby needing constant monitoring. I was literally sobbing when I said to Andrew "I think I need the epidural" I was heartbroken, which is SO ridiculous to me now. Michelle had checked me and I was only at a 6, so it could be a while still.
I was so discouraged. The anesthesiologist had already been in that morning basically trying to convince me to go ahead with the epidural right away. His reasoning being that because I was attempting a VBAC if something happened and I needed a c-section RIGHT away, it would save time and I would avoid being put under general anesthesia if necessary. I wanted to wait...I was annoyed at him actually. Bad attitude on my part.
Anyway, you have to have a certain amount of fluids before you have the epidural so even though I made the decision sometime close to 3, I would have to wait a half hour or so. Ugh. I remember just trying to get through every contraction and not die in my opinion.
The anesthesiologist arrived sooner than I expected and did the epidural. It wasn't immediate relief, and I know I felt like punching him when he was taping the tube to my back and patting it on, or what actually felt like was beating my back. I was in such pain and just wanted to crab at him.

To explain a little bit of the thinking at this point, we knew it could be a while since I was only at a 6, and frankly, I knew I was losing control. I wanted to be alert and aware for our baby's birth and knew I wouldn't be at this point the way things were going. I didn't want to just "make it through", I wanted to be there totally as much as I could. Maybe this was due to not having any choice in Levi's c-section, I'm not sure. I was also getting really impatient and short with my husband due to the pain and I didn't want to be acting like that. With all of this in consideration, we decided the epidural was the best way to go. Andrew was SO amazing and supportive. Even when I was crying in sadness, he was supporting me and encouraging me. I also had several amazing friends who I texted afterwards, who were so encouraging. God totally supported me through them.

After the epidural went into affect, I was definitely not in as much pain. But here is where it gets interesting. While I wasn't in intense pain, I still was feeling everything. Which is the goal I guess, but the contractions were still very intense. Not as painful, but I definitely still felt them and couldn't really even sleep and they did still hurt some. From what I've gathered this isn't quite the norm, which I'm thankful for now. I've always processed anesthesia fairly quickly, when at the dentist they have to give me novacaine in abundance, and when I had Levi my spinal wore off pretty quickly. The nurses were very amazed by how quickly I could move my legs.
So while I'm thankful I got the epidural, it wasn't totally effective for me either. Once I had the epidural though, I remember just being excited to meet this girl.

We had a nursing change at 3:30 and frankly, my new nurse, didn't like her much at all. She was a little older, and just annoyed the heck out of me. It's all a bit of a blur now, but I remember her checking me and everything and I just didn't like the way she did things. I do remember that I was getting there. I was getting the "transitional shakes" that I didn't know what they were at the time, but I was definitely shaking. :) Also, the pain was getting worse. My left hip especially for whatever reason was just killing me. I remember thinking "So epidural?" Because I wasn't sure why I was feeling so gross. Finally around 6 or so, I basically told the nurse "I NEED TO PUSH!" Because I was so frustrated it didn't feel like she was listening to me. She checked me again and said something like "well you still have a rim left so let's wait" and I wanted to literally punch her. PRAISE THE LORD my awesome OB, Shawn, walked in at that moment and said "If she wants to push, let her push". I also remember she brought her knitting basket in with her, no idea how much knitting she actually did.

They set me up and I started pushing. It was agony. I couldn't get my left leg comfortable. Somewhere in this time frame Shawn decided baby must be pushing on my sciatic nerve or something, but everytime I would have a contraction or push, it felt like a sword piercing all down my leg. Not fun. I did learn the pushing pretty quickly, wasn't too complicated. Not quite what I had pictured, but it made sense in the moment how to do it. Andrew had a hold of the leg that wasn't hurting, and the nurse the painful one. At one point I tried to get them to switch because he was being so gentle and it didn't feel like she was. I just wanted it to end. I wanted to be strong and push this baby girl out. NOW. I think somewhere near 7 I asked Shawn how much longer I was going to be pushing. She guessed about a half hour or so. I was losing all control. I couldn't make myself breath right, I was still pushing amazing I guess, but I couldn't get my mind to stay where it needed to due to the awful and severe pain in my leg. I looked at Andrew and Shawn and just said "You gotta get her out" Shawn said she could use forceps but there were risks. I asked her to state them and she did, but she also told me she was very good with forceps and was very careful. The nurse, a new one, Praise the Lord! There had been a shift change at 7 and I recognized this nurse from our childbirth classes with Levi, and my bed rest at this hospital before being transferred. And I liked her! Anyway, she backed up what Shawn was saying and said "Yes, she's very good". I asked Andrew and he said it was my call. So I looked at Shawn and told her let's get her out. She set up fast and explained that I still needed to be the power, she was just going to guide her head a little bit. So I pushed like a mad woman, because I was. :) I knew the whole time that I had been pushing great, they told me I was, and not just as a compliment either. But man did I push. And Shawn guided her head and pulled a bit I'm sure. And wow, did it hurt. I just know I had my eyes closed, I was screaming like crazy, and I thought I was literally being ripped in two. I've never known that kind of pain. Thankfully, you do forget it. Thankfully. I also remember my husband's reaction. He was SO excited and really was freaking out. I just remember him saying "Oh man, here she comes." A LOT. And loudly. It was honestly the best moment because he was so excited and we hadn't had that intense craziness with Levi's birth. So, I was being ripped in two, Andrew was freaking out, and I thought I was going to die, or at least need a bajillion stitches. And then,

She was there. She was crying. And they plopped her right down on my chest. I was in awe. I thought I should cry but I just couldn't. I couldn't believe she was there. I heard Shawn instructing Andrew how to cut the cord and I did cry then. Because we got to do all the things we didn't get to do with Levi. I pushed baby girl out, and got to hold her right away, not hours later. Andrew got to cut her cord. Just awesome.

I'm a little fuzzy on delivering her placenta, but I think they helped a little with that? Not sure.
Shawn started doing something that hurt and I was like "What the heck?!" and she explained I hadn't torn externally at all, just a little internally. I was shocked, I thought for sure I was ripped like crazy for the way it hurt and she said "nope, just a few stitches internally. You did really good." Wow, amazing. It still hurt though. She did remark that my epidural wasn't such a big help. Well that's good to know that wasn't normal pain for an epidural.

At some point Shawn said good-bye and I was just in shock that it was done. The nurse came over after a long while and asked if I wanted her to go clean baby up or if I wanted to keep holding her. She ASKED. Didn't pull baby girl away or anything. Awesome. I said "sure, you can take her." because I knew she'd be right over there in the room and I'd get to see her. I was so joyful. This deep seated peace stole over my heart. Andrew took pictures like crazy, he's good at that.

The moment they laid Baby Girl on my chest I said "Hi baby". I had to restrain myself from using a name because I almost immediately felt a name for her. But there's Daddy to consider. :) We had gone through a name list while I was in labor, but like with Levi, I felt like this should be her name when I saw her. Guess what? He agreed. :) We're a good team like that.
Emelia. I thought for sure her middle name would be Jean, after my mom, his dad, and lots of other family heritage there. But when I suggested, Jean, Grace, or Ruth (My dear Grandma's middle name) he really thought it should be Grace. I am so thankful he decided. I love it, and I love that he chose her middle name so fittingly. She is our Grace Child.

There's lots of other fun stuff like how I tried to pass out the first time they got me up, how I got to eat right away (So much better than a c-section!) and all sorts of stuff, but the important thing, was that she was there.

Emelia Grace. My redemption baby. Most women call a baby they have after they lose a baby or more their rainbow baby. Like the promise after the storm. Which is fitting, but I prefer a term I learned from another blog Momma who called that baby her "Redemption Baby" Because God DOES redeem our tears and our pain. After Levi's crazy traumatic preemie c-section birth, after losing 3 babies in 2 miscarriages in between, Emelia Grace is most definitely my redemption baby.

No, everything wasn't "all-natural" and perfect. But she was there. Alive and full-term. That's so much to be thankful for. Actually, it's everything. I wouldn't have it any other way. And besides, this was my first "true" labor. It's all a learning process right? :) I know there will be those who scorn me for being induced, but the fact is, I don't answer to you. But to answer the thought, Emelia WAS a bigger baby, and we honestly didn't know what my uterus could handle. God had already done HUGE unthinkable miracles just getting her to full-term. No Dr. could explain it. They didn't need to, God is bigger. So we made the decisions we made, knowing that my bi-cornate/septate uterus needed all the help we could give it. My ultimate goal was to avoid a c-section. We did that. With whatever it took. So to God goes the glory. Will we do things different next time? Maybe, maybe not. Any baby God gives will be a blessing, however they enter this world.

Welcome to the world Emelia Grace! You are our precious Blessing!