Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Waiting...

When I went to my first OB appointment with my third child I was a nervous wreck. I remember the nurse telling me, "Oh, it's normal. We see mama's with multiple children and with each addition they are way more nervous than the last time." This was me. The whole pregnancy I was fearful and fretful. I hate that because I want faith to define me and not fear.

But this pregnancy has been a whole different story. In the beginning I sensed God telling me to rest in Him and that was my only option. So I did until about 24 weeks when the IUGR diagnosis was dropped into our laps. I wish I could explain it in a way that would make sense to people. Our baby is not "just small." She is being deprived of nutrients and blood that help her develop. She may be a fine and healthy little girl, or she could have cerebral palsy, poor growth until puberty, heart problems, the list goes on.

Right now though, with each passing day, I am reminded the greatest risk to her in the womb is death. Stillbirth. What I have witnessed time and time again in the last few years with my sweet friends. Baby after baby we have seen die before birth and have spent time with the parents trying to have words for that. There are none. Saying "God's plan" isn't right. We know he is sovereign but it does not make accepting his plan any easier sometimes. He doesn't want babies to die but he doesn't prevent it always either. He could, he chooses not to.

Every day that we get closer to delivery I become more anxious. This is normal for IUGR moms and dads, so I am not guilting myself for it. I am just trying to fight for joy and hope and trust. It is a fight. We think Christians should be always fearless and joyful and not have natural feelings that are human. We struggle just like everyone. It is human. Even Jesus wrestled in the garden with what would come at the cross. He begged that it be taken away from him. So I will not feel guilty for normal mama feelings, I will just wrestle.

My friend, Paige, told me she will not lie to me and smooth things over saying all will be fine. This baby girl of ours has a serious diagnosis. She knows because she walked this path and has felt the struggle. It reminds me of a word my friend used in elementary school, "smothercating." I feel I am smothering and suffocating at the same time when I really think of what could happen to our baby.
But I still fight for hope and joy. She has been a joy to us every day that we have had her. And she will for every day that we get her. I take comfort in knowing that while I cannot control outcomes or how many days she has, God knows and has each day before his eyes.

Last night I was reminded that he is the "lover of my soul" and the "lover of Lydia's soul." He wants good for all of us and is a good Father. This brings me comfort. He is already there in the OR where she will try to take her first breath. He is already there watching and going before as the doctors operate through layers of old scar tissue in my belly. He is right beside Josh and I when we see her face and begin to hear what doctors think she may struggle with. He knows when we will bring her home. He is preparing the path that feels so hard to walk on. We have really only just stepped onto the beginning of this road. It will be bumpy but I have faith that He will finish this good thing he has started and that Lydia will be such a blessing to our family. She is now.

I don't know why I am documenting these last few weeks except to let people know that my understanding of hard things in parenting is increasing majorly. And that my feelings toward moms and dads whose heart's break over their children are becoming much more tender. I can relate and I have empathy. When the curse was given to Eve for "pain in childbearing" it was so so much more than physical pain. The only wise thing we can do when these times come is to be driven to the Father who knows our pain and carries it with us. I could not imagine doing this without him.

9 more days until we meet our sweet girl! Pray I don't "smothercate" before then!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Another Monday

Today came another Monday. These are big days for us right now, the biggest of the week because we go to the high risk doc and see how baby girl is doing. Today was an up and down emotional roller coaster, but hey, this whole IUGR ride is!

Baby Lydia was looking super sweet as we got to see her suck her thumb on ultrasound today. She has great vitals and blood flow. My fluid levels seem to have dropped slightly. She was wiggling and looking good but the results of the measurements were disappointing. Lydia has, in 2 weeks, again only gained less than 1/2 lb and is lower than the 3rd percentile for fetal growth.

SO...... I got my first steroid shot today. Another will follow in 24 hours and I will take insulin for 5 days. The doctor has decided we will wait NO LONGER than 36 weeks to deliver. That depends on my fluid levels (amniotic) remaining ok. Lydia is doing a lot of "practice breathing" which is a great thing. The steroid shots are to cause her lung development to speed up.

A thank you to Josh who so much wants to fix things for his girls, but cannot. He just has to watch helplessly while we go through all these things, but he is being amazing. He knows much more about shots and all this than I do so that helps me. And he just is carrying us in prayer and me emotionally. I know it is hard on him as well.

Please pray as I take this insulin. I don't really know what I'm doing. Please pray I won't have drastic changes or drops in my blood sugar while I'm here alone. The boys are here but....
And please pray that this will indeed help her to be able to breathe on her own at birth. That will be 3 WEEKS!

A funny story from today- I gave myself my first shot in front of the NP so she could be sure I knew how. I drew it back and stabbed my belly like the needle was 12 inches long. In surprise she said, "um, you don't have to jab it like that. The needle is only very small (1/4 inch). You won't even feel it!" And, I didn't!!  Be afraid if I ever have to give you a shot.

So this week will hold another shot tomorrow and visit on Thursday. Multiple days of feeling like I am smothering from worry in the middle. Trying to trust God and his care of us knowing he loves this baby much more than I can. Our Zachary is at camp for the week and the other two will be home with me bored from summer getting long. They also like to prick my finger and will probably want to inject my insulin. No way. But all this worry and stress I would do all over again to see that little thumb sucker on ultrasound and know she will be here soon!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lydia Grace

I just read my last journal entry from 2015. The foreshadowing gives me chills. It said, "Parenting is about to get hard."

Our baby girl, Lydia Grace, was conceived a couple of days before Christmas. She has been an answer to the prayers of my heart for a daughter. Josh and I were both so surprised at the timing of this prayer answered. We had closed in our minds and hearts the chapter of life that included childbearing, after long struggles with secondary infertility. I become confident and at peace that we had our family completed and was looking toward the next season of life. But then God..... he answered my prayers as well as Noah's, who had been praying for a sister.

Lydia has Intrauterine Growth Restriction. This means that while in the womb her growth is being restricted. It is heart wrenching for us as parents to think the place where she should be most safe is becoming a place of danger for her.

But what praises we are offering for her life!  Hearing my husband thanking God for "the gift she is to us" makes me weep. She is such a gift. Just knowing her while she's inside of me and seeing her shadow on ultrasound has made us fall in love. It is a tender, sweet, compassionate love for your child that is different from what I have felt with "normal" pregnancies. I sense Christ's compassion for me in my own weakness when I feel this love towards Lydia.

Her body is under stress from lack of nutrients. She is gaining the bare minimum to remain in the womb (1/4lb. in 2 weeks). Her brain is thankfully being spared in an amazing thing called "brain sparing" where the placenta gives the most nutrients and blood to the brain so that the brain will be normal sized and most developed. It is a miracle really. IUGR is a condition that lasts after birth. Lydia will be small, have possibly many problems such as poor feeding and low body temperature. She will continue to be a slow - growing child for at least awhile. We may spend time in the NICU.

Because of these things we feel such tenderness towards her. She will have obstacles to overcome. Lydia reminds me that in my weakness Christ loves me, had compassion on me, and chose me as his own. We never think of this child as a burden even though we realize we will face difficult days ahead. We want her - just as she is. It is such a sweet and pure love we feel for our little baby girl.

I do believe Lydia is and will be a fighter. This is evidenced by how she fights and kicks against fetal monitors and ultrasounds. She causes me to trust even harder in the following verses.

(2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)     But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I am content in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Having an IUGR baby makes you feel nothing but afraid, weak, and helpless. But I am holding to the promise that HE is strong for us.

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement to us. We will update here often about what is next in this journey as we continue twice weekly doctor visits and scans to see if she can remain in the womb a little longer.


Monday, November 30, 2015

What Would Mr. Rogers Do?

The other day I watched a clip my husband posted on Facebook of Mr. Rogers. You remember him walking in the door, changing his shoes, and choosing a sweater while singing about his beautiful neighborhood. You remember the feeling you had when he told you it was “you he liked.” You remember how you felt understood, treasured, and loved right there on the other side of that TV.  You were “television neighbors” and he thought you were special. Every weekday we tuned in without fail and then we ran outside to play. 

While living at Seminary, I had a neighbor who knew Mr. Rogers personally. The week he died we stood outside and cried while our boys built forts in the woods. They knew him too. I exposed all of them to Trolley, Daniel Tiger, and Mr. Mcfeely as preschoolers. It now seems a little awkward and feels a bit strange to have a TV character named Mr. McFeely. But that is the sadness of the time we now live in. Mr. Rogers made things simple back then. 

When he sang “Are you Brave?” I sure thought I was. When I heard “I’m proud of you” I believed he was, and when he explained I could “never go down the drain” I felt relieved. I remember sitting beside the tub with my frightened little boy singing and explaining how he too was too big to slip down the drain. 

The thing about Fred Rogers was not his desire to make high quality television. It wasn’t just the special understanding of children that he most certainly had. It wasn’t his unique sweaters made by his mother or the way he explained how things were made on Picture,Picture. It was his heart. His seminary degree did not transfer to a life of preaching loudly in pulpits but instead he spoke softly to the smallest and most humble population, the children.

My friend told me that Fred Rogers would see her, in their real life neighborhood, and he was exactly the same as on TV. He was humble and asked about her and her family. He spoke into her face and valued her. He truly loved her. He loved people.

How I long to love people like this. It’s frightening isn’t it? For me, loving a child is easier than loving a “grown up.” Children are meek, innocent, and usually friendly. Grown ups are hard to love aren't we? We are often bitter, cynical, afraid, and lonely. How do we scratch that surface and get to the heart of the adult? May I suggest we just do it like Fred Rodgers? He treated people the same. Children to him were not a bother or of less importance than adults. They were humans— equal, just smaller. I find that those who value children, value people.

We are all afraid. We lose humility and trust as we grow. We become harder and build protective shells around ourselves. We judge. We condemn. We hide. Fred says, “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self.” I am learning this. There is purpose in doing this. “Are we Brave?” 

I want to be a “Mrs. Rogers.” I want to love the world through eyes that desire to show Christ with my actions and not just with words. Mr. Rogers never said anything about God loving me or how special I was to God. He never shared Bible verses or preached the gospel on TV. Yet, he did not have to. He reflected those attributes of Christ to me when he treasured a child’s heart and saw the value and worth in us as people. Saint Francis of Assisi said it this way, “Preach the gospel everyday and only if you have to….use words.” 

In my home I want to draw my children to the Savior by the way I value them and hear them. I want them to feel safe and trust me. I want them to know that something greater than my self allows me to love them like this. I want to reflect Christ to them in the way my words are spoken. Mr. Rogers was a quiet, soft spoken man. I am loud, not usually soft spoken. I don’t have to imitate anyone but Christ. This love just has to come from the heart. And I want to do this same thing with those who are different than I. 

I want to greet the person that I feel is the least like me with the same care Mr. R projected through that TV screen. Why? Because we are all broken. My brokeness just looks different from that of another. I pray to be less judgemental of the way someones hurt is expressed and more like Fred Rogers. Just value the image of God in them. Acknowledge that we are all made in his image(Genesis 1:27). And when the image of Him, in me, touches the same image in another, spiritual connections are made. This is how we reach people. This is how we spread the gospel.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

“How sad it is that we give up on people that are just like us." —Fred Rogers

“Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award—and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence."
And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "I'll watch the time." There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds—and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly "May God be with you," to all his vanquished children.” (Wikipedia) 

Here is a clip of Mr.Rogers and Joan Rivers. Watch as he treats her with respect and such care that she becomes speechless. 

Share this program with your little ones. It never gets old or outdated. Just like love. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Can you remember?

A few days ago I heard on the radio that we now Google so much information in a single day that 20% or more of people forget what they read just 30 seconds after seeking an answer or fact. This is alarming to me. I also remember my dentist telling me that she read about children in Asia using technology so much that certain areas of their brains are dying. The neglect to memorize things actually kills brain cells. I think we need to seriously consider this. I know that right at this moment I do not remember my mother's or my oldest son's cell numbers. It is very embarrassing to admit this. I just use my phone and call them. What about you? Are you guilty? It is terrifying to think my son would be out and I actually could not call him because I did not remember his number. Ridiculous! I am fixing this. ASAP!!

Here's the thing that has been on my mind. In this instant society where we don't even want to take the time to remember what we just read about a question that we had, we are losing much more than facts. Do you long to be close to God and when you get started in prayer find your thoughts are slipping away to the to do list or what's for dinner? I do. When I try to memorize scripture I feel it is difficult and honestly just excuse it away. Why do I need to memorize what I can read? 

All these things are reminding me of the way we are living and how we are deceiving ourselves. Many, many people have been in situations with no Bible, no one to teach them truth or remind them of it. What if soon the day comes that our Scriptures are taken away and we must rely on what is in our minds? I had the privilege of being a Bible Driller as a child. Because of that I can recall scriptures quite often. But my children? No. They are struggling to memorize a single passage. Why? I have made it too easy for them not to do it. I haven't made it a priority. 

I think of Corrie Ten Boom and her story. It you have not read it, please do so. Her writings of imprisonment in Nazi concentration camp will show you miracle after miracle. And the fact that her mind was full of hymns and God's words carried her through some hellish times. I fear for my children and what they would do in a situation like that. I fear for myself.

My friend, Larry, says that we need a "long, strategic soaking in the Word." We cannot Google our way to a deeper relationship with God and understanding of Scripture. We cannot Instagram or Snap Chat our way to recalling truth when we need it. Our hungry souls cannot be filled in 30 seconds of reading the Words of life. 

Psalm 119:15-16 tells us, "I will meditate on Your precepts And regard your way. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word." 

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."John 15:4-5

Friends, we cannot just swing by the vine and grab some grapes. We have to abide in Him, in His Word, in prayer, and he will produce the fruit in us. Fruit that will last when we need to recall His words and fruit that will give life and hope to others. Take some time. Soak it up and dwell with Him. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Texas, Tacos, and Tons of Women  

For the first time in 20 years my husband and I were at the airport with boarding passes of our very own. We were flying to Austin, Texas, to meet a couple hundred online friends. Who does this? I mean we are cautioned about meeting one person from the internet but I was about to meet many. Was I frightened? Not at all.

Two weeks ago I had an experience that ranks up there with one of the best of my life. Many have questioned what it was like to meet the New York Times Bestselling author and HGTV personality, Jen Hatmaker, because they imagined that this was the highlight of my trip. “It was good” is my reply. They can’t seem to understand the lack of a fan girl attitude or over excitement. It’s because Austin for me was much more. It was an experience unlike any I have ever had.

(Please excuse our glowing faces. It was about 1,000,00098 degrees at 7p.m.) 

Evert single moment of the trip was amazing— just so fun. I have never had another trip go so smoothly. If a trip could be perfect this one was. The only detail I would have changed would be to crank down the temperature dial several more notches below 100 degrees. Josh and I expected some things from this trip. Time together, check. Staying with and enjoying our friends, check. Meeting new people, check. Having an adventure, check.  We did not expect the city of Austin to be so very beautiful, the people to be so amazingly friendly, and the atmosphere to feel so small town while we were in the midst of 900,000+ people. We did not expect to have such a renewed passion and fervor to minister and share the gospel and never would we have imagined that meeting 250 strangers would give us a foretaste of heaven. 

First of all, Austin. Go there. Maybe move there. I just can’t explain the love Texans have for their state and the pride they display. And yet, they are so so welcoming. The housekeepers at our hotel had Don't Mess With Texas stickers even on their trash cans! Everything (I mean everything) is covered in stars. A girl who served us at Starbucks saw my mug with Texas on it and dreamily sighed, “I just love Texas.” It really is unbelievable. An interesting experience. It is like small town America blew up and welcomed everyone and it turned into a huge city. And the sky? It goes on forever. There is diversity, hospitality, and everything is a little bigger. Such a (hot) beautiful place. Oh, and Barbecue. I can't even. 

I don’t really know how to explain what happened between the women of this launch team and myself but I do wish each of you could experience something similar in this life. A woman brought us together with a book and, without intending for it to happen, we are living out the book. A community formed that is not about us but God. We have prayed for one another, shared heavy burdens, bought a car for someone, sent snail mail, raised 2500+ for orphans, and just laughed and cried. We came together with nothing but Jesus in common and he is what we shared with one another. It felt like what heaven will be. 

I remember a conversation while standing in the Hatmaker’s yard waiting in line to hug Jen. A few ladies were discussing how we were the ones who were chosen for the team. Most of us agreed it was random, maybe the first 500 people or something. But then we remembered that even in the random God is in control. He controls even the “casting of lots” in the Old Testament. In all these ladies lives, it is evidenced, that he put us together for this time and it is spilling out in our towns and communities. Women are meeting and bringing other women and pulling them along. What Jen had prayed and hoped for is now happening. My prayer is that you too will be plugged into a community that is rich and deep and strong. 

Pray for it and God will show you the steps to find it. Who ever thought six months ago that I would go half way across the country to meet up with total strangers? Who would have imagined that just being there with so many of us focused on him and his presence would make me excited for heaven? 

Texas is full of the most amazing tex-mex, pride, and beautiful people; boots, hats, and hot weather. But I will always fondly remember Texas for the moments in a yard in Buda experiencing Christ, in the flesh, residing in beautiful, strong, diverse women. His body, all the pieces, not bound with denominations or past relationships or any other thing. Just bound by Him alone. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

                            Happy Spring!!

Spring, a time of newness and renewal. New smells, new brilliant colors, lots and lots of new babies in the green fields, new growth.

The last one, new growth, is sometimes the hardest. Right now my husband and I are going through some new growth. It is not fun or easy. It does not look beautiful like it does when tiny seeds burst forth from the delicious smelling dirt. Actually new growth sometimes feels -like dirt.

But in this spring season we will remember that God truly does work all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28) While this season sometimes feels like difficult and hard birth pains, we know something wonderful and precious will come of it. He has called us according to his purpose and he will not stop working in us and through us until we see him face to face.

This month while you are tenderly placing little plants in the warm earth, or when you taste crispy new lettuce leaves, while you take walks in the warm sunshine; take a moment to pause and thank God for what he has already done for your good. And if you, are too, in a difficult and waiting season know that in time the seed he has planted in your life will burst forth in a new way and become a beautiful work of his hand.

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)