Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stepping Out in Faith

Today I decided to take the kids for a walk and then go over to the park in town so I could let the kids play and take some pictures. Micah is all boy and just loves to climb all over the place. He usually wants to do everything that his big sister does, so I tend to watch him closely and tell him when there is something that he just can't do yet. Today for some reason, he didn't follow his sister everywhere. He was so busy climbing and running around and doing what HE wanted to do that I just stood back and watched what he could really do.

There is a pole that Micah always wants to slide down because he feels like a fireman then, but he usually has his daddy there to help him get onto it and gently hold on to him in case he lets go. Today he was busy doing everything on his own that I was a bit nervous when he went over to that pole; but he knew when he needed help because he looked at me and said "I need help mom!" So I held onto his waist and then told him to go ahead and lean over and try to grab ahold of the pole. I can remember when he was too small and couldn't reach that far, so it was a little bittersweet to see him reach out and grab that pole fairly easily. Then came the hard part....holding onto the pole, stepping off the platform, and wrapping his legs around the pole. I held onto him pretty good the first time because I was so scared he was going to let go of the pole and fall. He did pretty good though and then he started to slide down. I actually didn't even have my hands on him when he slid down that first time. I just had them REAL close in case he started to fall.

He was so proud of himself when I told him that I hadn't even held onto him as he slid down the pole! He asked for my help the next two times whenever it was time to step off the platform and wrap his legs around the pole, but the last time he didn't want my help. He wanted to try to do it all by himself. I still had my hands close by just in case he needed me, but he did everything on his own....except he slid down the pole a little too fast and didn't put his legs down on the ground soon enough. He bumped his upper lip on the pole when he hit the ground, but it didn't bleed or anything so I knew he was ok. He looked at me like it was my fault though, but I told him he did a GREAT job and just needed to remember to not slide down the pole quite so fast next time and he needed to look where he was going so he knew when to put his feet down.

As I sat here tonight thinking about our day, I realized how that "fireman's pole" is a good example of our walk with the Lord. When we are walking through trials, God is right there holding on to us and letting us know that He has us. Sometimes God asks us to step out in faith and do something we may not think we can do. "I need help Lord!" we may say, and He is always there saying "You can do this! I'm right here with you! I'll help you if you need it." It is so exciting when we take that step of faith and find out that we really could do a lot more than we thought we could! If we take our eyes off of where we are going, we can get hurt. Sometimes we may try to take things too fast and get a bit of a boo-boo. If we pay attention to God telling us when and where to go and keep our eyes fixed on our destination, we don't have anything to fear. We have the assurance that God is always right there beside us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Little Drummer Boy

Edited: Here's the pictures!

My son is 4 years old, and absolutely LOVES the drums! We bought him his first drum, a plastic Little Tikes drum with plastic drumsticks that are attached to the sides of the drum so the child doesn't lose them, when he was 2 years old. Last year he decided he needed to have another drum because he wanted to have "real Cliff!" Cliff is the man who plays the drums at church. My son has always watched Cliff very closely on Sundays and will imitate whatever Cliff does. His plastic drumsticks were just no good anymore because Cliff had wooden ones, so that's what my son had to have too. So this past Christmas, we bought him a little drum with wooden drumsticks.

He really started to imitate Cliff then! One Sunday during worship team rehearsal, Cliff threw one of his drumsticks. A few days later, our son threw his drumstick. Why? Because Cliff did it of course! A few weeks ago, one of the ladies who sings on the worship team with me said to me "You do realize you are eventually going to have to buy him a drum set don't you?" to which I replied "I know, but we just can't afford it right now." I had looked at a set at Christmas time, but we just didn't have that kind of money to spend on it.

This morning as I practiced with the worship team before church, I had to smile as I watched my son "drumming" as he intently watched Cliff. He held out his two index fingers and used them as drumsticks as he drummed in mid-air, and every so often he'd hit his daddy. At first I wasn't sure why he would hit his dad, but I quickly realized he hit him every time Cliff hit the cymbal (or "the cush" as our son calls it....I assume because that's what he thinks they sound like when they are hit so whenever he is drumming and he wants to pretend to hit a cymbal, he yells "CUSH!"). I teased my husband afterwards that I saw he was "the cush" while our son was drumming and he laughed while he shook his head in agreement.

We came home from church, grabbed some lunch, and then left to do some shopping. A few hours later we returned and after putting everything away, we went upstairs to start getting the kids ready for bed. My husband realized he forgot his electric screwdriver outside the night before so he quickly went downstairs to get it. We knew it hadn't rained last night so it should be ok, but we weren't sure it would still be there since we live in town and our backyard is not fully fenced in at the back so anyone can come into our yard if they really wanted to steal something they saw. Well my husband opened the back door and was surprised at what he found right outside the door on the top step: a dark blue (our son's favorite color!) drum set, complete with a little stool for him to sit on!

My husband brought the drum set in and put it in the living room. Then he called our son down because he knew he just couldn't allow him to go to bed before he saw this! Our daughter came down first and my husband was quick to tell her to "BE QUIET AND DON'T SAY ANYTHING!" because he knew she'd ruin the surprise for her brother. So, she put her hand over her mouth when she saw the drums, most likely in an effort to NOT say something! LOL! Our son comes down, takes one look at the drums, puts his hand over his mouth (like he sees his big sister doing), and then finally gasps "Oh my!". He then quickly grabbed his drumsticks that he had from the drum we bought him at Christmas and started pounding away. The smile on my little boy's face was just priceless. I don't have a digital camera, so you'll just have to wait until I get my film developed to see pictures. Sorry! LOL!

There was no note so we are not sure who left it there for him, but we have a few guesses who it might have been. I am trying to find out who left it because our son wants to thank the person! He didn't want to quit playing, but he made sure to tell me he was going to play his drums tomorrow as soon as he gets up....and I have no doubt at all that he'll be up bright and early and ready to hit those drums! LOL! As I headed back down the stairs after putting him to bed, the last thing I heard my little boy say was "I love my drum set mommy!".

We live just down the road from a fire station. When my daughter was 3 years old, she was terrified of the fire alarm because it is really loud. It always goes off at noon, so I told her that was just the lunch whistle so that one didn't scare her any more. When it would go off other times, I taught her to pray for the firemen and whoever needed help. She quickly learned to not be afraid and to this day she comes running to pray with me whenever the alarm sounds. My son learned to do the same because he saw what we did every time the alarm sounded. He decided to take it a step further though...he will pray whenever he sees a fire truck, police car, or an ambulance. He initially started to pray if he saw one of them with their sirens and/or flashing lights on, but then he started to pray for them even if they didn't have their lights and sirens on. He is very quick to pray for me if I say I'm not feeling good. He truly loves Jesus with all his heart.

Tonight as I sat here thinking about how thankful I am to the person(s) who thought of our son when they saw this drum set and brought if here for him, a verse came to mind. Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." As cute as I think it is that my son watches Cliff intently and does everything that he does, I want even more for him to look to Jesus and do what he knows God wants him to do. I just have to think that God wanted to bless our little 4 year old boy with a set of drums because He knows our son loves Him and He wanted him to have something that would make him happy. I feel so thankful and yes blessed because I know that it was a desire of MY heart for our son to have a drum set because I knew how much he would love it. Isn't it amazing that God loves us so much that He cares about the smallest details?!

In case the person who gave our son these drums is reading this: THANK YOU for allowing God to work through you and be a blessing to our family, especially our little boy! May the Lord bless you for your thoughtfulness!

To everyone else: Don't miss out on being a blessing to someone! Listen to that still, small voice that tells you to do something nice for someone. You may not think a phone call, letter, or even a gift may be much, but it may be exactly what that person needed at that time. How exciting to know that God sometimes uses US as an instrument to bless someone else! Be a blessing to someone today, and I know YOU in turn will be blessed as well!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wendy: sister, friend, angel

I've been thinking of writing about this shortly after I started my blog. I had the title in my head, but I just wasn't sure I could write it. After reading a post on another person's blog, I was inspired to go ahead and write about my sister. I hope this will help someone who reads this to see that God does not make mistakes. We may not understand why bad things happen, but God is faithful. He holds our hands through the difficult times and eventually helps us to see that good CAN come out of the bad things we may experience along life's road.

Wendy was a wonderful daughter, sister, friend, wife, and mother. She was only here on this earth for 28 years, but the memory of her didn't die with her. She made an impact on many people's lives. Wendy knew from the time she was little that she was going to be a pastor's wife. In 1988, that "dream" became a reality when she married a man who was studying to be a pastor. She also knew she wanted to have lots of kids. She struggled with infertility, but the Lord knew her desire to be a mother and blessed her with children. She also dealt with the pain of losing 3 baby girls, but she never lost her faith in God. She was in the hospital after giving birth to triplets and due to a "mistake", she was given the wrong medicine and wound up having a severe allergic reaction. She died while her husband watched helplessly as the doctors tried to save her.

The day she died was a Sunday. I had gone to the altar that morning to pray for the babies since they were born prematurely and were fighting for their lives. I called Wendy when I got home to let her know what I had done, but she wasn't feeling real well so she said she'd call me later. I told her I'd be at mom and dad's house and to call me there. When the phone rang in the afternoon, I told mom that was Wendy calling to talk to me. It wasn't Wendy. It was Joe, calling to tell us that Wendy had died. I'll never forget that day. I knew from my mom's frantic voice what had happened, but I didn't want to believe it. Then I heard her scream and I knew my fears were real. It was unfathomable to think that God would have let something like this happen. She was a mom, with three small children at home and three babies in the hospital. This couldn't be happening! Yet it was.

In November, it will be 14 years ago that my sister died, and yet I can still remember that awful day like it was yesterday. I wish I could forget it, but I know I never will. I know there are stages of grief, yet somehow I seemed to get to the acceptance stage very quickly. Somehow, in spite of the grief I felt over the unexpected loss of my sister, I just knew that God had a plan and He was in control. A few hours after Wendy died, one of the babies died. The next day, another past away. One baby...a boy...survived. I knew it would have been devastating for my sister to lose more children, so I found comfort in knowing that God had called her home before the babies. I could almost imagine her rejoicing in heaven when she was reunited with her three girls who had died 3 years before; and then rejoicing again when she saw two more of her children.

I guess it was because my sister loved children so much that I figured God must have called her home to heaven because He needed help with all the children up in heaven. Somehow that thought stuck with me. As a result of going through the loss of my sister, I have been able to sympathize with and comfort others who were struggling with the loss of a loved one. I was also able to give a little bit of comfort to a few women who experience the loss of a child because I would tell them about my sister and let them know I truly believed she was taking care of their child until God called them home. I myself have been through 3 miscarriages and found comfort in the thought that Wendy was holding them and taking care of them until I am able to hold them myself one day up in heaven.

One night a few months after Wendy died, I had a dream about her. I vividly remember driving my car into my parents' driveway. I saw Wendy standing on their porch. I knew she was dead so I was wondering why she there. I got out of the car and she came over to me and hugged me. When she released me, I asked her "Why didn't I feel that?". She smiled and said, "It's ok. I forgive you." She hugged me again....and I FELT it! I woke up immediately and just started to cry because I could still remember the dream, and her embrace. I didn't realize until that moment how much I had been beating myself up over not going down to visit her sooner. She lived in Maryland and I lived in Pennsylvania. She kept asking me to come down for a visit and I kept putting it off because I was in college and it was such a long drive. I finally had told her that I would come down in March because I had a two week break between internships (it was my last semester of school). She teased me "Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it!". She died three and a half months before my visit. I did go down for those two weeks because I wanted to keep my promise, and I knew her husband could use my help with the kids. When I awoke from that dream, I just knew God had allowed Wendy to visit me in a dream to let me know she had forgiven me for not visiting her sooner. Most of the time, I wake up and have no knowledge of any dream I might have had while I was asleep. If I do remember that I had a dream, I don't remember it for very long and the details usually aren't very clear. Fourteen years later and I can still remember that dream just as vividly today as I did that night! Since I can still remember that dream fourteen YEARS later, I know it was no ordinary dream!

Wendy's oldest two children graduated from high school last year and I couldn't help but think of how proud their mom would have been of them. I made sure to tell them that too. I'm sure they appreciated the reminder, even though I'm sure they already knew that. I know she would be so proud of the wonderful people all four of her children are becoming. I know I just have to smile when I look at her children. They all have such a beautiful Christian spirit and I just know their mom, the angel, is looking down from heaven and smiling.

Yes, Wendy wasn't here very long, but the things she did while on this earth still live on. When she was in high school, she decided she wanted to start a group where Christian kids could get together after school to have a Bible study, pray, and just fellowship with one another. She was well aware that being a Christian in a public high school was not easy and this would be a way for fellow Christians to get together and offer support to each other. The administration of the high school practically made her jump through hoops, but she never gave up and they eventually agreed that she could start the group. The first meeting of Kids For Christ only had about 5 kids attended that meeting. My sister and I were 2 of them. One was a teacher because the administration insisted that it had to be "monitored" by a member of the faculty. Wendy found a teacher who she knew was a Christian because she knew asking just anyone could lead to trouble if they didn't like these kids praying together. Today it is about 25 years later, but that Kids For Christ group is still running strong in our high school! The last I heard, the group consistently has an attendance well into the double digits. I'm sure the kids who attend now don't know that it was Wendy who fought so hard for that group to be started, but what an awesome testimony to the fact that one person CAN make a difference! I'm sure she would never have imagined that the group she started would continue to last and grow and make an impact on so many young lives in that high school.

I know God put my sister on this earth for a reason. She did what she was suppose to do, and then God called her home. I don't know why he took her so early. I can think of so many other things she could have done and accomplished while she was on the earth, but I know God knows the reasons why and I know His will is best. A song by Steven Curtis Chapman keeps running through my mind. The words to the chorus are:

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in his power the weak become strong
His strength is perfect
His strength is perfect.

I know that is how I got through those difficult days and weeks that followed the death of my sister. God gave me the strength to keep believing in spite of the hurt. Someone I worked with, who was not a Christian, gave me what I still consider to be a huge compliment. He asked me how I was doing and then said "I knew you'd be ok because you have an incredible amount of faith." I am not one who boasts of being a Christian. I usually do my best to live my life in a way that shows people what Christianity is all about. It was comforting to me knowing that this man did see the difference in me, and he knew exactly what was going to get me through the most difficult time in my life. God will NEVER leave you or abandon you and I KNOW He will be there for you no matter what comes your way!

I miss you Wendy! I love you! I know one day we'll see each other again, and I can hardly wait!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Don't Fuel The Fire!

Memorial Day is next week and I'm looking forward to going over to my parents' house and having one of my dad's world famous (to our family anyway) hamburgers that he makes on the grill. Can you cook on a grill without some sort of fuel? No! Without a supply of fuel, there won't be a fire. Think about a campfire. How can you keep one burning for hours at a time? You need to keep putting more wood on it because it will eventually go out once the wood is consumed.

Proverbs 26:20 says "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." Just a few days ago, I wrote about the trouble we've had with our neighbor. Well, God has a way of reminding us that sometimes there IS something more we can be doing. In some cases though, sometimes we need to be doing LESS! Do you know of someone who irritates you? How easy is it to complain about that person, and everything that person says or does? I know it is very easy for me to complain about something our neighbor does. What I didn't really realize until today though is that the irritation I feel whenever he does something else is being fueled by how much we complain about everything he does. It is easy to keep remembering all the bad stuff he has done so when he does something new, it irritates us immediately and just adds fuel to the fire so to speak. God challenged me today to quit complaining about him, and see if the irritation I feel towards him decreases. If I stop complaining, I cut off the supply of fuel that is needed to keep the fire of irritation and frustration going.

So I'm challenging you to do the same thing. If there is someone in your life that really irritates you, don't complain about all the things they have done. If you are reminded of something they have done, try to get your mind focused on something else. For me, singing a song is the easiest way for me to focus my thoughts on something positive. It is hard to be frustrated or mad if I'm singing a song of praise to the Lord! If possible, focus on positive things about that person specifically. Let's see if we can get rid of the feelings of irritation, anger, frustration (it could be any negative feeling you have) towards individuals in our lives by cutting off the fuel supply.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just a Little Reminder

I just love when God gives me a verse just as a reminder to let me know He is there! As I begin typing this, it is 1o:30 pm and I realized about 15 min. ago that I hadn't done my devotions today. I got a late start this morning because it was rainy and cold and I just didn't feel like getting out of bed. So I decided even though I'm tired, I'd read the devotional book that I haven't read the past few days because I was simply reading a chapter in Proverbs each day and then journaling. Well, I guess this can be considered my journal for today! A verse that I have heard many times before just seemed to be in bold print when I read it this evening. It's a verse I'm sure most of you know quite well too, but I just have to share it with you!

Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I just felt God reassuring me that He knows EXACTLY what we are going through and why, and He is right there with us. Things WILL get better and hopefully we all will see that we are stronger because of what we went through. God LOVES us and wants what is best for us. How amazing is that?! He knows exactly what is best for us. It doesn't mean we'll enjoy going through difficult times, but isn't it awesome to know we can just rest in the arms of our Lord and know that He is taking care of us?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dealing With The Enemy

I was reading my Bible this morning and came across some verses that seemed to just jump out at me. They made me think of all we've been going through with our one set of neighbors. First I'll tell you just a little bit about our neighbors. We've lived here for about 5 1/2 years now, and we've had trouble with these people almost from day one. We park our cars perpendicular to our house. Our neighbor parks his car parallel to his house. For some reason, our neighbor seems to think he has to drive onto our property, back up, come back onto our property, and back up again in order to park his car. There are many times he comes within INCHES of hitting my car. We've seen other people pull into that spot without touching our property, so why does he feel the need to do it EVERY TIME he comes home? Our answer: he's just being a jerk. Sorry, but there just isn't a better way to say it.

At first, we tried to just ignore the whole thing. Then one afternoon, I had just finished buckling our daughter into her carseat in my car (she was 3 years old at the time) and I got into the car myself. I hadn't even closed the door yet when I was startled to see our neighbor come flying in and stop within inches of my car. I realized immediately that if he had shown up just seconds earlier or if I had taken a few seconds longer, he would have hit me or possibly even our daughter. I could feel the anger welling up within in me, but I said nothing to him. When I told my husband what happened, he was furious! We felt like we now had to teach our daughter to look both ways before you go out the front door! One evening I was at worship team rehearsal at church and our neighbor came home. Since my car wasn't there, he decided he could then drive his entire car onto our property and come within inches of my husband's car! He drove forward and backwards numerous times, for no reason other than he knows it aggrevates my husband and wanted to get him mad. Well, it worked! My husband was upstairs and he opened the window and yelled at our neighbor to stay off of our property. The neighbor responded by threatening my husband that he was going to come up there and throw him out the window!!

We have put up with this neighbor using a snowblower and blowing ALL of his snow onto our property EVERY winter, stealing a No Tresspassing sign my husband put up in an effort to keep him from driving onto our property, cursing at us and yelling that they wish we would be dead when we came home one night (which my daughter heard them say and caused her to burst into tears), constantly antagonizing my husband to come fight him in the street, screaming at my husband and kids to "walk in the middle of the street" because they are "too close" to his car (there are no sidewalks on our street and we are not about to tell our kids to walk down the middle of the street!), and many other things! This guy even issued a false statement to the police about how my husband "drove recklessly and almost hit him with his car while he was stuck on ice". What actually happened was the neighbor sped through a field and then went onto the road in order to cut my husband off. He then drove really slow until he finally SLAMMED on his brakes. My husband was aware that the guy was up to something so he was driving slow enough that he was able to stop in time and avoided hitting him. The guy then got out of the car and told my husband to "get out!". My husband said no and then drove around the guy's car when he got back in his car. There was NO ice at all that day, yet the neighbor got away with issuing that statement without the police ever coming to get my husband's side of the story! The charges were later dropped when my dad, who just happens to be a police officer himself (but our neighbor doesn't know that), called the police officer in town who filed the charges and told him exactly what was going on and pointed out that charges should NOT have been filed since NO ONE witnessed the incident and it was simply the word of a man who has been harrassing my husband for YEARS now. I love my dad!! LOL!

The police in town are fully aware of the trouble we are having with this neighbor, but they do nothing about it. My husband has issued complaints with the police about our neighbor a few times and yet the police keep telling us there is nothing we can do because it is a civil matter. My husband was even told one time by a certain officer that if he issued one more complaint against our neighbor, they were going to arrest BOTH of them (my husband and the neighbor) and have the courts settle it. Last summer one police officer admitted to my husband that we have "the neighbors from hell". We have STRONG suspicions, as do others in town that have talked to us about it, that our neighbors are drug dealers. The only thing we can figure is that the police don't bother with our neighbor because he is a volunteer firefighter in town. Aren't police suppose to PROTECT the civilians instead of allowing one of them to get away with doing whatever he wants just because he is a volunteer firefighter?! Sigh. We obviously try to not get sucked into our neighbor's constant attacks against us and we just try to avoid having any contact at all with him. We have been wanting to move for a long time, but we simply don't have the finances to do that. The past few days my husband has just been really frustrated with the whole situation and feels that God hasn't answered our prayers and this neighbor just continues to "win".

I've tried telling my husband that this is truly a spiritual battle we are having with this neighbor. It is obvious this guy is not a Christian! When we first moved here, his car had a big face of the devil on the back window and a smaller face on the side of his car. I sensed early on that this guy didn't hate "us" per se, but he hated CHRIST who is IN US! I told my husband that we can't expect this guy to act "like a Christian" when he isn't one. It is easy to think that this guy should have been taught right from wrong and at least know how to act civil, but we knew this neighbor's dad (yes, the guy is in his 30s or 40s and still living at home. His dad died last year.) and he was just as mean, nasty, and rude to my husband as his son. I guess the saying "like father like son" is true!

So getting back to what this was all about in the first place (sorry, guess I just wrote another LONG blog), I read Proverbs 24 today. I noticed I had one verse underlined already, verse 10. That verse says "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" I read that and thought of my husband and how he is feeling right now. I figured I should save that verse and let him read it because maybe he needs to be reminded that God WILL give him the strength he needs to continue to deal with our neighbor and he shouldn't feel abandoned. Then I continued reading and was convicted by Proverbs 24: 17-20 "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.". OUCH! We really haven't seen the neighbor "fall", but I was reminded of some times when we thought it was funny that he was having so much troubles with his cars and almost felt like he deserved it for all he had done to us. It's almost like we felt like saying "HA! That's what you get for messing with a Christian!"

It's easy to pray a sort of "get him God!" prayer when you are faced with people like this. We NEED to pray for them, but it needs to be one of asking God to get ahold of that person's heart so they can see Him and come to know Him. We can ask for God's protection against any harm this person may want to bring against us, but we also should be praying for us to be Godly examples to them. Those are hard prayers to pray when all you really want is to get away from this person (for us we want to either move or have this guy get arrested and spend a LONG time in jail)! I realize we haven't always been a good example of God's love to this guy and maybe that's one reason why we are still here.

I'm not saying that my husband has been wrong when he yelled at this guy because the guy was endangering the safety of our family. I realize our attitudes toward this guy haven't always been pleasing to God, and we need to make sure we work on that so that our kids learn the right thing to do when they are faced with people who are hard to love. I want them to know they can fully trust God to help them each step of the way. It doesn't matter what happens, God is always there and He will give them the strength to handle it in a Godly way. When you know you may have to face an enemy, pray each morning for God to help you if a situation with the enemy arises. Sometimes you may need to walk away from the situation and not say anything at the time, especially if you are really angry at the time. It may mean saying a silent prayer for God to give you the wisdom to know what to say before you open your mouth. The important thing to do is not to lose faith when it seems the enemy is always "winning". As Christians, we are promised the ultimate victory! Keep your eyes on the prize!

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Little Miracles

This morning I was thinking about what I could share with all of you to help you get to know me a little more. I started to think about my kids, and what I went through to have them. I know many of the people who may read my blog already know about it, but there may be people who come across my blog and don't know about it so I figured I'd share my story and maybe it will help someone know that they are not alone in their struggles.

My husband and I were married in May 1997. Tomorrow is actually our 11th anniversary! We found out in September 1997 that we were expecting a baby. This came as a total shock to us since we were not ready at all to have a baby yet since we hadn't been married very long. I had wondered how difficult it would be to get pregnant because my cycle was very weird (my cycles at the time ranged from 29 days to 144 days! Most of the time I easily went 2 - 3 months between periods), so it was sort of a relief to know that I could get pregnant! We were just starting to accept the fact that we were going to have a baby and were getting excited about it; but I experienced a miscarriage 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. It devastated my husband and I, especially because we had announced we were pregnant since we were excited and then people would come up to congratulate us and we had to tell them we had lost the baby. We decided to wait until our one year anniversary and then start trying to have a baby.

We celebrated our one year anniversary and began trying to have a baby. We had success immediately because just a few weeks later, we found out we were expecting! We didn't want to tell many people this time because we were both afraid of another miscarriage. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I started with the "morning sickness". For me, it was not just in the morning though. It was an all day event and I wound up needing to be hospitalized because I could not keep anything down and was vomiting constantly. UGH!! I was in the hospital for 2 weeks that first time. They put a PIC line in so I could be "fed" intravenously and was sent home. A few days later, I was experiencing redness and pain in my arm where the PIC line had been put in so they removed it for fear it was becoming infected. About a week later, I was back in the hospital for another week because the vomiting had returned. They didn't want to put another PIC line in so I was discharged once the vomiting stopped. I was able to go 2 weeks with little to no vomiting, but then it returned and I was admitted to the hospital for the third time and stayed another week. I was sick of being sick by this point and just wanted it to stop! I realized after I had that thought that I really wanted this baby and I didn't mean it like it sounded. Thankfully I knew God understood how I felt. I lost a lot of weight during the first 1/2 of my pregnancy, but thankfully the vomiting finally left and I was able to enjoy my pregnancy for awhile.

I was working full-time while I was pregnant, but we decided that it was my job to raise our child so I planned on quitting my job about a week or two before my due date and get ready to be a stay at home mom. I submitted my resignation at the beginning of January 1999. A few DAYS later, I got a call from my OBGYN's office telling me that I needed to come in as soon as possible and that I might be having the baby that night! It was 6 WEEKS before my due date so I was stunned and wondered what was going on. The receptionist told me I had a high level of protein in my urine which was a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition for a pregnant woman and her unborn child! I called my husband and he came to pick me up because I was so upset that no one at work wanted me to make the one hour drive home by myself. We arrived at the doctor's office and they were surprised that my blood pressure was not sky high like it usually is when a woman has preeclampsia, but they admitted me to the hospital and decided to give me steroid shots to help the baby's lungs mature in the event that I needed to have the baby prematurely. They did an amnio. the next day to check the maturity of the baby's lungs and then we had to wait 24 hours to see what the results were. The doctor told me a few hours later that it really didn't matter what the results were in 24 hours because they had decided that it would be better for both the baby and for me if I had the baby now, but they would wait those 24 hours just to give the baby's lungs a little more time to mature. The results came back and I was relieved when I was told the baby's lungs were mature! They induced labor and just 3 hours later, our daughter was born weighing in at 5 lbs 8 oz!

My OBGYN was amazed that I delivered my first baby so quickly, but he knew that I deserved an easy delivery after all I went through during my pregnancy! All of the doctors and nurses in the hospital were amazed that our daughter was so healthy and such a good size for being 6 weeks early, but I knew all the praise and glory belonged to the Lord because He was in charge and He knew exactly what she needed. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that He allowed her to grow quickly in spite of how sick I was during the pregnancy. I knew she was truly a miracle baby! As I was holding our daughter after she was born, my husband looked at her and quietly said "She should have had a brother or sister." I knew immediately that he hadn't forgotten the first baby we had lost, and I loved him all the more for that. I was discharged after 2 days, but the doctors decided they wanted to keep an eye on her for at least one more day because she had jaundice. The hardest thing in the world for me to do was leave her in the hospital that one extra day! She was discharged the next day, although the doctor warned me she may have to be readmitted if the jaundice didn't clear up. We prayed about it and within a few days, our little baby girl had no sign of jaundice! Again, all the praise went to the Lord because we knew He had touched her!

Since I had such a rough time with that pregnancy, I was in no hurry to have another baby. Our daughter was almost 3 years old before I started to think about having another baby. We decided to start trying, but we had a much more difficult time conceiving. It would be 2 years and 2 miscarriages later before we had our second baby. Actually, I believe I had 2 miscarriages during that time even though only one of those was confirmed. I had a very weird cycle in April 2002 with cramping for a week before my period showed up and I had never had that happen before or since then, so I'm fairly certain I lost our second baby at that time. In January 2003, we found out we were expecting and we excitedly told everyone since we had been trying for 1 1/2 years at this point to have another baby; but we lost that baby just a week and a half later. Again, we were devastated and I just couldn't understand why God would finally allow us to get pregnant just to take that baby from us. I finally accepted it though because I knew God knows what is best for us and He always has a plan. I know now that I am able to relate to other women who struggle with infertility as well as miscarriages and I am able to help them during those difficult times because I've been through it myself.

About a week after the miscarriage, we were in the mall and I stopped at a table outside of a Hallmark store because they had discounted items on it...mostly Christmas items. I picked up an ornament that had a sleeping baby angel on it and just knew I had to have it. Through tears, I showed it to my husband and simply asked if we could buy it. I didn't need to tell him why. He quietly nodded yes. We both knew what that ornament represented. Every Christmas, that ornament is the first thing on our tree. I put it on myself and quietly remember our baby angels that are up in heaven waiting for us to meet them one day. I didn't think of it at the time, but it was rather appropriate that the baby angel in that ornament was a girl because I began to have a strong feeling that the last baby we lost was a girl. I actually think all the ones we lost were girls, but it is just a feeling I have and we have nothing to prove whether that is true or not. I know one day we'll know for sure. Anyway, I never thought of naming the first baby we lost. I was fairly young when I chose the name I wanted for my first daughter should I ever have one and there was not a doubt in my mind to use that name when our daughter was born. After that, I chose the name Hannah Faith for our next daughter. I think that is why when I felt so strongly after that last miscarriage that the baby we lost was a girl and her name was Hannah. I know one day I will meet her because she is waiting up in heaven for me!

A few months later, we became pregnant again and I knew this one was a keeper when I started throwing up a month or so later. Who would have thought I would be so happy to be so sick! LOL! I was admitted to the hospital for less than a week, but they put the PIC line in and sent me home. I was hesitant about having it because of how my body rejected it during my first pregnancy, but I didn't have a problem with it this time. The doctor decided to remove it after a month or so even though I really didn't think it was a good idea. I knew I had been sick well into my 2nd trimester the first time, but he thought I was going to be fine. Well, I guess I knew my body better than he did because a few weeks after he had the PIC line removed, I was throwing up again! The PIC line was put back in and this time I told my doctor that I would decide when it was to come out and he promptly agreed to allow me to tell them when I was ready for it to be removed. Once I said it could be taken out, it was removed and I went the rest of the pregnancy without any more vomiting. WOO HOO!

The doctor was monitoring me pretty closely through my pregnancy because I had to take baby aspirin due to a clotting disorder that he found in one of the blood tests they did at the start of my pregnancy and I had that history of preeclampsia with my first pregnancy. He said there was no way I'd make it full term because taking the baby aspirin every day increases the chance that the placenta could break down or something like that so he scheduled an induction 2 weeks before my due date. I stopped taking the baby aspirin a month before my due date because it thins the blood and that wouldn't have been a good thing to be happening when you give birth! A week after I stopped the baby aspirin and a week before my scheduled induction, I went in for what was suppose to be a routine doctor visit and non-stress test (which they had been making me do a few times a week for at least a month). I had been having contractions off and on so I wasn't surprised when the nurse asked me if I knew I was having contractions. What I wasn't expecting was the doctor telling me that the baby's heart rate was really low and she wanted to send me to the hospital to be monitored. Thankfully my husband was with me and we went over to the hospital in spite of having no bags or anything else with us.

I was monitored for an hour and the doctor decided to induce labor because I was having contractions, had started to dilate a little, and the baby's heart rate was still low. I just kept thinking "Lord, you can't take this baby! We tried for 2 years to have this little boy (we found out this time we were having a boy) and I just can't lose him now that he's about to be born!" I put it in the Lord's hands and tried my best to not worry anymore. Thankfully I wasn't in labor very long with this one either, although I experienced back labor this time and I would never wish that upon my worst enemy! OUCH!! For those of you who may be wondering, I didn't have an epidural with either one of my deliveries....even though my nurses both times thought I was nuts and kept asking if I wanted one. LOL! Our son was born in February 2004 and weighed 7 lbs 7 oz. We realized that he too was a miracle baby because when I delivered the placenta, the doctor discovered it had torn in two! If I had not had that doctor's visit, I would never have known that our baby boy was in trouble. He probably would have died before we knew there was a problem. I just praise the Lord for keeping our little boy safe!

I hope I didn't bore you all too much with this LONG post. It just kept flowing out of me once I started to type so I felt I was suppose to say it all. Hopefully this helps someone. I don't know what any of you who are reading this have gone through in the past, what you are currently going through, or what you will go through in the future. I do know this: God is ALWAYS with you! He will NEVER leave you or forsake you! You can trust in Him because He has a plan for you and He knows what is best, even when it doesn't seem like it. Don't ever give up on Him, because He never has and never will give up on you!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I have to begin someplace!

OK, I give up already! I've read a number of blogs from friends and have thought about creating one myself, but I kept putting it off. Well, I decided to not put it off anymore! I do wonder if I'll be consistent at this, so I apologize now to anyone who is reading this just in case this is the only blog you ever read from me!

I began journaling a month ago at the encouragement of the worship team leader at my church. She did a sermon and had free journals for anyone who wanted one. I thought about it, but I decided to let the teens or anyone else who really needed one take them. I figured I could always buy one the next time I was at the store. Well, I guess God knows me pretty well and knew that I would probably forget to buy one on my own. He obviously wanted me to start journaling because we were talking for awhile after church let out and I suddenly felt drawn to look up at the stage. I saw that there were still quite a few journals left, and the tug on my heart let me know I needed to go pick one up! The first time I sat down to journal, it felt so strange but I knew I had to begin someplace. Writing came so easily to me and every time I pick up my journal, I just know the Lord is going to speak to me through the Bible reading that I do that day. It is truly amazing to see how the Lord has answered prayers I wrote down in my journal in such a short time!

I've been reading Proverbs and have felt God telling me over and over again that I need to be more patient. The one day I had gotten upset with something my husband said and I responded by yelling back at him. The next day I picked up my journal and laid it next to me, then I opened my Bible and promptly read Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." OUCH! OK Lord! I hear you!! It's been like that a lot since I started journaling and reading through Proverbs. All I know is God is teaching me that there is a lot that I need to work on and change if I want to see my children change, especially my oldest daughter who is 9 going on 19 (or maybe 29). She is intelligent and VERY strong willed so we butt heads a lot, especially now that I am teaching her at home using a cyber school! To think all this time I thought it was HER who was the big problem, when what I really needed to do was take a long look at myself and see that I was not always responding to her in a Christlike manner. So I am now working on being a better example to my children and to my husband as well.

I know that no matter what happens, the Lord is with me every step of the way! I'm sure you will see (if I keep blogging that is) that my life isn't perfect and we have our share of trials, but I know my life is blessed because God is the head of this family and first in my life. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I WILL become the person He wants me to be even though I know it isn't going to be easy or painless. I've been stumbling even though I know what He wants me to do, but I know we serve a God who is forgiving and He hasn't given up on me yet! Thank goodness!