It's taken me a few days to figure out how to post this prayer request. Partly because I wasn't sure what I wanted to share, and partly because I wanted some time to pray and let God minister to my heart.
Last Friday, my regular OB called to say that my most recent ultrasound (conducted 2 days prior) had shown some irregularities with the baby's bowel and stomach. When he faxed the information to a specialist, the specialist called immediately and said he wanted to see me ASAP. I had about 3 hours to make arrangements for my kids (Thanks, Ann!) and get myself to the specialist's office 1 hour away.
When I arrived they ushered me into an exam room right away and conducted another, lengthy ultrasound and focused in on the baby's bowel and stomach. They took dozens of pictures and measurements and I asked (probably 100 times) if everything was okay. The technician was comforting but also vague about why I was even in their office. When the doctor came in, he went over the results and even did more looking at the little mister's bowel area.
Finally, the specialist turned to me and explained that although the original ultrasound that had been faxed to him indicated a life-threatening blockage and build-up of fluid in the baby's abdomen, he did not see that problem existing. I breathed a sigh of relief just before he went on to explain that the baby does, however, have a blockage in his large intestine. He also explained that the blockage will need to be surgically removed when this little guy is born. I know he said a lot of other things after that, but most of those things are lost to me. I heard the word "surgery" and then my brain refused to process any more information until my heart had time to catch up...which took several more hours.
As I drove home...alone, but in the presence and power of the Lord...I thought over my little guy's unbelievable life. He isn't really even supposed to be here at all. We aren't supposed to be able to have any more children. But, here he is...a beautiful, wonderful surprise. And, he is a boy! An unlikely result after so many girls... It was clear to me as I thought about my son that God has clearly chosen to bless him; to create and fashion him; to preserve him and keep him. So, if that is the case, then I can choose to continue resting in that knowledge instead of letting an emotional tornado rip through my heart and head and house.
So, as you pray over the next few weeks, if you would add the following requests to your list:
1. For complete and total healing of our son.
2. For protection against fear and the unknown.
3. For wisdom for the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and staff that are assisting us.
4. For the Lord Jesus to be glorified in ALL that is about to unfold...that we can lift His name in praise and honor in each moment, no matter what may happen.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It's taken me a few days to figure out how to post this prayer request. Partly because I wasn't sure what I wanted to share, and partly because I wanted some time to pray and let God minister to my heart.
Posted by Jen at 7:32 AM
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplication.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You.
That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning-
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
My good friend, Alyssa, e-mailed this to me some time back. It's such a great reminder: the Lord sees what we do as moms. And, if you have a mom who made any sort of positive influence or difference in your life, call her today and thank her.
The Invisible Mom
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom .
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.' At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Posted by Jen at 4:10 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
After being pregnant four times, there are certain comments you come to expect throughout pregnancy--some welcome, some that make your skin crawl. I know most people mean well, but some folks are just missing that filter of courteousness. Anyway, here are a few comments that I've received lately that I am just certain were designed by God to encourage me...
You're expecting?!?! I didn't even notice until today!
(Wow. I managed not to look like a beached whale for almost 8 months this time!)
It's so great that God is blessing you with another child.
I hope I handle pregnancy as well as you seem to handle it.
(Good thing she can't read my mind or listen in on my nightly vent sessions with hubby!)
You look so tiny.
(Is she talking to me? There must be another pregnant woman around here somewhere...)
You look like you are all baby! Seriously, you look great for being almost 8 months pregnant!
(I knew she was a good friend...)
Lord, Thank You for sending encouragement in the form of human words. Thank You for the almost daily reminders that You care enough to put such loving friends and family in my life. Bless each of them for the ministry of their hearts and words. Thank You also for the reminder that a word of encouragement can really lift a troubled heart. Help me to be better at encouraging others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The meds I've been on--and now am blissfully allowed to stop taking!--have had some really unpleasant side effects, so "modified" bed rest has not been much of a picnic. However, I was reminded this morning in Philippians to give thanks:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
So, with that in mind, these are some of the things I'm thankful for today:
The wonderful lotion my best friend sent me from The Naked Bee.
That my servant-minded husband is in the kitchen preparing lunch as I type.
Clean, fresh, white sheets and a freshly laundered quilt to sleep under.
That this little guy is happily kicking away, oblivious to anything amiss in my body.
That each day that passes by uneventfully, is one day closer to the day I will meet this little boy.
For friends who call just to pray over the phone with me.
That my bathroom scale seems to be broken...I didn't really need to know how much I weigh, right?!
That my girls seem to be content to stay indoors today and color and play ponies and Barbies with me, instead of running around outside.
That Emma is reading at a third grade level!
For the Word of God, which always takes me to a place closer to the Lord and farther from my own concerns.
Thank You, Lord, for reminding me to thank You in all situations and that all things can be brought to Your feet. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Posted by Jen at 10:21 AM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Last Fall, we inherited a freezer from Charlie's grandma. It was an answer to prayer as our old (I mean REALLY old!) freezer had died and was too small anyway. I love our "new" one as it is an upright freezer and so darn easy to organize. We put it out in our small garage temporarily until we could spend some time (and money) fixing up our mud room to accommodate our newest appliance.
A week ago, we returned home from my grandma's funeral to discover that our sweet little Penny didn't take too kindly to being left alone and had dug a nice, not-so-neat hole in one of our flower beds. It wouldn't have been more than a simple inconvenience had she not found the very spot where an electrical line is buried! The line is older and not covered by PVC or conduit of any kind. The Lord must want our cutie dog to live a bit longer because she managed to chew on the line and short it out without electrocuting herself! Charlie spent a couple of hours giving the line a temporary fix and covering the area with paving stones until we could decide how best to make a more permanent repair. Later that night, we realized that when the line shorted out, the electricity to the small garage was turned off and our freezer had been off for several hours. Fortunately, everything but the ice cream (Good-bye Ben. Good-bye Jerry.) was still frozen so we thanked God for alerting us so quickly.
Yesterday, I planned out our meals for the week and prepared our grocery list so Charlie and the girls could make a run to the store. I asked him to go out to the big freezer to retrieve some pork chops and ground beef so we could put them in the kitchen freezer. It was taking him awhile so I looked out the side door to see what was going on and found him staring into the freezer shaking his head. The electricity had shorted out again, but this time everything had defrosted. We were too late to salvage much of anything.
As we carted what we could save (some bags of frozen veggies and fruits) to the kitchen freezer, I thought about all the great deals we had made over the summer and how we had carefully stocked the freezer for the Fall and Winter months. Normally, I would wait a bit longer to stock up, but with a newborn on the horizon, I wanted to get a head start. I thought about how much hard earned money had been wasted and how long it would take to replace what was lost. I started to feel angry... especially when I spied "sweet" Penny happily munching on a bone!
It isn't as if we are going to go hungry. We will have plenty to eat, and I dare say, we'll even be able to re-stock the freezer over the course of time. The issue for me was that I had planned and carefully budgeted and calculated. That freezer full of food was a little insurance against rising food prices and the unpredictable financial future we're all facing right now. I felt cheated and defeated. Deep inside me, something started to stir and as I turned to talk to the Lord about it, my end of the conversation went something like this:
Lord, I don't know how to thank You in this situation. There isn't anything about this that I like. I know it's just food, but it isn't just food. There are a lot of things that aren't going according to plan right now. We just watched a good chunk of our grocery bill go down the tubes. It feels wasteful. I don't like being on bed rest. I have all these children to manage and it doesn't seem fair that we are all cooped up because of me. The house seems to be falling apart and I'm going stir crazy stuck inside all day! The medicine I'm on turns me into someone I don't like very well, and I am not enjoying the side effects at all. I don't mean to question Your authority, but I'm having a hard time seeing the blessing in all of this. I guess what I'm asking is where is Your plan to prosper us? How does all of this fit into Your best for us? This doesn't feel like Your best...
And, I felt the same way I do every time I have a venting prayer...small, whiny, selfish...your basic two year old on a tantrum. I apologized for my poor attitude and asked the Lord to just be with me in all that was going on and to make me willing to accomplish His will for me. That felt better and I was able to move forward with the day.
This morning, while Charlie and the girls were at church, I was still thinking over all that has been happening in our family the last two weeks when I found this:
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Psalm 33:10-11
It isn't that I think God didn't want us to fill our freezer with food for our family or make plans to enjoy our summer before our son in born, but He does want us to allow the plans of His heart to be the plans of ours. I don't know that we have stepped outside of His plans for us, but I do know that He is using this time of uncertainty to remind us to look to Him in all things. I am a planner by nature--by God's design--and that is a gift that I have often allowed God to use for His glory. On the other hand, there have been many times when I have abused that gift and used it for my own selfish purposes. I have to admit, that full freezer felt pretty secure. Would I have spent as much time praying over my coupons and grocery ads and grocery budget with the security of that full freezer? Would I have thanked God for His provision every time I opened that door to pull something out to eat? Would I have spent as much time praying for this baby if I had been allowed to spend the remainder of my pregnancy doing whatever I wanted? Would I have appreciated simple things like being able to pick up my children or tuck them in bed or prepare a meal for my family? I'd like to think that the answer to these questions would be "yes," but I hesitate because I know my own selfish, sinful nature.
So, in all of this, the best laid plans amount to nothing if they aren't the plans of the Lord. We must be willing to be flexible and willing to change our course when the Lord requires it of us. He is sovereign and in control and nothing happens that He doesn't know about or know how to handle. His counsel, His will, His plans...they do stand forever.
Lord, Thank You that by Your nature You are so patient and kind and forgiving. Thank You that You endure my ranting and venting. Forgive my stumbling and bumbling. Make me willing. Make me flexible. And in all things, remind me to give thanks. Thanks for all things. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Our kids aren't terribly picky eaters, but they do tend to resist fresh veggies from time to time. We used to keep a well-stocked "snack box" in one of the lower cabinets, filled with raisins, goldfish, fruit snacks, granola bars, and cereal bars. While none of those treats are going to send my kids over the top, sugar-wise, I began to notice that they were having trouble finishing their healthy dinners when they had access to the snack box in the afternoon. About a year ago, I read an article about a woman who placed "appetizers" on the kitchen counter while she was preparing dinner. The appetizers consisted of raw, bite-sized veggies. No dip, no dressing, no fruit or cheese. Just veggies. When faced with the option of snacking on veggies or nothing, her kids would grab handfuls of healthy, fresh veggies and munch away their pre-dinner hunger. She went on to explain that she didn't feel such a struggle to force her children to finish their dinner-time veggies since she had already served them veggies in the raw.
I liked the way this woman was thinking...killing two birds with one stone. I could get more veggies into my kids and have less arguing over meals. Brilliant plan! So, I tried it and it works. No, let me re-phrase that. It works BEAUTIFULLY! Now, my kids call it the vegetable box and they are bummed if we don't have a well-stocked box all through the week. Sure, they have their individual favorites. We usually run out of red peppers first, then the cukes. Poor broccoli is typically the last to be devoured and if it starts to look a little wilted, it becomes steamed broccoli for dinner.
I've also found that stocking our veggie box has made no difference in our grocery bill, despite the price of fresh veggies. Since we've cut way back on our other snacks, I simply use that saved money to off-set the cost of our healthier choices. Each week, we buy one bag of baby carrots, 2-3 cucumbers, 1 large red bell pepper, 1 head of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, and one bunch of green onions (for Daddy!). When I am diligent, I wash and prep all the veggies the day we buy them at the grocery, There are weeks I don't fill the box because I get rushed or we aren't going to be home as much, but appetizers have become a fixture in our home.
So, if your kids (or you!) don't get enough veggies through the day, try appetizers!
Posted by Jen at 2:53 PM
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Posted by Jen at 2:43 PM
Friday, July 11, 2008
...Simply place an expectant mother in a hospital room directly across the hallway from a mother giving birth naturally. Be sure that both doors are open at all times. Also, be sure that the mother giving birth naturally has a long labor, lasting through the night and into the next mid-day.
Most importantly, be sure the mother giving birth has no problem vocalizing her pain over and over again, through each mountainous contraction for 14-plus hours. If possible, have the laboring mother cry, scream and beg to be knocked out. Expletives are optional...
That ought to do the trick!
Posted by Jen at 10:00 PM
There's really nothing like a little pre-term labor to jump start a pregnant woman's nesting instinct. Up until this week, I was perfectly content to avoid all baby-related projects until after Labor Day. My theory was that I would have all summer to play with my existing children and then spend the last 3-4 weeks rounding up all the essentials for our new critter. Slap your self in the hospital with some powerful contractions and that tune will change in a heartbeat, mister!
This isn't our first baby, so I don't feel any urge to rush out and buy van loads of blue gear to decorate our nursery. In fact, our nursery will be doing double duty as a nursery/guest room/craft room/catch-all for awhile. While it was a blessing to be able to give most of our baby gear to other families in our community last summer, it has left us a little lacking. We do have a crib and dresser, a pack and play and a bouncy seat. We're borrowing a bassinet and bath seat and will either use one of the three older strollers we already own, or trade them all in for a newer (yet, still used!) model. On the list of things left to round up and/or purchase are:
Infant Car Seat--I think we'll be buying this item immediately after our little scare this week!
Changing pad and covers
4-6 baby blankets
Wipes (we already have a stash of newborn and size 1 diapers to get us rolling)
I also have a list of projects that need to be completed before the Little Mister's arrival:
Finish cleaning out and organizing Nursery/Guest Room
Stock large freezer with 12-20 pre-made meals
Organize master bathroom closet and under sink storage
Organize master bedroom closet--so I can find my pre-pregnancy clothes in a couple months!
Purge kitchen cabinets
Prep 3 months worth of home school materials and lesson plans--school starts for us on August 4th!
Purge all three girls' closets and drawers to make room for Fall clothing.
Come up with some sort of plan for birth announcements/Christmas cards (yes, it could very well take me 4 months to send out birth announcements!)
Lists work well for me, so although it seems like a lengthy list and a lot of work, it gives me a place to start. I like the satisfaction of crossing things off a pre-determined list, knowing each completed task brings me closer to my goals. Also, it helps me better plan budget and time-wise. Money and time are precious commodities in this household!
Aaaah. I feel better. Maybe now that I have all this posted and sorted through I can go back to bed! It is the wee hours of the morning here and my little ones are tucked safely in bed...at someone else's house! Me thinks I should take advantage of the opportunity to get some extra sleep!
Thanks, Lord for getting me up early to talk to You and for some time to sort through all the things that are rattling in my head. Though this is my effort at creating a plan for the next few weeks, order my days so I may glorify You fully. Give me chances to sing Your praises and reflect Your goodness. Keep my list-making and planning and preparing humble and make me dependent on You for both direction and success. Thank You for Your peaceful rest. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
First, thanks to inspiration from Mrs. Pear's blog, I've added a little ticker on my side bar that shows how many days are left until the newest member of our family arrives. We've had several due dates tossed around, so I used the latest projected date and we'll all be nice and surprised if baby arrives a little earlier!
In June, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my best friend, Sandy, and her husband, Don, in California. They've been married for five years and this is the first time I've been to visit them in their beautiful home and city and state. We had a great time sight-seeing, eating ice cream, walking on the beach, eating ice cream, lounging around the jacuzzi, and-did I mention?-eating ice cream. It was just the recipe for a busy, pregnant, tired and burned out mama! Plus the time we spent catching up was awesome!
(Sandy and Don at the Point Loma Light House)
Shortly after I returned from vacation, we hosted our little friends Henry and Harmony for a few days while their parents escaped south of the border for a much deserved siesta! We played and played and played while they were here. The kids attended a VBS program through the week, caught lightening bugs and told stories in the tent and ate microwaved s'mores at sunset. It was a great time for everyone!
(The kids posing at VBS!)
After Ruthie's party concluded, my niece, Lilly Marie, stayed with us for a few days. She is 17 months old and an utter delight! My girls had the best time entertaining her and helping me take care of her. It was also a "trial run" with four little ones tearing around the house! It's going to be fun, but very, very busy! (Little Lilly enjoying some water fun in the back yard!)
So, that catches us up to this current week. All was going as planned. Lilly was here with us, having fun, keeping my kids entertained. I was planning to take all four girls to my folks' house in Ohio for a quick visit from Wednesday through Friday. Lilly's parents were eager to have her returned to them and I thought a visit with Grammie was in order as well. We took all four girls out for supper Tuesday evening and in the midst of dinner, I started having contractions. They were strong, long and breath-taking...real, labor contractions. I drank several glasses of water through dinner (silently praying for the ebb and flow of my uterus to halt). When we got home, I tried walking around, sitting, lying down...every trick they teach you to try to get contractions to stop. Nothing worked. I called the OB doctor on call and he ordered me to the hospital to be checked out. I tried arguing my way out of his instructions, rationalizing that we have other children and my niece to take care of etc. etc. He said it wasn't an emergency, but we needed to make arrangements for the girls and get to the hospital.
We called our friends to ask if they might possibly be available to help us if we needed someone to sit with the kids (I was still in denial about needing to have medical attention!). Before I knew what was happening, Ann was in our living room shooing us out the door, insisting that we should go. Charlie put my shoes on me, grabbed a few things we might need and put me in the car. All the way to the hospital, I kept thinking that the contractions were going to dissipate, that we were probably making a mountain out of a mole hill. Forty-five minutes later, I was being admitted to the hospital with pre-term labor and orders that I would indeed be spending at least one night at the hospital.
After some speedy lab work, cultures and an exam, it was determined that I was in the early stages of labor and the culprit was a massive bacterial infection in my urinary tract, bladder, uterus and kidneys. The doctor was in shock that I wasn't in any pain from the infection...I was in shock that I was actually that sick and had no symptoms! They ordered lots of IV antibiotics and fluids and we all crossed our fingers that the meds would take care of the problem in short order.
I labored with contractions all evening and in the wee hours of the morning, it was determined that another course of action was required. I had dilated just enough that the doctor didn't want to take any chances with the baby. He ordered steroids to develop the baby's lungs, more antibiotics and meds to try to get my uterus to stop contracting. The first round of meds didn't do the trick, so they then administered a whopper does of magnesium to my system. A magnesium bolus acts like a "reset" button for your muscles, so the hope was my uterus would respond and stop contracting.
Finally, after a long night and day, and another long night, my body responded well to the various medications, treatments, and more importantly, I believe, the prayers of many, many people. The contractions stopped, the infection began to clear and my body began to slowly mend. The released us from the hospital this afternoon and I am enjoying the undeserved favor God has bestowed on us.
While we were in the hospital, anxious over my health and the health of our baby, another ultrasound was ordered. As a result of that ultrasound, we discovered that we are having a.....baby boy!!! It was such a blessed surprise for us and I know this little one will be a blessing to us all!
I came home this afternoon to an immaculate house; laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away; dishes washed; beds made; floors swept...what a treat! Thanks to Charlie and our friend Pat for helping with that huge project! Also, the girls were whisked off to my folks' house where they are being well taken care of by my mom and sister-in-law as we speak. Thanks, Mom and Liz, for being so willing to serve us in this way! Finally, thank you to all my sisters in Christ who have come alongside us this week to minister to us in a variety of ways. From cards, to books, to meals, to babysitting, to phone calls and prayers. You all are a beautiful part of the body of Christ!
Thank You, Lord for the many ways You have been before us, behind us, on every side. I praise You for the ways You have been glorified in our weaknesses. Thank You for a believing doctor and nurses and for being able to pray with them. Thank You for the body of Christ who has been ministering so faithfully to us this week. Thank You for making me sit still and showing me that I need to wait on You and Your plans for my life. Thank You for a servant-husband who has been diligently caring for me and the girls selflessly all week. And, thank You for this little boy--I don't know what to do with a boy but trust You will show me the joys of knowing and raising a man! In Jesus' Name, Amen.