A Marathon Like None Other

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My Almost 20-Hour Marathon

I don’t know about you, but I have never been a marathon runner because I do not like the discipline, energy, endurance, and pain a marathon requires.  But beginning Sunday night, June 1, and ending Monday, June 2, I “ran” and completed or endured and succeeded my first one and an almost 20-hour one at that.

Kristen, the assistant midwife, was wonderful!

Kristen, the assistant midwife, was wonderful!

You see, on that Sunday night, now almost a whole month ago, at 7:00 p.m. my pregnancy labor officially began with contractions starting every five minutes for a complete hour.  As the night progressed, the contractions grew worse so that by midnight or so, I was having intense ones in my lower back and lower abdominal area every three to four minutes.

There to help me through these intervals of the uterine muscle tightening and relaxing–and thereby trying to push my baby out into the world–was my friend and Bright Lights co-leader Katie who arrived around 10:30 p.m. It was such a big blessing to have another woman I knew there with me, especially one who had just gone through a natural childbirth the year before and could relate to what I was going through.

Katie was so gracious too to stay with me until Kristen, my midwife’s assistant arrived to our home around 2:00 a.m.  Shortly after Katie left then, my midwife Jeannie arrived and sent me and Micah to bed to get rested up.  Believe me though, the contractions soon had me jumping out of bed and up for the rest of the night.  There was no way I could stay still, but every movement, even going to the bathroom, became a labor of pain.

Praise the Lord that Kristen was there to so lovingly and patiently encourage and help me through the contractions the rest of the night.  I don’t know what I would have done without her!  Seeing how we had a home birth, no drugs were available, but that was okay because I was determined to go all natural all the way through until delivery.

A Surprising Sign & Alarming Situation

Well, around mid-morning, I started feeling this urge to “poop,” and when I told Jeannie this, she surprised me by saying that is what she was waiting to hear.  Unknownst to me, that desire is a sign of delivery soon approaching, but who would’ve ever guessed that a precious baby’s birth would be associated with waste elimination?!  :)

So Jeannie checked my cervix’s dilation and found it to have opened to about nine centimeters.  However, it needed to be at 10 centimeters, and my amniotic sac or “water” also had not yet ruptured which indicates as well your baby is about to be born.  The sac was so tight that around 10:00 a.m. or so, Jeannie went ahead and broke it, and then she proceeded to go out and get something from her car.

She soon returned to my bedroom horrified though because her car, parked in our driveway, had been broken into overnight, and her purse, including a large amount of cash, was stolen.  Understandably, she immediately called the police, but having never had a child before and not knowing what to expect next, I was kind of freaking out inwardly because I thought I could be delivering anytime soon without a midwife on hand possibly.

I really felt that this was just another spiritual attack of our enemy Satan because the whole preceding weekend seemed to  dish out to me unexpected conflict situations in regards to my labor as well.  They were emotionally difficult for me to deal with most of all, but by God’s grace, I made it through them.  This was just another time to trust that God was ultimately in control and working for my good as He did in each of the other situations.

Endurance Is Key

Jeannie, our main midwife, did not look like a midwife as I imagined.

Jeannie, our main midwife, did not look like a midwife as I imagined.

So while Jeannie was distracted and discouraged by a broken car window and stolen goods, I became very distracted and discouraged with an unexpected new level of pain and labor.

You see, after my water was broken, my cervix dilation went back down to seven centimeters because the tight sac made it dilate more than it actually was.  Thereby, I had to start exercises–such as squats and rolling my hips in a circular motion while being draped over a yoga ball–to bring the baby’s head down more and more to open up the cervix more so that I could officially “poop” the baby out.  And  because my water was broken, my contractions became even more painful than they were before.

Now the exercises in and of themselves were not the worst of it though but the increasing urge to “poop,” and not being able do so, was.  By this stage, I thought for the first time that I was going to end up in a hospital and have to undergo a C-section which I did not want at all.

I kept asking the midwives if I could quit these tormenting exercises though, but they would not let me.  I don’t know how long all of this went on for, but finally, Jeannie said she would check my dilation once again.  I was back to nine or nine and a half centimeters, so she finally gave me permission to try pushing.

Evan was quite alert since the moment he "came to"

Our precious Evan was quite alert and wide-eyed since the moment he “came to” which was not too long after Jeannie worked on him.

Well, come to find out, I did not have what it took to push the baby out.  I could not believe it, but praise the Lord, Jeannie thought to try pulling up a lip in the cervix.  This made a big difference because after doing so I tried pushing again, and much to my relief, she said I had the power needed to push now.

So for the next 30 to 45 minutes (I really have no idea of how long but that is how long it seemed to me), I started pushing with all that I had.  I was nearing the finish line and just wanted our baby out no matter the pain.  The pushing was nothing though in comparison to the contractions.

Micah, in the meantime, was cooling my face with wet washcloths as I was sweating like no other time in my life probably.  Suddenly, at 2:45 p.m., as a thunderstorm was going on outside, our new baby boy Evan Robert suddenly popped out head and all.  I was amazed that his whole body came out so quickly but thankful it was all over so soon.  And surprisingly, no blood and guts went flowing all over.  It really was a rather clean experience overall.

Baby Scare

Upon Evan’s arrival though, a new dilemma arose.  Seeing how Evan didn’t cry upon coming out, Jeannie began frantically patting him all over and taking a nasal aspirator to his nose and mouth to suck out all of the “gunk.”  While she was crying out, “Oh, God!  Oh, Jesus!,” Kristen, who had closely monitored Evan’s heartbeat after every period of pushing, was exclaiming that the baby’s heartbeat had been just fine.

Our little man Evan Robert weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and he was 20 inches long.

Our little man Evan Robert weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and he was 20 inches long.

You would think that by this time I would be freaking out, but honestly, I wasn’t.   I had a peace that I can’t explain because normally I am an easily-fearful person.  God is truly so gracious and meets us in our time of need by giving us His gracious strength which is “in quietness and trust” (Isa. 30:15) or waiting upon Him and His goodness and tender care.

As the verses that often comforted me before my labor and delivery state:  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).  And I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). 

A Double but Troubling Surprise

Well, another big surprise to top off the whole birth experience was to learn that our little Evan had a twin!  Kristen, as she was taking out the placenta and all, found a wee four-week-old baby who had died along with a dead part to the placenta.  It would be so interesting to know what caused this little one to die, but we shall never know this side of heaven.

What makes this all so very interesting too is that both of Micah’s brothers have twins, and Micah’s cousin has twins as well.  Is that not all so crazy?!  And to think that I literally have three children now, although two sadly never lived to see the light of day here on this earth.

My After-Birth Thoughts

Now someone asked me if I’d do a home, natural birth all over again, and my answer was and still is–absolutely YES!  First of all, I LOVED having a home birth with a midwife, and I cannot imagine giving birth anywhere else but home now.  It was just so much more comfortable because . . .

  • I did not have to worry about going anywhere in the middle of the night.
  • I did not have to worry about forgetting anything I needed at home.
  • I did not have to worry about what doctor I would end up getting at the hospital as there is usually more than one who work together nowadays and usually one that you really do not care for.
  • I did not have to worry about going through difficult contractions and groaning  in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people.
  • I did not have to worry about doctors trying to rush me or nurses trying to give me drugs.
  • I did not have to worry about how long the hospital would want to keep me and about a mounting hospital bill.
  • I could sleep in my own bed that night with my baby in the same room.
  • I could have visitors right away the same day the baby was born.
A big praise was finding out the Sunday before I delivered that I finally passed the Strep B test so that I did not have to deliver at this birthing center a little over an hour away.  God was so good!

A big praise was finding out the Sunday before I delivered that I finally passed the Strep B test (after three tests and two remedies–a natural one and then an antibiotic) so that I did not have to deliver at this birthing center a little over an hour away. God was so good!

As far as going all natural, labor and delivery really was not as bad as I might have imagined or as people even described it so I did not even feel a great need for intervening or numbing drugs.  Yes, it was hard and painful, but for me at least, it was not “horrible” as one woman described it or a time of screaming or hating my husband as others described it. Those all sound like torture, such as having a body part cut off, but it did not even come close to that.

So in spite of the car being broken into, the extra work to bring the baby down, the baby scare, and the lost baby, it was all in all a positive experience and such a blessing.

I just praise the Lord that I and Evan made it through safe and sound and that women like Jeannie and Kristen dare to be different today.  How’s that?  Just by their courage to do what they believe God has called them to do and that is simplistic midwifery at its best and home births of all things.

My Hymn of Praise

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
  The only wise God, the only wise God,
Be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Amen.
  Be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen
.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”  (1 Tim. 1:17)

 

The Abundant, Refreshing Blessings of April’s Showers

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A New Birth Springing

file0004913053Spring is in the air here in Michigan, and with it, many “new blessings” came my way in April.  First of all, warmer weather, greener grass, budding trees, and blooming crocuses, daffodils, and tulips appeared at long last!  As always, it has been an exciting and refreshing time to see the “new birth” of the earth.

Even though people don’t recognize or acknowledge God as the earth’s Creator, He truly is its Creator and a very loving and gracious One who faithfully brings out His glory and wonders in each new season, year after year, for us to enjoy in spite of our personal rebellion against Him and ensuing decay towards death and destruction.

Just ponder with the Psalmist, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you” (Psa. 130:4-5).  And “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:21-23).

A New Year Dawning

Along with that “new birth” for the earth though has also come the dawning of a “new year” for me as I celebrated my 38th birthday on April 7.  It is hard to believe I’ve made it this far as so many times I dreaded and often thought I’d die on a plane in my many travels in life, especially throughout my 20′s.  Can you tell I do not like heights or not being in control?!  :)

Even though my birthday was not necessarily warm and sunny out as desired and did not go exactly as I planned or wished for, it was still a good and special day.  Micah and I were treated to lunch at Jimmy John’s by his Grandpa and Grandma Weaver who are such loving, good grandparents.  Then that afternoon I spent with some friends before going to dinner with Micah and an older couple who have been like family to me since I moved here nine years ago.

I actually had a royal birthday celebration having visited King Gyro's and Dairy Queen, the official "king" and "queen" of this area!  :)

I actually had a royal birthday celebration having visited King Gyro’s and Dairy Queen, the official “king” and “queen” of this area! :)  We live such upscale lives, don’t we?!

We went to King Gyro’s, one of my favorite restaurants in this area. Not only do they serve really good Greek gyro sandwiches but also large portions of delicious french fries, and all at inexpensive prices.  We ended the day enjoying “Cookie Jar Blizzards,” ice-cream blended with Oreos and cookie dough, at Dairy Queen with the two sweet children of some  friends.

A New Life Growing

In April I also experienced the increasing reality of a “new life” as I have felt more and more movement within my womb and have a growing belly to show for the baby’s growing body.   People often mention how small I am, but it really does not feel that way for me as this is the biggest and heaviest I have ever been.  It is hard to not think of  myself as being “fat,” but Micah faithfully reminds me that I’m “pregnant.”  I think I have put on about 17 to 18 pounds since the beginning, and I am 35, almost 36, weeks pregnant now.

With just 30 days left before the baby is due to arrive, I am kind of scared of the major life changes coming our way, but I know God promises His grace is sufficient or enough for our needs.  After almost four years of marriage and seeing how it has opened my eyes in greater ways to my sinful depravity, I see this new role of parenting as just another tool God is going to use to refine me and make me more aware of my brokenness, which is really scary, and thereby make me even more aware of my desperate need for Him in multiple ways–

  • For His grace to change my own rebellious, stubborn heart to submit more to His ways as I have seen and will continue to see more and more of my own selfishness as I hear children have a tendency of bringing that out in you . . . Lord willingly, having children will spur me on in greater ways to change seeing how I don’t want them to imitate my bad behavior.  Yikes!
  • For His companionship, comfort, and joy as I know I’ll probably feel even more alone, being more restricted to the home
  • For His supernatural contentment as I know I’ll be doing lots of seemingly meaningless, endless tasks such as feeding, changing diapers, and laundry, and I won’t be running around or doing things as much which is what the world is always calling me to do to make me feel my life is worthwhile
  • For His wisdom, direction, and peace in rearing a godly child in a very ungodly, scary world
  • For His great mercy in helping me to be a godly, loving mother as I know that I cannot do this in and of myself

A New Season Approaching

I have also become more aware of the “new season” of motherhood soon and quickly approaching through  experiencing three lovely, lavish baby showers given for me in April.  At each one, friends and family, and even some strangers–wanting to prepare me with the many, seemingly overwhelming necessities of a baby– poured out on me many gracious, undeserved blessings.  Now as much as I don’t like being the center of attention, I do love the profound sense of love and support I’ve experienced at bridal and now baby showers.  If it was not for these showers, I really don’t know how people could survive in a way as things are not cheap.

Me with the sweet ladies who helped prepare me with my first shower held at Life Action

Me with the sweet ladies who helped prepare my first baby shower held at Life Action

As for my first shower, it was held the evening of Friday, April 4, and hosted by my dear friend Renae for ladies from my church and from Life Action.  I was so encouraged and blessed by the 43 ladies and young girls who attended that night.  I received big group gifts–including a car seat, a stroller, a diaper bag, a diaper pail, and a high chair–as well as smaller individual gifts which included mostly clothes and gift cards.

My second shower was held the evening of Monday, April 21, by my mom and aunt down in Florida as Micah and I eagerly went down to visit for a week.  My mom invited about 50 lady friends, half of whom I did not even know, and 26 came out.

Since we were flying back to Michigan, my mom kindly asked them to bring something small or to give a donation for a pretty upholstered rocking-reclining chair I really wanted from La-Z-Boy.  She was skeptical that I would receive much for the chair, and I had my own doubts since the chair was not inexpensive but most are not.

Well, through that one shower, I received not only many more cute baby clothes but also more than enough money for the chair!  And that money even came through ladies who could not come to the shower or who had never even met me.  That was so amazing!  God truly poured out His grace on me abundantly and freely through His people!

My aunt, me, my mom, and two of my mom's friends helped put together the shower for me in Florida

My aunt, me, my mom, and two of my mom’s friends helped put together the shower for me in Florida

While it is so humbling, I must say that it is also such an honor to think that God cares so much about me and the desires of my heart, even when those desires may seem frivolous or not “really needed.”

Just to show God’s eager attention and care too, the dear husband of one lady who got sick and couldn’t come drove 20 minutes or so to the shower just to hand deliver their card and monetary gift for me!  Another lady I did not know very well came at the very end of the shower just to deliver her sweet card and significant monetary gift as well.  Wow, so humbling!

My last big shower then was this past Tuesday night, April 29, at the home of a long-time friend of Micah’s Grandma Weaver.  Thirteen ladies attended and blessed me with more cute clothes, a lullaby CD, a parenting book, and a bedside sleeper for the baby in his first several weeks or months.

A New Level Reached

Now as you may or may not remember, Micah and I set out this new year with the God-sized resolution to pay off our house loan by December 31 of this year.  We took on this challenge not only because we want to be completely debt-free but also because we want to be more dependent on God and see Him do miracles because paying off over $29,000 is no small feat, for us anyways.

Well, I’m happy to report that from January 2 to April 4, we officially paid off about $10,000 of that house loan bringing us down to about a remaining $19,500!  We were able to get this far in just three months due partly to the fact of cutting out the majority of our extra spending/cash flow, and thereby doubling our monthly house payment.

But really, our big help has been from gathering together any reserve savings–money left over from our wedding, which we wanted to use for a missions trip, and savings Micah had for a dream sports car.  Also on April 3 we sold my 2000 Hyundai Tiburon sports car for $2,100 which helped make a big dent in the loan as well.

Aww, so yes, I lost my faithful companion of 11 years to a Mexican college kid/young man.  The sale was bittersweet since I had that cute, stylish car since December 2002, when I lived in Washington, D.C.  It was time for it to go though seeing how 1.) we hardly used it with Micah working from home, 2.) the insurance on it being rather high since it was a two-door sports car, 3.) it was terrible on the winter roads with it being so light-weight, and 4.) it would not be practical or easy to use with a baby.

Its current value was about $1,700 but with its lower mileage, we attempted selling it for $2,200 and got $2,100 in cash instead just a couple days after putting it out for sale.  I was amazed but I just praise the Lord for His quick provision, especially knowing it needed over $700 worth of repairs which the new owner was informed about.  The Lord is good!

With all of our extra resources now used up though and with nothing else really left to cut out of our budget, we now face a greater challenge of finding extra income to pay off the remaining $19,500.  This is where “the rubber meets the road” which is rather daunting because from here on we are really dependent on God’s  supernatural work and grace.

So please pray for us.  I know our prayer lives should definitely increase in regards to this matter, especially with rising costs coming our way with the addition of a new baby the end of May.  If anyone needs a website though, please let me know because Micah designs them for a living and is looking for side work.  Hint, hint!  :)

Conclusion

Well, I hope you had an abundantly-blessed April as well!  I know I desperately needed a refreshing month  as March was a very hard month for me.  Thanks be to our great God and Savior for His steadfast love which never ceases and His mercies which never come to an end.  They are definitely new every morning!!  Great is His faithfulness!!  (Lam. 3:22-23)

One of the big blessings of April was being able to visit my family in Florida for a week.  Here we are on Easter Sunday doing our silly family pose.  The only one missing is my sister Kristy, but she actually arrived later that night.

One of the big blessings of April was being able to visit my family in Florida for a week and have gorgeous weather for most of the time we were there. Here we are on Easter Sunday doing our silly family pose. The only one missing is my sister Kristy, but she actually arrived later that night.

 

My brother and Leann have been married almost a year now.  It's hard to believe his kids have gotten so big now too.

My brother Jeremy and Leann have been married almost a year now. It’s hard to believe his kids are growing up so quickly, and I was surprised to find Victoria now wearing glasses and purple ones at that!  Like grandmother, like granddaughter.  :)

Easter Sunday was kind of dreary most of the day but got prettier and sunnier as the day progressed.  Here is its glorious sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Easter Sunday was rather dreary most of the day but got prettier and sunnier in mid to late afternoon. Here is the glorious sunset over the Gulf of Mexico to end a most triumphant day in Christ.

And look . . . Even the Easter bunny came to the beach on Easter Sunday to view the glory of the real reason for the Easter season, the Son of God Jesus Christ.  He is risen indeed!

And look . . . Even a bunny came to the beach on Easter Sunday to view the glorious handiwork of its Creator who is the real reason for the Easter season, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  For “the Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”  (Col. 1:15-17)

 

 

 

 

God’s Gracious Guidance

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The March of Time

This little girl was the highlight of my February.  My sister Kristy and Emma came to Michigan for work purposes, and I got the joy of babysitting her a few days.

Spending time with my sister Kristy and her little girl Emma was a big highlight of my February. They came to Michigan for work purposes, and I got the joy of babysitting Emma a few days.

Time seems to march on ever so quickly, doesn’t it?!  Even with a long and lonesome, bitter cold, and rather snowy–the snowiest since I moved up here eight years ago–Michigan winter, which kept me home more often than not, the days have literally flown by.  Six months ago, when I first learned I was pregnant, never did I dream the days would go by so speedily. You see, today marks Week 31 of my pregnancy, leaving me just about two months away from my due date of May 31.

Now over the course of these six months, I’ve been through alot of stress between my first trimester food aversions, nauseousness, and increased anxiety issues to my second trimester midwife problems, but the Lord has been so gracious and kind to me throughout.  Not only has He continually assured me of His ultimate control over the life of this baby He is creating within me, but He has also so graciously and miraculously directed me to a “real” or old-fashioned midwife not submersed in and relying on or pushing the typical things of today’s “modern” medicine.

All of my problems began though with just “assuming” that hospital midwives were your typical midwives of the past–simple, natural, holistic, and not promotional or pushy as far as testings, shots, medicines, and such–but I was very wrong as I discovered too late.  So after my last dealing with one of today’s modern, medically-indoctrinated midwives in early January, I set out on a quest to find one of those rare relics of the past, if such a woman even existed however.

I was sad to see them go

I was sad to see them go, and Emma looks sad too.  I love that little girl so much.

Life Out of Death

Never did I imagine that I’d find my relic or my dream come true so soon after my quest began though and by way of a funeral of all things!  You see, back in early January, after my last midwife appointment, I called our local Child Evangelism director to seek new teaching materials for our Good News Bible Club over the winter.   Well, as we were talking, she mentioned that she had two funerals to attend over the next few days.

Thinking that was a bit unusual, I asked her who died, and much to my surprise, she said the first funeral file00020091143was for Penne, a very dear, sweet, radiant Christian lady I knew who had been struggling with cancer and whom I had been trying to keep track of as far as her health was concerned.

I initially met Penne at her small church I believe when I first moved back to Michigan in 2005, and then she turned out to be my neighbor after Micah and I got married in 2010.  Like me, Penne had a great heart for evangelism and children, so we even did a Good News Bible Club at her home for the neighborhood kids over the course of one fall.

I had not contacted Penne or her pastor’s wife, whom I am friends with, to check up on her in awhile though, but I had been meaning to, so it was truly divine providence that I learned of her death and was able to attend her memorial service on Saturday, January 11, held only a day or two after I found out.

At the luncheon following the service, however, I sat next to a girl named Amber, whom I had met before but only about once.  She was the relatively-new wife of a guy I knew from Penne’s church, and since Amber was pregnant as well, we started talking about pregnancy stuff and my midwife frustrations.  Amber then told me of her midwife and how she wanted to get together with me and Micah and go over some stuff seeing how she is heavily involved with natural medicine and childbirth.

So the following weekend Micah and I had Amber and her husband over for dinner which led to them inviting us to go with them to their next midwife appointment on Friday, January 24.  We went and talked to their midwife Jeannie for at least a good hour after their appointment, and I left feeling joyful and very much at peace for the first time.  I was just impressed with . . .

  • Her proficient knowledge and successful and extensive experience in delivering babies, both as a hospital nurse and as a midwife (She has delivered over 2,000 with rarely a problem!)
  • Her view of labor as a joyful, beautiful, and sacred experience, and thereby, her treating it, not as a dreaded, painful disease, but as a gift from God
  • Her calm and non-paranoid, non-pushy demeanor
  • Her common bond as a fellow follower of Christ

That night I could not help but want to seriously celebrate, and since then, I have been further reassured of Jeannie being the woman for us by her minimalistic, simple methods and mindset.  I mean, do you realize how weighed down our medical personnel  and system today are with the fear of getting sued or “covering themselves” so that they want to perform every test imaginable and warn you and treat you like a worst-case scenario?

To prove my point, remember my whole fear of my hypothyroidism early on due to the hospital midwife I initially went to wanting me to do everything from 1.) taking a chemical drug called Synthroid to 2.) having monthly $200 bloodwork tests done for my thyroid to 3.) finding a regular medical doctor to regulate my thyroid.  And all of this because I had “mild” hypothyroidism!  Do you know much money that would equal over the course of my pregnancy?  A lot!  The medical system seriously thinks they can charge or perform whatever they want on you because “Oh, medical insurance will take care of that!”  They easily forget that they we do have deductibles to meet which are not always low for everyone.

And on top of that, this hospital midwife added the emotional trauma of telling me my child could have “mental problems” if not treated.  Okay, what do you immediately think of when you hear those words?!  I don’t know about you, but for me, it meant “mental retardation” which no parent wants to hear.

But then I went to Jeannie for my first appointment on February 13 and showed her my bloodwork results, and how did she respond?  Basically, that I had nothing to fear because my thyroid was not “that” bad!  Wow, do you realize how much of our culture is driven by fear and darkness?  It’s so sad to think of how many lives are negatively affected and how much money is needlessly spent on things people do not really need.

Home Sweet Home

home-sweet-home-wonky-witch-needlecraft-counted-cross-stitch-chart-350x300Anyways, another way the Lord has been so gracious and kind is allowing me to do a home birth.  Yes, you heard me right . . . We are having my labor and delivery at home, Lord willingly, and it won’t be the first birth in our home as Micah’s youngest cousin was born in this house.

I never thought I’d be open to this route, especially with my first child, but that’s what Jeannie does and of course recommends.  After talking to her and several others though, I am more and more convinced and at peace that this is the way to go.

Jeannie has even assured me though that she is not a risk-taker and will send me to a hospital if need be, such as for delivering a breeched baby.  And thankfully, she can even tell before your labor if a hospital will be necessary.  She will also have an assistant mid-wife along to help which is good.

One really cool way though that God confirmed to me or gave me more peace about having a home birth is by having a very friendly lady, and a total stranger at that, stop me at the gym one morning.  I was about to walk my usual two to three miles on the track when she excitedly stopped me and commented on my “baby bump” and inquired about my pregnancy.

Come to find out, this sweet lady named Susan is a labor and delivery nurse for the very midwives I left at an area hospital.  When I told her I was going to potentially have a home birth with another midwife, she was wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supportive of it and said “they all” (I’m guessing she meant the hospital nurses) would recommend it.  Needless to say, I was shocked!

She went on to say how it has not been until the last 100 years that ladies started having hospital births and that I’d be totally fine.  What a confirmation from God that was for me that I was on the right path.  When I saw this lady again on another day, I curiously asked her why she recommended a home birth over a hospital birth seeing how she was a hospital nurse of all things.  She gave me the following reasons which I thought were so good and enlightening and some of the same ones that Jeannie gave me:

  • You are in a familiar, comfortable environment being that you are in your own home instead of a morbid hospital.  (Micah is thankful for this as he does not do well in hospitals himself.)
  • You have less risk of infection.  (Just this month I learned of a toddler who got a staph infection when he was born at a hospital three years ago and has not been doing well since then.  I had no idea such things happened.)
  • You don’t have doctors trying to rush you in labor and perform needless operations.
  • You don’t have nurses trying to give you IV’s or drugs you don’t need or want.

Now since we made this decision to have a home birth, it has not been easy to tell people as we’ve gotten mixed reactions and as we have seen childbirth can be such a sensitive issue.  While most have been very supportive, like my own parents and random people like this nurse, others have not been.  This has been very hurtful to say the least as we are doing this only because we feel that this is where God has led us personally and given us the most peace about.  We don’t condemn those who choose to have a hospital birth by any means as God equips and directs each of us differently.  I think so often it is easy to forget God works in vastly different ways in each of our lives, or in other words, He can’t be “put in a box.”

A Most Unusual Birthing Class

Moving on though, not knowing anything really about labor and delivery, Micah and I felt we should educate ourselves by taking a natural birthing class as I’d really like to go through this experience without any drugs as much as the pain people always talk about scares me.  I have heard that your after-birth recovery is so much better and quicker when you don’t use the drugs though.

So in later February, I asked Jeannie whom she’d recommend, and she told me of Pat, a Mennonite lady in the city right next to us of all things.  What a blessing as I was afraid she’d recommend someone farther away as Jeannie herself is in a city about an hour from us.

I called Pat the next day then and found her to be very refreshing–such a joyful, encouraging, knowledgable, and easy-to-talk-to woman of God–and once again, I felt very much at peace in the path God was taking us on.  Pat even said she could be our doula, a woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth.  This brought me much comfort as it was recommended to me to have a doula, especially at your first birth, and as Pat lives much closer to me than Jeannie does and could be at my home in the matter of 15 minutes.

Shipshewana, a big Amish community, has always been a favorite place for me to visit.

Shipshewana, a big Amish community, has always been a favorite place for me to visit.  While the Amish live radically-different lives than modern society, they are a much more relational and probably content people because they are removed from the technology, materialism, and conveniences of today.  While I’d never want to be Amish, I think their close ties with family and friends is especially wonderful!

Now what is so interesting about our childbirth class is that we are meeting at the home of a young, very kind Amish couple in Shipshewana, Indiana, about an hour from our home.  Pat told us she could meet us at our home or at their home, and we opted for theirs because how often do “the English” (the non-Amish)  get to interact with the Amish?!  Some people may think it strange, but I’ve found it to be rather exciting and interesting.  I am always up for a new adventure though and love simple, down-to-earth, friendly people which is what the Amish are known for, so I’ve heard.

We have been meeting now then since early March but just once a week for two and a half hours.  Since we started, we have learned much about labor–from what to expect in its mounting stages to its different breathing, coping techniques to its preparatory exercises to be in our best shape possible when it comes.

We even watched, via video, a couple of births, which none of us had witnessed before and which were rather eye-opening and kind of gross to be quite honest.  I felt especially sorry for the guys having to see all of this, but I guess they need to be prepared.

A Continual Learning but Strengthening Process

So life is definitely a continual learning process with new and challenging experiences, isn’t it?  And based on what the mothers from the birth video said, childbirth is an empowering or confidence-building experience.  Seeing how I have a low tolerance for pain and can often lack a lot of confidence in my seeming weak abilities, it shall be most interesting to see how God uses this childbirth to change me.  Lord willingly, it will only make me better and much more confident in myself and in my God.

There’s the story of our baby journey so far then.  It did not start off easy or pleasant by any means last fall, but I can look back on the hardships now and praise the Lord for them because without them we would not be on the current path we are on and see God’s tender care, faithful provision, and gracious love for us and even the baby.  As that Christian song Through It All so accurately states:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

 

Me and Micah as of yesterday, on our last day of Week 30

Me and Micah as of yesterday, on our last day of Week 30 . . . God has been so faithful to us by bringing us this far, that is for sure!  Please pray the next 10 weeks will go smoothly and well as March as been a very hard month for me as I’ve been sick a lot between having a sinus cold, an ongoing cough that’s been hard on my body, and the stomach flu this past week.  Thank you!

P.S.  Just to let you know and help explain my background, I have the viewpoint of today’s modern medicine that I do because I started dealing with a lot of health problems in college and was never really helped by regular medical doctors.  My greatest help or solutions came through the means of alternative doctors but ultimately through the Lord.  Because of my health problems also, I have done quite a bit of research on modern medicine and not been impressed.  I realize everyone has different experiences though and once again that God works in a multitude of ways.  This has just been my own experience, and I just want to be clear that in no way do I want to be offensive.

P.S.S.  Remember Amber, the girl who first told me of Jeannie our midwife?  Well, she had a handsome, healthy baby boy this week at her parents’  home, and everything went so well and just beautifully I heard.  Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Compelling . . . Will You Join?

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Our Adopted Child

Srey Vet at school

Srey Vet at school

Since May of 2010, a month before we got married, Micah and I adopted a child but one who would never live with us in our home or bear our last name as most “adopted” children do.  Knowing this may sound rather odd, we adopted our child, not to rescue her from an orphanage, but to help rescue her from the poverty of her family and community and to share God’s love with her.

Through World Vision, a wonderful Christian humanitarian organization, we began sponsoring a cute, little girl in Cambodia named Srey Vet, who was eight years old at the time, but who has quickly grown up over the last three and a half years to be 11.  She, along with her two older sisters, are the daughters of farmers who grow corn and rice as well as lots of banana trees along with papaya and jackfruit trees in their yard.

They also raise at least two cows, dogs, and cats, and Srey Vet helps out with both house and farm work alike.  She does not sound like a typical American child of today, does she?  Like many American girls though, her favorite color is pink, and she likes to read before going to bed at night.  Her favorite animal/pet is a black bird though which I found to be quite interesting.  :)  I mean, how many kids do you hear say that?!

One of Srey Vet’s first letters to us in September 2010 though related how her sisters were students while she never went out but how she had recently returned to school.  I believe it was our sponsorship that allowed this change, which is such an honor and joy to be a part of.

When she first wrote us as well, she said she wanted to be a medical doctor, but since then that dream has changed to being a teacher which is cool since that is what I always wanted to be after my second grade teacher made a big impact on my life through her love and care.  Lord willingly, her teachers are also making a positive, big impact on her life.  Another interesting fact is the last I knew Srey Vet’s class size was 37 students . . . That seems like alot of students compared to American elementary school classrooms!

A Great Burden

In the spring of 2012, I felt led to start giving an extra monetary gift for Srey Vet and her family out of birthday money I received in April. This extra income directly goes to her family and community to purchase their current basic needs. Well, the first year Srey Vet's family purchased this water pot along with basic necessities such as shoes and school clothes.

In the spring of 2012, I felt led to start giving an extra monetary gift for Srey Vet and her family out of my birthday money which I received in April. This extra money goes directly to her family and community to purchase their current, most basic needs. Well, the first year Srey Vet’s family purchased this water pot along with personal necessities such as shoes and school clothes.

I share Srey Vet’s story with you today, however, because after reading World Vision’s latest magazine, I was very burdened for the children it told about . . . from the one million precious children of war-torn Syria being forced to flee to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey who are now crying for their country . . . to the innocent children of Bangladesh brothels forced to see their dear, young mothers trapped in an evil slavery of selling their bodies to men’s lusts.

It was very heart-breaking to read of children so young go through so much heartache and evil that I felt compelled to encourage you to reach out to at least one of these poor and needy children around the world who desperately need love and support from people who will tell them of their great worth and importance to God.  It only costs $35 per month to sponsor a child, which is about $1.13 per day.

To see the powerful life transformation sponsorship can bring, read (by clicking on the orange link above) about nine-year-old Maya whose life dramatically changed for the better in the slums of Delhi, India, when a lady in Washington state simply took an interest in her and started sponsoring, praying, and writing letters to her.  You can even write emails and send electronic pictures to your sponsored child via your World Vision sponsorship page, so your writing is not limited to postal mail.

Conclusion

From my heart to yours then, will you please, please read at least one, if not all of these stories, and look over all of the wonderful, heart-touching, beautiful photos at WorldVisionMagazine.org?  From seeing the tear-filled eyes of a mother weeping for her children’s condition to the sorrowful, big, empty eyes of children without a real home, I believe your heart may just be moved as mine was.

Then will you please really pray about how God might have you possibly invest in the life of one of these World Vision sponsorship children for eternity?  You can see their pictures and read their stories at WorldVision.org.  God cares even more deeply for these children and their physical and spiritual poverty, and He has given us so much that helping one of these little ones in Christ’s name is the least we can do for Him.  “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” (Luke 16:18).

If you do decide to sponsor a child, please let me know as well as it would bless my heart so much, and I would love to give thanks and praise to God on account of you.  Thank you!

 Last April, with my extra gift, Srey Vet's family bought a latrine for their home, part of it pictured here.  Wow, there is so much we take for granted!


From my extra gift last April, Srey Vet’s family bought an “Easy Latrine” for their home.  These three cement rings actually make up part of it which I found to be very intriguing and confusing, so much so that I looked it up and found this interesting article on the latrines, which included this insightful video on sanitation marketing in Cambodia.  Sadly, the people there don’t buy latrines for the main reason of them being too expensive.  Wow, there is so much we take for granted!

Last year the community got more new chairs with the extra money given.  They have to share their gift with the community, by the way, so their neighbors don't get jealous.

Last year the community got more new chairs with the extra money given.  By the way, the family has to share their gift from me with the community so that their neighbors don’t become jealous.

The Freedom of True Love

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“You’re precious.”  “You’re a treasure.”  “I love you!”  “You look beautiful today.”  “Just admiring!”  These are words I hear almost daily from my dear and wonderful husband Micah.  To be quite honest, it’s hard to believe such love for me could possibly exist, but Micah’s love is definitely genuine as I’ve lived with him for the last three and a half years and seen him faithfully, humbly, and sacrificially live out gentleness, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and so much more to me.  As you should only know too well, actions do speak so much louder than words.

The Inner Child Released

Stock-Images-Valentine-Girl-Vintage-GraphicsFairySuch love though often makes me wonder why God would ever give me such a good, loving man when I feel like such a poor, wretched sinner in comparison.  You see, marriage has brought to the surface my sinful, child-like, foolish, selfish nature in greater degrees than I can remember as an adult, and well, it’s very humbling and scary to say the least.  At times, I even wonder, “Where on earth did this inner, hidden child come from after all these years?!  I’m an adult and should act better than this!  Is this really me?”

But I know where this child comes from . . . it comes from my heart which is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).  It also comes from living with a new and fearless freedom to release that inner child  because I know deep down that this precious man really loves me and won’t reject me, shame me, or leave me.  After all, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 Jn. 4:18).

Love Without Conditions

Being who you really are then–the good, the bad, and the ugly–is what true love allows because such love is unconditional and everlasting.  As God’s Word says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:7-8).  Now God doesn’t want us to use such love as a license to be childish and sinful, but through Micah, God has shown me that His love for me is so perfect and so real because . . .

  • Like Micah but in much greater heights, God’s love surpasses or looks beyond my foolish, ugly, outward behavior to see the real me, my inner heart and soul, which are of immeasurable worth to Him.  God thought of me in the first place, then made me, and now continues to sustain me after all of these years, even when I’m not always faithful to Him as His child, so it’s like how could He not love me?!
  • Like Micah but in much greater depths, God still amazingly thinks I’m precious, a treasure, loved, beautiful, and admirable even when I don’t feel or think that I am.  His love for me is truly without conditions, forever, and perfect.  I mean, if my husband, who is only a sinful human being himself, can love me so much and still think I’m wonderful, when I totally don’t feel or act like it, then how much more must God love me?!

1aaaaaahands

Humbly Thankful 

So even though such unfailing love is seriously mind-boggling and hard to accept–especially to a perfectionist who  always wants, and thinks, she should have her act altogether to be accepted and loved–I’m thankful for it.  And I’m thankful that God gave me such a godly husband who truly loves me as Christ loved the church, His body of believers, because Micah’s love has given me this new-found freedom to live imperfectly in this imperfect world and know I’m not rejected or worthless.  Why? Because God’s love, which I believe fills Micah’s heart, is perfect and will never fail me or forsake me.  

Happy Valentines Day, my dear and precious Micah, my gift from God!  And Happy Valentine’s Day to you from God who loves you perfectly and will never fail or forsake you as well!

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“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.”  (Eph. 5:25-30)

“The LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” (Psa. 32:10)

Authorship Denied

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The Human Ego

Have you ever created or done something and then not been credited for it?  By not being credited, I mean not being noticed, applauded, rewarded, or at least thanked for it, or worse yet, someone else getting credit for your work!  Now that would be really annoying, wouldn’t it?!

We definitely like being the center or apple of people's eye!

We definitely like being the center or apple of people’s eye!

And such a thing could happen in a wide range of accomplishments–from your writing a touching article or poem, capturing a unique photograph, or making a delicious homemade dinner to proposing a successful business plan, singing a beautiful song, or scoring the winning point for your sports team.

Being glory seekers, we naturally love creating or succeeding, so if such an oversight dare occur,  we’d definitely be hurt or angry.  After all, we as humans, not known for our humility, want to look good and feel worthwhile, and so we do everything we can to make sure glory is accredited toward our account, don’t we?

The Ultimate Insult

Well, do you know that God, the One who deserves all of our worship and praise, is much more often than not denied His authorship of creating not only His majestic masterpieces of the heavens, the earth, and the whole universe but also of His own glorious image bearers, called men and women?

Sadly, God’s people, these precious eternal beings He created for relationship with Himself, have turned against Him by wanting to limit Him or deny His existence altogether.  They do so because if they acknowledge there is an Author of life or Sovereign One, then they will be held accountable to someone greater than themselves, and then they won’t be able to call the shots on their lives.  So they try to wipe Him out so they can be “god” and be in control, or at least feel they are in control, of their lives.

I have seen this desire for control, stemming from denying this authorship of God, amplified in the last four months since discovering I was pregnant with a child.  I mean, I’ve had everyone from medical professionals to friends, intentionally or unintentionally, seemingly put on me the heavy responsibility of creating a healthy, happy, whole child. Needless to say, this has been very overwhelming as the human body is complex and beyond my understanding or ability to fully manage, let alone create!

Not of Our Own Making

Well, it has been neat to see how in the midst of all of this turmoil, God, the real Author of life, keeps reminding me that HE is really in charge.  Just consider some of the following truths God has given me that have greatly encouraged and relieved my burden over the past two months especially:

“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
  (Psa. 100:3)

So do you mean to tell me, God, that I don’t have to focus or solely depend on my super-healthy eating habits, my regular exercise routine, my watchful care every month over my hypothyroidism, my getting up-to-date shots, my supplements, my getting investigative ultrasounds, and more for the baby to turn out okay??  I mean, You don’t need me to worry or stress out about doing all of these things or doing them perfectly?!

Whenever I look at tho photo of our baby at 12 weeks, it still fills me with a holy fear or reverence of God.  Wow!

Whenever I look at this photo of our baby at 12 weeks, it still fills me with a holy fear or reverence and awe of God. Wow! Now that is something I did not create!!

“No!” whispers God, “because you don’t make yourselves.”  That’s right, because “You [God] created my inmost  being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psa. 139:13).

After all, “Your eyes saw my unformed body” and “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psa. 139:16).  In other words, God had my body and the length of my life, and those of my baby, all planned out in His mind’s eye before we even came to exist.

Of course, that does not mean I should outrightly abuse my body or not do my best to care for it as God directs, but ultimately, I’m not, nor is my baby, “my” creation or product.  That little one is God’s, and God is going to do the major work because He had its body, and life in general, planned out long before I even knew of it.  I’m even reminded of God’s sovereignty over creation seeing whole, healthy babies come from mothers who were on drugs or mothers in third world countries.

And because we are “his people” and “the sheep of his pasture,” we have nothing to fear!  After all, Jesus is called the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20) who “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11).

God’s Repeated Cries of His Authorship

Now you wouldn’t expect this, but in Isaiah, a book of prophecy nonetheless, God repeatedly cries out through Isaiah that He is our Creator.  People get upset with God about claiming His authorship of us and creation (they’d rather credit Mother Nature, whoever she is), but ironically, they as mere creatures have no problem crying out about their own authorship or declaring their rights.  How God must laugh and grieve at the same time over our pettiness and foolishness!

Anyways, one morning, that of Tuesday, January 7, when I was very discouraged, I came upon the following five cries referencing God’s authorship, and these came from just a matter of a few chapters in Isaiah.  Read on and see their amazing implications for us as God’s handiwork:

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyCry 1:  “Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  (43:7)

Since the whole idea of each individual originates with God in the first place (if not, then who?) and since He created us for His glory, otherwise known as His honor and magnificence, then why would He need our puny help in forming and making our offspring?  And so is the case if He could make the first, perfect man out of the helpless, insignificant dust of the ground of all things (Gen. 2:7).

How does He form and make us then?  Well, in Psalm 119:73, it says, “Your hands have made me and formed me.”  Just think–the very hands of God Almighty touched you before any human hands ever did!  And to think that God did not just speak you into being as He did, and perhaps still does, with the rest of His creation, but instead, He so gently takes nine long months to weave you together with His hands into a fearfully and wonderfully-made individual.

Cry 2:  “The people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.” (43:21)

So not only are we created for God’s glory but also for Himself to be “his treasured possession” (Deut. 7:6) and for singing and declaring His praises to a lost and dark world (1 Pet. 2:9).  Now do you think that if we felt we had any part in His awesome creation of babies or new human beings, do you think we’d feel much like His possession (that we are not our own), let alone feel like giving Him praise?  Probably not!

What is another way God forms us then?  Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  Thenceforth, the origins of our spirits and our continued dependance on God’s breath for life.

Cry 3:  “This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you: Do not be afraid, . . . “ (44:2)

We as women especially like to take charge and don't trust, so we rush off into our own plans.

We as women especially like to take charge and don’t trust, so we rush off into our own plans instead of waiting for and trusting the Lord as Isaiah said he’d do in chapter 8, verse 17. 

Since God is completely in control and the One who’s really helping me, I don’t have to fear what people say could happen to the baby if I don’t do such and such.  As I told one of the midwives at my last appointment in early January, my trust is not in medicine or doctors but in the Lord.

In regards to not fearing though, on Monday, January 13, as I was really seeking or wanting the Lord to direct me in His paths, I was reading Isaiah 8 and was deeply touched and comforted by its message in verses 11-14:  “The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people.  He said: ‘. . . Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.  The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.  And he will be a sanctuary.”  

Did you hear that?  God wants us to fear Him and not what the world fears.  Not only that, He promises to be a sanctuary for us or “a place of refuge or safety,” but we have to let Him.  Isaiah went on to say how Israel did not fear or reverence God and let Him be their safety though, so not only did they stumble and fall, but they also became trapped and ensnared.

We pity those Israelites, but if you think about it, that is where many people in America and around the world live today.  Since we don’t seek the Lord but so often consult and depend on the advice of others, who for the most part do not speak according to God’s Word–how can they when they are too busy to read or know it?–they have “no light of dawn” says Isaiah in verse 20.

So we, like those Israelites, are distressed, hungry, and roaming about in darkness and fearful gloom.  As an example, just look at our medical system today.  Even though it has gotten so big and powerful and has spent tons of money on researching diseases, they are still without solid solutions.  It’s so sad, but I highly doubt this highly-sought-after medical community, which is highly scientific and anti-God, are seeking Him, who alone has the light of dawn or the way, the truth, and the life.

Cry 4:  “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself.” (44:24)

Doesn’t it make sense that if God can create such vast things such as the heavens and the earth on His own, He has made us on His own?  And if you’re thinking, “Well, He didn’t make the heavens and the earth–they just evolved,”  may I challenge you to consider how foolish evolution really is?  I mean, it’s like saying a masterpiece painting, a classic musical composition, or great architectural building “poofed” or just came into being on its own.  Now if that is not insane, I don’t know what is.

Cry 5:  “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  (46:3-4)

Making and then upholding and carrying your people from birth until old age!  That is a big task God has put upon Himself, but it really goes to show how fragile we are yet how powerful and all-sufficient He is   And to think we so often ignore or deny His existence!  How that must break God’s heart because He obviously cares about us so much.  I mean, how many parents, let alone the most loving ones, really want to hold their children all throughout their lives?!  On top of that, God reminds us that He Himself will rescue us.

The Faith of Mere but Magnificent Flowers

“And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:28-30).

Water lilies are one of my favorite flowers to photograph because of their splendor and beauty.

Water lilies are one of my favorite flowers to photograph because of their splendor and beauty.  I took this photo in Naples, Florida, in January 2011.

Do you realize how comforting these words were, and continue to be, to me as a new mother?  I mean, if mere flowers,  in all of their intricate beauty and fragrance, do not have to “labor or spin”  to reproduce themselves or clothe themselves and their seed with wholeness and beauty, then why should I?!

How awesome is that, and to hear God whisper in my ear that morning of Wednesday, January 15, that it would be ridiculous to think He wouldn’t care for and clothe me or my “seed” (our baby)  in much greater ways has been so reassuring in spite of what the noisy, fearful world around me says He can’t or won’t do on His own.

Like God said, our “little faith” in His character, provision, and power is the cause of many of our fears, sorrows, and destruction in life.   As the hymn writer Joseph Scriven wrote in 1855, “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

Conclusion

I know this has been long, but I hope you’ve seen the authorship of God declared loud and clear throughout these verses, which are only a small portion of what the Bible has to say about God’s authorship of all creation though.  I pray today that they will give you hope and the assurance or faith needed to confidently “stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting” and shout, 

“Blessed be your [God's] glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.  You alone are the Lord.  You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”
(Neh. 6:5-6)

Discouragement Defeated, Victory Assured

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I don’t know about you but I get discouraged very easily, and so far this month, discouragement has been hitting me hard in multiple ways.  I won’t go into all the details, but all I can say is that the biggest discouragement has been the world screaming out that I need to be in control for my child to be happy, healthy, and whole.  And needless to say, this is all a bit overwhelming for my weak and timid soul and limited and failing fleshly being.

The Peace & Courage of David on the Run

Well, on Thursday, January 9, after a most distressing Monday, which I spoke about in my last post, the Lord greatly encouraged me once again through His Word.  Psalm 3 was part of my devotional reading that morning, and wow, if we think we have troubles, we should only consider King David’s great troubles.

As he wrote this amazing psalm to the Lord, he was running for his life from his own son Absalom.  Such conflict, rejection, and heartache to have your son trying to kill you but such hope, peace, and trust in God displayed in the midst of it all!  Listen in as I share his heart to God’s, and eventually to our hearts, by God’s providence.

2  Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”  

Isn't it amazing how we can behold the majesty of creation but then deny there is a Creator God?!

Isn’t it amazing how we can behold the majesty of creation but then deny there is a God, let alone a Creator?!  (Photo from Flickr/blmiers2)

Isn’t that the truth?!  In our society that screams out, “There is no God!” or at least that He is not good or all-powerful, there’s no doubt that they are saying there’s no way He’ll deliver you or me.  And sadly, you yourself may be thinking and feeling that way as well right about now due to your many or deep troubles.

It is so easy to let discouragement settle into our hearts as we set our eyes on physical limitations instead of on supernatural spiritual truths or realities, such as conveyed in God’s great and precious promises from the Bible.

Thereby, we fall into Satan’s original trip for Eve of doubting God’s love, faithfulness, power, wisdom, and provision for us.  Such doubting is sin, believe it or not, and sin always leads us down dark, winding pathways to depression and defeat which often take over our hearts, minds, and words so that we turn to our own foolish devices.  After all, we think we cannot trust God, but unknowingly, our devices will only bring us more sorrow and death.

3  But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.  

Did you know that the Lord’s faithfulness is His shield or protection for us?  In Psalm 91:4, it says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”  And when someone has been faithful to you, that usually means they’ve been trustworthy and constant in their good character and deeds towards you like a faithful marriage partner or a faithful parent.  They are committed to you no matter what, and so there is a lot of security and safety in that, just like in a shield.

Now hasn’t the Lord been so good, gracious, and faithful to you throughout your life?  I know the Lord has been so to me.  I could list off blessing after blessing such as God undeservedly giving me godly parents; a loving, humble husband; a beautiful home; food to eat every day; an able body and one that can heal itself when I burn a thumb or bruise my leg; and so much more!  Yes, I wish there were things that were different, but I need to rejoice in all that I do have and trust God that He will only continue to give me good things as He sees fit.

I hope you can list off many blessings in your life as well and thereby count on God’s faithfulness to carry you through your troubles and the rest of your life.  He says He will never leave or forsake you, so take courage and trust Him!

 4  I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.

Have you been calling and not heard an answer yet?  I understand, but often times God is working on an answer but is just not ready to reveal it.  He loves to have us “wait” as well because waiting always shows where our trust really is, and if He is worthy enough to wait on.

And waiting in periods of silence is good because it teaches us so many things about ourselves and God, if you’re willing to learn that is.  I know there have so many things in my own life even that I’ve had to wait long and hard for in God answering, such as for a husband, but looking back now, I’m so glad God did not answer right away because I would have missed out on so many blessings along the way.

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“He [God] grants sleep to those he loves” (Psa. 127:2). (Photo from Flickr/Cornell2010)

 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

You may think that you just naturally fall asleep and wake up every morning on your own, but no, it is God’s great mercy and sustaining power that gives you those blessings each day.

So if you could not think earlier on of any ways He has been faithful to you, now you have a way because the fact that you are still alive today is because of God’s great faithfulness.

6  I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.  

Wow, now that is a lot of enemies and something none of us probably will ever experience.  In light of this then, our struggles are so minor that we have nothing to fear.

I wonder where David got such confidence from though?!  Perhaps it came from experiencing God’s sustaining grace and deliverance throughout his many struggles, especially during his years of fleeing for his life from King Saul before he became king.

Or perhaps at one point he got a glimpse of God’s insurmountable number of angelic horses and chariots of fire surrounding him, as Elijah’s servant did in 2 Kings 6:17.  After all, the Bible says that “the chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands” (Psa. 68:17).

Oh, may our spiritual experiences or senses exceed our physical ones so that we’d have the grace to trust God more and not fear!  For as Elijah assured his servant, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

7  Arise, Lord!  Deliver me, my God!  Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.  From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people. 

"He [God] determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit."  (Psa. 147:4-5)  (Photo from Flickr/John Lemieux)

“He [God] determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” (Psa. 147:4-5) (Photo from Flickr/John Lemieux)

Such confidence or bold faith in first of all calling, or almost commanding, the Lord to action and then in proclaiming His deliverance yet unseen or experienced!  The Lord must love David’s words though because He loves to be trusted and praised for His goodness and might, just like any of us would.

For “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

Go ahead then and declare the Lord’s goodness to Him and others, along with His victory for you!  God, of course, already knows His almighty power, but He needs or desires to hear you believe it and declare it. He wants to see you demonstrate your faith, and one of the most significant ways we do that is through our words.

Conclusion

So when you are at the end of depending on your own resources for help, like Hannah facing agonizing barrenness or David facing an insurmountable giant named Goliath, why not cry out to Jehovah Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts, for your deliverance.  Humbly but confidently, both Hannah and David did, and guess what, Jehovah Sabaoth came through mightily for them.  After all, this name does mean that God has all the hosts of heaven and earth at His command, and on top of that, the Bible declares,  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psa. 46:7).

Yes, this same LORD of Hosts who delivered Hannah and David from their humanly-impossible situations, is with YOU still today for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  Below is another song from David Wesley which I love and have repeatedly played and sung lately.  With such a loving God on our side, and a God of angel armies at that, discouragement has to be defeated and victory assured!  Praise the Lord!

 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)