Saturday, September 21, 2013

It is Important

We started attending homeschool co-op 2 weeks ago and so far we are really loving it.  Ethan is taking 3 classes and one of them is an Art through Literature class. His first week they were given a worksheet to fill out about what is important to them.  Ethan isn't really confident in his spelling abilities, so he asked if he could draw a picture if he couldn't spell what he wanted.  The box says, "What is important about me is I'm..." and he drew a picture.  At first I didn't notice what it was but at second glance I knew.  It is Shyla and Jakin's headstones with their butterflies beside the rocks.  He said what was important about him was that he is a big brother...amazing to me that his grief comes out like this sometimes.  It is important to him that others know he is a big brother to two other siblings.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Not Even a Smell of Smoke

In my reading this morning, I read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Allow me to summarize...

They refused to worship a King higher than God and were sentenced to death by fire.  The king even made the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.

Now, if I were one of these three men, I would be sweating pretty bad at this point, I imagine.  Threat of death by being thrown into this furnace sounds like a pretty scary thing.  And they have already admitted to the king that their God COULD save them, but IF NOT, he was still the one true God worthy of praise (Daniel 3:18).

So anyway, these three guys are facing this pretty scary trial.  They are tied up and the king gets some really strong soldiers to throw them in this inferno. The soldiers who just get close to the furnace fall dead from the heat.  Good ol' Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go in, but as the king is watching, he sees four men, not three.  The trio is called out of the furnace and everyone is amazed that the fire had not burned them or even singed their hair...there was not even a SMELL of smoke on them.  I don't know if I could go into a road-side convenient store and not come out smelling like smoke.

So, God had, literally, walked them through this fire, they came out unharmed and the king ordered everyone to worship the one, true, God.  And I know that even though they came out of that fire unharmed, I know in my heart they did not come out UNCHANGED.

I used to love this story as a kid.  I have heard it a thousand times.  But, today I heard it in a new way.  We all face trials and fires of some kind.  Some are hot. Some are hot times 7.  I want to have this kind of example to my faith.  One of my largest trials, for example, has been keeping my faith strong after the loss of my children.  I know that a loss like that can shake a person to the core and rattle their faith.  I don't want to be like the strong soldiers who fell flat to their deaths just by merely getting close to the flames.  Although I know it can be easy to lose all faith when the threat of a trial looms.  No, I want to be like the three faith-filled men who were prepared to honor God to their deaths, but instead got to see Him face-to-face in the thing that was supposed go kill them-kill their faith.  I want to be like that.  In my trials, in my hardest times, I want others to be able to look at me and not only see me, but see that God himself is standing right beside me in the middle of what could have been a death sentence for my faith. 

And when I eventually am called out of the hottest part of the fire, I want my faith to come out without even the smell of smoke.  But, I want to come out with...and I feel like it did...a major change and strength that can only come after you have walked through a fire eye-to-eye with the creator of the Universe.  How can you not be changed? 

So your furnace may not actually be a burning fire, but it's something.  Mine were in a sterile OR as my baby girl was quietly born, in the L&D room down the hall 14 months later when my son was delivered too little and too soon, and in a gas station parking lot when I handed a sweet seven day old boy I had mothered since birth, back to the one who carried him to be her son.

It is my prayer that others that saw me in these fires, saw not only me, but God standing with me (and my family) and as we walked out of the hottest part of the fire (the immediate, intense grief) that others could see God had not only protected our faith, but instead, we came out CHANGED.  We had a new perspective on fire and trials.

That is my prayer for my children as well.  Of course, I would love to think they would never face hardships, but, that is unrealistic and we know that trials build up character.  My prayer is whatever trial they face in life that they face it side-by-side with the one who made them and come out unsigned, but not unchanged.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Interceding for Us

I have recently began a new online devotion called "She Reads Truth".  I've linked it up with my YouVersion account and so far I am loving it.  Right now we are studying Daniel, but the verse that has hit me the hardest is from Romans 8:31-39.  Here is the section I am talking about:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The part that really got me was in verse 34.  "...Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."  What an amazing thought!  Jesus Christ-who was raised from the dead is at the right hand of the Father interceding, praying, FOR YOU AND I!!!  Amazing!!  It gave me chills and still does today.  
Intercede has two definitions:
to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition: to intercede with the governor for a condemned man.
to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.
Jesus is also mediating for us, reconciling the differences between us and God (which there are a lot).   When I get into God's word and find a verse like this, it drives my desire to know him better and to read more.  How about you, what have you been reading in God's word lately?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Just a Little Update

Craziness.  That about sums it up :)  Every time life gets a little stressful, I feel the need to vent...I mean write here.  So, here is just a little update about our life this summer.

We have been trying to sell our house and move to a neighboring city.  My husband works there, we go to church there, our local homeschool co-op is there, it is more central to my clients, and we are really feeling led to be closer to our church and be more involved.  Pray for us. This is proving more difficult than we thought.  Long story short- we decided to buy another home before ours sells.  We have made offers on 2 different homes and neither one has worked out, but for two different reasons.  We are looking again tomorrow in the hopes of finding our future home.

Ethan started 1st grade on August 1st.  I really could just go on and on about how much I love homeschooling.  We are using A Beka this year and so far, so good. 

I started the Stillbirthday SBD Doula training and am currently in week 2.  I love this class and am beyond excited to be a trained birth and bereavement doula in 6 more weeks! 

I just registered for the Created for Care Conference in March!  Eeeek!  I'm so excited!  I had to stay up way later than I usually do to get registered because it opened at midnight last night and all 900 tickets for the February and March retreats sold out in a record 8 hours!!!  I'm going with a dear friend and so excited to make new ones as well!

Ethan joined a homeschool co-op and wants to run cross country and track this year.  I'm so happy for him.  At night we always talk about our favorite parts of the day.  The past two days, he has stated "doing school" was his favorite part :)

Ellie is now 9 months old and doing fabulously!  She is still struggling with a little low muscle tone and not really liking being on her stomach at all still, but is lifting herself well and I can tell she wants to crawl/walk so bad!  Ethan is still head over heels for her and she for him.  They amaze me with their love for each other!

I will be going to Denver part of next week and am a little nervous.  It's the first time I will be gone overnight from Ellie.  I think she will be fine, but I'm having a hard time thinking about it :(  It's for work and I get to learn more about I can help adoptive families and I am excited about it, but, I can't pretend like I'm a little sad about being away from my kiddos.  Even if it is only for three days.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Venture

In August, I will begin a training to become a birth and bereavement doula through Stillbirthday!  It's really a God thing how it all worked out and I am so blessed to be a part of this.

Sufficient Grace Ministries is expanding and after talking with Kelly and praying about it, I will be volunteering as a regional coordinator in Kentucky.  Part of my responsibilities will include this training.  I will also be looking for crafters, volunteers, and donors to partner with in our state.

There was a time just a couple of years ago that I cringed at the thought of having to enter a maternity floor again.  Newborns brought tears to my eyes and I wanted to stay as far away as possible from all things birth related.  After experiencing two stillbirths just 14 months apart,  I was done.  I could barely even keep it together when I saw a "birth" on a sitcom or TV program.  We started the process of international adoption and I thought I would never have to really "go there" again.  Well, just three short months after that genius thought, God opened the door for me to begin volunteering at our local crisis pregnancy center.  Then, by the summer, I was no longer working in a school and came on board as a director of a crisis pregnancy center.  And I was happy.  That is as close to birth as I wanted to be, but, I will say how healing being there was.  A year later, and no progress what-so-ever in our international adoption process, we were approached by a family member and agreed to adopt a baby boy that was due just a few weeks after we met with the birth mother the first time.  I thought I was done with newborns, but after a relative approached me and told me about her friend and then we met, I thought God was working on me and we agreed.  I grew close to the birthmother and held her hand through contractions and pushing.  After the baby showed signs of distress and she had to be taken for an emergency C-section, I stood in a waiting room and cried.  Worried about her and the baby.  I won't go into all the details in this post, but you can read more about Samuel here.  After six days, Samuel's birthmother decided to parent and we returned him to her, I realized there was a desire sparked in me I thought had gone away.  I had a strong desire to parent a newborn once again.  Regardless of that we kept waiting for our international paperwork to be processed.  Well, since you see the pictures of the sweet little girl in the header, you may have guessed we have our daughter now :)   But, I missed her birth.  We only learned of her after she was 3 days old and arrived on day 5 (which, by the way, was God's plan for many reasons). 

I say all this to let you know, God has been healing my heart and bringing about a desire in me to partner more with women during the birthing process.  Particularly during loss.  I had two stillbirths.  Two VERY different deliveries.  One 3rd trimester C-section...the most peaceful moment of my life.  One un-medicated labor/delivery in the 2nd of the hardest, nonpeaceful moments of my life.  As well as a live birth via C-section of our first child and then coaching a woman who thought she was placing her baby in another mother's arms.  Unbelievable.  The experiences God has given me.  Now allowing me to use to help bring comfort and support to others. 

I am nervous about the emotions this class may bring back up, but hopeful of what's to come of it!  God is really giving me the desires of my heart before I even really knew what they were.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

April Photos

Ticklish Baby!


Ellie in my Easter dress from when I was a baby.

Ellie did great at her cardiologist appointment!

She turned in circles on the bed during the EKG.

Eating lunch at a cool new restaurant in Lexington.

Giant jellyfish tank.

First ferry ride!

He kept begging to wear her in the moby.

Girly girl.

We have a sitter!

I volunteered here :)

Veggie Tales Live!


Monday, June 24, 2013

March Photos

Wearing one of my sleepers from when I was a baby.


First Pigtails!

Ethan got baptized!  So proud of this young man!


Watoto Chidren' Choir