Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Estee Love

Born August 20th

8 lbs, 3 oz ~ 20 inches

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 days and counting

We are getting close to our due date (Aug 21). We've had a few scares, but God has been faithful to take care of our baby girl. I was put back on bedrest for a few weeks, but when I reached 37 weeks, the doctor took me off again. Thanks for all your notes asking how we've been doing. It seems to have been one adjustment after another.

I had a shirt made that pretty much sums up how I feel about this pregnancy and baby. It hasn't been easy, even now, to trust that everything is going to be OK. This past week, they performed a non stress test on the baby and the monitors weren't looking so good. The nurses faces, silence and reactions instantly brought back memories of my devastating appointment last summer. Once again I was alone and afraid of what they were going to tell me.

But I know that this baby's life, just like my other two girls', is completely in His hands. God has formed them and made each of them unique. And that brings me great comfort.

On a lighter note, we still have not decided on a name. We are taking a list of about 20 to the hospital with us. My personality likes to have everything ready, in order and planned, so this is a strange feeling for me. The other girls' names hold such perfect meanings for them as individuals, so it puts a little extra pressure to find just the right name for our next baby girl. My sister Elizabeth helped me put this in a photo. :)

In spurts I've been able to work on the nursery. I wanted to brighten it up a little, since we had a couple of bare walls. I drew up a topiary tree and a shelf-like branch that Troy cut out of wood. I finally finished painting them and he hung everything up for me.

So that's all of our news for now. I haven't checked in much lately, and just found out that I lost all the blogs I'd been following. So I'm off to rectify that the best I can.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Find Rest

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;

he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:5-8

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The belly grows....

So much to catch up on. I'm nearing the end of my second trimester and have been feeling great! I started "nesting" early in anticipation of an uncomfortable last couple months and that has kept me away from blogging more than I anticipated. But more on that in a later post.

First things first. My sister Elizabeth did an amazing maternity shoot for me today and I couldn't wait to share. I'll be 7 months in just a couple of days. As you can see, the baby continues to grow nicely.

Next up ~ Madeline. She did get her cast off, after Easter. They could not determine if there was a fracture in the growth plate, and after 3 rounds of not-so-successful xrays, we decided to just take the splint off and see how she did. She's regained all motion, so we are hopeful that she is healed. We did get some cute Easter pictures, thanks again to Elizabeth, although she still wasn't too happy with her arm at that point.

Also, I am happy to announce we are now "pacifier-free!" I will admit, bedtime is not as self-motivated as before, but it is one more thing I can check off my list before the new baby arrives. Thanks to Super Nanny, we went with the reward system: mail all your pacifiers to the Paci Fairy so she can share them with other little babies, and the next morning a big girl present will arrive in its place. I was going to tell her this a few times in preparation, but the first night she started asking for an "enbelope" to mail her pacis. I scrambled to get a decent big girl present together by the next morning (some new bedtime water cups, a new bedtime blanket I sewed that night, and some dressup stuff) and that was that. She will tell anyone, she is a big girl now!

And last but not least, thank you for all your prayers for Crystal and her kids. They continue to struggle to find their new normal without a husband and daddy. From the outside, I can see that Crystal is doing a great job at continuing to keep things running, but understandably she feels overwhelmed at different times. We missed Mike's laughter at our Memorial Day swim and Bbq. We miss him during basketball playoffs. We miss him when we see his girls and all their energy. I can't imagine how many times a day she misses him.

God has been faithful during this time. We all feel His presence and see Him at work in their situation. It doesn't take away the seeming senselessness of it all, but it does bring real comfort. Specifically, please pray that we will continue to be sensitive to Crystal's needs and obedient to respond. And also, just practically, for her to be able to get some good sleep at night. Her kids have been waking her up 3 to 4 times a night, and as Moms we know it's hard enough to function normally, much less on very sporadic sleep.

I know this post has been all over the place, thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully, I'll be back sooner than later.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Long overdue updates

It's been a hard couple of weeks. I've had a difficult time finding the motivation to write at all. I mean, wasn't I just here? This journey is all too familiar. GRIEF. A different road, but a parallel path.

I've spent lots of time with Crystal and her kids, and even more time thinking and praying for them. And in so many ways, it has taken me back to the raw emotions of our own loss last summer. But in other ways it seems so much harder than what I went through.

My heart longs for Crystal and her kids to be far enough down the road that the hurt has subsided and they've found a way to make it. I wish I could do that for them. I can't, and it hurts.

O Lord, be gracious to us, we long for you.

Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.

Isaiah 33:2

A blogging friend that I've never met, sent me this verse on a 3 x 5 card in a package of wonderful homemade soaps I ordered from her. She had read my last post and had some encouragement for me. Actually, she sent me 9 incredible verses. She must have remembered that I like to write them out and put them around my house. Or maybe God just put that in her heart as a gift to me. Either way, these verses are now spread around my home and car, to literally bring me strength throughout the day.

And it reminded me why I needed to write. It's because of all the beautiful emails and comments I've received that have encouraged me in the last couple weeks. Many of you have been where I am. You are all too familiar with this journey. So I share in the hopes that maybe you can help me travel it just a little bit easier.

UPDATE # 1: Pregnancy, week 20.

About two weeks ago, I had a detailed ultrasound with a perinatologist. He was checking on the baby's health, the previa, the placental tear and most importantly - Gender! I have good news all around.

The baby looks great. No issues, no "markers" to indicate any problems. We're measuring exactly on track. And there is no sign of the previa. That has grown up and the placenta is now off my cervix, clearing the way for baby to make it out with no issues when the time comes.

The placental separation cannot be found! Praise God. 12 weeks of bedrest finally did its job and my body was able to heal. More importantly, this means my physcial restrictions were lifted. And God knew the exact timing. I needed to be able to be up and around so I could help my friend these last few weeks. I would not have been able to watch her kids, since I would not have been allowed to lift the baby. My stamina is not yet what I hoped, but I'm believing it will get there. The doctor advised me to ease back into things gently. That has been easy on some days, harder on others. But my body lets me know when I've overdone it, and I don't have much choice but to sit back down for a little bit.

And lastly, it appears with some degree of certainty that we are being blessed with another girl! I'm not sure what God had in mind giving my husband four girls to take care of in his house, except that he must be pretty good at it. It was not a surprise to me, as I noted the similarities with my first pregnancies. Just like last summer I was able to be confident we were pregnant with a boy because of the differences. We are grateful and excited!

I am also happy to announce, I had my first inquiry of pregnancy from a stranger. It may have had more to do with the awkward clutching of my belly after a too-long trip with the girls to the library but I have convinced myself it is because I am finally starting to get a belly.

UPDATE #2: Madeline

I am happy to report some improvement in her health, immune system and allergies. Without getting too detailed, it appears that the chemicals that have been so hard for her body to filter out have finally started to leave her system. This allows for her filtering organs, such as her liver, to actually begin healing and stop being overtaxed. We added 3 new foods into her diet in the last 2 weeks. Foods that she previously couldn't handle. It may not seem like much, but to us it is nothing short of a miracle.

On the other hand, if you've gleaned anything from previous posts, you will already know that she is a character. She is full of life, energy and has no fear. That being said, yesterday she was at her grandparents house for an overnight with her sister and cousins. Troy and I were looking forward to an evening that didn't include making dinner, baths or bedtime routines. We had just finished one of our goals for the evening, dinner out, when we got the dreaded call.

Something involving Madeline, her cousins, her sister and a swiveling office chair resulted in a fall requiring immediate attention. (Can I just admit to you at this point that my primary feeling was not overwhelming concern for the well-being of my daughter, but rather a selfish disappointment in the loss of a rare evening alone? Just keeping it real.) In spite of her protests over the phone that she had been "healed for a minute" when everyone prayed for her, we knew we had to get it checked. This IS the same girl that toughed it out for 6 weeks with half a toothpick lodged in the arch of her foot, and only complained twice - once when it happened and six weeks later when we realized she needed a doctor visit.

So I packed my bag and made the 45 minute trip to my in-laws. My father-in-law graciously accompanied us to the ER, probably because he didn't know it was going to take over SIX hours. But thank God that he did. Madeline's arm was so hurt that she couldn't lay or sit or move without being in intense pain. I was in no condition to lift, carry and move her on my own, not to mention I wasn't allowed in the room for the X-rays.

After a second round of x-rays, the doctors could not find a fracture. That's not to say there isn't one, because apparently they hide in the growth plates of kids her age. And whether it was a fracture or a sprain, the poor kid did NOT want her arm moved. They stabilized it in a hard cast and she immediately perked up. She hasn't cried since unless you touch or move her, or she is trying to roll over in her sleep.

And yes, my two year old still has a pacifier. But seriously, at 7:30 she gets her blanket and pacifier out of her room and announces to us that she is ready for a rest. THEN, she goes to bed willingly. Who am I to mess with perfection? It's a summer goal to get rid of it. As is potty training and moving her into her sister's room. Any and all tips are welcomed.

Thank you for your notes and thoughts and prayers. I hope I get some time to get caught up with everyone in the next few weeks.

Friday, March 20, 2009


My heart is breaking. Today we learned that one of my dearest friends, Crystal, suddenly lost her husband, Mike, in the early morning. He was 36, active and healthy, with no history of illness. He unexplainably stopped breathing in the night and they were unable to revive him. They have 5 year old twins and a 6 month old baby. And none of them had the chance to say goodbye.
Mike holding our Madeline and his baby Nathan

I would do anything to bring this family together again. God had been doing an amazing work, and their story is one that brings Him glory. Crystal is a true friend who has overcome more than her share of tragedy and hardship. She understands real friendship, for good and bad. These last few months I've been on bedrest, she has faithfully picked up Olivia once a week for ballet with her girls. Afterwards, taking them home to play, and always returning her with an amazing meal in hand. I wish with all my heart she was spared this. And that the kids still had their Daddy.

Our girls with the twins

Mike was an incredible father. My husband had immense respect for the way he cherished his family. He was also charming and funny. He could bring a smile to everyone, young and old, and especially my girls. A few weeks ago, we went on a family vacation together. Afterwards, Troy and I talked about how easy and natural it was to be with their family. From the guys to the moms to the kids, it was just no work at all. And SO much fun.

Troy and Mike with all our girls

I had the privilege of spending the day with Crystal today, and her children and family. I want so badly to bless her in the way she has blessed our family. I am very honored that they allowed me in, to share in their grief and to serve them. Please pray for guidance and wisdom, as I continue to seek out the best ways to minister to them right now. I am so broken hearted and just devastated, as is my husband.

Please offer up prayers for this grieving family. And for Mike's family that have flown in from the East coast. While the hope of heaven is all that we have, somehow even that hope doesn't seem enough on this dark, first day of Spring. Jesus, please be with this family on their first night without a daddy and a husband. Meet them in their grief. Provide for their every need. Give them strength to make it to tomorrow. Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Today I am feeling grateful. I had an appointment today and the baby is doing fine. I still have the small placenta tear, so I'm limited in activity. But I am feeling blessed and thankful that the baby is doing well.

In just a few more weeks we'll find out if we are having a baby girl or a baby boy. I have my suspicions..... I'll keep you posted.

"You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You." Psalm 118:28

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Photobucket.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet Friends

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense." Proverbs 27:9

I used the New Living Translation for my Scripture photo today, but I also appreciate the wording in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

"Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel." Proverbs 27:9

Sometimes the perspective of a friend is just what we need to get us back on track. And knowing that we can count on the godly advice of a solid Christian friend is truly something to cherish.

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Photobucket.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Role of a Mother

Gathering At the Well

Sherry shares At The Well today about her view on the role of a mother. To read the entire post, go here. The following is a snippet of what she had to say.

"As a mother I welcome my children into my life--I let them know that I like them, that I want to spend time with them, that I miss them when I am away--even while we are separated by sleep. They are always welcome on my lap, and are a priority far above my own needs or desires. They know that I not only tolerate them, but I delight in them. I include them in my daily life and consider them an integral and indispensable part of our family. In this way they become confident that they are loved, and their security translates into the other parts of their lives as they grow and mature."

And here is an 'incomplete list' of the practical application of these principles that she shared:

Smile at your child when he wakes up in the morning, welcome him into the new day.

Avoid "gripe groups" of other mothers who sit around and complain and run their children down.

Exclaim in a cheerful tone, "Hey--did you know that I like you a lot?"--often.

Tell the child stories of his birth/adoption and how you fell in love with him.

Allow your child to interrupt you when you are sewing or online or cooking, without conveying frustration.

Look into his eyes when he is talking to you.

Sit on the floor and play with him.

When you take him to the park, go on the slide and the swings with him.

Love his father--the man that he came from, even if that father is no longer part of your lives.

Let your arms and your heart always be open to him.

Don't postpone discipline--be consistent.

Be willing to be passionately involved--correcting him and reasoning with him.

Beware of using distractions such as media, etc. that are attempts to replace his need for your attention.

Although I just do not have much to share today, two of her discussion questions did intrigue me. I will be reading other posts to see what the other ladies At The Well have to say. If you have any creative ideas, please share them with me.

First, "What are some ways that I can turn the conversation around when other women begin to gripe and complain about their children?" I cannot recall coming face to face with this situation, but would like to be prepared when I do.

Second, "Name some creative ways we can create warmer, more inviting environments for our children." This question is probably the reason I feel I have nothing inspired to share today. After being on bedrest for two months with this pregnancy, and no specific end in sight yet, it's been hard on me as a mom. I struggle with a lot of guilt about the assistance I've needed in caring for my girls' most basic needs and the lack of quality play time and activities I can be involved with. It's extremely hard when Madeline asks me to lift her up and I have to remind her I can't right now. She excitedly says with a big grin, "Your baby in your belly grows bigger...bigger...and comes out. THEN you hold me!" Although my mind knows I am doing the "right" thing for this baby, and the girls will not be scarred by the changes of this season, it's still a struggle because it goes against all my mothering instincts.

I am looking forward to enjoying all the insights of other women today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Good Appointment

I just wanted to update you on my appointment, last week Thursday. It was my first appointment with my OB. He said everything looks great and we should be past the point of worrying now at 14 weeks. He also noted the placental tear may have gotten smaller, indicating some healing going on! He said the previa was not a concern in the first trimester (other than a few additional physical restrictions) because the uterus is so small, it is common for the placenta to overlap the cervix. He is confident that as it grows, it will move upwards and become a non-issue. I also found out I won't be high-risk for the first time!

When I asked about possible exercise, like walking (I'm getting way out of shape and really antsy to get back to normal), he was very specific. He said my goal between now and the next appointment is to rest a lot, sleep a bunch and keep myself from getting any colds or flu. He said to do things that will relax my body, like get my nails done (oh twist my arm!). Then in 2 weeks he will see me and set up an appointment with the perinatologist, who will do an extensive ultrasound and hopefully tell us not only the gender, but that the tear is gone and I can resume life. While I was disappointed to remain on bedrest (I'm going on 2 months!) I was encouraged by his specific instructions and the explanation of how it is helping the baby.

Unfortunately, I was unable to stay away from the infections going around lately, probably because I've had 2 unusually clingy, cheek-to-cheek-cuddly, very-sick girls for the past 10 days. It finally caught up with me and I've literally been in bed since Friday afternoon. I never knew you could have so many symptoms at once (and I'll spare you the details). But seriously, I didn't realize adults still got earaches!

Other non-essential information:
No, I'm not showing yet. Since I have not fully past the point of nausea, I haven't been able to put on a pound.

Yes, I'm still sick but the doctor thinks once I go off the progesterone, I'll feel much better. 5 days and counting!

Yes, I faintly felt the baby move - just once. With the girls it was much earlier than this. I think being on bedrest has affored me the luxury of wearing comfy pants all day and the first time I felt both girls move was when my too-tight pants were pressing on my belly. I think it will be more comforting to me when I can feel the baby move each day.

Thanks again for the many prayers! It appears they are working and God has protected the baby in spite of the complications.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Perfect Peace

Last week I was driving. I had a ways to go, probably 45 minutes, and the girls were busy in the back seat with papers and purses. I could have spent my time listening to worship music, or one of the podcasts I downloaded to my phone, but I didn't. Instead I was mulling.

Here's the backstory, as they say in Hollywood (or at least how I picture them saying in Hollywood). There is a relationship in my life that I've been bringing to the Lord for some time. Not only was it often hurtful, but it started to become unhealthy to me and to my family. Or maybe it had been that way all along and I just didn't see it.

Some months ago, my husband and I determined to seek God on how we should approach the situation. We knew we had to get together in love and try to get some resolution. But our offers for conversation were rejected. Many times. After many months, we both felt a release from pursuing it any further.

After that, my life was filled with much more peace than I had known in a long time. I think by trying to always "fix" the relationship, instead of asking God what He would require of me, I kept myself unnecessarily in midst of much drama and hurt.

So, back to my car ride. A couple days prior, I ran into said person at an event. In the course of a very few minutes, they were able to offend and disrespect me, lie to me and again refuse an offer to get together to make things right. As you might suspect, this sort of played itself out over and over again in my mind. And on that particular day, I had quite a bit of uninterrupted time to stew on it.

What was making me the most upset, was that I felt like I didn't have the power to shut off the automatic playback feature that kept going off in my mind. I mean, who can just make themselves feel something different or not think about a thought that appears uninvited in their head? And I was mad that this person still seemed to have the power to hurt me.

All of the sudden, God spoke to my heart. Or maybe to my mind. Either way, I heard it loud and clear. He said to me, "Rebecca, I have released you from that relationship to bring you Peace. You can either choose to accept my gift, or you can continue to dwell on this situation. Either way, it's your choice."

And that was it. It pierced me straight to my heart. I was the one choosing to allow those thoughts to run rampant in my mind. And at the same time, choosing to reject the precious gift of Peace that God was trying to extend to my life.

I repented and spent some time thinking about how I could replace those instant replays with God's gift of peace. I decided to find a Scripture about God giving us peace, and I would memorize it. And whenever those thoughts set themselves loose in my brain, I would replace them by reciting my verse of promise over and over until they left.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

As a bonus, I read this over at Sunny's yesterday, about reacting versus responding. I felt encouraged to not only pray my Scripture, but to add a little prayer for the offending person. At least as much I can muster up honestly. She had some great Scriptures to inspire me.

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Photobucket.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Family and Friendship

Gathering At the Well

I'm sure we've all heard the old wives' tale in regards to being a parent, “You can’t be friends with your child if you wish to parent them.” I've heard it many times and never really taken the time to consider it before.

I guess I probably thought it was true in light of my own childhood. My parents were either my friend, or my parent, but never both at the same time. I knew the days I was a close confidant or a buddy, and I knew the days I was just a child to be disciplined and kept in my place.

Today At the Well, we are discussing friendship within the family. We are taking a look at the phrase in Titus 2:4, "to love their husbands."

I obtained a new perspective of the verse when Amy revealed that the original word used for "love" is derived from Philos, which means to love in the sense of to be friends with. It means, “friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well.” This is different from the “love” of John 13:34, Agapao, which means "to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.” The same can be said of the phrase "love their children."

The more I pondered this, the more I could picture friendship and parenting marching hand in hand. Here are just a few of the characteristics the Bible attributes to a friend.

What is a Friend?

Someone you trust and share with ~Psalms 41:9
Always loves you ~ Proverbs 17:17
Sticks with you ~ Proverbs 18:24
Gives you good counsel ~ Prov 27:9
Helps you up when you've failed ~ Ecc 4:10
Would give their life for you ~ John 15:13
Shares with you ~ John 15:15

When I think of my dearest friends, I know they are always available when I am in need. I am certain they will tell me when I'm out of line, as they want the best for me. They encourage me to grow. My closest friends are not afraid to be honest with me. They recognize my failures, but also encourage me to learn from them and move past them. They cheer on my victories, big and small. They even stand up for me when others attack.

Who wouldn't want a parent who does all that? If I'm being totally transparent here, then I have to tell you I would have given up my closest childhood friend to have my parents "parent me" like this. Unconditional love....someone I could trust and openly share my feelings with....not berating me, but helping me up when I fail.

I think the idea that we can't be a parent and a friend at the same time comes from a non-Biblical view of what a friend is.

Being a friend does not necessarily mean being an equal. I have friends I look up to for advice, and friends I feel more often I have something to impart. I love both kinds: the kind I can sow into and the kind I can learn from. I have some friends I can share my worst details with, and other relationships where that wouldn't be appropriate.

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17

And being a friend doesn't mean you let the person get away with wrong behavior for the sake of keeping peace in the friendship. That is not what Proverbs 27:17 is talking about when it says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Just as you use a metal tool to sharpen a knife blade, it takes a substance of similiar strength and durability to handle the friction required to sharpen an object. A true friend is strong enough to stand up for what is right.

I love that I had the opportunity to study this today. I had always assumed I would have to choose between being a parent and a friend as my kids got older. Right now while my girls are young, it is natural to be a friend and playmate. I was dreading the day when I would have to abandon that to become "THE PARENT." I am excited to know that God has commanded us to love them with a friendship kind of love all along the way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Everlasting Love

As Valentine's Day approaches, I thought there was something so romantic sounding about God's "Everlasting Love."

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

Jeremiah 31:3

First, He tells us He has loved us with a love that knows not the boundaries of time. Everlasting love is an ancient love, an always love, and an evermore love. Then He tells us He draws us with loving-kindess, or His merciful favor. You can't find a better love letter than that!

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy at Photobucket.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Great Report!

Today was my "graduation day" ultrasound, according to the doctor. It went great, although not so much at first. The ultrasound tech asked my permission to allow an ultrasound machine representative in the room in order to teach her how to better use the new 4D machine (which is now literally no bigger than a laptop!).

I didn't have a problem with that, but I was anticipating a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo. And after what happened last time, I did have the forethought to ask if I could see the heartbeat first, so I wouldn't be watching the screen and wondering if the baby was OK. Being unfamiliar with the equipment, it took her well over a minute to get the heartbeat. At first we even got audio that sounded like a loud whooshing sound, absent of the familiar, rapid duh-dump, duh-dump I was listening for. It took so long that I finally prayed out loud, Please God not again! The doctor came in at that point, took a look at my face and asked what was the matter. I told him these ultrasounds had me so scared that we wouldn't find a heartbeat again. He found it right away and made sure I saw and heard a decent heartbeat. I was a little shook up, so he forced me to crack a smile before they would continue.

We found that the previa HAS grown upward. Praise God! What an answer to prayer. He had a hard time determining if there was still a very slight previa left or if it would now be considered a low-lying placenta (which is a step up). He finally called it low-lying, as he wants me to move on to my regular OB and that way I won't be considered high risk. So I won't need extra appointments with a perinatologist! Yay!

The placental tear is still there and is the same size. I thought that was good news until he started to lecture me about not being worried. So I asked if it was supposed to heal. And he said usually they do, but mine isn't. He assured me it is nothing to worry about, but I do have to stick with my physical limitations (ie, no lifting, bending, exercise, etc). Apparently, using abdominal muscles can strain the area and cause the tear to get bigger.

Again, the baby is measuring right on track, which means the baby is still getting enough nutrition despite my morning-day-and-night sickness and in spite of the tear.

After the doctor left, the tech and rep continued to work on the settings of the machine, and I was blessed to get to watch multiple 3D videos. (I felt like God gave me that little gift to help me get over my earlier scare.) It was so amazing to see the baby move in real time in such detail.

So all in all, a great report! I want to thank you for your many prayers and encouraging notes. The past couple months have been a struggle, learning to wait on God and trust Him in a deeper way. Even through bedrest, I feel like I have learned so much and God has been faithful to provide in every way.

I posted one of the videos here. As you can tell, the tech was working on seeing the baby from different angles. In the middle, the baby turns its bottom towards the camera and you can see the little rear end briefly. Towards the end, the baby arches it's back just like a newborn. Amazing to have a little peek into the miracle God is creating.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What's Inside?

Gathering At the Well

What is the real underlying motive for all of the good stuff that you do?

This is the discussion question At the Well today. And it's one that will get your mind going on a Monday morning.

Laurie says, "Sometimes, there is a huge difference between our impure motives and the goodness of our actions."

I have dealt with this issue, especially since adding children to our family. Slowly, the overload of multiple ministries and activities began to take a toll on me as a mother and wife. And I had a hard decision to make.

What I was doing was good. It was "for the kingdom" and produced good fruit. But it was taking the place of the primary role God gave me at this time in my life.

My husband and I both grew up in families that were well rooted in the church. We both know many close family and friends who were involved in ministry. It shocked me as I began to open up about my struggle, how many women shared with me the regrets they had over time lost with their children that they would never have back.

Those conversations forced me to reconsider why I was involved in different areas of service or ministry. As Laurie said, what was my underlying motive? I was surprised to discover sometimes the motive was a feeling of obligation, a sense of duty or even peer pressure!

At that point, I began to take a different approach. I would first ask God if He wanted me to commit to something, and ask Him to bring me a sense of peace if He did. If I felt uncertainty, then I would wait to get involved until I felt sure God was leading me in that direction. On the flip side, I also asked God to give me a sense of release when it was time to be finished with something I was involved in. I didn't want to allow myself to quit just because it was uncomfortable or hard, but again because I knew God was leading me in a different direction. That certainly put a check on my motives.

All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:2-3

And yet, I still miss the goal sometimes. This holiday season I really, really wanted to participate in our church's annual Christmas Tea by hosting a table. I had ladies in mind that I knew I would minister to at my table, and I knew they would be blessed. I had opportunity after opportunity to commit, but I didn't feel peaceful. At the last minute one Sunday, after another announcement asking for hostesses, I signed up. Partly because I so desired to do it and partly to please people who needed help.

Immediately, I regretted it. I knew I didn't have the go-ahead from the Lord. On the drive home from church, I told my husband I knew I had made a mistake. And sure enough, by the end of the tea, I was wishing I had been a little more obedient.

In hindsight, I could see why God wouldn't give me the release I wanted. He was trying to protect me. A couple days before the tea, my husband broke both of his wrists and we spent the week in ERs and doctor's offices and surgery centers. It was all I could do to get to the tea at all. And that night, my poor husband got really sick and needed me more than ever. But I was off ministering to everyone but him.

I learned another lesson. That God will work through us, even when we are imperfect.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Phillipians 1:15-18

God still allowed me to minister to the ladies at my table, but not without a price. My family suffered that night. And I suffered. I was overwhelmed and tired. And mostly disappointed in myself because I was the one responsible.

It was a good, hard lesson. I am even more careful now to listen to the promping of the Holy Spirit and check my motives. When God asks me to move on, I don't drag it out, I just obey trusting He has my best interests in mind.

I'll end with Laurie's prayer, "I desire to give Him all of my talents, all of my time and all of my treasures, for Him to use me as He sees fit. May my motives always be pure when it comes to serving Him and serving others!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thankful for God's Protection

Today's Thankful Thursday post is very specific for me. I am thankful for my daughters, Olivia and Madeline. When I say I am a mother to two miracle daughters, I don't use that word lightly.

Last night I found Cynthiaa at Confessions of a Yummy Mummy. Cynthiaa was just 2 weeks away from her due date when she learned that her beautiful baby boy had died of cord strangulation. They delivered him and she is obviously in tremendous pain. She is relying on God to help her through & I hope you will all stop by with love and encouragement, lifting her up in your prayers.

The reason this struck a chord with me is because BOTH of my girls were born with cords wrapped around their necks. Olivia's cord was wrapped around her neck - twice! Because of the cord she couldn't fully expel the fluids from her lungs. She stayed absolutely awake for 24 hours, unable to breathe well, until they pumped the fluid out of her lungs the next day.

Madeline was a different story. She went into fetal distress after 30 hours of labor, causing the doctor to order a C-section. Fortunately, I was close enough to delivery and she was tiny enough, that we were able to push her out in a few pushes. Not only was the cord wrapped around her neck twice, but it was in a "true knot." This is a rare incident occuring 0.3% of the time and means Madeline literally swam in a circle and tied the umbilical cord in a knot. The doctor was amazed that she had made it OK through so many hours of laboring.

As I reflected on Cynthiaa's heartbreaking story, I was again amazed at God's hand of protection over both girls through difficult conceptions, pregnancies and deliveries. Please keep Cynthiaa and her family in your prayers today.

For more Thankful Thursday, go here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Falling Headlong

The Lord has been stretching me lately. Not in those rewarding ways, where you are afraid to do something He has told you to do, so you step out in faith and afterward you feel satisfied, obedient and fulfilled.

No, lately I've been traipsing through some unfamiliar territory. I'm talking the uneven grounds of going against things you were taught as a child, the rocky paths of stirring the waters and even the jagged road called "this might ruffle someone's feathers."

If you know me, you understand that I am more of a keep-the-peace kind of girl. I love to teach, support, and encourage. The gift of godly admonishment or confronting wrongs is not in my bag of tricks.

But it has been a call I cannot ignore. The voice of the Lord asking me to go deeper, further than I've been before. I need to grow up in Him, do the right things even when they aren't easy. And then there is God's written word, confirming how a righteous man or woman behaves.

The problem is sometimes after I've obeyed, everything seems to blow up. It appears to be worse than before. And I begin to doubt if I even heard Him right to begin with.

I admit that I've worked hard throughout my life to establish an authentic grace-filled relationship with God, as opposed to one that is based on following all the rules and performing with perfection, because I so desire Him to be pleased with me.

So when I read this verse, you could almost see the relief wash over me.

Psalm 37:23-24
"Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand."

In my attempts to hear God correctly, and be obedient to what I think He has asked me to do, I very well may stumble. I may not get it exactly right at first. But He is not going to let me fall headlong down a flight of stairs. I might miss my step, but thankfully He is holding my hand and has promised not to drop me. I feel just like a child who is not so steady yet, but who has a loving parent saying: Trust me. Follow Me. I have planned for you to walk this way.

For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Photobucket.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Late to the Well....

All good intentions aside, I'm late in joining the ladies "At the Well." And to make matters worse, I won a doorprize! The first prize I've won through my blog (and it was the one I was really hoping for) - and I show up a day late.

In spite of it all, At the Well is one of a handful of memes that I have consistently stayed involved in. I love the introspection and insights it makes available to me as a mother and a wife. And it always brings me deeper into the Word.

Gathering At the Well

Today's grand re-opening gives us a chance to examine the heart of At the Well, Titus 2:2-5.

When you read the Scripture found in Titus 2: 2-5, how do you see this playing out in your own life?

If you could set some sort of goal in relation to this Scripture, what would it be?

Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good.

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

When I read these verses, I get excited about the part that encourages the experienced women to pass on their wisdom to the young women. I'm a fairly new mom and wife, and I look forward to gleaning the wisdom of women who've already been where I am, and have sound, godly advice for me.

Practically, the biggest part of this playing out in my life (the non-blogging part of my life, that is), requires me to climb out of my comfort zone. I need to be open to relationships at church and in Women's Bible study, that are not just with other moms and wives my own age. I need to push myself a little, and not allow myself to be so intimitdated by more experienced moms' success and wisdom. Sometimes it's easy to stick with what we know...but the familiar rarely helps us grow and mature.

When I read these verses, I think: Yes! I want to love my husband and children more! I want to function everyday with wisdom, living a life that is pure! I want to do good and work in my home, and learn how to submit to my husband more! In essence, I want to be a better wife and a better parent.

But the main goal is to live my life in a way that honors God, especially in the context of my family life as a wife and a mother. Being fully aware that I won't always succeed, my desire is to be intentional, and focus on my everyday interactions. To take a step back at the end of the day, and take note of whether my actions toward my children and with my husband were honoring to God.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Great Report

I am excited to share the news I got from my ultrasound appointment today (10 weeks, 4 days). Things are looking up!

First off, the doctor asked the technician to show me the heartbeat to ease my mind. There it was, fast and strong! Once I saw the baby's heartbeat, I was able to relax and focus on the details. Next, we looked at the tear in the placenta. The blood clot is about the same size, which the doctor referred to as very small - it has not grown in the last 10 days! This is awesome news. That means bedrest is doing its job.

At that point, the doctor said it was not a cause of concern and that we had "a 98% good news report." But that was before he saw the placenta previa.

I have a partial placenta previa, which means my placenta is lying unusually low in my uterus, next to or covering the cervix. The placenta is normally located near the top of the uterus, and is what supplies the baby with nutrients through the umbilical cord. If the placenta covers the cervix completely, it's called a complete or total previa. If it's right on the border of the cervix, it's called a marginal or partial previa. If the edge of the placenta is within 2 centimeters of the cervix but not bordering it, it's called a low-lying placenta.

What I have is actually a very small portion of the placenta over the cervix, a partial placenta previa. Throughout my pregnancy with Madeline, I had the similar low-lying placenta (which was what determined the pregnancy to be high risk). But it did move up throughout the course of the pregnancy, and became a non-issue. That's the doctor's hope for this previa. In the meantime, I am still on restricted lifting, no bending, minimal walking, etc. Which is easier to handle today, since I know it is really having a positive effect.

The baby measured right on target at 10 weeks, 5 days! That means my lack of appetite, nausea and placental tear have not affected the nutrition to the baby.

Towards the end of the ultrasound, I finally saw the baby moving and it brought me to tears. The image of a still baby is probably my worst fear. My doctor's wife lost a baby around the same time as we did, and so he is very compassionate. He asked the technician to let me watch the baby live for a while and do a 4D ultrasound for me. The baby was a dancing machine! We watched the back arch, the legs and arms wave around, and even take its little hand and rub its eyes. As a matter of fact, the baby moved so much the tech couldn't get any decent ultrasound pictures, they were all like strange blurs, but I didn't mind. I'd rather see a healthy, active baby. Praise God! As I add these pictures to the photo album we've started, I'll just include a little note: Too busy dancing to stop for photos today.

Thank you for all the prayers that went out today for us. God's presence and peace is strong, and that unexplicable peace helps fight away my fear and doubt.

Specifically, our prayer requests are:
  1. the baby continues to get the blood supply and nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong, (or as Olivia prays each night: that the baby will stay inside mommy's tummy until it grows big and can come out to be with us).
  2. The tear in placenta will not grow and the blood clot will absorb.
  3. The partial placenta previa will move upwards as my uterus continues to grow.
  4. That God will continue to provide the help we need as long as I am restricted to bedrest.
  5. That God will guide us in our decision regarding an OB and hospital to deliver at. I would like to stay with my same OB, since he is familiar with my history, but there are a few complications that need to be worked out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby Boy

January. 26. 2009.

Today is the due date of the baby boy who never made it into our arms, but left us early for the arms of our Heavenly Father.

As we've dealt with the complications surrounding my current pregnancy, the grieving process was sort of....stunted.

Yesterday and today, though, I've been hit full force with the ache of this loss. I should not be going to an early ultrasound tomorrow to see if this baby is growing OK; I should be holding a newborn baby in my arms today.

As I laid in bed last night, contemplating what emotions today would bring, one thing was certain. This little, little life taught me so much about Life. And has given me a desire I never felt before, to reach that place of eternal life where I will get to hold my son, wholly perfect. Heaven is our hope.

I am so full of contradicting emotions and thoughts, I almost didn't write at all today. Mourning the loss of one baby, while trying to hold out hope that the baby I'm carrying will grow, safe and strong.

But I felt compelled. I had to write to remember. The only thing worse than the pain, would be to forget.

Today I thank God for the short time he allowed our son to grow inside me. And for the incredible impact that experience had on our entire family. I am looking forward to the day when we will meet again. And I don't ever want to lose sight of that hope.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

All My Praise

This song was speaking to my heart today. I don't have the option of not praising God just because my situation is hard. Because God is seated on His throne, and He has promised not to abandon us. The song says He knew my name before there was time. Well, He knew this baby also. I am working on fully trusting those promises, and replacing my fears with praise.

All My Praise

I will follow You through green pastures
And sing hallelujah to Your Name
I will follow You through dark disaster
And sing hallelujah through the pain

And even in the shadow of death I will praise You
And even in the valley I will say

Holy, My God
You are worthy of all my praise
Holy, My God
You are worthy of all my praise

You are seated on your throne in heaven
And You see all of us down here
And You have promised You will not abandon
So I shall not fear

And even in the shadow of death
I will praise You
And even in the valley I will say

Holy, My God
You are worthy of all my praise
Holy, My God
You are worthy of all my praise

You made every star
And You taught it how to shine
You knew my name before there was time
And all this was just part of Your glorious design
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Holy, My God
You are worthy of all my praise

For more songs that inspire, visit Amy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Grand Re-Opening

At the Well Blog Button

At the Well is having a Grand Re-opening on February 2nd. You can click the image to check out the new site and "grand opening" giveaways! I can't wait to jump in again next week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Fresh Start

Today is Thankful Thursday, and I've been waiting all day to write this post. This evening, my blog got its first design, a fresh start so to speak, thanks to Danielle. If you haven't checked her out, you should! She has designed many of the blogs I enjoy reading.

Also, she's offering $10 off a blog design to the first two people who email her. Use the name of this blog as the discount code.

In addition to being thankful for my new blog, today I am especially thankful for:

my husband and my girls,

the miracle pregnancy God has given us and for this baby,

the many, many prayers for healing and peace (they are working!),

and the support of so many, especially Emily and Lauren, who come help us out every morning (and even evenings if we need them).

For more Thankful Thursday, go here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Purpose for Me

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands." Psalm 138:8

I was dwelling on this verse this morning and thinking about what a wonderful promise we have been given! Then I realized that this verse used LORD, all caps, versus Lord. I remembered from our last women's Bible study that there was a difference between the two spellings, so I looked it up.

When we see LORD, it means Yahweh or Jehovah, "I am who I am." It denotes God's personal name and his eternality. It is often used in relationship to God as redeemer and covenant keeper.

In the midst of life's ups and downs, it blessed me to know that it is the LORD, my redeemer and covenant keeper, that promised to fulfill his purpose for me! Even when our situation looks like it is meaningless, God promises us that he has a purpose.


For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy

Just an Update

It's time for an update, as last week held some scary events for us and the baby. The beginning of last week I continued to be incredibly nauseous and unable to smell just about anything without getting sick. I stayed on bedrest like the doctor prescribed; too bad it wasn't helping ease the nausea. Two nights in a row I went to bed, sick, by 6 pm. Then on Wednesday evening, I had some incredibly sharp cramping and pains in my abdomen. I was hoping for the best, that it was something as simple as gas, even though though it didn't feel that way to me.

By Friday, I noticed my icky pregnancy symptoms had decreased dramatically. Things that were sore before were no longer sore, I wasn't nauseous and I no longer had aversions to smells. To test my theory completely, I sat with the family at dinner (I was fine) and I ate a hot dog to see what would happen (nothing). At this point I was convinced that something was terribly wrong and I started to get worried.

That's right, I started to feel better - and it made me upset! The backstory is, last summer we lost a baby right around this same week. And the series of events leading up to it were sharp abdominal pain and loss of nausea. I was also on bedrest for a separation of the placenta then too. I'm sure it didn't help matters that the baby's due date is coming up next week as well. And although the tests confirmed there was a chromosomal reason we lost that baby, there were too many similarities and a lot on my mind.

With all that history, and more than a few pregnancy emotions, I just began to believe that this baby was gone. I started to prepare myself for the worst and told my husband to do the same. My next ultrasound was still 4 days away, but I got in touch with the doctor's office Saturday morning and explained my symptoms to them. They asked me to drive down immediately.

This was no small task, but we managed to arrange instant childcare for the girls and then make the hour and a half trip down. I cried, knowing what to expect at this appointment. My mind alternating between whether I should take a look at one last picture of my baby, still and gone, or not watch and just save the last ultrasound image in my brain. My husband, on the other hand, stayed quiet during the drive because he said he wasn't sure about it all.

When we got in the room, I tearily told the nurse practioner about the pains and decrease in pregnancy symptoms. She said, "Oh that's good!" And I told her it wasn't a good sign for me, as I'm ALWAYS nauseous until week 14. She smiled and said pregnancy symptoms come and go. I just thought, This is my 4th time around, I know how things go. And then, without warning, the ultrasound picture came up. Even before the tech could locate the heartbeat, I saw the movement. The baby was kicking and waving and moving all around. My hands flew to my mouth and I gasped. The tears were pouring and the nurses were handing me kleenex. I was shocked!

I've never been so happy to be so wrong! And the good news kept coming. The heartbeat was fast and strong. The baby was growing exactly the right size to the day! This was important because one of the signs that the blood clot, or separation as they now refer to it as, is causing harm is that the baby's growth rate diminishes. The size of the separation (of the placenta from the uterus) did increase slightly from 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm. But the size of the placenta has also increased, and there is still much attached. The doctors were not too concerned because I have not been bleeding and just reinforced that I stay on strict bedrest.

And can I just tell you how much easier it is to be on bedrest when you are not nauseous and sick to your very core? I feel like a new woman. At least now I have the energy to do other things. I picked up some books and am able to read now. I downloaded some games to my iPhone to keep my brain working. The girls can come in and jump around on my bed, without it making me queasy. It's much more bearable. The nausea does seem to come and go, just as the Nurse Practioner said it would. Some days are better than others.

And so I ask you to continue to pray for our little one. We need the separation to heal and for any blood clots to absorb. I need to rest in God's peace, and stay off my feet as much as possible.

We've had lots of meals delivered to the house and offers to run errands. We still have help in the mornings for another week, until Emily returns to college. And I have a couple of good friends that call everyday to cheer me up and check up on me. We are SO thankful for all the support. And most of all for your prayers.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Desert Song

The Testimony

If you're short on time, skip to the bottom and just listen to the song. If you've got just a minute, you must hear this amazing inspirational story. Jill McCloghry suffered the imaginable just days before the recording and taping of the brand new Hillsong album, This is Our God, including this song "Desert Song."

While it would have been easy to turn inward, she decided to turn her pain into praise, and went ahead and recorded the album. What a painful, beautiful example for us all.

Desert Song

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

The Song

*Jill McCloghry sings "Desert Song" with Brooke Fraser

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Looking at the Bright Side

Last week I said I had been "sentenced to bedrest." And while sentenced is none too harsh of a word, I thought today I would focus on the bright side. Welcome to Thankful Thursday, bright side style.

I am thankful for bedrest because it gives me time to catch up on making home made birthday thank you cards with Madeline.

I am thankful for bedrest because it allows me to do something that mothers of young children rarely have time to do by themselves (and I'm not talking about going to the bathroom),

nails painted and not one smudge from moving too soon!

I am thankful for bedrest because when my girls do this

I have a wonderful helper to assist in the cleanup (thanks Emily!)

I am thankful for bedrest because it gives me more time for this

hot creme brulee tea and time in God's Word. (Disclaimer: not the normal state of the desk. If my husband saw how uncluttered it was, he would be screaming "fraud!")

And I am thankful for bedrest because I have more time to finish projects such as printing off this encouraging Scripture verse from Lori's blog and actually getting it in a frame.


Today Iris was thankful for fulfilled dreams. What are you thankful for? For more words of inspiration visit her at Grace Alone....