Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Pregnancy Story: A Birth I Couldn't Do

Ok people it’s birth story time…here’s just a little part of our story and the amazing things God did because I couldn't have.

On Monday the day before my due date Michael and I ventured up to Springfield to talk with my doctor and one of the things we discussed was an epidural because my chart said the high risk doctor wanted me to get an early epidural due to my pacemaker.  Call me crazy, but I didn’t want one.  I really wanted a vaginal, without epidural, and as minimal intervention childbirth as I possibly could.  So we talked about it, she talked with the high risk doc, and my cardiologist and EVERYONE said it would be okay for me not to get an epidural (so we thought).

BUT then came Wednesday, the day my water sprung a leak (no, it literally sprung a leak) and Michael and I went to the hospital.  The doctor came into the room, not the one I’d been seeing, but the one on call who would also be delivering the baby and tells me that they want me to have an epidural.  I then proceed to tell him about the conversation I JUST had with my doctor two days ago.  He informs me that he also spoke with all of my doctors again and everyone was of the opinion that I should have an epidural.  Okay, now I’m confused, and frankly angry.  Picture it with me people, I’m sitting on my birth ball, rocking away, crying because this doctor is telling me that I now have to have an epidural and I would only be allowed 30 minutes of pushing time because of my pacemaker.  Did you know the average first time Mom pushes 1 to 2 hours?  Awesome, 30 minutes, when my doctor and I discussed it earlier and she said I could push for up to 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Now, I know Rachel Ray can whip up a meal in 30 minutes, but we are talking babies here people, not chicken marsala!

Anyways, I think the tears may have swayed my doctor a bit because he told me that if I could keep my heart rate under 100 and push for 30 minutes he would let me do it without the epidural.  This also meant I would have to labor down as long as possible, which just means I’d have to wait for Gabriel to get as low as he could in the birth canal so I wouldn’t have to push as long.  That just means I could be fully dilated for quite some time without being able to push.  Wow, okay, labor without pain meds and keep my heart rate under 100, while laboring down, and only pushing for 30 minutes. 


Yep, I couldn’t, I had to have God’s strength.  I always knew I couldn’t give birth without God’s help, but now I really needed some divine intervention. 

My doula, who was awesome and loves Jesus prayed with us and we asked God for His help.  Folks, let me tell you, He showed up!  

There was one time my heart rate went over 100, and that was when my family walked in the room.  It startled me and sent my heart rate into the 100’s.  Other than that, even in the most intense part of labor my heart rate stayed under 100.  Now, I just don’t know how that happened, unless God was behind it all. 

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there!  It’s now pushing time.  Remember, I’ve got 30 minutes.  The doctor decided to have me push through every other contraction though, so I’d push and then breathe through the next.  That was fun (enter sarcastic tone here).  While that was difficult I think it worked to my advantage and the doc gave me some grace because it took about 40 minutes total with about 20 minutes of actual pushing time for me to get Gabriel out.  Once he crowned, I’m not kidding, on the next set of pushing he literally flew out all at once.  He must've known we didn't have much time left. ;)  (*update 3/25/15) My Doula told me that right after I gave birth my heart rate went above 100.  It's true, I actually have a picture of my husband holding Gabriel and my heart rate is 122 and that was minutes after I had given birth.  Wow, now that's just the Lord, there's no other way to explain it! 
(Heart rate at 122 after delivery)

I remember praying through this time, and just hearing from the Lord to rest knowing He was right there.  He sure was and He showed up big.  I just love it when He does this because I know I could not have done this alone, He did it and He deserves all the glory! 

Our beloved Gabriel is an answer to our many prayers.  In August of 2009 Michael and I started praying for a child, and on August 20th, 2014 God granted our request.  What a great God we serve!

Friday, August 15, 2014

5 Steps for Suffering Well

Suffering well.  Phhh…this is not my expertise.  It’s been a ginormous growing edge for me.  God has taken me on a pretty crazy journey to teach me a little bit more about suffering well.  Here are some of the practical insights He has taught me during this time. 

1.     Grieve our Loss, Both Big and Small.  Whether it’s losing a limb, a job, your temper or growing up without a mom or dad—it is vital we grieve it all.   It’s how we move on.   Ask the Lord to show you some of the pain you may have buried and not processed through so you can move on into deeper freedom with Christ. 

2.     Perspective is HUGE.  Sometimes when life gets tough, the only thing we can see is the negative present pain.  Yet, I’ve found that God’s grace is so abundant in our suffering.  Ask God to help you see your life from His perspective, an eternal perspective that sees both the really awesome stuff and the really painful stuff in proper balance. 

3.     Faith in His Word.  God has given us His Word of Truth in the Bible and He tells us that suffering and pain leads to good things, really good things.  Things like hope, love, and a more mature complete faith--suffering is how we become more like Christ.  Not only that but that He has a purpose for our lives, and it is good.  So, from God’s perspective suffering and pain is actually a good thing and not something to avoid (wrap your mind around that one!).  Ask God to grow your faith in His Word concerning your pain and loss. 

4.     Contentment, Joy, and Praise.  It really can happen in the midst of loss. We can be content, joyful people who are bent on praise, but it will take a very conscious choice to be this type of person.  Beloved, I am convinced of this, there is some deep freedom when we praise God through pain.  I admit though, this has been a big growing edge for emotions have a way of guiding me.  I’m asking God to change my attitudes and to help me be a person of praise and thanksgiving in all circumstances.  Won’t you?

5.     Jesus is Enough.  This one is BIG.   Some things we loss, we may never get back.  We can live aching for what we’ve lost, but I believe God desires for us to come to His Son to find He really is enough for us.  I think it’s one of the main reasons He allows loss and suffering, He desires for us to come to Him in desperation for our well-being like never before.  His love, forgiveness and grace are what really sustain us.  Ask the Lord to help you turn to Him for inner peace and satisfaction so you may find that He is more than enough for you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why Life Stinks

Have you ever wondered why you’re just not happy?  Why your heart is so restless?  Maybe you keep saying or thinking things like: 

I want a new job.  I want a new spouse.  I want more money in my bank account.  I want a bigger house.  I’m so tired of this health sickness.  Why can’t I exchange my kids at Wal-mart like I can a pair of shoes? 

It may be that we are miserable because we’ve chosen to be.  I know, you just got upset, because if I only knew what you’ve been through or are going through.  Beloved, I’m not trying to downplay the pain you’ve been through.  Yet, I also believe some of us are miserable and we don’t have to be but we are because of the attitudes we have chosen in response to our pain.  Life is full of unexpected circumstances, things far beyond our control.  It’s a choice how we respond to those circumstances and I believe we can actually have joy and be happy even when we’re experiencing pain and disappointment.  It’s called contentment and it comes from trusting God and not putting our hope in our circumstances—but in His Word. 

God has really been teaching me what contentment means lately.  Contentment means that I don’t have everything I want but I choose to trust in and thank Him for His sufficiency in my life resting in the fact that He has given me everything I need to be completely happy and content. 

Do we really believe that God is enough and that His love can truly satisfy?  Because if we did, we’d stop striving for more and we would be much more thankful people.  Thankful even for the painful stuff, because we believe by faith that God is using all of it to draw us closer to His heart and grow our faith.  God always acts of out love for us.  Always.  Yep, even in the struggle and in the pain, He’s acting out of love.  Don’t believe me, peruse the Scriptures that talk about suffering and see what God has to say about it.  I think you’ll be surprised to see the element of hope and goodness, which God tells us, comes through it. (Rom. 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, Gen. 50:20, James 1:12, Heb. 12:5-11, Rom. 8:18)

The more I rest in the Father’s love and complete control over my life, giving up my restlessness, and choosing to always be thankful the more satisfied I find my heart to be.  It’s here we find, that we don’t have to keep running and striving anymore because He is enough—more than enough. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joy Through Pain

I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  I ache.  I’m hot.  I’m a punching bag.  My stomach feels like Gumby, but I’m not Gumby…I’m pregnant. Yes, this is the beloved last trimester of pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely ecstatic that I am pregnant and I will endure because I am waiting for the amazing day that I will meet our precious baby and hold him in my arms.  Wow, that makes it all worth it, doesn’t it? 

I keep thinking about how this relates to our walk with Jesus (sorry people this is just how my brain worksJ). 

I believe when we desire deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ there will come a time when life gets really hard.  It’s like having a baby and going through the last trimester and birth.  We have an Enemy, he doesn’t play by the rules and he wants us to give up on going deeper with Jesus.  So when life gets tough, the pain becomes unbearable, the accusations, the guilt, and the shame gets stronger and stronger—that’s the Enemy trying to deter you from walking into deeper intimacy with Christ.  He knows your freedom is sure in Christ so he’ll do everything he can to bring you to doubt God, filling your heart with unbelief and despair to keep you stuck.   Beloved, your God has deeper freedom for you through His Son.  Press on, trust, and rest!  Remember who you are in Christ, an overcomer and more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37, Rev. 12:11).

The reality is, if we want to become like Jesus and grow in intimacy with Him, we will suffer and struggle. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

God uses what Satan has intended to harm us to make us more complete in Him.  THAT’S THE TRUTH.  God is in complete control of our lives and nothing He allows is beyond His control.  Surrender it all to Him, stop holding on, let it go and let God transform your pain and grow your faith.   He can and will use it for His great glory and for a deeper intimacy with Christ.  Like the pains and discomfort of labor, it is totally worth it.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Faith, Doubt, and Desiring a Sign

Have you ever had to be double sure about something?  It’s why double check we locked a door, turned off a stove, or take two pregnancy tests (not that I’ve done that…).  There’s something in us that isn’t easily persuaded, but drawn to skepticism and doubt. 

So when it comes to our relationship with God and this whole walking by faith thing, let’s just say it doesn’t always come easy.  Remember the story of Gideon? THE Angel of the Lord came to Gideon and told him, “Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14)  Gideon then goes on to talk about how small his clan is and how he is the least in this father’s house.  (Don’t you love it how God chooses the people who appear to be the weakest and least capable to do His mighty unexplainable work?)  Gideon then asks God for a sign, so God gives him a sign by consuming his sacrifice with fire.  Ok, so you think Gideon would be ready to rock n’ roll for God, right?  Nope, he’s still a skeptic.

What comes next is the part of the story I think we are a little more familiar with.  Gideon tests God with the fleece and not once, but twice.  Three times Gideon asks God for a sign and every time God showed up.  Now, I’m not one for testing God and I don’t believe God will always answer our prayers for a sign.  I believe the majority of the time He’s going to ask us to trust Him in faith, to wait, and watch for His hand of provision, like the Israelites who crossed the Red Sea (Ex. 14), the priest who carried the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan River (Josh. 3:14-17), or the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16).  Don’t know the stories; look them up, God called these people to a pretty radical faith and I believe He’s calling us to the same kind of faith.  Sometimes God will show us a sign like Gideon and once He does, receive it as a gift and move forward with your God into the impossible.  However, don’t get upset if He doesn’t, stay close to Him, keep praying, seeking and believing.  Beloved, He is faithful to His Word.  Don’t forget, God used Gideon even though he was the least in his father’s family.  Do you feel weak?  I don’t have any doubt God can use you to do something mighty; He’s all about using people who think they can’t do it.  So, what is God calling you to?  It could be a place of service, a new career, forgiveness of those who’ve hurt you, or a place of deeper surrender in your marriage or family.  Obey Him in humility and dependence and just watch Him show off His great glory. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our Pregnancy Story and the Fear of Loss

So, it happened.  I got scared.  I became afraid of losing our baby boy.  I talked about this fear before due to my miscarriage and how I was sure it would happen again sometime throughout the pregnancy.  Well it did.  It happened.  A few things led up to it, things out of my control.  Things that happened to others around me and this conversation at the doctors office 5 weeks ago…

“We couldn’t get a good look at his heart, but everything else looks fine.  If you didn’t have your appointment with Dr. Abrams (the high risk doctor) in two weeks we would have to do another ultrasound.”   

Trust me people when you’re a gal with a cardiac history, open-heart surgery at 11, and a pacemaker at 28—this is not something you enjoy hearing about your baby during their 20 week appointment.  I wanted to hear about his heart.  I wanted to know he had his dad’s heart and not his mom’s, but I couldn’t know I would have to wait.  Jesus, I trust You.

Thankfully, we went to the high-risk doctor two weeks later and our hearts were put at ease as we learned that our baby’s heart looked wonderful.   Thank You Jesus.  Deep breath. 

Yet, within those two weeks of waiting I can recall being overwhelmed with fear for a couple of days.  While meeting with a dear friend of mine I shared this fear, and let me tell you this friend of mine she is a prayer warrior.  We prayed together over this fear, and it was as if right there in that room Jesus lifted the fear right off of me.  By God’s grace, it’s been about a month since then and I haven’t felt the fear since. 

It tells us in James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Now, I wonder how often we don’t share the pain of our hearts out of fear and pride.  Go with me here.   Asking for prayer means that we have to be vulnerable and open ourselves up to the fact that we are weak.  That takes guts to do sometimes doesn’t it? 

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize how much I need the prayers of other people.  By God’s grace I’m learning just how powerful it is to admit my weakness and need for prayer.  We need both individual and communal prayer. 

How about you?  Are you asking others for prayer or burying the cries of your heart?