Monday, September 28, 2009

Judah

Just look at this darling boy! He's so happy and content. He gives away his beautiful smiles so easily, to anybody! He delights his brothers and sister, and provides all kinds of entertainment for them. (Granted, my kids are pretty easy to please, so Judah doesn't have to do too much to make them happy!) He's such a joy. It's hard to believe that he's been home for almost 3 months already, and is going to be 4 months old next week! Now that it's officially Fall, I can say that we did indeed make it through the summer. This was the hardest, longest summer EVER, but God carried us through...AGAIN! His grace and faithfulness were there for us in perfect measure each new day. Enough to see us through, and keep us clinging to Him for the next day's measure. He is so good. I realized that we have experienced a miracle. 2 huge answers to prayer! Our pediatrician told us that by October Judah would be hospitalized at least twice. Well, October begins in 3 short days, and my little lion is healthy and hospital-free! He also told us that, most likely, by 2-3 months of age Judah would develop the diuretic condition where his kidneys would output constantly, and he'd be on new medication including 1 liter of water a day. Judah will be 4 months old on Sunday, and his kidneys have not developed this condition yet. Praise the Lord!! I'm so thankful to God that He has allowed us these healthy months with Judah, without any hospitalizations or any other serious illnesses or conditions coming up. I realize that this is a gift. I just wish that would have occurred to me earlier. Sometimes I'm a little slow... Today I'm celebrating Judah - his smile, his health, and the fact that God gave him to me. I'm so blessed.


Thank You, Lord, for giving me joy.....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grief

I've learned a lot about grief over the last 3 1/2 months. It's horrible. It's raw. It has stages. It's a process. You might move beyond a stage, but that doesn't mean you won't revisit that same stage at a later time. You have to work through grief. It's sneaky. Just when you think you're on top of it, it rears it's ugly head unexpectedly. Grief can kick your butt. It can leave you feeling lost and alone; and it can make you second guess yourself, stripping you of any self-confidence you might have. (Am I normal? Is it ok to grieve like this? Should I still be grieving?) But, it can also cause something really beautiful, healing, and life-changing to happen. It can drive you to your knees and thrust you into a desperate pursuit of Christ and a deeper intimacy with Him. A crying out, pleading, all-I-want-is-You kind of pursuit. This doesn't happen all the time. Some days the grief wins the battle. But even on those days I believe that God is at work, deep down in the hidden places of my soul, winning the war.

I grieve.

I mourn.

I lament.

I remember when our doctor thought that Judah might have Trisomy 18, and we were facing the possibility of losing him. At that point, I didn't care what kinds of disabilities or special needs he might have, as long as I could bring him home. I just wanted Judah. The day we found out that his chromosomes were normal, I felt like I could fly. Like a literal huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. That day I wasn't grieving...it wasn't even a tiny blip on the radar. And I don't think I could have even guessed how hard the grief would hit me later. But here I am, with my beautiful, charming, darling boy, grieving. I don't grieve over Judah, or because of Judah. He's such a priceless gift! Such a treasure! I grieve over what I have lost, and what Judah has lost and will have to face. I lost the dream of a normal delivery and a healthy baby that could be with me. I lost the dream of a breastfeeding relationship. I'm still working on that one, but it will never be what it was with my other 3. Judah has lost a normal childhood, and I have lost the dream of that for him. I hate that he is facing a life with pain and disease and hospitalizations and surgeries and medications and doctors and other possible handicaps that we're not sure of yet. It's a fine line of grieving; mourning the circumstances surrounding this little person, not mourning the person.
The grief hits me at times that seem so wrong. My brother & sister-in-law are having a baby. A little girl. I rejoice with them, and I'm so excited! Another niece for me, another girl cousin for Lydia. I pray for her and love her already. They had their 20 week ultrasound yesterday. What a privilege for them to be able to see her, and also to be able to share the news that she's healthy! But in the midst of all of this happy news, I grieve all over again. I relive our 20 week ultrasound with Judah. The rest of my pregnancy. His birth and that time of separation. It hits me, and it's fresh all over again. It makes this time that should be nothing but joyous, bittersweet. I wonder, then, if parts of life will always be bittersweet. Will I always be contending with this grief; always experiencing sorrow in the midst of my joy? How frustrating is that? I don't want that. So, the question becomes, how do I find joy, real joy, that is alive and fresh and independent of my circumstances? Intellectually I know that my joy can't come from my circumstances or surroundings. I know that it comes from Christ. That's what I want. I want joy, not grief. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for dancing, too. Someday, I hope that God will help me to set aside my grief and experience true joy, dancing! Without even a hint of bittersweet. This side of Heaven.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plastics Consult - YAY

I'm such a silly girl. I often get myself all worked up over something, only to see God go before me, paving the way for His will and glory...

Judah's consult went well. I'm extremely confident in his surgeon's skills and expertise. He's also just a very nice man:) The consult went quickly, and all of a sudden we were to the "do you have any questions" part. I stumbled over my words a little, because I just wasn't ready for that so suddenly. Jared looked at me and repeated the question. Now that I think about it, it's kind of comical! Anyway, all I had to ask was if he had researched breastfeeding after a cleft repair. In a nutshell, he told me that it's ultimately my decision, and then laid out the reasons that he doesn't recommend it. That was it. No case-presenting or respectful arguing...nothing! And boy was I relieved! Now, we go from there. Continuing to pray. Taking what he said into consideration, doing some more research. More praying. And in the end do what we both believe to be God's best for Judah. We had one other answer to prayer come about during the meeting. We had been hoping to put off Judah's surgery until at least November. It just so happens that pre-approval from the insurance company takes 6-8 weeks, and the surgery gets scheduled and takes place shortly after that. That puts us in November:) Thank You, Jesus! And thanks to each of you who prayed!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plastics Consult - PRAY

Today at 3 we have a consult with the plastic surgeon that will be doing Judah's cleft surgeries. I'm way nervous, because I will be presenting my case for why Judah should be allowed to nurse (even if just for comfort) after surgery. My prayer is that he will understand where I'm coming from, really hear what I'm saying, and agree to let me do this for Judah. I'm also praying that I would be confident in my "arguments", but respectful and gracious as well. I hate confrontation of any kind, so this is a big deal for me. But I know in my heart this is the best thing for Judah. I'm willing to advocate for him in spite of my anxiety and lack of confidence - Lord help! Thanks for praying.....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Top 100

"In everything give thanks." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In random order...
I'm Thankful For...

1. Jesus
2. Salvation
3. Grace
4. Love
5. Heaven
6. Jared
7. Elijah
8. Ezra
9. Lydia
10. Judah
11. Family
12. the Body of Christ
13. Music
14. Evie
15. Sunshine
16. Summer
17. Pink
18. Goodwill Mugs
19. New Shoes
20. Purses
21. Nail Polish
22. Kisses
23. God's Word
24. New Pajamas
25. Coffee
26. Strawberries
27. Chocolate
28. Baby Sounds
29. My Children's Hugs
30. Friends
31. Date Night
32. Gym Membership
33. New Tribes Bible Institute
34. Corporate Worship
35. Snow
36. Autumn Leaves
37. Colored Underwear
38. New Van
39. New Play Set
40. Bubble Bath
41. Flowers
42. Modern Medical Technology
43. Dr. B.
44. Family Visits
45. Letters & Packages
46. Trials
47. the Ability to Write
48. Family Reunions
49. Red Hair
50. God's Faithfulness
51. My House
52. Ministry
53. Friends' Visits
54. My "Life-on-Life" Mentor
55. Laughter
56. Tears
57. Clearance
58. Rummage Sales
59. Books
60. Christmas
61. Easter
62. Thanksgiving
63. "Happy" Socks
64. This Blog
65. Dependence
66. Sundays
67. Family Night
68. Emotions
69. Restaurants
70. Hotels
71. Grandparents
72. a Heritage of Faith
73. Freedom
74. Stars
75. Camping
76. Toasted Marshmallows
77. Fireplaces
78. Mercy
79. Compassion
80. My Bed
81. Hot Showers
82. Life with My "Abraham"
83. Presents
84. My Birthday
85. Cornerstone Christian School
86. Hammocks
87. Family Vacations
88. Candles
89. Hope in Christ
90. Miracles
91. Forgiveness
92. Medicine
93. Breastmilk
94. Photographs
95. Computers
96. Video Cameras
97. Older, Wiser Women
98. Electric Blankets
99. Fuzzy Slippers
100. God's Perfect Plan

Friday, September 18, 2009

Focus!

Wednesday was good for me. It's been a really hard, long week. I've had a lot on my mind and rolling around in my head. I've not known where to go with all this that I've been dealing with...or how to deal with it. I think that talking to Jared (or blowing up at Jared as the case may be) will help. I think that eating chocolate will help. I think that reading a book or watching t.v. or taking a nap will help (ya, good luck with that one). I think that desperate cries for help will...help. But it seems like the healing really begins when I sit down to write, and God draws my focus back to Him. That's what happened on Wednesday. After a day from hell on Monday (yes, I really said that) and a day that was only a little better on Tuesday, I finally made the time to write on Wednesday. Since then God has brought 5 things back into focus for me. 1. There are a lot of moms who have special kids and husbands, who may not be in full-time ministry, but their jobs or businesses keep them away from home just as much or more. I am not alone. 2. I have a lot of family, through blood and/or Christ, who are diligently praying for me and loving me. They are personally invested in my life, Jared's life, Judah's life, and this journey we are all on together. I am not alone. 3. Regardless of my circumstances, there are others who are experiencing pain and grief that far exceed mine. Yes, my experience is very real and painful and unique to me; and I need to face this pain and experience it to the fullest. But grief is not unique to me. There is a whole world of pain outside my own little world of pain, and stepping outside into that world, focusing on others and encouraging them, is also a necessary part of this journey. I am not alone. 4. I really do have a phenomenal husband. He has a love and passion for me and our children that is second only to his love and passion for Christ. He has a love and passion for students that draws them to himself and points them to Christ. He desires to know God more. He desires to effectively love and minister to me and our kids. He is a leader through servant hood. This pain and frustration is his just as much as it is mine. I love him. I am not alone. 5. Regardless of what my condition looks like, my position in Christ is firm and unshakable. Regardless of how ugly my condition is, when God looks at me He sees His beautiful Son and His finished work on the Cross. My position in Christ means that God delights in me and loves to bless me. I am His child. He delights in and blesses me as His child the way I do in my children...only on a scale of much, much greater magnitude!! Regardless of how I fail in my condition, He meets me where I am at and gives me HIS good. [In just a week's time God gave my kids a HUGE wooden play set, and provided a van for our family.] I am definitely not alone!

It's been a looong, hard week; but at the end of it, I have to say that it has been quite productive, and God has been at work in me. He is good. His grace is sufficient.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time to vent

I've been holding this in for awhile, but now it's just time to let it out and have a good vent session! This whole big family, special needs, ministry wife/family thing is much harder than I ever dreamed it would be! This summer I was so thankful that Jared was in the position he was, because he had plenty of vacation time, very flexible hours, and the ability to work from home or hospital. He was available. He was there. Things have changed to the extent that I really don't know if I can do this. I have struggled - really struggled - with this for the past month. I don't know what the answer is...or if there even is one. O.k. Christ is the Answer. Ya, I know that intellectually, but I don't know where that "pat" answer fits into this. I'm so frustrated and angry with, and torn by this whole situation with our "new normal" and being a "ministry family". And it really just sucks. Jared and I have fought and have struggled. We've been pulled in different directions. We've been exhausted by the stress and pressure that so many new demands and responsibilities have brought. As a way to motivate us (well, me) he said that if we survive this year he'll do everything he can to make a real family vacation happen for us next summer. The whole 2 week extravaganza! Yes, it's been fun, a real bright spot in some dark days, to think and dream about what that vacation would look like. [My favorite scenario takes place in CO:)] Honestly, though, I see 1 of 2 things happening. 1. We really don't survive this year. Or 2. We "survive", but no longer want to take a vacation together. I know that there are women - moms, wives - who have had big families, special needs, and a husband in full-time ministry and have more than survived. They've thrived! They're happy and content and in love with their husbands and have nurtured and raised obedient, well-adjusted kids. I know they've got to be out there. I just don't know who they are. And I'm really not sure I can ever be one of them. It pains me to admit all of this, because it brings me face-to-face with my failings, short-comings, and insecurities. But there it is. I don't think I can do this. It's hard enough to deal with all the kid stuff; but to add a husband and dad in full-time ministry on top of that goes beyond my capabilities. I wouldn't change my kids. I would never change who Judah is. I wouldn't change the man that Jared is. However, I would change some of our circumstances. I would change what life looks like right now. I would change the mom and wife that I am more often than not. I want more time in the day. I want to have fun and relax. I want to be fun and relaxed. I want to be rescued. I want my husband, my best friend, to be home. I want him to have fun and relax, to be fun and relaxed. I want our family to be strong, committed to each other no matter what, always on each others' sides, loving and supportive of one another, and able to fully enjoy each other and have a great time together. And right at this moment I want a pleasant life. Right now I want to be rescued more than I want intimacy with Christ. That's an ugly truth. And it's steeped in my condition. I need a good dose of positional truth. It will come. I know God will minister to me. I know He loves me. I know He wants me. Ugly and all.

The kiddos call.....

The Lion

I found something so cool yesterday that just re-confirmed that God really did name Judah! I've always believed that He gave us this name for Judah Matthew. His name is a reminder and a statement of faith that God will indeed be praised - no matter what - and that he is a gift of God - no matter what!! It's part of our and his testimony to others. His name was no accident! Since he's been born we've talked so much about the Lion of Judah. Our older kids know about Him, and I tell Judah that his Lion, his Protector, his Warrior is with him each time he's in the lab, or undergoing some other uncomfortable or unpleasant "procedure". One of these days he's going to have his own little lion to take with him as a visual reminder, too:) Anyway, what I didn't know until yesterday was what God said about Judah in Genesis 49:8ff. Jacob is blessing his sons, and Judah is 4th in line. He starts by saying that his brothers will praise him and that he will be a victorious leader. Then, depending on the Bible version (I'll go with NIV here), Jacob calls him a "lion's cub" in v. 9a and then in 9b compares him with a mature lion. He goes on to call Judah a ruler, and then gets into some future stuff... Jesus came from the line of Judah. So, my little lion really is. I'm excited to do some more studying on the subject of lions, why the comparison with lions, why is Jesus called the Lion of Judah, etc. I just thought it was so cool, though, to read this little section about Judah in Scripture, and think about my little Judah. He may appear to be the "underdog", but he's really a little lion...and He's got the Lion with him always...and He just also happens to be the Great Physician. I think Judah's got the advantage:)

Another Sunday - Take 2

My brain function being considerably diminished as of late caused me to forget to journal about a very important part of our Sunday worship at "home": the fellowship afterwards! How could I forget to write about the wonderful, very personal connections we made with some of our family there?! Especially since I came away feeling more encouraged than I had in a long time!! It was sooo encouraging to talk face-to-face and hear from some special women that they are indeed still praying for me; that they love me; that they are encouraged by me, of all things! It's amazing to hear that our story, Judah's journey, is being used to encourage others in their faith. And that serves to further encourage me and spur me on! So, I really just wanted to get this down here, so I remember how God and this family blessed me so personally. And how I felt refreshed and rejuvenated after just a short time with them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time for a new ride...

It's official. We need a new van. We've been joking for over a year now that our van has cancer. This thing has been supernaturally protected for 5 years! We've put 110,000 miles on it, and have had no major problems. Just normal wear and tear. No more! Jared has taken it in for the last time...I think. The belt falls off. When he took it in to get it fixed again (thanks to the guys at Walker who haven't even charged us the last 2 times they've put it back on - donuts to be delivered to you on Monday morning!) they said it was time to get a new van...today. What does this have to do with Judah...or this journey God is leading us on? Kind of everything. Can't take very good care of Judah if I can't get him to his appointments. Scary, yes. BUT GOD... I'm not even worried about it. (Well, anymore. In all honesty, I was a little discouraged last night. God worked pretty fast in me this time around!) God knew this day was coming; and I believe He has already set into place a means of providing a new van for us. I'm not exactly sure how it will all work out. I am totally sure, though, that the van we end up with will be a direct and perfect provision from the Lord! We have no way of making this happen for ourselves. It will be God guiding us to the right van, and providing the funds needed to buy it. It's another opportunity for us to trust Him and practice total dependence on Him! He knows our needs even better than we do. And I am confident that He delights in meeting those needs for His children! So, what could be another stressor or reason to be discouraged or frustrated, is turning out to be a pretty cool situation to be in. Another chance to see God work in ways that are totally beyond us! And just so no one is confused, let me just say again (because it's been awhile), that this whole attitude and perspective is NOT me! This is Christ in me; giving me confidence and assurance, and encouraging me. He continues to draw me to Himself. Another lesson in total dependence is a great way to do it!

Doctor & Therapy

Judah had another weight check on Wednesday of this week. I was very excited (jumping up and down at the doctor's office, actually) to see Judah tip the scale at 9 lbs. 1/4 oz!! I knew that if he was getting what he should be he would be about 9 lbs. Well, he's no over achiever, but he definitely got there! I also talked to the dr. about Judah's Prevacid - the medication he's been on for acid reflex. I've never liked the fact that they put him on it in the NICU, and was never fully able to understand why. As a matter of fact, the dr. that ordered it didn't really want to either, but it was a kind of "general consensus" among the other neonatologists in the NICU. Anyway, I was willing to trust the drs. at the time; and with everything else we were dealing with it didn't seem like a major thing. Since then it's just been at the back of my mind, but still not a big deal. Well, his prescription required doctor's approval to be refilled again, so I thought now was the perfect time to discuss it. Judah's pediatrician was "on my side". Judah's growing well and shows no sign of problems with reflux. He's more at risk for complications from stomach acid coming up because of his cleft palate, but at this point the dr. thought it was a good idea to wean him off the med. So, in 2 weeks he'll be down to just 3 drugs - no more Prevacid! Yippee!!! By that time we'll be back in for a well baby check and can discuss how he's doing off the Prevacid. I'm so happy about this.


Later that day we had therapy. His OT and teacher are always optimistic and pleased with how he's doing; but I'm starting to get a little discouraged. Maybe a little frustrated. Judah is 3 months old now, but still very much a newborn. And while he's made some progress, it seems to me to be very slow. I thought I had dealt with any expectations I had for him and thrown them out... I guess I didn't really. I want to see him tracking me and watching my movements. He does a little, but... I want to see him holding up his head. I want to see him reaching for things and playing. I get discouraged when I have to tell the therapist that there hasn't been any or much change in an area. Must be time to reevaluate my expectations...and then throw them out again. I'll have to learn the balance between having healthy expectations for him and not expecting too much and then being disappointed. No, discouraged is a better word. I will never be disappointed in or with my little lion.


And on that note, let me finish this post by saying that that little lion is so smiley and happy and content. He's such a joy! A little bundle of precious wrapped in majorly adorable! God has been so good to us in blessing us with Judah. I know I have a lot to learn, a long way to go in "mastering" the art of mommy-ing this special little kiddo, but I continue to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God's plan for us and for Judah is perfect. [And that includes His plan for Judah's development and growth.] He made no mistake when He made Judah. Judah is a perfect little image-bearer, beautifully reflecting God's glory by simply being.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HE'S LAUGHING!!!

Yesterday afternoon I was holding Judah on the love seat and the Boys were playing nearby when Lydia started calling me from the bathroom. I put Judah on the floor and ran to go help her; of course the Boys instantly got on the floor with Judah. A minute later I thought I heard them blowing raspberries on his tummy. Before I could go see what they were doing to their baby brother, Eli came running into the bathroom, telling me I had to come see! They were indeed blowing raspberries on that tiny tummy - and he was LAUGHING!!! I'm not sure I've ever heard anything sweeter than Judah's tiny little laugh! I just couldn't believe it! It's amazing that I wasn't crying all over the place... I was just so excited!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!




video video

Mini-Vacation

This summer has been long and difficult. There have been some bright spots, but when I think back over the summer what stands out to me the most is all the hard and sad and new. Not to mention the fact that Jared's end-of-summer & back-to-school schedule was fuller and more demanding than last summer's. We hadn't been planning on a trip back to Wisconsin before Christmas; but all of our friends here were going on vacations all summer and "getting away", and we realized that we really needed that, too. We decided to spend a few too short days with our family over Labor Day. I'm so glad we did! The drive out was a challenging one - pumping several times in the van and washing out parts in a truck stop bathroom (ew); extra potty stops for the somewhat newly potty-trained princess who decided that she absolutely would NOT go potty in a dirty bathroom (an inconvenient surprise, but one that made Mommy happy all the same); trying to get our portable dvd player to work, then watching our 3 older kids all trying to see 1 monitor because the other one is broken; giving Judah meds in his car seat - but the time spent with family, blood and otherwise, was well worth it! It did this Mommy's heart good to hear aunts and uncles, and such dear friends ooh and aah over her darling little boy! And just as good was seeing the other 3 get loved on and have so much fun playing with their cousins. It was a time to reconnect with just a few of the people we love the most. It was encouraging, uplifting, fun, restful - in a "new normal" sense of the word - and yummy:) We had the opportunity to have a family date at Oscars. Way special, because nobody does frozen custard like Oscars. Nobody. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with my sister-in-heart. We were so blessed by a visit from our most favorite Madison-ites! Of course we loved the time we had with our siblings and our way-too-adorable-for-words nieces and nephews! I also had the chance to go out with Mom, my hero. A "date" with Mom doesn't always happen; actually, it rarely does, so I feel even more blessed to have had the chance to go shopping together for even just a little while. And when I say shopping, I mean finding great deals on brand name clothes at GoodWill:) I feel like I got a whole new wardrobe! Well, not really, but close. Overall it was a great weekend, and at the end of it I was able to honestly say that it was refreshing and served it's purpose of making us feel like we "got away". And since I know that there are a lot of people who will read this, I have to close by giving "props" to Mom. God blesses me and my family continually through my mom. This weekend felt like a vacation because of the time and effort my mom put into it. Meals, clean-up, time with the kids -acts of service that I do not take for granted, but am so thankful for. And thanks to Dad, too, for his enthusiastic performance of a hungry restaurant patron, and for making a little boy's day by passing down some history in the form of the "little car trophy". I love you guys.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Another Sunday

Aaaaahhh... That's a very contented sigh. It's Sunday again, and today we had the privilege of worshipping at our "home church". I love this Body. It's a small-ish, cozy, inviting, warm group of believers that meets in an environment to match. I was so looking forward to worshipping with this family this morning, and I wasn't disappointed. The only bummer was the absence of our pastor and his wife. We live 500 miles away now, but they still shepherd us. That's a love and commitment to Christ and His body that goes far beyond their local fellowship. As it should be. We're all family. And each time we come back for a visit, even though it's been months, we are welcomed back as family. That's only a part of the "healing" that took place for me this morning. We had the privilege of sharing with everyone a quick update about what God's been doing in our lives. I count it a privilege because I love telling others about what God has done for me and in me. He's done an impossible work in me - He's changed me, and continues to do so - but God is in the business of the impossible. I love telling others about His goodness and faithfulness; about the gift that He's given us in Judah. I love talking about Him. I'm still trying to figure out why others want to listen to me, but I'm glad to talk to whomever will! It was a good time of worship through music. Simple and heartfelt. I loved the words that we sang and the Scripture chosen to compliment them. Then there was the message. I was reminded again that regardless of the messenger, the message and Truth of Scripture is incredibly powerful! I don't know why I was struck with that truth, because I enjoyed this particular "messenger", but it was a cool reminder. God's Word is phenomenal, and "bigger" than anyone sharing it. The message was about everything we receive from God at the moment of salvation. Positional Truth. I could sit under teaching like that every day of the week! My heart felt full after that message. It was a tremendously wonderful reminder after everything I've experienced this summer. Many times I have lost sight of the thoroughness of God's salvation extended to me. It's all there! Everything! I am so perfectly equipped I don't even know what to do with it all! Appropriation. I wish I knew how to do it better.
It was a great morning. Thanks, Family.