Friday, December 28, 2007

Emotions

For some reason today, it was an emotional one. Everything went pretty much as normal as we settled down from the excitement of celebrating Christ's birthday a few days ago... Dusty went back to work and Deacon and I spent the day as we sometimes do~ me in a battle of wills with a 2-year-old. Most days I don't let it suck me in, and yet today, I did. Sitting on the potty, taking a bath, putting on pants, leaving the play area at the mall, eating what I serve for dinner... it just seemed to be one of those days, from the get-go, that was going to get the best of me. He wasn't being bad, just being a 2-year-old, and I was emotional. Something I feel that I haven't been lately.

I definitely wasn't angry with him today, just frustrated. And then, after dinner, I simply bent down to hug him and I said very sincerely "Deacon, I love you." I tell him about 50 times a day that I love him. I ask him probably every other day if he knows how much I love him~ he always says yes... and still tonight, for the first time I can ever remember, he looked back at me right in the eyes, hugged me with both arms around my neck and said shaking his head "I wove you too, Mommy". And just like that I couldn't control my emotions. I was crying tears that I haven't cried in a long time. I didn't cry on Thanksgiving or Christmas... I haven't lost anything and we were celebrating. I haven't cried about our situation or these circumstances that we find ourselves in for what seems like an eternity. I have been good. Really. I have felt a peace and joy beyond description... and yet today, I cried very emotional tears.

The crying doesn't negate the peace and joy. The crying doesn't mean that somehow I'm not okay. The crying was just in those brief moments... the pure joy of hearing my sweet boy tell me, without prompting, that he loved me. The realization that the Lord has placed something inside of him to know just what I need. And then came the sadness. I simply looked at him, smiley and playing, and realized that I probably won't ever get to hear Maddox say those words to me. That in the beauty of simple things, something can touch your heart so deeply and yet, tear it out at the same time. Honestly, for the first time tonight, I briefly thought... "Why us Lord?" It's not a question that I have asked... EVER ... not in my mind or out loud. I knew from the beginning that it wasn't the why but the what... and still, like the rest of the day, I was thrown-off for a split second and that question crossed my mind. ...Thankfully, the Lord didn't allow me to dwell on it as I watched my older son across the room singing Christmas caroles and I felt my younger son inside, moving all about. And suddenly, just like it appeared, it all went away: the confusion, the pain, the longing for normalcy and a "regular baby". I quickly returned to the contented thankfulness that I have felt all along... I know the Lord has given us this child to bless us. "...Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:10

While praying tonight and reading over some scripture, the Lord reminded me what a testimony we have to His faithfulness. When we found out about Maddox's condition, due to his many complications, we were led to believe that from the medical side, we almost certainly wouldn't make it to delivery. Granted, we're not there yet, but we're quickly approaching that time as I am 31 weeks today. The Lord is good, and faithful- and He does things according to His will. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

I am so grateful for days like today... ones that remind me how far the Lord has brought us up to this point. He has overwhelmed us with love and peace and I continue to pray for that as we draw closer to our time to deliver. I know that part of the emotion is due to the impending arrival of that specific date on the calendar (not yet finalized)... excitement and yet definite apprehension of the unknown. I also know that it is due, in part, to the quickly approaching day of delivery for my friend Christie. She is also pregnant with her second little boy who is diagnosed with T18 and lives here in the Houston area. It has been amazing to walk this road so closely with someone I can see face to face and since our official due dates are exactly 2 weeks apart, I suddenly understand that I will have a front-row seat to watch her go through this first. (Please keep her and her husband in your prayers as well as they will be induced a week from today, January 3rd.)

Thank you again for the love, support and the prayer pages! They have already been an awesome blessing for us!

"From the end of the earth I will cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

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Another set of lyrics that seem so appropriate for me today... MercyMe~ Bring the Rain

I can count a million times, people asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through

The question just amazes me, can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed, long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind~

To turn my back on you, oh Lord, my only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray...

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of the clouds that may loom above
because you are much greater than my pain

You who made a way for me suffering your destiny
So tell me, whats a little rain

So I pray...

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
Is the lord God Almighty
Is the lord God Almighty

Everybody singing Holy holy holy
You are holy
You are holy

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Prayer Pager

Each of you have blessed us so tremendously on this road so far. We want you to know that whether you are following this journey from a distance, or from right up close each day with us- we are blessed beyond words through your prayers, emails, comments and cards of encouragement and hope.

One of our pastors came by our house yesterday to pray with us and to leave a prayer pager in our hands. He said that it has been a wonderful ministry that the church has offered and it has blessed many families in very difficult times. I know for some great friends of ours, it served that exact purpose and they were very overwhelmed with the prayers that were being lifted up for their family during several months of struggle.

We wanted to make the pager number available if you feel led to send a page when you are lifting up our situation to the Lord in prayer. I know that it has also given us a tangible way to express our prayers for people when they have been in similarly difficult circumstances. The number is 713.200.0955 and it will simply ask for you to enter your zip code. As I mentioned, you have blessed us so greatly and we are so thankful for each of you interceding for us in prayer. WE LOVE YOU!

"I lift my eyes unto the hills; Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Friday, December 21, 2007

Maddox Update

We had an appointment this week, so I just wanted to give you an update with Maddox's progress. The good news is that he hasn't fallen much farther behind, only a few days... that makes his growth about 3 weeks behind and although I am now 30 weeks along, I am measuring at 26 weeks gestation. Another good thing~ the amniotic fluid level is right where it should be. (Many women carrying babies with T18 have several weeks of extra fluid surrounding the baby.) According to the ultrasound, he is only weighing 2lbs. 3oz., which means he isn't even on the charts for a percentile. Basically at that point they say is that he is less than 3% for growth. One fun thing however, is that the ultrasonographer seemed pleasantly surprised at how active he is and that he is able to move so much... she mentioned it several times during the 15 minutes we spent with her.

Going forward-- I have an appointment on January 2nd for a full growth/anatomy ultrasound. Sometime during that week we will also be meeting with the neonatologist that will take care of Maddox upon arrival. The plan for January 2nd is to determine what date we will be induced and what the plan of action will be for that time.

Please continue to pray for strength and growth for Maddox as we are about 6 weeks out from meeting this precious little boy. The Lord has graciously poured out His peace and joy on us and we are so thankful for being here in this moment. Already we have learned so much from this sweet boy we haven't yet met and that is all the work of the Lord.

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

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These lyrics from Hillsong have meant so much to me and this continues to be my personal prayer as we continue on this journey.

From the Inside Out

A thousand times I've failed still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again, still I'm caught in your grace

Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame.
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame.
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Prayer Night

As December seems to fly by, I am finally getting a chance to write about the beautiful night that we spent in prayer with our sweet friends and family this Wednesday evening!

We are so incredibly thankful for each person that was present to speak words of adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord, and petition Him, on our knees, to display mighty works in our lives and in the life of Maddox. What a beautiful, biblical way it was led as we all gathered to share the great love and hope we have in Jesus Christ. We trust that He was present. We trust that He was honored through that sacred time. We have complete confidence that He knows each of the hearts that were present and praying along side of us... and we are so blessed to know that He is using His people to bless our family in this time of trial.

As we began, Psalm 46 was read, "... 'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold." What a fitting way to start the hour- the Lord reminding us that we are to be still. We are to come to Him and He will be exalted. We are to come to Him as a body of believers, praising and worshipping Him in the good times and the bad.

We were then led in a time of praise music. We chose "Mighty to Save" and "You are my All in All"... what a beautiful way to prepare my heart for thanksgiving AND direct petitioning of the Lord. As we are instructed in the Bible to make our requests know to the Lord, Dusty then discussed what our biggest prayer requests are for this moment:

1. That the Lord will bless our choice of doctors and the staff that will be surrounding us.
2. That He will give us guidance in the decision-making and planning between now and delivery.
3. That the Lord will remove major decisions from our hands and make His will evident.
4. That the delivery room/recovery will be peaceful and free from stress, anxiety, worry and fear.
5. That Maddox will make it through delivery alive.
6. That Deacon will have a chance to hold him.
7. That Maddox's spinal column will be covered with skin or a membrane at birth.
8. That the Lord will give us overwhelming peace, strength and unity in any circumstance~ now and in the future.
9. That we will be willing to be used by the Lord to witness to others and bring glory to Him.
10. That the Lord will grant protection for Deacon's heart and mind.


I have to mention what a wonderful job Dusty did giving an update to our current situation, and describing each prayer request in context. I am so proud of the way that he has been strong for our family, the way that he can hold it together when there is no way I can, and the way that he has encouraged me in my faith! He spent about 15 minutes to share, and then we proceeded in prayer. I honestly don't know if I was prepared to be so overwhelmed at the Lord's presence among us and the constant bombardment of prayer at Heaven's gates...

As a group of 40-50 people on our knees, we sent praise and adoration to our God. We told Him all that He is to us... the Creator of the World, the Giver of Life, the Great Physician, our Abba Father, the Protector of our Hearts, the Ultimate Sacrifice... as love and adoration flowed from all of the hearts in the room, I suddenly realized that I was in the presence of great faith! All of these people, dear sweet friends we have known for years, other precious people we have known but only a few months~ they were all there for one purpose... to thank the Lord for His living presence in each of our lives and ask directly for His hand to move in the life and health of our unborn son. Each person in that room trusted that He heard our cries to Him. Each person knew that as believers we are called to pray individually and corporately! They were all there for us... how incredibly amazing!

As we moved from praise and adoration to great thanksgiving, the words of confirmation and faith that our Lord is the only necessary provision continued. We thanked him for children, for peace, for joy, for friends, for faith, for those that have walked a similar road before us, for the promise of Heaven, for giving us everlasting life, for those supporting us, for our marriages, for our time with Him... for this little life granted to our care. We are so unbelievably thankful!

As the prayer time progressed, we then moved to direct supplication to the Lord. We asked specifically for Him to grant us time, peace, understanding, a witness, greater faith, protection, love... so many things that we asked of Him and so little to offer to Him. All we have to offer is our life~ to surrender that to the One who created us. And surrender we did- at least for that hour of praise and prayer. It is something that we constantly have to do, that we consistently need to be reminded of~ surrender. But when we do it, with an open heart and bowed head, what a life-changing experience it can be.

As the evening was closed in prayer, words were spoken that have remained on my heart and given me great comfort. One of our pastors spoke about the promise of instant healing, as soon as we presented our requests before the Lord. He talked about the guarantee of a healed body, hopefully here on Earth for some time, but definitively in Heaven in the presence of God. He then went on to say something I haven't yet heard on this journey... That life begins at conception. That the Lord created this child inside of me and although we don't know our child's immediate destination, we know that He doesn't make mistakes. That each and every child created, whether lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death, was created in God's image to be brought into the presence of the Holy One. In God's perfect creation, this wouldn't be happening... but we live in a fallen world, full of sin and evil. And still, God has His hand upon us. He has ordained each child conceived in a mother's womb to have an everlasting life with Him. If for no other reason then to have an eternal presence with the Lord, our Maddox was created for a life and a purpose. Our only job is to honor that life given.

I don't think I can ever express in words how surrounded we feel right now... how loved we feel. How prayerful each of you are for our family is astounding. It is something beyond my understanding, and yet I know that it is all the Lord's work through each of you. Thank you for blessing us, for sharing this journey, for not forgetting this daily struggle we walk. But please know also, that it isn't all about us... that we know so many are hurting right now, struggling, in pain... and you aren't forgotten either. We love you and stand in complete amazement!

"Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stop and Wonder

"Stop and Wonder"... That phrase has been on my mind this week as I drove by the church several times and noticed that it was the title for today's sermon. Wow... stop and wonder.

What could it mean? Do most recognize it as an invitation to actually take a breath, pause and think about the reason we are celebrating this glorious time of year? What meaning does that phrase hold for me and so many others out there as we are walking through or anticipating a great loss of any kind? Is it an acknowledgement of all that has been this past year, all that is in this moment, and all that will come this next year? Those could all be appropriate. But what about these... Am I to stop and wonder (dwell on) what the Lord will bring in early 2008 as we await Maddox? Are my friends that have lost little ones to stop and wonder (dwell on) when the pain will be washed away? Are we to stop and wonder (dwell on) when God will fulfill this dream or answer this prayer? I believe that asking and anticipating are okay, but in this situation, I know without a doubt the answer is a resounding NO (Matthew 6:33-34)... yet, it is so hard sometimes not to go there. It is hard not to dwell. It is hard not to ask why or when... but I know He is telling me, whispering at times, to ask another question instead. "WHAT?" I have heard it loud and clear. Okay Lord, then... What am I to do with these circumstances? What kind of greater faith are you calling me to? What do you want me to open my eyes to see? What kind of blessings are you waiting to pour out upon my family? What promises do you want me to claim? What do you want me to focus on today? What do you want me to share?

So in the beginning when the "stop and wonder" made me do just that in my heart, the "stop and wonder" now, as I knew at the outset in my head, really means to Stop! and wonder, or marvel, at the beautiful, majestic King that was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. I am to be acutely aware that we are celebrating the redemption of the world... this child was sent to Earth, fully man, yet fully God. I am NOT to stop and wonder if we will make it to February. I am NOT to stop and wonder if I will see this child alive. I am NOT to stop and wonder about the induction, or delivery, or problems on ultrasound that we might have to fix, or if we will hold our dying child. I am NOT to stop and wonder how I will get through 2008. All of those are probably valid questions and definitely things that I think about... but Christ isn't calling me to stop and wonder about those things, to dwell on them or get upset or anxious about them... He knows the plans he has for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and my family and He WILL reveal the answers to those questions in time. So instead, in this time of celebration and praise, regardless of the circumstances each of us are in, we are reminded not to stop and dwell, but to stop and marvel at the glory of Him.

It is difficult to wrap my head around something so wondrous as the God of the world coming in the form of a little child. A little child, a baby, just like any other... like my Deacon when he arrived, and soon like my Maddox... the only difference is that He came as the child of God so that in the suffering and pain of little and big people alike, He could take it all away. We could all be with him forever! We would never again have to leave this world and wonder~ and I am more thankful for that promise right now than I have ever been before. I don't have to wonder where my child will be, if he will be in pain, if he will be complete, if I will see him again.

There is no doubt that through scripture and various other accounts from Christians over time that Heaven is as real, probably more so than this place I currently call home in Katy, Texas. Don Piper, in his book 90 Minutes in Heaven, speaks of his time just outside of Heaven's gates and says "In those minutes- and they held no sense of time for me- others touched me, and their warm embraces were absolutely real. I saw colors I would never have believed existed. I've never, ever felt more alive than I did then. I was home; I was where I belonged. I wanted to be there more than I had ever wanted to be anywhere on earth. Time had slipped away, and I was simply present in heaven. All worries, anxieties, and concerns vanished. I had no needs, and I felt perfect."

That is where I am going. That is where my children and my husband will be going. That is the perfect place in which Jesus Christ came to send us... in the form of a little child He came so that each of us might have life everlasting with Him. What a way to calm my fears and help me focus on today... whether my Maddox makes it to this world without taking a single breath or he makes it longer than anyone could anticipate... his destination to live forever in Heaven was sealed through a baby who entered this world the same way over 2000 years ago. Now that makes me stop and wonder!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Prayer Request

PLEASE be praying for another sweet friend, Yvette Hostetter, her husband Trayc, and their two boys Tanner and Tayden as they prepare to welcome their third little boy, Tristan, into the world tomorrow (December 3rd) at 12 noon. Tristan will be delivered by C-section and he too has been diagnosed with Trisomy 18. Specifically we are asking that the Lord will bring him into this world alive and that they will get to spend at least a day with him. Their greatest hope is that they will be able to bring him home to show him all the beautiful decorations and be able to tell him about how we celebrate Christmas on earth.

Thank you for your coveted prayers for each of these precious families! For current information on their family, please click on "Tristan Hostetter."

Prayer and Purpose

As many of you have probably seen, specific prayers from Angie and Nathan Luce were answered yesterday as they welcomed their sweet Poppy Joy at 10:30 in the morning. God granted them time with her as she lived on this Earth and they also got to share the miracle of her birth with those friends and family around them. In the Lord's perfect timing, he took her home to be with him after only 3 hours of life. As I write these words and tears continue to fall for them, I ask that you PLEASE continue to lift them up in prayer for an overwhelming peace to overtake them. My heart breaks for their loss and, although as mothers of these babies that are deemed "incompatible with life" we are expected to know that death is the definitive outcome, I am still somewhat shocked that their time was so short with their beautiful little girl. I grieve the loss of this little baby that I never got to meet, partly because it is a stark reality to my optimistic picture for our future (and faith in our Lord), but mostly because Angie is my friend. Since I have found out about their joy and loss and their December 1st, 2007, that will remain etched in their memories forever, I haven't been able to get them off my mind. That is the Lord reminding me to pray... and praying I am.

My prayer list has continued to grow... I am praying for these girls that are pregnant with me and await the same undetermined outcome. I am praying for the girls that have lost their precious babies and are walking a road that I don't yet know. I am praying for family and friends as they walk this with us and cry our same tears of pain. I am praying for friends for many different circumstances in their lives- life with newborns, life with multiple little kiddos at home, life considering adoption, life with financial problems, life with school difficulties, life with family conflicts, life with job uncertainty... pretty much just life in general. And that is just it... this life, right here and now, is what the Lord asks us to live. He asks us to live it with perseverance and determination and joy and love and resilience and friendship and so many more countless things... but ultimately with faith~ faith in Him who created us. Faith in Him who gave us breath. Faith in Him who decides when to take it away. And faith in Him who came to give us the eternal life with God the Father. Prayer is the way to make all of that happen.

Prayer is so valuable, so precious, so intimate. It is our way of being able to know this God of ours that loves us so much. As I heard in a lesson taught by a High School Pastor this morning and revisited God's plan for each life, I was overwhelmingly reminded of our two purposes here: 1) to know God, and 2) to make God known. And so here I sit, thinking about how simple that sounds. Yet, in its complete simplicity, completely profound. Do I know my Lord as intimately as I would like? Am I spending the quality time with him, undistracted from the outside world? Do I have his promises inscribed on my heart? Can I see him clearly working in my life? Those are just a few of the many questions I have about me knowing my God. And then we get to making God known. Am I a reflector of God's love and grace in my life? When someone cuts in line at the grocery store when I have a cart full of melting food and a melting 2-year-old, can the person one aisle over know that I am a Christian? Do I communicate His purpose in my life? Am I being effective in leading others to a fulfilled and meaningful life in Him? Maybe most importantly, am I being an example of Christ's sacrifice and unconditional love at home to Dusty and Deacon? ~These are all questions that I need to answer and continually evaluate as I grow in wisdom, faith and years. It is a lifetime commitment to Christ, these two purposes for which I was created.

As we continue on this journey to meet our precious Maddox, I would ask that you continue to pray for wisdom in the decisions that we will make over the next two months. We have decided that we will be going to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center with Dr. Rowe to deliver, as we feel that they have given us the most options and the most hope. We will begin to make more specific plans for delivery and after delivery in the near future and we definitely need the Lord's guidance as we walk through various scenarios. We also pray for our spirits to continue to remain high and that we can have a wonderful Christmas season as a family, as Deacon is beginning to understand a little bit about the holiday season and the reason we celebrate Christ's birth.

Thank you for praying... it is humbling to be able pray for so many of you!

"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Please Pray

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be praying for my friend Angie Luce, her husband Nathan, and their little 2-year-old Marianna. They were supposed to go in for a scheduled C-section to meet their sweet little girl, Poppy Joy, on December 6th, but she woke up with contractions and they are delivering her at 10AM (eastern- 9AM our time) this morning. Poppy has also been diagnosed with T18, but we know the Lord is control of everything! Please surround them with your prayers for comfort, peace, wisdom and thankfulness, and keep the medical staff in your prayers as well.

THANK YOU for being prayer warriors!

You can link to their site under "Poppy Joy Luce" for up-to-date information.
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