Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another Answered Prayer!

Back to the story....
  As I said before, during this time of uncertainty and journey to trust in God, Jarod continued looking for a job.  Around the beginning of September he had an interview in Atlanta with Delta Airlines. After the interview, we headed back to Nashville to wait and hear what the decision was.
  About 3 weeks later, at the end of September, Jarod was headed to a bachelor party at the lake.  On his way, he got a call from Delta letting him know he got the job.  I don't think I've ever been so happy.  After waiting for what seemed like FOREVER, God had shown us once again that He was in control, that He did have a plan for us and that it was the best plan.  I didn't get to see him until Sunday and so I had to celebrate with a couple of my friends from school until Jarod got home. :) 
  Delta wanted him to start in the middle of October.  It would be a quick turn around especially with me having just started school with my class.  When he got home we began to make plans.  What would I do about school?  Jarod & I both felt like I should work until Christmas.  I had just given them the news that I was pregnant and would leave in February.  Now, I would have to go back to Jim's office (my boss) and tell him it would actually be Christmas.  I must say, I could not have asked for a more supportive boss at the time.  Jim had joined us in praying for Jarod's job.  He knew the possibilities of us moving depending on where the job would be.  When I left his office that day, I felt supported and knew Jim understood.
  We went ahead and got out of our apartment lease, but now I knew I needed to find a place to live for a couple of months and we knew we needed to find a place for us to live in Atlanta.  Luckily, Delta was going to pay moving expenses so we didn't have to worry about packing.  We went to Atlanta two weekends in a row and found an apartment in Peachtree City.  It is south of the city of Atlanta, but closer to the airport without traffic.  We got that secured, still wondering where I would live.
  During all of this craziness I wondered how all of these things would work out.  It didn't seem fair that Jarod finally got a job, but now, while I was pregnant with our daughter, we would have to live apart for 2 months.  Tons of doctor appointments I would have to go to alone and then try to pass along all of the information from the doctors.  What would I do by myself for 2 months? 
  I continued to pray that I would find a perfect place to live while we made the transition.  One of my good friends at school had a close family friend that had a guest house behind their main house.  She asked the couple if they would be willing to let me live in their guest house.  Let me say this was no ordinary guest house.  It was completely furnished, with a kitchen, beautiful bedroom and bath.  It felt so much like home.  I can't express in words what a wonderful answer to prayer this was.  This couple was a strong Christian couple who treated me just like their own while I lived there.  I was welcomed with loving and caring arms as I lived in their home. 
  Within three weeks, we found 2 places to live, had our things moved to Atlanta, lived in a hotel for a week and headed off to Gatlinburg, TN with Jarod's family for our fall vacation.  When we left Gatlinburg after the weekend, Jarod drove alone to Atlanta, and I headed back to Nashville with my brother-in-law & sister-in-law.  As I cried in the car on the way back to Nashville, I knew the two months would go by quicker than I thought.  I knew God was still in control and I knew He had an ultimate plan for us even if that meant being separated for a period of time. 
 On another note, I'll be out of town starting Friday for a week, so no posts until I return.  So sorry!  I'll leave some pictures from Jarod's graduation from Vanderbilt.  I've never been more proud of him than I was on that day! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Fun Filled Weekend...

I apologize for the lack of post on Friday.  I was busy getting ready for Jarod's 30th birthday party!  His birthday was on Sunday, but we had a party with 2 of his other friends on Friday night.  We headed to Birmingham and had a cookout at Jarod's parents house.  Of course, I was so busy getting everything ready, I got no pictures from the party!  :(
  Then, on Saturday, my nephew Gage turned 1!!!  We had a fun birthday party for him as well.  Lots of kids playing in the sand and outside while the adults talked and enjoyed the company of each other.  He didn't like his cake very much and decided he didn't want to take a dive into it. 
  Sunday was Jarod's actual birthday.  Harper Kate woke up extremely happy and talkative which was a wonderful present.  During the opening of presents, Harper Kate decided she didn't want to participate in the event and fell asleep.  We went to church and Harper Kate stole the show as usual.  Everyone was so glad to see her as she has gotten so much bigger in the past month.  Jarod chose for us to go to the new mexican restaurant in Homewood called Pinches Tacos.  It was delicious!  We didn't get home last night until late so today will consist of unpacking, grocery shopping & getting ready to go to the beach next week!  YEA!!!
  So, I'll get back to the story on Wednesday, but for now I'll leave you with some pictures of our growing little angel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So what is Harper Kate's Diagnosis?

I wanted to pause in the story for a day and let many of you know, who don't already, what Harper Kate's official diagnosis is.  Harper Kate has a lot to overcome, but I know God has made her exactly as she should be.
  Before Harper Kate was born, she was diagnosed with something called Dandy-Walker malformation..  Dandy-Walker is a cyst (a pocket of fluid) in the cerebellum part of her brain.  This makes gross motor skills very difficult because her muscle tone is very low.  In some cases it can affect intellectual development, but for the most part it is the gross motor/fine motor skills that are the most commonly affected.  She gets physical therapy and occupational therapy once a week, and feeding therapy every other week for now.  Hopefully all of these will work together to allow her motor skills to develop quickly.  She has already made huge amounts of progress.  Her eyes track a lot better than they did when she came home from the NICU, her neck is slowly getting stronger and she is starting to turn her head toward sounds.  These are all huge accomplishments.  Many Dandy-Walker patients end up having to have a shunt put in their brain for swelling from excess fluid.  Luckily, and through the grace of God, she has not had any swelling yet.  We go for head ultrasounds every 3 months to get it checked.  God has been very gracious to us so far.  It would be a wonderful thing for her to get through life without having to have a shunt since she has so many other struggles.
  Harper Kate also has something called agenesis of the corpus collosum.  This is commonly diagnosed with dandy-walker patients as well. The corpus collosum is a strand of fibers that connect the left and right brain.  Information travels back and forth over these fibers developing them so that our brains can develop abstract & critical thinking.  It also helps with social skills.  For example: being able to see someone's facial expression & know what is appropriate or not appropriate to say.  Missing these connections will make it difficult to bring the left & right brain together, but it's just something else she must overcome.
  After she was born she had a MRI.  The MRI showed that she has something called polymicrogyria in the front right part of her brain.  She has extra "folds" in this section of her brain.  Basically, what that is causing for Harper Kate right now are her seizures.  Her seizures are called "focal seizures" where only her left eye & sometimes corner of her mouth twitches.  They are not full body seizures.  Polymicrogyria, as the other abnormalities all have a very wide range of developmental issues.
  These are her main 3 abnormalities of her brain.  She also has something called a molar tooth sign which is almost always associated with something called Joubert Syndrome, and the hospital geneticist had her tested for this.  It is extremely rare and so the doctors don't know all of the genes that contribute to it, but the ones that they do know of they tested HK.  The results were inconclusive, so I guess we won't ever know for sure if she has this genetic disorder, but I'm trusting God that she doesn't.  One thing we do know is that many Dandy-Walker patients and Joubert patients have associated heart and kidney problems and thankfully Harper Kate does not have any other problems from the brain down.  Jarod & I just really didn't want her to have anything genetic, although I guess it is always a possibility.  She also has a micro-deletion on her 16th chromosome.  There really isn't much information about the actual deletion she has at all, so for now, we just know it's there. :)
  All of these seem to be extremely overwhelming and believe me for a while they were.  I didn't know what I was going to do when I got all this information.  How would Harper Kate overcome all of these?  How will she function with so many parts of her brain formed abnormally?  It took a little bit, but I came to this conclusion.  God has formed her in His image.  He, and ONLY He knows what her prognosis will be.  Doctors can give me information, but they do not know what she will be able or not be able to do.  I have chosen to believe that God can help her develop perfectly or develop as He chooses.  Maybe God has just stacked so much against her so that she can amaze the doctors!  We really won't know what her development will be until she is older, so for now, we're loving life with our little peanut.  With Harper Kate smiling all the time and starting to talk to us brings Jarod and I the joy and strength to get through each day with her. 
  I'd like to thank you all for reading.  This has been a difficult journey I'd never wish on anyone, but for some reason God has us going through it.  I feel like He wants us to share this story with everyone so they can see His power.  It means a lot to me that so many of you would take the time to share in our story.  I pray it will be blessing to you or someone you share the blog with.
  "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am FEARFULLY & WONDERFULLY made.  Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
                                        Psalm 139:13-14

Monday, July 18, 2011

Over the next few months...

  I am sure you are all wondering if I am ever going to catch up to present day.  Yes, I will.  However, I don't want to forget any of the details of our journey along the way, which explains all the detailed posts.  I will now skip a couple months ahead.
  During August and September I went on with life as usual doing what I love to do...teaching my sweet kids at school, spending time with friends enjoying Alabama football season and spending time with Jarod before Harper Kate was to arrive.  I had multiple doctor appointments as you can imagine.  Not only did I see my OBGYN every month, but I also saw a maternal fetal specialist every month for an ultrasound.  The doctors wanted to keep a check on fluid in Harper Kate's brain.  Many Dandy Walker patients end up having hydrocephalus later in life and will need a shunt to reduce the fluid.  The ultrasound would measure her ventricles each month to make sure they were not swelling.  We counseled with a genetic maternal fetal doctor and she wanted to do a couple other tests which I had done later. 
  Pregnancy for me physically was quite easy.  I wasn't sick very much, had lots of energy and for the most part really enjoyed being pregnant.  Of course, as I began to show a little, I had to tell my students at school about my little baby.  The kids were so excited.  We decided the best way was to send a letter home to the families explaining that there had been some difficulty with the pregnancy, and to continue praying for our little baby, but that everything was looking better now and that I would be leaving my classroom at the beginning of February.  The students were thrilled & incredibly sensitive.  Each day they prayed for Harper Kate during our morning devotion.  After each doctor appointment, they wanted to know how things were.  Sure, everything for them was put on a 5th grade level, but those students walked through a journey of faith with me.  They knew things weren't perfect with the baby, but I wanted to teach them to TRUST.  We can trust God even in hard times.  I am so grateful to the Lord for giving me the perfect students to share that experience with.  What a wonderful blessing it was to share with them life lessons I was learning then to encourage them later in their life when hard times would come.  
  As I went on with life as usual, Jarod continued to search for jobs.  In the midst of this difficult journey, it was made more difficult at times with Jarod having graduated, but not yet had found a job.  I can't explain to you how hard it was to stand by, having watched him work so hard in school, and have to wait for the perfect job God would provide for him.  This was just another part of God's faithfulness to us in our "Plan B" of life. Soon enough God would show us how our period of waiting would be worth it in the end.  
  The picture for the day....our little miracle at the pool this weekend!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The End of the Waiting...

After a much anticipated 3 weeks of prayer, fasting and lots of lessons learned, I ended my day at school in Nashville and headed south to Birmingham to meet our families.  I remember sitting in my classroom, at the end of the day, with multiple teachers stopping by to give me a hug, pray with me or tell me that they are here if I need anything.  Julie was the last one out of my classroom, and as I sat with her, we shared tears, laughter & then a prayer that God would be present in the doctors office the next day.
  I headed home, got the car packed & Jarod and I made the trip to Birmingham.  I remember driving in the car, reading the last of I Will Carry You trusting that God would surround us the next day with His peace.  We spent the night at my mom & dad's house.  I don't remember sleeping much or what we did that night.  I think I was extremely distracted.  We would wake up the next morning, meet my dad & Jarod's parents at the doctor's office and have an ultrasound to what felt like to me "determine the fate of my child."  I felt confident that God would allow my child to live as long as He see fit.  I felt confident in everything, until I started walking into the office.  Then my nerves began to overwhelm me.
  We sat in the waiting room, with our parents, all of us quiet, wondering what the next hour would bring.  My father-in-law is a pastor, and he graciously prayed for a miracle before we went into the ultrasound room.  My dad was the only one who was able to come in the room with us since he's a doctor.  We began the ultrasound and I don't think I've ever sat through something that seemed to take forever.  The doctor started by looking at the heart, lungs etc. all of which are completely normal.  After a few minutes, the doctor asked us if we wanted to know the gender.  We knew that was a possibility and were thrilled to find out that our little baby was a girl.  We had already decided her name would be Harper Katherine & we'd call her Harper-Kate.  I was thrilled.  Finding out we had a little girl seemed to ease my anxiety a bit.  As we moved toward the brain, my eyes filled with tears & I grabbed for Jarod's hand.
  From that point on, I really don't remember many of the doctor's words.  I just remember him saying that the brain had seemed to "close up" and that our baby would have a strong possibility of living outside the womb. Jarod's quote from his post on Monday where he said that “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." was the perfect quote for this moment.  Sure, there may have been a misdiagnosis at 11 weeks when she was so young, but I'm living as if everything is a miracle.  I believe God sealed the brain around her little head.  We had specifically asked for God to seal the brain, and it seemed to me that is what happened.  I still am humbled that God would listen to our specific prayer.  I couldn't have imagined that news at the doctors office that day.  I prayed for it, but I don't think actually believed that it could happen.
  With that news, came other news that our daughter could be severely handicapped.  We didn't know what her quality of life would be, but in that moment I just really didn't care. I was going to be able to nurture this little girl God had placed inside of me and that was the greatest news ever.  As we walked out of the ultrasound room to tell my mom & Jarod's parents the news I felt relief.  We were so excited to tell them both they would have their first grandaughter.  My dad explained some of the medical terms to them and then dad headed back to work.  Mom, Randy, Tammy, Jarod & I went to a coffee shop down the road.  We were all living as if everything was a miracle that day.  We sat, talked about our little girl and how we couldn't wait to meet her in February.  Mom & I went to buy her a gown with a little angel on it to remind  us always of what a little miracle & angel she is.
  I'll leave you with a picture of my smiling baby from just the other day at 5 months old.  What joy she brings me each minute of each day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post by Jarod

I mentioned before that I wanted Jarod to do a guest post sometime telling how God led him in our decision making.  Here is his version....

Before we got the news that something was wrong with our baby, I had just finished reading a book called Plan B. The book is about what to do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would, and although it seems trivial now, knowing what was to come, I felt that I was already in this place. Courtney and I had all of these dreams and expectations for our lives. Two years before, we had moved to Nashville so that I could start business school at Vanderbilt, and now here I was with no job, a lot of school loans, and a baby on the way. In my mind, I already had God on the stand. Was He who He said He was? Could He really provide for me? Did He lead me to school and then abandon me? My natural reaction to things not happening how I want is frustration with God, but sitting in the ultrasound room, hearing that there was something significantly wrong with our baby was a bigger blow than I had ever experienced. Hearing those words literally took the breath out of me, I had to sit down to keep from passing out. This time, anger wasn't my initial reaction, I was completely devastated. The day was blur and seemed so surreal. I couldn't eat. I cried at times, and other times I just felt numb.

Looking back, the situation reminds me of the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!" “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”.... When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” - Genesis 22:1-2,9-12

It's not that God made Abraham literally sacrifice his son, but God took Abraham to the place where he had to effectively sacrifice him in his mind. If you have been following this blog, you know that God has not taken my child from me yet either, but over the next few dark days, God led me to my own Moriah to face a similar decision.

The situation seemed twisted and perverse. The doctors initial prognosis was that the brain wasn't completely in the skull and would develop lower in the neck and spinal chord. This condition is not viable outside the womb, but not lethal inside. In other words, the doctor's best guess was that Courtney would carry this baby to term, give birth, and then we would bury our child in the weeks to come. It's hard for me to describe how hopeless this situation felt. The doctor's words sounded so final to me that the only two possible outcomes seemed to be early termination or an upcoming funeral. As the husband and father, I felt so alone and isolated. I have an extreme desire to want to fix things and this situation was no different. I wanted what was best for our baby and was willing to do whatever it would take. I didn't want to bring a baby into this world that would live in pain for a few weeks or months. I remember being so mad at God for putting me in this situation and frustrated that He was giving me the decision. If I couldn't trust God to provide a job, or a healthy pregnancy, how could I trust him with this? I remember entertaining the thought of termination, and I am sure even reading this sentence evokes strong opinions, but I wouldn't have cared. That's not to say I didn't know that doing so would be something that would scar me for life and bring lots of judgment, but they were scars that I considered living with if it would ease my child's pain. I remember telling my brother how I never imagined the situation where I would wish for my first-born to miscarry. Laying in bed the night we found out, I wondered how Courtney must have felt with this baby inside her that had such significant issues. I didn't want to bring up things she wasn't thinking about, but I also didn't want her to feel alone in her pain. A mother wanting to nurture this baby inside of her, but also knowing that the developmental abnormalities that were so vividly described to us hours earlier were taking place inside her own body.

After the weekend in Birmingham with family, we returned to Nashville. Courtney started back teaching, and I was left alone with my thoughts, trying to remain focused on applying and interviewing for jobs. Over the next few weeks, I continued to think about a very specific diagram that had stood out to me from a sermon that I had heard a few months back by Pete Wilson, our pastor in Nashville.

dream >> hope >> threat >> trust or control

This seemed to be exactly where I was. God had brought Courtney into my life and given us the dream to start a family, and the night we got a positive pregnancy test, we were so excited and began to place hope in the fact that this dream would become reality. This dream became threatened as we sat in the ultrasound room and heard the devastating news about our baby, and now I was left between trusting God or taking control of the situation. One of Pete's quotes from the sermon was, "Don't abandon your God-given values in the pursuit of your God-given dream." I felt so much peace and freedom once I realized that God was not asking me to make a choice, He was asking me to trust Him in the face of uncertainty. Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard said, "There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves." Although deep down, Courtney and I knew all along what we should do, I think God took us to a place where we would have to wrestle with it ourselves and come back to what we knew all along. Once Courtney and I felt that there was actually no decision to make, we felt the freedom to ask God for what we wanted... and that was to hold this little child whom we had never met and didn't even know its gender, but who had completely stolen our hearts. In the weeks to come, I fasted, prayed, and placed my hand on Courtney's stomach each night asking God to heal this baby and specifically seal the skull around its brain.

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Greatest Blessings

  One of the greatest blessings we could have received during these 3 weeks came from one of my best friends, Leigh.  The night of Natalie's wedding, the day after we found out about Harper Kate, Leigh gave me a book called I Will Carry You.  Todd & Angie Smith had a baby, with severe medical problems, that Angie carried to term, then lost the baby a few hours after she was born.  The book is about their journey.  Todd is the lead singer for the christian band, Selah.  The song Todd wrote about their journey is playing today on the blog.  On our way back to Nashville from Birmingham, the first weekend after we heard the news, I began to read the book aloud to Jarod in the car as we drove.  We read the entire book on our trips in the car to & from Birmingham those 3 weeks.  To read someone else's journey that felt very similar to mine at the time brought great peace.  She communicated so many feelings that I was having.  I cried through the entire thing.  I remember Angie sharing a letter she wrote to her daughter in the book.  One of the things that stuck out to me most was how she wanted her daughter to know about her mom, and in the letter asked God to make sure her daughter knew all the details about her.  As much as that broke my heart, that my daughter might not know everything about her mom, it brought comfort that I could ask God to make sure that He told her.  Angie ministered through that book in ways I can't describe and I am so grateful to Leigh for giving me that book.
  Another blessing during those three weeks came from our fathers.  Jarod and I are blessed to have two fathers who love us more that we could ask or imagine, and who more importantly, were there for us in a time where we literally did not know what to do.  They were not judgemental about what decision we should make, but understanding and patient.  Both, without being asked, wrote their first grandaughter letters during those 3 weeks.  Without sharing specifics from either, I will say that both communicated their undying love for that child and how much they were praying for her.  We have both letters and trust & hope that one day Harper Kate will be able to read on her own those special letters written to her before she was even born.
  One last special thing I wanted to share were the lyrics to a song my dad heard on the radio one morning on his way to work.  He said he was listening and had tears in his eyes.  He knew the song was meant for Harper Kate.  He called WDJC, the local radio station, to ask what the name of the songwriter was and who sang it.  He sent it to me that day.  Since then, I've claimed the line "show her what it means to be loved" for Harper Kate.  If she knows anything on this earth, she WILL know what it means to be loved.  Believe me, this little girl has no question in her mind that people love her.  I've posted the lyrics below.
   There were so many wonderful things people gave us or did for us during this time, I can't possibly mention them all specifically.  These three weeks were a journey I will never forget.  I appreciate your patience as I have re-lived them for myself so that I never forget the life lessons God taught me through this trial.  As I move on to more of Harper Kate's story, I trust that you will continue to see God's providence and never failing love to His children.

 "What it means to be loved" by Mark Schultz

For five months and eight days my wife and I had waited
Gettin' ready for our baby girl
But when he called the doctor said I need to see you
and could you come in soon
then something died inside of me to sit with him and hear
the tests that said our baby may not live to be a year
then turnin' to my wife and he said "whata you wanna do?"
and she said...

I wanna give her the world
I wanna hold her hand
I wanna be her mom for as long as I can
and I wanna live every moment until that day comes
I wanna show her what it means to be loved

so we spent each day, watchin' every minute
and prayin' for our baby girl
and I will not forget the way I felt that moment
when she came into this world
but they took her from the room just as soon as she was born
and watchin' through a window I could see her holdin' on
when a voice inside me said...

I wanna give her the world
I wanna be her dad

I wanna hold her close for as long as I can
and I wanna live every moment until that day comes
I wanna show her what it means to be loved

I said everyday
we've got to bring her home
she's been out to prove the doctors wrong
oh and you should see her now
she's as pretty as her mom
and theres a boy at the front door waiting just to take her to her high school prom...

and he wants to give her the world
wants to hold her hand
and someday she may get a wedding band
but she's gunna live every moment until that day comes
and we're gunna show her what it means to be loved

Oh yeah (what it means to be loved)

show her what it means to be loved
what it means to be loved

Friday, July 8, 2011

Some Encouragement for Others

During our 3 week waiting period, there were so many verses and song lyrics that spoke truth into my life.  I needed major encouragement during that time, and I got it through Scripture and songwriters.  Many of us go through various trials in our life, and I wanted today's post to not only be a place for me to remember, but hopefully to encourage others of you going through a difficult time.
  We went "home" to Birmingham each weekend to be encouraged by friends and family and to get our minds off of the constant worry.  School went great for me.  I had so many people praying for my strength and my students were amazing.  They didn't know about what was going on, but God gave me the perfect class for my situation.  They were wonderful!  Jarod continued looking for jobs and interviewing, trying to keep his mind off of things as well.  Many of the verses came from cards we got in the mail nearly every day, our meals came from teachers at school and well, to be honest, sleep came from a benadryl each night. :)  God continued to be our strength and got us through each day with an overwhelming peace.  As the three weeks came to a close, I had confidence that God would go before us into that ultrasound room and that He had an ultimate plan that I could not understand.
  Today I will leave you with the scriptures and song lyrics that were my strength for 3 weeks of my life.  I pray that for any of you going through a difficult time, you can cling to these truths.

  "Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings you glory.  And I know there will be days, when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain."   Bring the Rain by Mercy Me

  "No matter what, I'm gonna love You, no matter what, I'm gonna need You.  I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain, but if not, if not, I'll trust you, no matter what!"
       No Matter What by Kerri Roberts

"I believe You're my Healer, I believe You are all I need.  I believe You're my Portion, I believe You're more than enough for me.  Jesus You're all I need.  Nothing is impossible for you, nothing is impossible for You, nothing is impossible for you.  You hold my world in your hands."  
     Healer by Hillsong

"Be still and KNOW that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you & learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28-29

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,  because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  James 1:12

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God makes our decision clear

  We've been out of town! :)  We took a vacation to the beach with Jarod's family for the 4th of July.  Post of our vacation coming later.  I'm back on track now & ready to continue sharing our story. :)
  First, let me say that I always thought that if I had ever been put in the situation of terminating a pregnancy I would not even consider it.  Being in the actual situation was completely different.  Honestly, yes, I did consider it.  At some moments, it seemed better to do that than to have to bury a child.  It was something Jarod & I had to work through and something that God had to make clear to both of us individually. 
  There was so much I learned through these three weeks of waiting for our next doctor appointment.  As I mentioned in my last post, Psalm 139 was a passage of scripture that spoke to me in ways I can't explain.  I had learned this psalm in the 7th grade.  As I was praying through what we would decide to do with this pregnancy these verses stayed stuck in my head.  I knew God was making this decision for us.  Psalm 139:16 says "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Could that be any more clear?  God had already decided how long our baby would live.  It wasn't up to me to decide how long he/she would live.  Whether that was 2 hours, 10 days or 50 years after she was born, it wasn't my decision!  After I realized that, I had more peace than before because now I wasn't facing a decision.  Now I was facing what God's plan already was and that brings incredible peace of mind.  I had come to this conclusion on my own, and I trusted that God would lead Jarod to the same conclusion, which He did.  However, it wasn't in the same way.  I hope Jarod will do a guest post some time and share many of the things he learned through this experience. As a reminder to me that God's plan is always the best, Psalm 139:13-16 now hang on painted canvases in Harper Kate's nursery.  I never want to forget that her days are numbered and all God has asked me to do is care for her and love her for the time He gives me.
  As I listened to praise music all week, and tried my best to stay in God's word, I felt God speaking through different lyrics and specific verses.  Early in the first week, my mom reminded me of the song "Beauty Will Rise" by Stephen Curtis Chapman.   He wrote this song after his daughter was killed in the family driveway.  I can't imagine going through that, but the lyrics of that song brought great comfort as I wondered how I would handle the possibility of planning my child's funeral.  This would be a song that became a theme throughout our journey.  Many times my mom and I would say "beauty will rise out of these ashes" as a reminder that something was coming from this time of trial.  The lyrics are below.

It was the day the world went wrong
I screamed til my voice was gone
And watched through the tears as everything
came crashing down
Slowly panic turns to pain
As we awake to what remains
and sift through the ashes that are left

But buried deep beneath
All our broken dreams
we have this hope:

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now,
and let the tears come washing down,
and if you can't believe I will believe
for you.

Cuz I have seen
the signs of spring!
Just watch and see:

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning...

I can hear it in the distance
and it's not too far away.

It's the music and the laughter
of a wedding and a feast.
I can almost feel the hand of God
reaching for my face
to wipe the tears away, and say,
"It's time to make everything new."

"Make it all new"

This is our hope.
This is the promise.
This is our hope.
This is the promise.
That it would take our breath away
to see the beauty that's been made
out of the ashes...
out of the ashes...
That it would take our breath away
to see the beauty that He's made
out of the ashes...
out of the ashes...

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of this darkness... new life will shine
and we'll know the joy is coming in the morning...
in the will rise!

I said earlier that I had not found the strength, faith or belief to pray for healing for our child until the middle of the week.  After reading this verse, I found a new belief that God IS able to do more than I could imagine.  Why have I not been asking for healing?  God might not answer my prayer as I want, but why have I not even thought to ask him?  These were thoughts that went through my mind.  I suppose God wanted me to journey through doubt and wondering if He was even present.  Once I got through those initial feelings of being alone in this and feeling as though God was no where to be seen, I began to see that He alone would be my ONLY hope!  I'll leave you with the truth of God's word that He is able to do BIG things if we learn to depend on Him. 

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."  Ephesians 3:20

These three weeks "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" meant our child living after he/she was born.  Well, I think God answered that. :)  Here's a picture the day we got home from the hospital.