Friday, April 11, 2014

An Amazing Promise: Ivy's Birth Story

It's time to do this. Because time... it passes quickly. Life gets busy and in the blink of an eye you realize ten months have passed. Minutes and moments fly by and you wonder, "Will I be able to remember it all?" Probably not, but I'll share what I do remember. Ten amazing months! Amazingly blessed with our little love Ivy. It's time to share our story. Time to share how God orchestrated this beautiful blessing in our life, and how her voice completes the harmony in our home.

This is the Story of Ivy Lucille

 I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I never imagined I'd be blessed with another baby. Life and the mistakes along the way had me on a path where the possibility of being a Mother again seemed so distant it was unreachable. Guess what? God knew my heart. He knew that longing deep within for another child to love, and more importantly, for a wonderful man to share my life with. Three years ago, I had neither. I may be a procrastinator. My timing is usually terrible, but God? Yeah, God's timing is always, ALWAYS perfect!

Most people reading this will already know that God placed Andy in our lives at the perfect time. He's a wonderful father for Abrianna and Jaden. He's the love of my life and the man God ordained to lead our home. He too, had a desire to have a baby. Shortly after our marriage in March of 2012 we started talking about a baby.

We started trying in August of 2012. On September 27, 2012 I met Andy at the fire station with 2 positive tests in my pockets. About 10 minutes after I shared the news that we were expecting, he and I saw the most beautiful full rainbow. It was a sunny day with no rain. The world defines a rainbow as "an arch of color formed in the sky under certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun's light through rain or water droplets in the atmosphere." God defines it as a PROMISE. 

What a beautiful promise too! It was His promises that carried me through when fear snuck in and when I couldn't hold down anything. My pregnancy was  physically difficult, but I was blessed to have a wonderful network of friends who pointed me towards the Father when I felt low.

My pregnancy was defined as high risk. As a result we had the opportunity to witness God's amazing creation of life from the beginning. I remember how frightened we were one night when I began bleeding and the rush of relief upon seeing our little one doing somersaults on the ultrasound at 12 weeks gestation. From then on we had several ultrasounds. One of my favorite images is of Ivy's hand when I was about 5 months along. 

So, lets get to the part you've been waiting for shall we?

An Amazing Birth Day

Due to complications my second child was born by Cesarean. There was a possibility that those same complications could re-occur when it came time for Ivy to be born. We were advised that a second cesarean might be the best option. My hearts desire was to have a successful VBAC and give birth naturally. My doctor would only consider a trial of labor if everything went well. We prayed and diligently went to the hospital at least twice a week for monitoring in the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy.

At my 39 week appointment it was time to discuss the options. If I went past 40 weeks the doctor would feel less and less comfortable with a trial of labor. We could schedule a c section or induce. Still praying and believing that I would have a VBAC we scheduled the induction for my due date.

On May 29, 2012, Andy and I went to the hospital and got settled in for our last night before having the baby. In the morning, the doctor arrived and we went over how the induction would proceed. Then they started the pitocin drip. It didn't take long before I was having contractions. At 9 am the doctor returned and decided to break my water. Then the contractions got intense!

I had planned on an epidural. For me, it was a good choice because should the trial of labor end in Cesarean I didn't want to be put under general anesthesia. I wanted to be there, to be present and enjoy the birth of my last baby. I wanted it to be a great experience for Andy as well. So, while we waited for an epidural we listened to Klove. I wanted to put my trust and focus on God when the pain came. The plan was to listen to songs and focus on them.

 What actually happened though was quite different. Each time a contraction began the words of Psalm 23 began to scroll through my mind.

The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
 He restores my soul...

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For You are with Me

What a comfort. I'll confess at times I felt like and nearly thought I was dying. When those words came to mind I knew I wasn't alone. 

We turned off the music. I didn't need it. Around 11 am my Mom arrived with Abrianna, Jaden, and my brother Josiah. I wanted them there. They were as much a part of this as anyone else and I wanted them to be there with me during labor and to have the opportunity to meet their baby sister as soon as she arrived. Right after Mom and the children arrived, the nurse came in to tell us that the anesthesiologist was there to administer the epidural. Once that was over, everyone came back in and I was able to chat with the kids. 

I'm so glad they were there. Abrianna was such a good little labor coach. She stayed close to me, gave me ice and held my hand during contractions. At 5 pm, I didn't even realize that I was in transition until the nurses came into the room and told me to roll onto my left side because the baby was having heart deceleration. They checked and sure enough it was go time! 

As soon as the doctor arrived we were ready to go. Josiah took the little kids to the waiting area and I was told to start pushing. This required a whole new level of concentration and focus. Make it or break it, if she wasn't born soon we would be going to the OR. One of the things that I had wanted during my pregnancy was for the baby to have a birth song. My plan had been to make sure music was playing when it was time to push. Whatever was playing when she was born would be her song. Um, yeah in that moment the last thing I thought about was turning on the radio. I didn't have to though. Wanna know what was on repeat in my head? 

20 minutes of pushing. It felt like forever at the time. That anxiousness. Waiting to see her for the first time. Feeling so spent, so out of control, and so very much in need of the Lords help and presence. What a perfect song for Him to place in my heart at that moment! "Lord, I need you. Oh I need you, Every Hour I need You..."

20 minutes of pushing and there she was at 5:23 pm without the need for a C-section. Praise God!  7 lbs 2 oz and 20 inches long. She was so beautiful, so worth every minute, every tear, every prayer, every moment of waiting.....the beginning of a new and wonderful adventure. 


and now...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Redeeming Childbirth Book Review

 In my last post I alluded to a great new ministry that I was so excited to be a part of. Today I want to share that ministry with you. I've been so blessed to be included as a part of the launch team for Angie Tolpin's new book Redeeming Childbirth.

 Most who know me know that I'm an avid reader. As with my other two pregnancies, when I learned I was expecting this baby I gathered every book I had on the subject of pregnancy and childbirth. I've read so many of the classics and like most expectant mom's I searched for more. Pregnancy is such an uncertain season in a woman's life. The joy of bringing forth a new life is often dimmed by the uncertainty of the unknown. It's no surprise that women hungrily devour every morsel of information they can get, hoping to provide answers to the questions keeping them awake at night.

I'm not just talking about questions like "Can I eat this or that?" or "How much weight should I gain?" or "When should I call my doctor?" I'm talking about real deep seeded fears and feelings that arise during impending parenthood such as"Can I really do this?" "Will I be a good mom?" and "Does anyone really understand or care how I'm feeling?" I'm talking about feeling helpless and hopeless when you can't hold down food or physically care for the children you already have. What about the crippling anxiety that something might go wrong. Where does an expectant mom go to deal with these feelings?

There are thousands of books on pregnancy and childbirth. Redeeming Childbirth is the first to provide women with the tools and encouragement to prepare for birth and life as a mom by pointing them to the never failing love of our Creator and Lord. Angie lovingly guides women to seek the Savior in this time and to find rest in Him.

One of my favorite songs right now talks about finding God no matter where we are, seeking him in the season and circumstance we are in. I love that Redeeming Childbirth encourages women to do just that. To know that birth doesn't have to be a time of fear. It can even be a time of ministry to others as we allow God to be Glorified in our pregnancies, labor and delivery.

It's not just for expectant mom's either. God wants the church to be unified in supporting expectant families through this season. Every woman who has or who hopes to have children will benefit from reading this book. I'm so excited that Angie has included chapters that instruct Titus 2 women in how to promote unity and encourage expectant mothers in a Godly way. I also want to note that 10% of profits from sales will be going to provide free copies of this book to Pregnancy Resource Centers and Women's Health Professionals as an evangelistic effort.

I'm so excited about this week and I hope you will join in celebrating the launch of Redeeming Childbirth. As the week goes on, I hope to be able to blog more and share more with you about how this book is personally ministering to my heart.

In the meantime I want let you in on some of the exciting things taking place this week.

GIVEAWAYS!!!! That's right! To celebrate the launch week there are some great giveaways going on this week at including a Mini-Ipad giveaway. There will also be a Twitter Party tonight with more great prizes at #RedeemingChildbirth you can find more info and RSVP here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The only way to fix a crumbly to let it Break.

Fantastically blessed...that is in fact what I am. Aren't we all? Just the act of breathing is a blessing in itself. It should be easy to follow God, to stand in the face of trials, to train our focus solely on Him. We however are weak, we can't do it alone. Just as we should come to Him freely like children, so also can we (if we allow ourselves) be distracted like a child noticing the sparkling pebble on the beach rather than the coming wave. Even a gift from God can be distracting....How? Let me tell you.

First off I must apologize to those who read and support this blog. I should never have neglected to post for such a long time. Long story short...Andy and I are expecting a child this coming spring. Fantastically blessed right? I'd like to say we planned it. We did, to an extent. We planned to stop preventing pregnancy in August. WE thought it would take a while, God had other plans. Five weeks later we were announcing the news. I felt amazing! I was certain this pregnancy was going to be easy. Since that time, we've been to the ER three times, I've been put on medication for nausea, practically stopped working due to rest restrictions, and we've seen our precious little miracle 5x via ultrasound.

If you ask my husband he would no doubt agree that I do not make a good sick person. I'm not grumpy, but I am whiny. Going from working full time to barely holding down food, well I didn't take it so well. Instead of finding joy in this season of life that I am in, I started thinking of myself as sick and I couldn't wait for it to end. I was terrified that something would go wrong with the pregnancy. I was missing church, losing my focus, and I had a terrible case of the "Poor Me's." Dangerous territory....
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
                                                                                             Romans 1:21
 I was struggling miserably. I had so much support from family and friends and for that I'm thankful, but inside I was crumbling. How could I sing, how could I blog or minister to others when some days I wasn't up to lifting my head from the pillow? I felt so far away from God. Physically broken and mentally worse. I let how I felt distract me from what and where I should be.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
                                                                                         Colossians 3:17
"Whatever you do...." Yep, that means even on the days that I'm not feeling so good and the only thing I get done is to get out of bed or maybe not even that. Every moment of life should be spent giving  thanks, doing whatever I can for the Glory of the Lord. No one likes to be ill, no one likes to feel broken for any reason, but what if we could use that brokeness to minister to someone else? What if we let God use our battles (no matter what it might be) to reveal Himself to others?

I was hiding behind walls that I put up....fear, anger, depression, worry, feeling alone....but I wasn't alone. My heart was crying out and just like always even when I didn't have the words, God knew what I needed to hear. I was watching a television show when I heard this song and everything I was holding in broke apart......

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

Rest...I already feel better. In the past week I've been finding such wonderful rest in Him. I've been recieving so much encouragement from friends online. I've also been introduced to a new ministry for women that is nothing short of amazing. I'm so excited to be a part of it and I will share more soon. God's timing is perfect and His ways are perfect. I recieved just what I needed at just the right time and you can too...

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul
                                                                                    Deuteronomy 4:29 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Testing, Testing.....

I feel like it's been forever since I last posted. It's been 12 days. My oh my, how much can happen in that short amount of time? Where shall I start? Today is one of those days when I'm sitting down without a clue what to blog about. I just know that I need to do it. I need to keep this up...and I need to share what God is doing for us. Tomorrow will make 6 months that Andy and I have been married. It's been amazing so far and we are so blessed. That doesn't mean we haven't shared a bump or two in the road. Our biggest struggles have been blending our family and finances.

Finances...I thought that I had it pretty much covered. I mean, I've done ok for the kids and myself in the past. It's always been a struggle but we got by, God has always provided our needs, and I shouldered a lot on my own. In the past I've been burned a lot when it comes to money, so letting go and letting Andy take the lead has been hard for me. He took on so much when we married and he has never let us down as a provider. He does worry. Right now, we are paying more out in bills than either of us has ever done. The amount may seem minuscule to some, but to us, it's a big deal. Andy's paycheck covers the major bills, but we had nothing left over. We've been praying for a breakthrough with my job situation. Something had to give.

A few weeks ago, during one of our discussions about finances (which seem to be at least 10x a day now), I brought up the topic of tithing. At the time, the idea of putting in 10% almost seemed impossible. Andy was so stressed and worried about how we were going to make our finances work. So I asked how he felt about giving 10% and explained that it's the only place in the bible where God says that we can test him. (Not that we need to test God to know that He is good!)

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
                                        Malachi 3:10
So, we decided to try it. This week something happened. I got a call to work as a long term substitute. A huge blessing in itself. Even though we aren't sure how long I'll be in this position it's a break for us and I've been promised at least a few weeks of work, possibly the rest of the school year. It's not going to be easy, it's probably going to be the most challenging position I've had yet. I'm going to need to rely on God more than ever before for physical and mental strength. We are so excited though.

The next thing that happened was we were offered a deal that will allow us to purchase a family vehicle at a price and monthly payment amount we can handle. About a month ago, Andy and I had talked about buying it, but we just couldn't find a way to get the extra money to buy it straight out or even to put a down payment on it. I'm so excited about how much we have seen God's blessing pouring out in our life. It can only get better.

I'm not saying that by tithing we're gonna get rich etc. No not at all, I do believe that the more we trust God with our finances, the more secure we will be. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to teach us about stewardship, giving, and trusting him to provide what we need. There's no need to worry, if we worry about bills and money..then we probably aren't doing it right.

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
                                                                   Matthew 6:8
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
                                                                    Philippians 4:6  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beauty from Ashes: Remembering 9-11

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3


I remember.... the two words that are present in our hearts today on yet another anniversary of September 11. Nearly every facebook status I've seen this morning begins this way, or even without words by the sharing of thousands of memorials and photos of the event we all wish had never happened. It did happen though, and in the years since so much has transpired in our country and in our lives.

I'm not going to bore you with a personal account of where I was and how I felt. Instead I'm going to share my thoughts this morning. At our church each year we have sort of a challenge. A word is chosen that we kind of make the theme for the year. Last year, that word was Joy. (I'm still a little stuck on it as you might be able to tell.) This year the word was Memories. Not memories as in memories of child hood or family, birthdays etc. When someone says Memories, we are supposed to say "I Remember" and think of all that God has done for us and brought us through.

I Remember....

11 years ago when the towers fell I was a senior in high school. I wasn't a mother, a wife, a teachers aide, a Sunday school teacher, or any of the other hats I wear today. I had no idea where I was going or what I would be, in truth most days I still don't.

I remember the pain of that day, and wondering like most, what was to come. As a country we mourned for those who were lost, but if you are like me, that mourning was more about the loss of the control and security we felt than about the individual lives lost. How can you truly mourn for people that you have never met. We all felt pain, but here in WV most of us weren't personally close enough to the tragedy to really feel the loss. My feelings haven't changed much in 11 years. It's still hard to personally envision all that happened on that day. I will say that in the past year I've gained a better grasp because personally, I've seen the brotherhood of Men and Women who are willing to lift each other up, stand in the gap, and when needed die for others.

 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
                                                                                       James 15:13

In 2001, I knew a few firemen...mostly old guys who had been running calls for years. They were people I saw in the community, usually only recognized as a volunteer by the black boxes at their side ( boxes that I only recognized because my Dad is a radio guy who works on stuff like that.) Sometimes, driving by a wreck I would see a face or two I knew. That was the extent of it, I couldn't identify with the immensity of the fact that 343 firefighters gave their lives in the line of duty on Sept 11. To be honest, I didn't even know the exact number.

In 2011, ten years after the tragedy I finally started to "get it." On Sept. 11, 2011 Andy met my kids for the first time, not as my boyfriend (that came a few days later), but just as a friend saying Hi at a festival. He drove past us in a fire engine, smiling and waving at the Flatwoods Day's parade. I didn't  realize it, but God was starting something amazing for us. In the year since, I've learned more and seen more than I ever imagined I would about the fire service. I've learned the number lost (you can't be around firemen long without hearing the number 343). I've felt the anxious grip on my heart, when my husband runs out the door not knowing what he'll find when he gets to a scene. I've also seen first hand how this truly is a brotherhood. How guys who have never met and who live on opposite sides of the country can bump it each other in a gas station, online, or on vacation and instantly be able to talk for hours like best friends. No where, not even in churches, have I ever seen that kind of instant respect and encouragement for each other. I don't know how it was before 9-11 but I can help but to think that some of that respect comes from the sacrifice of 343 people who were willing to set the example that all emergency responders follow today. I'm not just saying all this because I married a fireman (granted Andy had no clue he would be called to the fire serve in 2001). Perhaps it took this experience for me to see it though, Firefighters, EMS, and Law Enforcement. It is a ministry in itself and a calling that God certainly creates some amazing people for. God has amazing plans for all of us, that is worth remembering.

I remember....

God has promised us that beauty can come from the ashes. From 2001 on there have been so many moments of mourning and despair that aren't even related to the tragedy. We've all experienced personal trials....and many of us have been brought out of them. In my life from the ashes of a painful marriage, came the Joy of two beautiful children, a Greater walk with God, and now...a great husband.. Every time I've been held captive and wounded in my life I have been set free by a Loving God who cares more for me than I can even imagine. It's good to remember the pain of the past, but only so far as to see where you've come from it God has too many blessings in store for those who seek him...why should we be discouraged?

Lastly, I want to share the first news I heard this morning. September 11, 2012. One of my closest friends called me to share the news that her much anticipated newborn daughter had arrived! At 5:31 am Lexi Jolene came into the world at 9 lb 4 oz, and 20 in long. What an amazing morning! What Joy and celebration!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

                                                                    James 1:17
Today I challenge you to remember.We will never forget the events of September 11, 2001 but also do not forget the Memories since and how far God has brought you. Remember the ones who died for others on that day they deserve our respect, but do not forget the One that died for you for  and for the world. Do not forget the children who are blessings from the Lord, do not forget the trials he has brought you through, and do not forget the good things he has in store for those who accept his great mercy and love. Do not forget His promises. .

 "And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer."       
Psalm 78:35

What has He done for you? What do you remember?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fish Guts in the Belly of the Whale? Or a Nice view Ocean Side?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Most of you who know me locally, know that I've been seeking a new job. I love the current one, however if I don't get more hours or move into a full time position I'm not sure how much longer I can stay there. Money is tight and a more stable income on my part would go along way towards helping our situation. So I've been looking.  I've got a few applications in here and there and a few of them look promising but my prayer has been that God would put me where He want's me. Today I recieved another answer. The letter in the mailbox was a resounding NO! The job I wanted...well I wasn't the chosen applicant.

My first reaction was very human...and very common in the face of rejection. I was disappointed. Left to it's own devices the disappointment I felt could turn very quickly to anger and lead into bitterness and discouragement. I was hoping for the job, I wanted it, I had started thinking about what it would be like when I had it......there's a lot of ME in those statements. Had I recieved the letter without prayer in the waiting time....I would have been angry just as Jonah was angry when God didn't do what he expected.

"But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry........But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4: 1,4

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil."  Psalm 37:8

I was reminded very quickly that my prayer wasn't for the job itself, but for God to put me where I was supposed to be. Yes, I could be mad about it, but where would that get  me? I would lose a friend and maybe even an opportunity later on. I realized it's just God's way of saying "Not that one, I have another plan for you."

Jeremiah 29:11 is honestly one of my favorite verses. On days like today it lifts me up to know that God is ready and waiting to guide my steps if I will seek Him. His plans are good. An answer of No from anyone, and the feeling of rejection regardless of the reason is upsetting, but it's not the end.

 “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” Isaiah 32:17

I can have peace because I am confident that God will provide for our needs. He has done so over and over again. There isn't any need to put a question mark there. I trust that God can and will supply.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:19

So...this we know. God has a plan, His plans are Good, and God will provide. Just remember that His plan isn't always the one we think it should be. We may have to give up on a dream, let go of a relationship, swallow our pride, or sometimes even change directions altogether. God's way's are higher than ours. If we aren't willing to let go of our plans and listen for His, we'll never know the JOY and PEACE that He want's us to walk in.  The Bible doesn't say it will be easy...or that we will always agree with where God is leading us. Jonah spent time smelling some nasty fish guts because of his disobedience and even afterward he never really agreed with or understood what God wanted to do through him...I think I'd rather follow God's direction and maybe get to hang out on the beach a bit. If ya know what I mean. =)