Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How God Answered

God answers prayer. Always. We may not always like how He answers them, but that is neither here nor there. I asked y'all back in April to pray for our family as we faced the possibility of our sweet Jack being born with one infirmity or another. I think it's time to give an update to let you know how exactly God answered your prayers on our behalf. 

At 39 weeks exactly, my water broke at 5:20 am & contractions began. As I was hoping for a natural VBAC, this was an exciting development for me! We got everything ready & headed to our OB's office once they opened. They confirmed that my water had broken & sent me over to labor & delivery to bring our baby boy into the world. I was hooked up to the monitor to get a baseline reading on Jack's heart rate. Unfortunately, it was elevated & refused to come down. Attempting labor at that point would have eventually put his life in danger. Therefore, I was prepped for a speedy C-section. So speedy, in fact, that we had no one there with us to stay with Emma, so I was wheeled back to the OR alone while Michael remained with our darling girl. The doctors & nurses were extraordinary - one nurse even left to get Michael's phone & took pictures of Jack being born for us! Jack came into this world June 22 weighing in at 8 pounds 2 ounces, looking every bit like Emma's twin! All sorts of tests were run on him & every single one has come back with the same result:  healthy! God has been gracious to us beyond our comprehension, certainly beyond our worth. 

In a week, Jack will turn 3 months old. He's vibrant, joyful, & sweet. He nurses like a champ, & is now 12 pounds 8.5 ounces! He's doing great with Tummy Time, always impressing us with how high & long he can hold his head up. He has the sweetest smiles & coos! Truly, he melts my heart. And what of Emma, our possessive, jealous baby girl? How has she taken to her baby brother? Well, she showers him with kisses all day long. She comforts him when he cries, patting him & saying, "It's okay, Baby Jack. Mama's coming." She cackles about how cute he is & tells him all the time that she loves him. She is hands down the best big sister ever!

All the way around, we are truly blessed by our angels & praise God for how He answered our prayers. We're equally hopeful that He will answer our prayers for their salvation in like manner & invite you to join us in bringing them before His throne. Thank you!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Emma's May & June Activities

I've decided it's time for Emma to have more structured activities!  So I'm being ambitious - 9 weeks before Jack's estimated due date! - & have put together a calendar of learning, crafts, & Bible activities for Miss Priss.  I've exclusively used Pinterest for these ideas, so if you want to have the links to them, you can follow my "Emma's Activities for May & June" board.  I have every activity separately linked there.  My plan is to simply repeat the lessons in June that we do in May - after all, practice makes perfect, & I think she'll have so much fun the first time around that she'll want to do them again!  I will most likely change up the craft activities a bit, like do "Dot Marker Flowers" (instead of Butterflies) in June.  The Bible readings come from The Jesus Storybook Bible.  (As an aside, I learned a valuable lesson here to compile the materials list at the same time as I plan my calendar.  It took double the time to go back & look up each activity to make those lists!)

Emma’s May & June Activities


1   Pouring wheat, Painting w/ cotton balls, Bible (62)
2   Cheerios towers, Dyed pasta collage, Bible (70)
4   Pom pom color sorting, Fizzing sidewalk chalk, Bible (76)
5   Playdoh Letters, Butterfly Art, Bible (84)
6   Making Lava, Ziploc bag painting, Bible (92)
7   Rainbow Rice Sensory Play, Paper Towel Tie Dye, Bible (100)
8   PVC Tube Wall, Cool Whip Painting, Bible (108)
9   Simon Says, Dot Marker Butterflies, Bible (116)
11   Fruit Hide & Seek, No-Mess Monsters, Bible (122)
12   Ruler Measuring, Spray Paint Art, Bible (130)
13   Playdoh & Magnetic Letters, Sponge Painting, Bible (136)
14   Shapes Nature Walk (make Shutterfly book), Felt Faces, Bible (144)
15   Color Sorting, Rainbow Soap Foam Bubbles, Bible (152)
16   Craft Stick Shapes, Pasta Sunflowers, Bible (160)
18   Glitter Slime, Bubble Wrap Painting,  Bible (170)
19   Bubble Wrap Painting Water Play, Paper Plate Bird, Bible (176)
20   Rainbow Spaghetti, Rainbow Spaghetti Pictures, Bible (184)
21   Playdoh Animal Tracks, Making Confetti, Bible (192)
22   Balloon Dice Counting, Confetti Collages, Bible (200)
23   Rainbow Math, Cardboard Box Coloring, Bible (208)
25   Shapes Puzzle Picture, Flower Printing, Bible (214)
26   Color Wheel Hunt, Nature Collage, Bible (222)
27   Lids Matching & Memory, Tissue Paper Suncatcher, Bible (228)
28   Thread a Bangle (Busy Bag), Toilet Paper Trees, Bible (236)
29   Stickers on Toilet Paper Roll (Busy Bag), Simple Tie Craft, Bible (244)
30   Craft Stick Shape Puzzles (Busy Bag), DIY Kazoos, Bible (250)

May & June Activities Materials


-different sized containers, big sheet, bucket of wheat berries or beans
-different colors of paint, pompoms, kitchen tongs
-toothpicks, playdoh, Cheerios
-playdoh, straws
-food coloring, baking soda, vinegar
-white rice (10 lbs.), liquid watercolors, alcohol, Ziploc bags
-2 ¼” PVC, suction cups, drill, beans/wheat/rice, buckets
-playdoh, magnetic letters, PD rolling pin & knife
-assorted fruits, basket, “color wheel” construction paper
-shapes printout (Shapes in Nature), camera
-“snow” playdoh (see recipe), glitter, play animals
-lg. colored craft sticks, Velcro circles, shapes printable
-1 Elmer’s glitter glue, borax, bowl, measuring cup/spoon
-Dawn, water, mixer, liquid watercolors, large tub
-“color wheel” felt circles, small bowls, cars, buttons, pompoms, foam shapes, letters, etc.
-large tub, water, plastic bottles, painted bubble wrap
-cooked spaghetti, liquid watercolors, Ziploc bags, tub or pan
-numbered “color wheel” toilet paper tubes, small pompoms
-blown up balloons, dice
-paper, shapes, car/house/tree/clouds/sun cutouts, glue
-lids, foam stickers,
-Ziploc bag, pipe cleaners, beads
-ziploc bag, stickers, markers, toilet paper roll
-ziploc bag, craft sticks, markers
-construction paper, painters’ tape, objects
-ruler, objects


-baking soda, cornstarch, food coloring, vinegar, spray bottle
-card stock butterflies, Wikki Stix
-paint, Ziploc bags, masking tape
-paper towels, food coloring, bowls/cups
-muffin tin, cool whip, food coloring, wax paper, tape, brush
-paper, paint, googly eyes, cut out shapes for features, glue
-3-4 spray bottles, paint, water, large paper, tape
-cardboard, felt, sharpie, pencil, scissors, Ziploc bag, paper, glue
-cardstock, rotini noodles, yellow & brown paint, green pipe cleaners, glue
-bubble wrap, blue paint, beads, glass gems
-confetti, paper, glue w/food coloring, brush
-paper plate, paint, brushes, scissors, glue, craft feathers, googly eyes, construction paper beak
-strips of colored paper, bowl, hole punch
-paper, muffin tin, paint, cotton balls, clothes pins
-rainbow spaghetti, paper
-large cardboard box, markers
-paint pallet, paint, flowers, paper
-construction paper, black marker, paint, buttons, ribbon, scissors
-toilet paper tubes, green construction paper, red & green paint, scissors
-paper towel roll, tissue paper, glue, wax paper, rubber band
-contact paper, tissue paper, scissors, yarn, hole punch, construction paper
-foam plate, dyed pasta, glue, spray starch
-construction paper butterfly wings, craft stick, glue, dot markers
-foam plates, paint, white painting paper, sponges, scissors, black pipe cleaners, black marker, scraps of construction paper

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Our Year, My Crisis of Faith, & Our Prayer Requests

I don't usually write posts in this way, but I have a lot to say - a lot to catch some of y'all up on - so I'm going to write this one post in 3 parts.  I'll be as brief as possible, but let me apologize in advance for the length.

Our Year

This has been a hard year.  There has been joy, to be sure – being a child of God, Michael’s wife, & Emma’s Mama, that’s a given – but I've never lived through a year like this where difficulty compounded sorrow repeatedly.  Beginning in March of last year, my beloved Granny died suddenly.  In June we discovered we were expecting our second child, only to be told a few weeks later that we had lost him or her.  (I’ve dealt with my fair share of sorrow, but I’ve never known this depth of pain before.  Never.  And lest anyone think differently, while the pain does lose its rawness, it never goes away & can crop up at any time.)  A couple of people whom I love dearly experienced deep sorrow, & I sorrowed with them because I love them.  Then, at the beginning of this year, despite our very best efforts, we lost our home.

Amongst the sorrows, as I mentioned, there were joys.  For those of you who don’t know, we discovered in October that we were pregnant again!  To be sure, that made me nervous, as my heart was so very tender with grief over Christian.  Still, this little one whom God is forming in my womb tops the list of joys for this year!

My Crisis of Faith

I’m already a nervous expecting Mama, especially early on.  I tend to be fine between appointments, but as one approaches, I start to worry that we’re going to discover something’s wrong.  Losing Christian only amplified that anxiety.  But as we passed the early benchmarks, & as I was able to rent a hand-held Doppler, I became more at ease.  My comfort was challenged a bit, though, at the 20 week appointment where we discovered that this baby – Jack, as we learned to our extreme delight! – had a slight abnormality that our doctor wanted to keep a watch on.  “Echogenic bowel”, they called it.  He didn’t seem distressed & said it was possible that this was nothing to worry about, something that could be a false reading or even resolve on its own.  He wanted us to come back in 4 weeks for another ultrasound.  I prayed fervently, more fervently than I’ve ever prayed for anything in my entire life, that this shadow would be gone when we went back.  I knew from research that echogenic bowel could mean some pretty scary things, so I begged God to let it be gone.  I was perfectly honest with Him that I had had enough this year; I couldn’t handle one more sorrow, especially in regards to my children.  There are others who seem to float along with nary a ripple in their placid life.  “Let them have a turn,” I pleaded.  I prayed these things over & over & over . . .  & over.  And even though I still felt some anxiety, I just knew that when we went back, everything would be normal.  I just knew it.  But I was wrong.

It took a few hours, but before the day was done, I freaked out.  I mean, freaked out.  I became volatilely angry with God.  I questioned His goodness & His love for me.  I wondered if maybe the atheists were right – is God capricious?  Why would He do this to me?  Hadn’t I suffered enough?  Not just this year, but in life?  I was molested, I suffered through family estrangements, I was hurt grievously by others, I struggled with infertility for years!  And then He had put me through the intensive pain of the past year, topping it off by taking my child away only to compound it by threatening this one?  I sobbed out my anger & grief to Michael, in Emma’s presence, who both sought to comfort me.  I felt like I was going to be torn apart by this emotional tornado.  I was inconsolable, livid, confused . . . & scared.  Scared because I had never in my life, despite my trials, questioned God like this.  I had never ever been angry with Him.  Never doubted everything I ever believed about Him.  I was terrified that I would lose my faith, & that was brand new to me, as well.  I believe that my faith – its very existence from beginning to end – is fully dependent on God.  I wouldn’t believe in Christ as my Savior if He hadn’t drawn me, & I am completely dependent on Him to keep me from losing that faith.  I knew this, but this situation made me experience it.  All I could do was cry out to Him.  I was unbelievably angry, yet I still loved Him & didn’t want to turn from Him.  So, I begged Him to not let me go, not let me lose my faith.  For days I pleaded for Him to do this.  Slowly, ever so slowly, my tornado of emotions quieted, & my faith emerged stronger.  He sent me through the fire & brought me back out.  I have never been more thankful for anything . . . or more relieved.  A few things occurred to me as my storm blew itself out:

1)      I was so angry at God for possibly requiring my son of me or afflicting him with some grievous condition, yet He knows that grief Himself.  He knows what it means to watch the Son He loves afflicted & killed, & it was His gracious plan out of love for His enemies (including me), in order to reconcile us to Himself.  I realized I had no right to withhold my own son should He ask him of me.
2)      Every single person is created by God in His image & is, therefore, “fearfully & wonderfully made”.  Even people with deformities or diseases.  People are not the sum of their infirmities, & I will focus on Jack, not his limitations (if there are any).
3)      No matter what happens, as long as Michael & I are alive, Jack will never know a day where he is not loved & cared for.  He will always know that we love him & so does God.

Our Prayer Requests

The bottom line here is that we don’t know if Jack has a problem or not.  We went to a specialist who basically couldn’t tell us anything definitive without further testing – testing that still wouldn’t be conclusive.  We knew going in that we would not consent to anything invasive like amniocentesis, so we’re choosing to live with the uncertainty.  The fact that the echogenic bowel is the only abnormality works in our favor.  Usually such cases turn out with a healthy baby.  We know there’s no guarantee, though.  Blessedly, God has taken away my anxiety.  Since my crisis of faith, I have only had one twinge of anxiety, which is when I realized I need to focus on Jack & not his possible issues.  If we may ask, please pray for us.  Pray for Jack’s health; even though our love for him will be undimmed we, of course, still desire him to be healthy.  Pray for our faith in God (& His goodness & love) to remain strong regardless of what happens.  Pray that we (mainly me) won’t become angry with God if things don’t go as we hope.  Pray that God will be with us no matter if Jack is born healthy or not – because we’re going to need Him either way.  Pray for my health & for his birth (now just 9 weeks away, give or take) to be smooth & uncomplicated, & for recovery to be quick & easy.  Pray for Emma as she transitions from being an only child to being a big sister.  Pray for Michael & me to be godly parents to both of our babies.  And pray for us to glorify God in everything.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Soli Deo Gloria