Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Developments

We are thankful for the progress so far for Deena and Alayna. The steps are so small at first that it can be discouraging. Deena had a good night but the doctors still think that she needs more blood. This hard for us but, we do believe it is the right thing to do. After all -- "the life of the flesh is in the blood." (Leviticus 17:11) Her counts have been decreasing throughout the last two tests taken and there is still the issue of bleeding. The Doctors have no other feeling that there will be trouble they are just taking precautions.

Deena is having to be on pain medicine that really knocks her out and it is very disappointing to her. She is receiving her third unit of blood right now and we pray that after four units, she will need no other.

Alayna is progressing also. They are going to remove the breathing tube today ,Lord willing, and then we will see what happens.

The hardest part about all this is that Deena, the one who has gone through all of this, is the last one to see the baby. I know that in the grand scheme, this will seem insignificant, but, It is sure hard right now for her.

Pray that the blood will be sufficient for the counts to come up and then stay up.
Pray that Alyana will do well breathing on her own.
Pray that the Lord will be glorified in all that we do.

Already there has been one lady saved in the waiting room while Val and Mom were waiting to come see us.

Thank you again all who have prayed and helped. It really means so much during this time.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Wife- My Hero

I sit here in St. E's next to my wife's bed as she recovers from major abdominal surgery. The doctor was amazed at how difficult the surgery was. And as I sit here, I think back at the last 7 weeks. It started out much like today except that I was not with her today. An early morning awakening that something was wrong and finding that there was indeed. She spent the next week in the Hospital and then came home on bed rest. During this time Deena had to give herself shots twice a day in the stomach. This was the first time that I really began to look at her as something of a hero. She was willing to stick herself ----willingly---knowingly---in her stomach!!!! This is something that would be difficult/ impossible for me. She was willing to do all this to keep her baby and herself safe for just a little longer. It was right around here when I started calling her my hero. From then on our friends and family (and some that were our friends before they started watching our kiddos!!) Began the task of encouraging us and helping us and praying for us in unimaginable ways. God has used these dear folks to simply overwhelm us with his love. We are so blessed.
I was very careful to be close to home so that I could get home at a moments notice. Up until last night when we carefully planned to leave her at a dear friends home over night so that I could take the boys camping and canoeing with other men from our church. We had a great night camping lots of fun and relaxation and devotions! Ironically, this morning at 5am I awoke in my tent to a call from my wife telling me that she called an ambulance and she was going in to the hospital. According to her friend this morning Deena was the picture of grace under pressure. Of course this was our worst fear, to wake up and need to be rushed to the hospital and have a emergency C- Section. But My hero was brave and God gave amazing Grace right when she needed it, right down to having general anesthesia. Needless to say, God knows and he will work his plan, however, I have yet to see why he waited until I was an hour away to bring this about! Dad jumped in the car with me and we made the hour trip in about 40 mins, not seeing any police along the way!!
At 7:21am our third daughter and 6th child was born to us, albeit, under less than perfect circumstances. Again, my Hero was the picture of grace and courage as she endured the post op pains and procedures.

God has certainly been good to give me such an unselfish hero!! Deena endured alot the last 7 weeks which culminated in this very hard day for her. She teaches me the virtue of setting yourself aside ( and doing it gracefully) for the good of someone else.

And we have a very beautiful daughter to prove it.

PS. I know that there have been many others who have gone through this and much worse. This gives me a new appreciation for what some folks have gone through.

5lbs. 7 oz.
18 inches long
Praise the Lord!!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SAFE ! home.

I am enjoying the last biscuit with strawberry-rhubarb sauce dripping off of it and reflecting on this past week that Joel and I had all to ourselves. I was able to attend Sunday school and the worship service so I am home-bound for church tonight doing what I usually Cleveland Baptist's service online. (Thank you Janelle!) With it being Father's Day, and with the 32 week mark stretching right in front of me tomorrow, I was bound and quite determined to do something, anything for him. Abb and I decided to make some biscuits to go with the sauce a sweet friend gave us yesterday, and so we did! I will be so glad when this little one is in my arms and I am off the couch.....or blue chair!

This last week was really special in so many ways. Yes it was our 10th Anniversary, but it was the longest stretch of being "alone together" that we have had in literally 10 years! And what did we do with all that time???? We talked, and talked and then when we were finished we talked some more! Something that just breaks our hearts (Joel and I) is that couple's just don't talk....period. They become what we affectionately call, "business partners." They swap itineraries, meal times and call it an afternoon. Within the last two weeks, talking to two women I asked them, "Is there ever a time where you just talk with your spouse and enjoy their company, etc.?" And the response was, "No." Hmmm.....

We talked about the kids, what we need to work on, what is going well, where we would love to see God use them. We talked about the garden, the house we are looking at, a few passages of scripture we were each reading that week and had a thought on, and so on. And this week we realized that many couple's do not talk, or "hide" things one from the other, you know, the ACTUAL price of something you bought..... because they do not feel that they have a "safe" place with their spouse.

Isn't it humorous that when you are "dating" you come to the end of your courtship anticipating marriage and feeling like you know all there is to know about each other. NO ONE could know more than you know about them. You then spend the rest of your life learning more and more about them each day that passes. Before you are married, you can spill your heart out to this person, and they will spend countless hours listening to you explain the most tedious things, because they have and interest in you. You can share very personal feelings because you KNOW that they can be trusted and hence in all of this you have found a precious "safe spot" with them.

And then the years go ticking by, and you lose that "safe area" for some reason or another. Oh you have a conflict, a crisis and you are hurt, he is hurt, and you lose trust in them and stop "opening-up" like you used to. You are afraid of what they will say, afraid of judgement or criticism and decided to ask someone else instead. Now this is the same person that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with and now you are enduring one another and not rejoicing with the one person on the whole earth that God has ordained for you to have a fellowship with like no other. Hmmmm.....

I have that safety with Joel. And we protect that with our lives here on Haywood. Sad to say, but I have seen that we wives are usually the ones who make our own bed and have to lie in it. We embarrass our husbands, look down on them, try to make them spiritual, and even disrespect them in many many ways. For instance, you are in the car, running late for that Summer party at so-and-so's house. You are unsure if he REALLY knows the way to get there. A short drive and then he turns around, another short distance and he is turning around in another gas station of all places. Yep, you do it. You ask him for heaven's sake to just stop and ask for directions, reminding him over and over that you are going to be late and you HATE being late. Sound realistic? It is. It has been me. You???

In reading a great book I noticed two errors in what I was doing in this scenario. I was a) questioning his judgement and skill, telling him in a very real way that I DID NOT TRUST HIM and needed to do this myself, and b) I was disrespecting his position and degrading him making him feel worthless.

Then in a few days we wonder why he just won't "talk" about anything. I think we build our own barriers and wonder why our husbands are not climbing over them to meet our emotional needs. We get angry and disrespect him more, build a higher barrier and eventually meet occasionally at the little window at the bottom of the wall to chat a few minutes before going to bed. You know, the only person you can change is yourself. No matter of belittling or asking, or telling or nagging will make your spouse into the perfect person you always dreamed they could you for instance right? The more I work on me and allow God to chip off my rough edges, and the beam in my own eye, the speck in my husband's seems insignificant.

The second thing I asked two women recently was if they "ever had a time of reconciliation with their husband." You know, a time of complete forgiveness on both parts. Again an overwhelming, "No."

You look at us, our hilarious pictures in the park, kissing for our own photography, and you laugh. We did too! :-) You say, "Yeah yeah, you have been married a whopping 10 years?????" And you would be correct. But you know what??? We have a "safe spot," Joel and I.

Believe you me, we don't have it all together. Joel IS married to me remember? And Christ is to be at the center of this equation. Marriage is not to make you "happy," but to make you "holy," one preacher stated at our church, and he is dead right. I see some couples who are miserably tolerating each other at Denny's, at church, at the park. I want to just go over to them and say, "Is what you are doing right now in your relationship workin for ya? If not, why don't you find that "safe spot" again????"

I pray that God gives us many many many more wonderful years together. I am forever thankful for my husband taking a bus kid from the Cleveland suburbs and making her into a homemaker, and showing me the love that Christ has for his church.

Are you safe at home??

Pr 21:31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An apple a day..........keeps you humble.

Ps 89:33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

I am speechless watching my kids rush from the fridge to the couch where a mound of food is piled high and overflowing. Very rarely can I not find something to say. This is such a moment. And to explain this scene I must back up a bit.

This week has been a busy one. VBS began tonight and Joel has been running to and fro, with me at home helping in any way I can, cut out things, come up with craft ideas and make lists of things for him to run and get.....all the while knowing that I love VBS and that it is best for me to not go. I wish I could say I had a good attitude when my husband came home for lunch, but my excitement was waning for VBS and turning into resentment and pity. I listened to him, helped him and asked him for something I have been asking him for for literally days........ an apple.

I have had such a taste for a crisp cold apple. And Joel has had a zillion places to go and things to do and none of them involved apples, so it has fallen by the wayside. This afternoon, however I was feeling like my apple craving took precedence over VBS preparations, and possibly even the White House staff meeting at this point. So in a not so sweet wifey voice I I mean asked once more for an apple. As I type this I am wondering if it was indeed an apple, a crisp, cool gala apple that caused all of this sin in the first place......I digress.

Joel whipped out the cell phone and before I could stop him he called my sweet friend and asked her if she would not mind picking me up some fruit and dropping it by. I was partly embarrassed that we could not get the silly fruit ourselves and even a little angry that he called someone and did not see the "importance" of getting it for me himself. So I waited for my friend to come, and come she did, with bags of fruit. There were bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, a mango, peaches, nectarines, pears and even some kiwi!!! She was so sweet and washed me up some, cheerily talking to me as she did so and served me some up on a plate, hugged me and left. I was humbled that she would so willingly do that for me, and not just get what we had asked, but went so far above and beyond what we even thought of.

Joel leaves for VBS and I try to be happy. Try is the key word there. Anna and I were company for each other and we read books sang songs and even did a Bible word search "together." The hours seemed to drag, they kinda do that on bed rest. Joel came in the door with a "we had a blessed night" smile and I greeted him with a "glad you got to actually do something besides sit on the couch" half smirk. (Ok if you are so not human that you cannot relate to some honesty.....please catch some other blog! :)

Joel tried to encourage me but I honestly did not want encouraged. He tells me of two ladies from our church who asked at VBS if they could do something to be an encouragement to me. Joel mentions that we did need just a few items from the store that he just had not had the time to get, brown sugar to make oatmeal, and he mentioned that I liked.......yeah you guessed it apples. While we waited for her arrival, Joel read the Bible to us and a verse stood out to me. As he read the Psalms I just laid my head back and soaked it all in letting it wash all the self-absorbent out. The Psalms have such a cleansing affect for me. Then we got to the above mentioned verse , Ps 89:33 "Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." And the last few words kept ringing in my ears, "nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, "I am still faithful. I AM still FAITHFUL." Yes you are faithful Lord, I replied, and I am ashamed of myself. Please forgive me for the way I behaved today. Then they pulled in. Right here I need to interject that I am an avid fan of Darlene Rose. I wish I had time to elaborate on her life and testimony, but to make a long story short, in a desperate time in her life, in a Japanese prison camp.....on death row, she asked God for one banana. (Has fruit always been our downfall??? Hmmm....) And then she began to tell Him all the reasons why He, the Creator of the universe could not even get her one solitary banana. You can guess what happened can't you? She received not one but close to one hundred bananas from a very unlikely source. This came to mind when they brought in bag after bag after bag filled to the brim with groceries. Eight bags to be exact. I began to cry, partly out of the realization of the money they had spent on us, but mainly.....mainly because I was ashamed. I was ashamed before the Lord, just as Darlene Rose was when the bananas kept coming.

To me, God's well of faithfulness had run dry and I was looking at trying my hand at digging another hole and looking to prosper myself. So many people have been SO kind, so compassionate, so self-sacrificing and I loose sight of all of that for a few measly apples. Yes friends, I was ashamed. I could only squeak out a sincere thanks, hug them as tight as I have ever hugged someone and bid them a good evening through mounds of tears.

Even now as Joel came over and relayed again how blessed we are and how overwhelmed he feels by their kindness, I can only nod, and cannot speak for the tears that readily fall. What these ladies, ladies who needed the money they so lavishly spent on us, did not know was that we had just ran out of milk, and bread and just about everything. Joel brought the bags close to the blue chair and unloaded them onto the couch just so that I could see each item. One child OO'ed and Ahh'ed over yogurt and held it as if it was a prized possession, another held up Popsicles, and yet another cereal. We stopped and thanked the Lord and though I wanted the kids to hear me audibly thank Him, I had to thank Him in my heart for the emotion that had overtaken me. Each child thanked God for their cherished item that meant a lot to them, ending with Anna thanking God for potatoes. You cannot manufacture moments like this. And seeing God open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing is something a family does not soon forget.

I am humbled that the very God of heaven would think on me. Would put it on someone's heart to bless us in such a way in spite of myself. I am reminded of Ro 2:4 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" God's faithfulness to us during this time, and through others cannot be fully expressed.

With an apple in hand, and a full heart I wish you a good evening.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Only Trust Him

Ps 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

For a few days I have wanted to sit down and dictate this story I read in one of my fav magazines, Keepers at Home. I know, I know, you are thinking, "Hello, you are on BED REST! How can you NOT find time to post?" Well believe it or not, any place can me a ministry of encouragement, and from the couch, bed and blue chair, I have been able to talk to people on the phone, or send notes of cheer or thanks, and for each person who stops by, (and there are many sometimes!!) my hearts prayer is to send them away more blessed than the blessing they are seeking to bestow. So...... time will fly by and I always wonder, "Where did this day go?"

This story means so very much to me, and will to you if you have had moments in your life where you felt God was silent. Read and reflect and gather what you need to for the trial you are in.

Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others in prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them. As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace with sweetest music.
Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head and gave her one look of loving approval.
The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance. The woman in her dream said to herself. How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave his approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first. The third must have grieved Him deeply, for he gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.
I wonder what she has done and why He make so much difference between them? As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said, "O woman! How wrongly hast thou interpreted me."
"The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of my tenderness and care to keep her feet in my narrow way. She needs my love, thought and help evey moment of the day. Without it she would fail.
"The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust me however things may go and whatever people do.
"The third whom I seemed not to take notice and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service. She knows Me so intimately and trusts Me so utterly that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass. She trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel--because she knows that I am working in her for eternity and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.
I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or human hearts to understand and also for your sake that you may learn to love and trust Me."

"Why are thou cast down, O.....soul? ......I shall yet praise Him".....even for His silence.