Friday, July 31, 2009

A Sweet Homecoming!

This has been a whirlwind of a week!!! I spend 24 hours straight at the hospital on Sunday through Monday to try to speed Alayna's homecoming without a heart monitor. We have been praying so hard and fervently that she would not come home attached to any machines, but would be free of the hospital and we then would be free to enjoy her and finally get on with life as a family again! Up to last Sunday she was home free without a monitor and looking like coming home was around the corner....we were delighted to say the least. Then Monday hit and she had a few alarms. Not such a big deal to US, but hospital policy says she cannot come home monitor free unless she has been 5 days free of alarms. Grrrrr! I was starting to wonder if I had Pr 13:12 "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:" written on a huge post it note on my back! Tuesday they called to tell us that Alayna was very close to coming home and then Wednesday they basically told us to "Come and get her." :) We had to first complete an hour or so of training for the monitor and also infant CPR before she was set to go home with us. During this time Joel and I had been in a spiritual battle. Remember me posting about "loose ends?" Well by the time the monitor was even an issue, we were in a position where we NEEDED to see God work. We at this point are exhausted from 7 weeks of bed rest, an emergency surgery and recovery and hospital trips every day for 3o some days. WE NEED TO SEE GOD. We take this monitor situation and pour over it with whatever spiritual strength we have left. We fast, we beg God to show us His power and might.

All through the demonstration at the hospital on how to use the monitor I could not hardly make eye contact with the instructor. I was praying, beseeching God to work. "It is not too late Lord, you can work it out so that we would not need this thing," I cried. THEN the CPR instruction began, "Let's say Alayna is blue and is not breathing...." I about lost it. "Lord, why? Why are you allowing us to go through ANOTHER THING??" The instructor could not have imagined the spiritual war going on inside my heart. Joel knows...he is equally disappointed and heartbroken and places his hand on my arm.

When we were done, we then heard that Alayna had to stay on the NEW monitor for several hours and at that point it was the proverbial "Straw that broke the camel's back," for me. I wept right there over Alayna's bassinet. I stared at the wires and such on her chest. A nurse came over and asked if I was alright. I wasn't. I have never been one that could hide my feelings or disappointment or joy for that matter. In a few words I told her I was not comfortable with the monitor and was just "done" with all of this. I then left and told her that she would have to talk to my husband and found a nice corner chair in the surgery waiting room and cried my heart out to the Lord. I told Him that I was angry. Angry that after all the prayers we had said I still ended up hemorrhaging and almost dying. Angry that Alayna has had to stay here so long. Angry that she still had to come home with a monitor even after all the prayers for the exact opposite. I felt cheated, like He was purposely hurting us, not answering, and leaving us with this terrible hopelessness.

Joel found me and we both just sat holding each other in silence. Our faith is weak, and we are without any answer to comfort each other as to why God has decided to allow this. Again, this is just the culmination of some very disappointing trying times. We both just had had enough. We went home and I cried with Abby, who was undoubtedly very disappointed and that night we were so tired emotionally we could not wait to get to bed. Weariness indeed makes cowards of us all.

Then Thursday morning came. The Doctor called as usual around 9 and told me Alayna was "ready to come home yesterday and she definitely was ready today. Come and get your little girl whenever you want." "Yeah I have heard that before," I thought half heartedly. I devised a plan. I decided to call a sweet family and ask them to come watch the kids and told the kids I had some "errands to run." There was NO way I was going to come home to the same awful scene I had yesterday, poor things! I also decided NOT to tell Joel. There was a two-fold purpose for this. One, I needed to show the Lord that I could do this. I can, in faith, go, do something I do not understand, nor like, stare that monitor in the face and by FAITH say, "so be it." I had asked a lot of God, and He deserved something from me at this point. Secondly, I had to go alone for Joel. He needed to see that I did have an ounce of faith left and was going to exercise it. I could trust the Lord in this.

To make a long story short, I faced the nurse I walked out on, the doctor I did not agree with, and smiled with whatever amazing grace God could give me, dressed my beautiful daughter in a dress and bow and listened to my home-going instructions. I brought Alayna's preemie clothes that she outgrew and gave them to a sweet lady next to us for her daughter. I became friends with her and gave her a tract telling her that she could come see us anytime and we would love to be a help to her. This scenario was so funny to me because here I was, feeling lower than a snake's belly, downhearted and discouraged in my situation, yet I am reaching out to this lady, remembering to bring her Alayna's little sleepers. THAT is evidence of God's grace working. I do believe, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13 This was all of Him and none of me.

I cannot explain the feeling that came over me driving away from the is inexpressible! I shouted out loud which I am surprised did NOT set the alarms off on the monitor! Suddenly monitor or no monitor, I didn't care. She was mine, she was with me, and she was headed home to see her Daddy.....and 5 VERY anxiously surprised siblings! Joel was more surprised that I had concocted this all by myself than seeing Alayna, though both were wonderful revelations to him! We smiled a "who knows what God is doing but we are together and hanging on until the end," smiles to eachother. We were finally together as a family.

Friends, this has been sooo unbelievably long. (This time I mean not this post.....LOL) Bed rest and separated as a family, 10 weeks of people bringing meals for us, surgery, recovery, trips to the hospital, and now it is finally over. I am at a loss for words to describe this feeling also. I do know though that by faith if you act, if you dig down deep, really deep, if you cry out to the Lord in anger, frustration and fear, and you still act in faith, God's amazing grace will overshadow you, will shine even the smallest flicker of light on your path, with make obstacles seem so insignificant, and will allow Him to work through you working HIS perfect will.

It is good to be home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My So Bloggable Life

My life consists of spurts of hilarity and frustration these days, it really does! And yesterday I found myself saying a dozen times, "This is SO bloggable." When I relayed the days events to my husband he laughed heartily and agreed so here we be.

I received a call from a Dr. in the NICU telling me that Alayna though scheduled to come home THAT DAY had several heart alarms, some with feedings, most with feedings actually, and some without. She wanted me to come and stay the night in one of the rooms they have for Nursing Moms (why did I capitalize Nursing??? Hmm guess it makes me feel important. I digress...) and see if it is the flow of the bottle that is causing problems.

So, I got ready and headed up to the hospital. I was not discouraged, rather steadfast in my relentlessness to get Alayna home. As I got ready at home I even walked around the house with a clenched jaw and furrowed brow.......... as if someone was going to see me and remark on my great determination????? Yeah, well I told you my life was hilariously bloggable.

I then at the hospital went to grab lunch while Alayna still slept. Now in my 6 hospital stays I have never gone to the cafeteria. I didn't even know what floor it was on to tell you the truth! Hey they bring ME the food. So, this was a FIRST. I look like a lost little girl with my coke bottle glasses thanks to a ripped contact. Seriously I could have at any moment used my glasses and the ray coming through the window to char broil anything in the cafeteria. I get a Dunkin' Donuts coffee and look around hoping no one notices just how many creams I add. I add to the coffee a hamburger and a granola bar. There you have it, the lunch of champions. It is sadly all about comfort foods these days. When I got back up to the NICU, the nurse assigned to Alayna showed me my "Suite" for the night. WOW. Ok, a large curtain to shield you from the nurses taking lunch, a shared bathroom whith whomever else had to be there like me, a T.V that would not turn off..... the nurse just smiled and said, "Well at least you can turn the volume down!" Ha ha...wha??? A clock that did not work, which I ended up climbing the wall to get down to switch with the other room's clock which DID work. Uh sorry room #2.....first come first serve! Then to the BED....... It is really a masterpiece, really. It looks like half the width of a couch with no arms and has a handle on top which you pull down and WHALAH your bed. Well beggers could not be choosers I guess in this scenario.

I decided to get out and get some fresh air a bit and remembered that there was a Taco Bell nearby. So after a feeding I headed out for parts unknown. I ordered my food and decided to eat outside and enjoy the day. I ate and noticed seriously 11 sparrows congregating around me. It was so a "Mary Poppins feed the birds" moment. I ate and threw them part of my food and was thoroughly enjoying myself....WHEN a man who was apparently a regular "fitness walker" came up and sat at the table next to me. Hmmm, he seems nice enough. Nicely dressed, well kept. I turned my internal radar off and smiled and said "Hello." Being the friendly person I am, I remarked about the 7 sparrows we then had around us. He looked me dead in the eye and said, "Seven...that's God's number." RADAR ON...eating faster.... "Yes, I guess it is, I reply," then noticing he was missing a few key teeth. My mind was thinking, "Ok this can only go down from here.." He continues to inform me that we are in the "Last days, and no one wants to really talk about it anymore." EATING AT WARP SPEED, making NO eye contact.... I decide to get up and gave him a tract telling him that if God cares when one sparrow falls surely He cares for him and go inside. He follows. I ask for a bag to take my food with me and skeedattle. Last I saw him he was grabbing way too many hot sauce packets.......

THEN I decide to give Youngstown's Northside another try and stop at a run down gas station to grab some snacks for later that night, since the vending machines at the hospital are soo expensive. I walk in, grab my snacks and totally make myself NOT wonder just how long these particular items have been on the shelf. I am in line to pay when I hear this conversation behind me. "Hey man, how you doin'? You outta trouble now?" The other man, smelling of alcohol and apparently suffering from some form of amnesia responds with, "Man what you talkin about, I ain't never been in no trouble!" The friend apparently taken back by this new revelation says, "Ok man, if you wanna play it that way, logistics, ok man, I got you." Hmmm... As soon as the man in front of me got his 5 lottery tickets and new red t-shirt I was srammin' back to the car once again. On my way to the van the Holy Spirit reminded me that the Lord loves these people too. I agreed and said Hello to yet another man sticking his head out of some car window. When he KEPT saying "Hello," I decided that God loves them, I love them, and I love being safe and smiled to him as I hit the power locks.


I proceeded to spend a total of 24 hours straight in the hospital NICU waking up all through the night to feed Alayna. No problem, I am working towards getting her home. I DID have a problem with the Dr. this morning telling me "It will be a few more days until we can get her ready to go home." All that time and it didn't speed her homecoming. She asked me, with my crumpled slept in clothes, hair everywhere and teeth that were crying out for a toothbrush, if I understood what she had told me. I looked at her with all the graciousness I could muster and replied, "Yes, unfortunately I understand everything you have said." Yeah, Ok so I am no one to trifle with when I have less than 4 hours of sleep under my belt.

She smiled and told me I was more than welcome to use one of their "special" rooms again. "Yeah special as in "special olympics." I thought, and smiled in return. No......home for me tonight. At least until I can muster enough sleep to bring me back from Night of the Zombies.

P.S. As I finish this, my husband comes in carrying our potty-training daughter explaining to me that she went stinky in the driveway and how her slightly older brother got "into it." Yep. It's a hilariously good life we have here on Haywood. And it is totally bloggable.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Laughter IS the best medicine!

Hello all! Just a quick note before I head out the door to give you a laugh. These are some of the hilarious things that are goin' on here on Haywood:

1. Nathan asks to be "executed" from the table after dinner. No comment necessary.

2. Joel sincerely prays over dinner that,"Alayna would not come home from the hospital with a paddle..." ????? We think he meant "monitor." Actually this might be a great idea! Forget the personalized blankets, get me a personalized paddle to take home!

3. Pumping pumping and more pumping!!! The only thing more frustrating than pumping itself is keeping the attachments clean. Well.....yesterday I was having trouble with one of the attachments and after thorough examination Joel splattered me with milk :-( and found a tiny piece of zucchini, yes you heard me right, zucchini (I made bread ) in the filter! We are still laughing about this one!!!! Hey I am a firm believer that you are never too early to start adding veggies to your diet!

4. One of the kids (I will leave their name out to protect the.....innocent???? Hmm maybe not the word I want to use to describe them..) STILL pokes my belly and asks if the baby is in there! C'mon now give me a few more weeks...I'm workin on it!

5. Another one of my kids bit the other an hour before we take them both to the doctors for check-ups. If you are like-minded you can see that this can cause a few problems....... One, we usually bite that child (gently mind you, but a bite) to teach them not to bite. Yeah I can see that now......."Mrs. Royalty your child has an adult bite mark on their arm........" Not soo good. And you don't want to spank them to leave a nice red mark on their bottom, so you look at them with the, " I cannot discipline you, you sneaky, do this before a doctor's visit little thing you!!!"

There you go have a few laughs at our expense....after all laughter is the best medicine!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are you afraid IN the dark???

Hello all! I am retired from the blue chair tonight and was truthfully just about to drift off to sleep when I decided to read a wonderful devotional. I wanted to hurry a post off to you because it blessed me in such a way, and tonight, late it is fitting because it is about the dark.

I have never been a fan of the dark. Nope. When I was little I shared a room with my two older sisters (that is a story all in itself for another time!!) and never was "alone." So the "scared of the dark" thing really didn't bother me, because I had my sisters there, and a window above my bed where light came in, and spiders too, but again I digress.

As I got older I detested the dark. I think the older I get the more of a "frady-cat" I become! Then after one of my kiddos was born I began having trouble sleeping at night. Night became such an enemy to me. It brought fears, thoughts, worries and the like. Whenever I am going through a really difficult time, sure enough my problem sleeping re-appears. I have had many a night where I lay awake, praying for literally the sun to rise, and the minute it did and I saw the sunlight I would fall into the deepest sleep you have ever beheld. There is something about the darkness that just held me in fear and the break of daylight allowed me to finally sleep in peace.

The past three weeks has again brought my dread of nights back to me. It began in the hospital when I went on a 4 day stretch of probably one hour of sleep. Each time I would close my eyes I was laying on the floor again bleeding in fear. Everything seems so much worse at night, financial stresses, a child's sickness, everything. I have finally gotten into a good sleeping pattern now and for that I am indeed thankful. While I was missing sleep I was praying for several of you all by name to pass the time. :)

One friend said to me one day, "You could look for God to show you all the good that happens in the night.." I cringed at first. Hmmmm......let's see, robberies, wild animals come name a few. But she had a good idea and tonight the Lord brought several things to my attention and I wanted to share them for any of you all out there who are up late tonight with one of "those nights." I send you a hug and I completely understand!

Here's what my devotional says:

"Many of God's secrets have been revealed to His servants under the cover of darkness. Young Samuel receives his first messages from God while Eli and the Israelites sleep. Abraham walks out under the starry canopy of heaven and receives the promise of a posterity as the stars. In horrible darkness he receives the remainder of his message. Jacob wrestles in the dark and becomes a Prince. The revelation of the ten commandments was given to His chosen people in a cloud and thick darkness. Daniel and Paul receive their visions in the night. Shepherds grasp the greatest message of all time while angels sing. What secret treasures have we discovered in out night of loneliness, sorrow or bereavement?"

I just love this reminder of how God has worked in the dark! It goes on to give this poem which I just treasure tonight.

"What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light."
My words of consolation, my songs in the night;
When the shadows have vanished and the morn breaks again,
Go tell what I have told you to the children of men.

"What I tell you in darkness," when the wind whips the sea,
When the waves overwhelm you and you cry unto Me;
When My voice stills the tempest, My words calm your fear,
That tell to your brothers, their fainting hearts cheer.

"What I tell you in darkness," when I answer your call
Where you walk in rough places, and stumble and fall;
When My Word lights your pathway, a lamp to your feet,
To those who fall beside you, my message repeat.

"What I tell you in darkness," hold fast in your heart;
From the desert place of waiting, when I call you apart,
From the stillness and the shadow where you were so blest
Go forth and speak to others who know not My rest.

"What I tell you in darkness," in the long night of fear,
When I wake and watch beside you, and no other is near;
In the gloom of the Garden, where you echo my prayer--
That speak to those around you who agonize there.

~Annie Johnson Flint

Miss Flint suffered a great deal with painful debilitating arthritis. I can imagine that she herself had spent many a night awake, in discomfort, in worry and fear, and she still reminds us to turn and use our darkness to remind other brothers and sisters that God is still good, still able and still enough to be our light in our dark places.

"When I wake and watch beside you, and no other is near;" What a delight to my weary soul this is tonight coupled with Ps 121:3-4 "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

And with that I wish you a pleasant sleep!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

He's STILL Workin' on Me.....

Welcome to the conglomeration (wow no red squiggles....can't believe I spelled that right the first shot!) of my thoughts from this past week and a half. Things have been stressful and comments from other people have somewhat added to that stress. You forget that many people have a say and in the name of "encouragement" want their voice to be heard. Good people. Christian people. Well-meaning people will throw different phrases at you like, "You gotta work through this," "You'll be alright." Or try this one on for size, "You gotta think of all the good things," mixed with a helping of, "You STILL don't know when she will come home??" And the honest to goodness truth of the matter is that if you have not gone through this situation before.......friends you just do not know what it is like. I HAVE been blessed numerous times by opening a piece of mail and seeing, "My little one was born at 32 weeks and I remember...," or an email telling me that they too had to make treks to the hospital for weeks and remember.... Joel affectionately calls it my little "club." :) I am so thankful for all of those who have been willing to remember some hard, heartbreaking times just to seek to encourage me in the process.

In this type of a situation people can unknowingly make you feel like you are not where you need to be spiritually. So...I have been doing some soul-searching, getting into my Bible morning and night, seeking to envelop myself with Godly things, music and preachers and teachers that will help me "gird up the loins of my mind." I have to add here, that when you go through something traumatic, and add a heap of unknown and stress to it, you may KNOW that God is working, helping, loving, guiding etc. but you cannot convince your emotions and will of it. If you have never been in a situation where you have to CONVINCE your emotions and will of what is indeed fact, than you probably are not human friend.

I am putting in scripture daily, only to find that I cannot make the connection from my brain to my heart. There is a disconnect that leaves me knowing it, but not feeling it. And yes, my faith is weak. And here enters Dr. Robert Cooke.

My friend Tam and I love this guy. He is on the radio and his "spot" is called, "Walk with the King." The announcer always announces him by saying, "And now the late Dr. Robert Cooke.." This used to make me so angry. "This guy is an excellent teacher and yet this announcer has to publish to the whole world that he has a problem with punctuality??? Give him a break!" I would think. And then finally one bright and shining day I realized that being "late" meant being "deceased." Hey where I grew up, if you were "late" you were not there when you were supposed to be okay? Unless of course you were "fashionably late" and then you were cool. So this begs the question, Can deceased people be "fashionably late?" Should we say, the "fashionably late" Grandpa???? Ok back to my story.....

Robert Cooke is a breath of fresh air to me. On the way to the hospital I was catching his program and something ministered so much to me! He was expounding on the "grace of God," and made this statement, "People wonder if the grace of God is present in some one's life in a difficult situation. The fact that that person can function, daily going about their normal business SHOWS the grace of God in their life." Did you catch that? As a Christian, the fact that we keep "Keepin' on" amidst trying and heartbreaking situations shows the world God's grace on our lives. We CAN keep going on, even though we may feel like curling up in a dark corner somewhere. This spoke to my heart, reminding me that I do have evidence of God's grace alive and working in my life during this time.

Another way God has encouraged me has been through the Holy Spirit. Everyday, sometimes twice a day we make the trek to St. Elizabeth's hospital. I never used to think I could remember how to get one of my kids to the hospital in an emergency and let's just say I could get them there with my eyes closed now! Well, there is a certain building that we pass each time we make the trek. I can't imagine just how many times I have passed it now, but from the very beginning of our hospital visits the Lord has been speaking to me about this building. I look out the window as we pass it on our right and think, " I need to go and see if there is something I can do there." I told Joel how the Lord was directing. He thought it a great idea. Days would pass and I would think about it and not put feet to my thoughts....until yesterday afternoon. The night before God was again speaking to me about going, and I agreed with Him that I needed to. Well, it "just so happened" (wink wink) that I was making the hospital trek alone yesterday afternoon. Usually Joel and I go together after the kids are in bed. Here I was alone and in the middle of the day...a beautiful day I might add.

I drove and got to where I could see the building and arguably told the Lord, "Lord I don't know which exit it is." "Right here." He said. And there it was plain as day. "Lord I am not familiar with this part of town, what if I cannot find a safe place to park???" "Here's a parking spot RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING'S FRONT DOOR." He said. I pulled in and smiled. Ok Lord. You win.

"Where on earth are you??" You ask??? I am at the Youngstown City Mission. For some time with all that has been going on with Alayna, I have had a desire (put there by God himself) to get out and help someone else and take my eyes off of my own needs. Why the City Mission??? Well because God led me there and because no one would know me. I can go and quietly serve and help without recognition. I can just go and pray and love and serve someone much bigger than myself.

I walked in and the tears began like a leaky faucet. The kind black man at the front desk listened intently as I told him that "I have a daughter in the hospital and God wanted me to come and see if I could be a help." I think he thought I NEEDED HELP and picked up the phone to call someone not God, just a woman UP THE STAIRS. He mumbled something like, "Yeah, uh a Deena Roylaty is here and uh she is goin' thru a hard time and she needs to talk." I thought, "Buddy you don't know the HALF of it!!" Up the stairs I went, trying to gain my composure so I would not appear to the NEXT person as much of a nutcase as I had to the last! Though after the formal greetings the faucet was turned on full force again. :) Oh well, when the eyes leak the head won't swell right??? ;) A sweet woman named Rose listened and gave me all the time in the world to gain my composure which seemed to ME like half of an eternity. I again conveyed that the Lord led me here and that I thought in my present circumstance that it was important to spend more time serving others and taking my eyes off of myself and my own problems. I smiled and said, "I cannot do deep cleaning until I am healed completely, but I can work in the kitchen, I can do just about anything else. Can you use me?" She was almost dumbfounded, but quickly and openly thanked the Lord for sending me, and even thanked me for being willing to listen to the Holy Spirit's prompting. She got me in touch with someone who will assign me a job and a day that works for me, prayed for me and sent me on my way rejoicing.

God speaking to me reminded me that I am still close to Him........even if at times I wonder where He is. He reminded me that "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9. I remember a poem I loved in high school.... "Tomorrow's plans I do not know, I only know THIS MINUTE. But He will say, this is the way, by faith now walk ye in it." God is directing me in minute increments because he knows I cannot handle the big picture. I just need to listen for His promptings and obey.

I am not quite sure how you can feel a myriad of emotions in a few hours, but you can. Or how you can feel so alone in a group of people that you know love you, but you can. Or how you can feel like you cannot make it through another day only to get up and pour cereal and keep going. Alayna's long hospital stay is not the only thing that weighs on me. There are other things that I need to process, other issues that God is teaching me while I wait her safe arrival home with us. He IS still working on me.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

~William Cowper

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Royalty House Rules Revisited

I got to reading some old posts and could not resist posting this again for those who have joined our blog only recently. Hope it gets you laughing and makes you feel a bit more normal!!!

Royalty House Rules

1. When Mom naps, we play the "we are petrified pieces of wood" game. 600 square feet leaves no room for noise when Mom is trying to take a nap.

2. One person talks at the dinner table at a time. We do not believe in speaking in tongues, nor interpreting them.

3. Saying "I don't like this" gets you an extra helping of whatever does not catch your fancy.

4. Telling the truth will get you out of many a pickle, and might get you elected to Congress.

5. What Dad says, Mom says, and vice versa. If we catch you tryin the ole' switch-er-oo, your name is mud man, mud.

6. We do not describe Mom using any animal characteristics.

7. We read "Mom's are Marvelous" every time we find it. Finding it is as follows: We find the book, gather and sit no matter where we are or WHAT we are doing, and read it completely through with no interruptions. So what if Mother's Day is months away.

8. Fun comes after chores. I tried the Mary Poppins adage, "In every element of fun there is a job that must be done.." and yeah that didn't work. So chores aren't fun. Do them then have fun.

9. We do not explain what kind of bugs the pitcher plant eats to help our existence at any time of the day.......nausea is instantaneous.

10. By 3 1/2 you are on your own in the restroom. Toilet paper is cheap. Find it and do whatever works for ya.

11. The questions, "Are we there yet?" "What are we having for dinner?" and "Why do I have to do this?" are tolerable the first 3 times...... after that we take 5 cents from your inheritance each repetition. AND when Mom is getting dressed and putting make-up on after noon, the question "Where are we going, Mom?" can make you disinherited all together.

12. When you hear "So-and-so-is-here!" assume emergency stations. Mom will be tripping on her robe as she flies to her room to dress, while you are left to shove as many things as you can under the couch.....dishes included.

13. You are allowed one or two good hearty laughs at an unexpected bodily function, whether yours or not. After that it is just poor manners.

14. You can hide wherever you like so long as you can unwedge yourself when you need to exit.

15. Every outfit without visible food on it is wearable for a two day stretch, then washed.

16. Laugh often, love much and munch much. Wonderful motto.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Holy Spirit and Mr. Habeeb

Who in their right mind likes loose ends???? Not I. And lately there they are each way we look. As of right now we are in the process of looking for a new vehicle as ours cannot hold 6 children. Well let me rephrase that, we cannot legally hold 6 kiddos.... So last week suddenly we followed a lead on a van and traveled and hour only to come home empty handed because the woman selling the van was on vacation! And this gets a bit complicated because there is a teenager wanting to purchase ours as soon as we can find another vehicle, so that adds a bit of stress to the mix!

Of course on our minds continually is Alayna. So many questions...and "When will she come home?" is at the top of the list. A huge loose end for us.

We are also looking for a new car seat as ours has fought the "mob" and the "mob" won if you get my drift. Now this is not a HUGE deal. I have postponed it partially for financial reasons and partially because this is my last little bundle of joy and I want to pick out something adorably feminine. Again though a loose end. We cannot bring Alayna home without something to put her in!

Loose end numero quatro......Well most of you who know us, know that we have been house-hunting literally for YEARS now. Our two bedroom 600 sq. foot house is busting at the seams. I am beginning to wonder if the neighbors are starting to look at me as "The Old Woman who lived in a shoe..." We have made it work, and doubled up beds and such and have thoroughly enjoyed our huge yard despite our tiny house, and all the while have been pleading with the Lord to give us a house. In my Bible above Psalm 77 I have the date, 12/2/06 and these words....."waiting on God for a house." I told you it has been a matter of prayer for a while! I had walked through a house that day, a house we would gladly fit in with much room to spare, but financially it would have had to have been a miracle to get us in it. I told this Realtor woman that if "God wanted us to have that house, HE would give it to us." I am still unsure if I thought my enormous faith would knock a few thousand dollars off the price, or make the woman break into tears and give us the house quoting, "freely thou hast been given, freely give," B-U-T neither worked and I came home in tears and sat down on Haywood and read this chapter. It has been a comfort ever since.

Here enters Mr. Habeeb. At the corner of our street is a little store. A store that has been vacant for a year or so, that some ethnic men have suddenly transformed and are re-opening soon. Joel does pavement sealing on the side, and offered them a quote to seal their parking lot. Well I guess Mr. Habeeb also asked Joel if there were any houses to rent on this street and Joel mentioned that we would eventually like to move. This sparked his interest and lo and behold guess who showed up today!??

I had taken Caleb to the doctor and by the time I got home I was exhausted. It doesn't take much lately.. and Caleb, Anna and I were laying down for a nap. We hear this pounding at the front door, which we do not use. I ignore it...I am way too tired and usually people knocking at the FRONT door means they do not know us.... the dog goes crazy waking Anna up crying. Then there is pounding at the back door! "Ok this salesman must be desperate," I think. THEN a loud ethnic "HEYYYYLLLOOW????" Ok Mister I am up and coming! I get to the door, crack it open and behold Mr. Habeeb and what apparently is his wife. I stare at him with a "This better be good buddy" look. His first words out of his mouth are, "WHEN YOU GONNA MOVE????" I then gave him a look that I cannot even find words to describe. He apparently notices I just got up. Unfortunately he lacks discretion and KEEPS talking......"I see you sleepy or someting. I talk to Joil, he say he come do parking lot. (He then holds up his cell phone) I call Joil, leave message." At this time I am praying whatever sense of humor I have left kicks in before my mouth catches up to my brain...

I finally find something to say. "My husband will be home after 5, you will have to talk to him. I recently had surgery and I am going to lay down." He mumbled something and began to walk away. His wife finally says, "Heylo." She was most likely trying to think of the one English word she knew, and AHA there it was. Good for her!

Joel DID come home and speak with Mr. Habeeb who apparently told Joel he wanted to look through my house tomorrow.....! Joel thought it might not be a bad idea?? I then looked at JOIL....and gave HIM a "who are you and what have you done with my husband?" look. The thought of Mr. Habeeb coming through MY HOUSE, the only little piece of security I have on God's green earth, and telling me something he did not like or would change would probably be enough to make me speak his language and bite his ankles off entirely. Enough said. I have Joel's word that in my present state of too many loose ends, Mr. Habeeb will not get in this house, though today several times I have looked at him sideways just to see if he is serious and indeed he is. Deep down he knows what I could do to Mr. Habeeb. A Mother separated from her young is no one to be trifled with.

So......on the way home from getting the kiddos my loose ends began to feel like a noose around my neck. I asked Joel to take the long way home, passing by that house I afore mentioned, "just to see" if for some angelic reason it was for sale and was screaming our name. When we didn't turn to go home one of the boys said to the other, "Where we goin'?" One answered, "We're goin' to look for a car so we can take Alayna home." "No," answered another, "We're lookin' for a house to live in!" The wonderful thing about all of this is that Joel knew why I wanted to drive past the house on Kennedy road. I didn't even have to explain. He knows that house to me represents so much hope and faith in the Lord, so much prayer and expectation as we wait on Him. And we drove by it. Before we even approached it the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to me that it brought instant tears, "Girl don't you know that I want to open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so great that you cannot even receive it??" Yet the moment my eyes caught sight of the house the verse, Pr 13:12 "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:" came to mind. It wasn't until I got home and looked that verse up that I noticed the end of that verse........"BUT when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." I am waiting for that desire to be accomplished. I love that the verse I thought was adding to my hopelesness was in fact the Holy Spirit reeling me in to see the "rest of the story," and be encouraged. I just love the Holy Spirit! (Yes I sound like a second grader but who cares!)

Is God good??? Most certainly. Are loose ends part of life? You bet your bottom dollar. Is waiting enjoyable? No way Jose. Will God's will be accomplished through all these things? Praise God yes. So we hold on, pray like fiends and wrap our hope around Phil. 4:19 "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Alayna Ruth

Our little Alayna was awake and alert last night when we went to see her. What a darling little baby she is. We can't wait till you can come home!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Looking for my rock.......

We are weary. I am weary. I am ready for Alayna to come home, yet not ready as she is so small I would probably just stand over her and worry for hours on end! We really are getting to the end of ourselves, being still unable to function as a complete family.

Alayna is 34 weeks old now and still needs time to mature. This means trips to the hospital daily, running milk, finding someone to sit with the kids since they cannot go in and so on. Coming off of almost 7 weeks of bed rest to now still not be all together is just too much to bear at times. Yesterday we were at the hospital and while we were there a sweet couple from our church had just had their first little boy. I was happy for them and congratulated their parents waiting to get their first glimpse of their new grandson. It wasn't until we got out into the parking garage that the tears came. I was happy, and still am happy. The tears were because I also wanted to take my baby home, hold her and have our family all together like theirs would soon be.

The other day we got to the hospital, scrubbed up and went into the intermediate nursery to see Alayna only to find that she was not there! They had moved her upstairs and never told us. We hurried upstairs only to find she was in a normal hospital room, which she SHARED with another family. When we walked in, she was by the window, in the dark, just laying there while this other young couple watched some loud tv show. We were heartbroken. I just kept thinking that if she can sit there while this family watched tv SURELY she can come to our home to rest and be quiet. Needless to say, we were not happy with the changes that were made and that we never were made aware of them and so back downstairs she went and now resides. We had tried to bottle feed her only to find that she is just not ready. She is being fed via a tube in her nose, which sounds awful, but really is no big deal. I would rather have her fed that way and wait until she is ready to nurse or bottle feed than try to hurry things along.

With that said, I am ready to shed the stress of everything going on and be a functioning family unit again. A sweet friend of mine was such an encouragement to me when she told me that though this situation may not be as horrible as someone else's, it is still "our mountain to climb." I love that phrase. Yes it is not a life or death situation, but it is our mountain, OUR situation and no one else's. I am slowly coming together again. I feel fine, do a little too much and spend the night with chills and so tired that I have to lay with my eyes closed because I have no energy left. It is going to be a much slower rebound than any other surgery and that also is discouraging.

And with THAT said, :) I leave you with a favorite verse. Ps 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

Right now I am looking for that rock, and getting ready to climb up it and get above all of this. It will be good to just stand and look all around and see where we are headed, not what we are presently wading in.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Little Levity......

In the midst of some trying days, the Lord graciously gives us the blessing of laughing at ourselves! I thought it would do us all good to share a few of those moments.

The other morning while I was reading my Bible in the blue chair and the kids were getting ready to head out to some blessed soul's house to be watched for the day, this scene transpired:

Isaac: Dad, Caleb called you a bad name.

Dad: What did he call me?

Isaac: He called you "Monkey Man."

(Instantaneously I pull the Bible up to cover my face and out loud ask the Lord to "Pleeese help me not to laugh..")

Caleb appears...

Dad: Um, Son, did you call me a name??

(Caleb denies the treacherous deed once, recants and then nods accepting disapproval. I am still reading Proverbs VERY closely.....every once in a while peeking out behind the pages... Now I have to note here that this is where Joel and I's tactical procedures differ. I do not reason. I discipline. Joel reasons and yes his way is better and yes he has a boatload of patience.)

Dad: Son, what did you call me?

Caleb: Mmmmmonkey Mmmman.

(Snickering from Proverbs......)

Dad: Son, we don't call anyone names......especially adults. It is disrespectful. Do you understand that???

Caleb: (nod)

Dad: Besides Son, do you understand that if I am a Monkey Man then that makes YOU the SON of a Monkey Man????

(A look of total misunderstanding from Caleb, and uncontrollable shaking and giggling from Proverbs.........." Sorry," I say........ "I can't help it!")

There are also some stories which I dare not share to protect the Men viewers. But I will tell you that since Alayna is at the hospital and I am at home, and since I have a pump at home, I HAVE been quite the spectacle and have even been looked on to share some similarities with members of the Cow family........and if you read this blog often you KNOW that totally breaks Royalty house rules......."NEVER describe Mom using any animal characteristics." Oh well..... Some of the kids really believe that Mom goes to the hospital to "milk" the baby. Hmmmm.

Well here a little levity, sure leviteth the whole bunch.

And yes, I know that isn't really scripture.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Who delivered,.. and doth deliver:....he will yet deliver..."

Hello to all my sweet praying friends. After a whirlwind couple of days I am not feeling ready to post, but need to tell you all what the Lord has done for us, and in doing so, remind myself in this emotional state, of God's preserving hand on my life.

Saturday was the day. Early Saturday morning was the scariest moment of my life and to be very honest, I am still having trouble sleeping at night, just remembering what took place, like some sort of post traumatic stress. As most of you know, hemorrhaging was always an issue with the complete placenta previa that I had and that is indeed what happened. As Joel mentioned, he ALWAYS stayed close to home for just such a purpose, and how God orchestrated things that morning is beyond us. Two things I knew: One, I KNEW that it was going to happen a few moments before it did. I even prayed and asked the Lord if it could be some other day because I had not slept well and was so tired. I told Him I did not think I could handle it being so exhausted! I rolled over in bed with my eyes still closed, just having spoken to Him in quiet prayer and then it happened. The other thing I knew was that God in his mercy allowed me to be in the right place at the right time. My sweet friend had had the SAME thing happen to her many years previous. She has many years experience in the medical field, she is calm under pressure and would know what to do when. I also knew that I would not have wanted Joel to have seen how awful it was. So those two things I knew.

To be honest not until today, talking with my friend again, did the Lord allow me to "see" how bad things really were that day. When the EMT arrived, I was lying on the floor in my own blood. Now for someone who has never had a similar circumstance this is just unimaginable, and I believe that now that the worst is behind me my emotions are "catching up" to what has happened to them. Blood was everywhere, and was not stopping. I had called Joel and my doctor and then lay there praying, waiting, and feeling this almost "auto pilot" experience of the Lord taking over and working. Again the Lord himself whispered to me early that morning that this was going to happen, so I was not surprised. Scared, yes, but I lay there thinking many things and one of them was that God knew.

Another amazing moment was when the nurses were coming in and out of my room prepping me for surgery, I prayed out loud, for the surgeon, for the anesthesiologist, and for God to be a very ready help in time of trouble. Scared, yes, but together..THIS was God and God alone. I looked at my friend and Joel and told them that they were going to "put me under" and I was alright with that. Just THEN the anesthesiologist came back into the room and told us that he was indeed going to use general anesthesia. GOD told me before he even decided and I KNEW. Joel and my friend were stunned.

Many many times I have wondered what it would be like to be wheeled into surgery, with the circumstances horrific and saying goodbye to Joel. NEVER did I dream it would be like what took place that morning. Remember, I am still actively bleeding which they cannot stop, I and scared yes, but supernaturally being led....yes LED by God. So far He has told me each coming step and with eyes of faith, I touched Joel's face and looked at him as seriously as I ever have and told him I KNEW I would be ok. God told me. I wasn't crying at all this whole time, not at the house, in the ambulance, or the hospital and now not being wheeled off to major surgery. I was trying to reassure Joel. I didn't want him to fear. God was working so mightily, that it wasn't until right before I was put under that I began to become emotional. Was God still there, yes very much so, and I closed my eyes and hung every ounce of faith I had on Him.

Recovery is all a blur for me, or was until this morning when I spoke with my friend who filled me in on what took place. She, again has worked in the medical field and with an EMT for a husband knows when things are looking pretty grim. She estimates that I lost about a gallon of blood and could not tell me how I looked without crying. She said my blood pressure was very close to going into shock and she said every hour she prayed for God himself to spare my life. Do you know how humbling that is to hear... to know? That people were praying for God to keep you on the earth, because they love you that much?? It is more than I can express in writing. Maybe if you come over I will cry for an hour and you might get the idea... Joel sat by my side, seeing me white as a ghost, barely able to speak, and fed me ice. He told me that one thing that was so interesting to him was that, while the doctors and nurses were taking care of me.....(a lot can be said here, but know that my uterus was not working properly because of the placenta coming first. It actually had to be cut through to get to the baby, and so my uterus was not contracting like it should have to slow blood loss down. This was the most excruciating pain I have ever had. Ever.) I would apologise to them. One time I grabbed a nurses hand because I was trying to stop her, only to apologise to her for doing so. THIS was the Lord working, this is something that can only be described by His presence.

The pain was excruciating. When I was able to eat for the first time, I noticed that I chipped my tooth and that my jaw was only able to open a little ways, because I had clenched it so tight in pain. And there was a time, in a dark corner room, when in pain I felt all alone. I out loud asked God, "Why are you so far from helping me???" I did feel alone. But I wasn't. And through my friend telling me that God Himself saved my life, I now know that though at that moment I could not "Feel" Him leading and guiding, He most certainly had and would certainly continue to watch over me.

Finally we met with the surgeon who described the surgery site as what a "gun shot wound" would look like. He also informed us that in a "normal" surgery he uses 2 boxes of sutures, or pre-made needles for stitches, and in my case he used 15. I was hearing and not believing. He also said that I would need more blood, and was not out of the woods. This was a very deep valley for me. I spoke very candidly to God, and let me tell you, that before I have spoken about getting things right with Him. Making amends where He leads, and friend when you are in this position, you will be glad you did. I searched my heart, and NOW the tears came. I asked Him where I might have displeased Him, and there was nothing. I then pleaded with Him, asking Him to allow me to get through this, frequently telling Him that I could not handle any more. Joel asked me if I wanted him to read to me from the Bible and in in doubtful spirit, wondering why God had indeed allowed things to happen this way, shook my head "no." He read anyway, and the words fell like water on dry and barren land, washing away any despair I had hidden in my heart. God knew I still loved Him, He knew I still trusted Him.

Alayna was thriving despite these terrible situations. She was given some chest compressions at birth to make sure she would not stop breathing, and was never without oxygen. Did you grasp that? Even with all that trauma, bleeding and not being able to get to her first, she never lacked for oxygen. GOD sustains.

I am weak, swollen, very swollen, and sore, but God saved my life. He gave me life as an infant. He gave me eternal life as a young adult, and friends HE saved my life on Saturday and continues to sustain me moment by moment. The last few nights the horror of everything has robbed my sleep, but we are looking to God to continue to help and know that this earthly body just had more than it emotionally can handle. Today recounting what had happened moment by moment with my friend, being able to see the stable, leading, loving hand of God in and through each situation has brought more healing than I could have imagined. Sometimes others can see God working even when you cannot. And He saw fit to allow me the complete joy of seeing Him in all of the circumstances and for that I praise Him. Again through tears, this is more for me and for my emotional healing and help than for you all, but I would be wrong to not be open and honest, sharing what God has done, and what He alone continues to do. I cannot fully express the magnitude of blessing your prayers and concern for me have been. Only God can bless you adequately for them and I am asking Him now to do so in a way that I never could this side of heaven.

2Co 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;