Welcome Baby

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Just when I have the opportunity to write, the words don’t want to come. I’m almost a day out from Julia’s arrival; at this time yesterday I was trying my darndest to get an epidural, not knowing that she would be born in only forty more minutes. That is the rough side of many hard experiences in life- we know not when they are to end, we want to give up… when the answer, the reward, is just around the corner. I didn’t mean to go all devotional on us, but it is true.

This had to be the shortest labor of any I have had. They didn’t even start the pit until 7:30, and she was born at 11:55. I think this is what I expected Elijah’s induction to be like, and when it instead became an all day affair, I decided I wouldn’t get my hopes up for Julia. I packed the Mitford book I was reading, my phone with Spanish app for practice, my iPod with music, trying to provide plenty to fill the hours (I thought). This did turn out to be a good tactic- I read for the majority of the time, then did my Spanish. In other labors I have avoided time-fillers, and I am not sure why. It definitely helped me keep distracted from the mounting pain.

She’s a sweetie. There are no words to describe how undeserving I am and how grateful I am of this gift from God. May He find me faithful.

 

Stop Fighting and Believe

I haven’t actually “packed a bag” for the hospital in, I don’t know, ever. But I thought it might be a good idea this time to set aside the clothes and things Baby and I would need while there. What a ridiculous plan; every day I go to that bag and remove something I need out of it. Perhaps that is what fuels some of my angst this time around; if I wouldn’t have a dwindling-sized bag sitting there reminding me…

Oswald Chambers was in Revelation the other day, and he talked of how we all are asked to “come up here” like the Apostle John. He challenged the reader to think back to the previous year, and consider in what areas we have grown spiritually, we have come up to higher ground. I can honestly rejoice at such a question this year. While in the past I might struggle with an answer, a couple of things popped right into my head now, times where I knew it was God calling me to higher, to better, than I was doing it before.

I wish I could remember the first example of this, because the second instance of this happening is kindof silly. Last week, I was shopping for a few more things to outfit my diaper bag, and thought I would like to find a Huggies travel wipes container. I noticed the stores around me weren’t carrying the kind I like anymore, so I looked online. I did find it at BabiesRUs.com, but they were only $1.50 and I would pay $7.50 before I was done, with shipping costs. And no, I have no use for 20 of them, the amount that would give me free shipping. The thought came to me- why am I fighting this? Why am I wasting time fretting over getting the thing I want, when there are plenty of other options out there, at my local stores? So last weekend, I simply purchased the newly designed Huggies travel wipes ‘clutch’- I don’t like it, but I know where I can get another one easily when it rips.

Fast forward to Monday morning, pre-dawn. I didn’t sleep well all night, preparing my mind and emotions for the induction. By three o’clock, it was evident that Luke would not be able to leave the house with me; he was sick with some kind of stomach thing. I began to go over my options. I began to feel guilty even thinking about going to the hospital wihout him, though- it is his baby, too, of course! And the thought again came to me- why are you fighting this? It is obvious this plan to induce is falling apart. We must simply cancel and work out something else later. Once I called and canceled, I felt much better, and Luke and I both got a few more hours of good sleep. Sam called us on Grandma’s phone at about 8, not knowing we were in bed at home. That was hilarious.

Later that day, I would be challenged higher again, this time by Luke’s words. My focus had become how to avoid the (what I thought were) needless doctor’s appointments that would happen all this week if I didn’t go into labor. I thought if we rescheduled the induction for Tuesday morning, that would be a good way of doing that, and staying clear of other things we have going on this week, like the kids’ first track meets and such. But Luke said no. “We’re pushing too hard, we’re rushing this. It is as if we are trying to make this baby fit our tee time.” Ouch. Again, the thought came- why are you fighting this? Why are you wasting time on the phone with the surgery scheduler when you could be on the couch with Elijah, reading him another book on borrowed time?

Okay, Lord. You win. I went obediently and humbly to my non stress test yesterday, I did my kick check this morning, I will do another non stress test Thursday, and will meet with my doctor to schedule the induction on Friday. I will be back and forth to Mansfield way more than I prefer, because that is the way You have marked for me. Plus, who knows? Maybe there is a person in that doctor’s office I can encourage or help in some way.

One faith hurdle jumped, one step higher. But the next one is upon me already. All of the wrong thought patterns I get into when overdue are fueled by one thing. I have come to believe, since having difficulties in labor with the last few, that I cannot do it on my own, and worse, that God is powerless to bring this baby forth in His perfect timing. Regardless of my body’s abilities, God is in control, and can do whatever He pleases. Psalm 50:1 speaks of how He summons the sun, moon, and stars. ‘Summon’ is a great word, isn’t it? If He can summon the sun and heavenly bodies to do what they do every day and night, surely He can summon this little one when the time is right. So today I woke up saying to myself, “I believe You can summon this baby at any time. I believe You are powerful in this.” The more I say it, the more I can unravel the lies I did have stowed in my mind, and replace them with God’s truth.

Here’s to going higher. The view from up here is spectacular.

Late Ramble

Interestingly enough, the last post for which I allowed comments on this blog was when I was overdue for Elijah.

Here I go again.

There must be something going on inside my womb that is causing this- I hesitate to say that my body is doing something wrong or that it doesn’t know how to have a baby, because of course it does. But these last few pregnancies have given me pause. A friend suggested that maybe my womb is tipped and that is affecting its responses when it would be time for labor. I don’t know.

I am glad, however, that I am not ‘in the dark’ this time like I was with Kenan and Elijah. The last weeks with them both were difficult for me emotionally, to where I felt spent even before labor had begun. This time, though, I feel strong. I feel like this will go okay.

So, the plan is to go the weekend, waiting for Julia to arrive. If not, then I will be induced early Monday morning. I like this plan; I love this date. First, it is the birthday of the little girl we sponsor from South America. It would be fun to have one of our own be celebrating that day, too. This is also a day for mathematicians- Perfect Square Day, 4/4/16. The last one was 3/3/09, the next won’t be until 5/5/25. We must make the most of this opportunity!

It never sinks in that in a matter of days, maybe hours, I will no longer be feeling WWF roundhouse kicks, but will be nursing my baby. Such good things to think about. Thank You, Lord.

Perfect Storm

Let’s see- what else can happen today? It is only 2 o’clock, so the day still has potential.

Sam has been wrestling with different maladies over the course of a week and a half. At first we thought it was poison ivy on his foot, and he was medicating it that way. Then, Saturday evening he starts feeling terrible, feverish, headache, hot/ cold chills. He goes to bed and wakes up with what looks like a heat rash on his hands and face. Today it has spread to his entire body, so I take him to the doctor. The doctor is perplexed and very concerned, so she sends us to a dermatoligist to determine what the skin rash is first. After that, the foot will need treatment, too, because she believes there is still an infection there, too. Yikes. I feel bad for Sam. He is just miserable.

I get home from the doctor in between appointments to find a somewhat chaotic household and a clogged toilet, and Luke calling on the phone. I had to smile while plunging, though- what are the odds of so many things going wrong? Murphy’s law says not too bad, really. Then I hear that Abbie started long division today, and had a meltdown at the thought that she would NEVER get this, never finish fourth grade, never graduate. She’s one of our glass-empty kids. By now I’m chuckling out loud.

Baby cannot come today. Way too much drama already.

Luke just texted that the infection is secondary, off of the poison ivy. Prednizone for two weeks. MRSA, Shingles, Staph all ruled out. Thank the Lord!

Bella’s Last Day, Maybe

Luke came outside last week to find the corner of our shed torn up. Apparently Bella had been on the hunt for a rodent and followed it under there as far as she could go. That was definitely as far as Luke could go with this dog, and the thought of paying for any more of her shenanigans was too much. He navigated Craigslist that afternoon, and we had an interested buyer that evening. Wow. I didn’t realize anyone would be in the market for a dog like ours. But, she could make a good hunting dog, and would love a more farm-y property with lots of acreage to run. And she still has the ability to have puppies, which could be really cute if she was wed to another pointer.

This week ended up being a series of ups and downs with her, though, with yeses, then noes, from the potential buyers. She’d scratch at the window screen yet again and I would think, well, that might be the last time she does that, or maybe the next to last time. But today has promise. As soon as Luke gets home from work he is taking her to meet a family in Fredericktown. This could be the one. I hope so.

Goodbye, Bella. It’s been real.

Late Treats

I went to the doctor today…nothing happening. Not that I thought anything was, but I realized yesterday I might be pointing my hopes a teensy bit in a vertical direction for this little one to come on her due date, or earlier. No, we mustn’t have any of those thought patterns forming; we have 18 plus good, full days ahead of us, and cannot succomb to ‘what if’s. Here are some things I hope to do in the time we have left together:

1. My friend Miriam gave me the most imaginative gift at my baby shower- a carton of a dozen Cadbury Eggs. Of course, impulsive girl that I am, I only have six left now. But if I were smart, I would have saved all 12 for the days I will go past my due date. I would almost make it in chocolate until April 10, but not quite, necessitating filling in the remaining days with Peanut Buster Parfaits. As it is now, I will be traveling to Dairy Queen the whole first part of April. Oh, well.

2. I haven’t started my next The Story painting yet, mostly because I have not narrowed my subject down enough (Hannah? Samuel? Saul? Traveling Minstrel Prophets and Saul?), but partly because I was due at the doc this morning and it didn’t seem quite right to unwrap the canvas when I might get some surprising news while there, like “go straight to the hospital, you are in labor” kind of news. See where those hopes are getting me?

But, this is great. I feel ready to start painting tomorrow, pretty confident that I have plenty of time to do this project, due April 3.

3. There is also plenty of time to do laundry. After she comes, cleaning up after her is not as fun as washing those outfits was the first time.

4. I have plenty of time to sleep. Aahh.

5. We have time to keep going with school. I think we will work through the summer this year, try that out. They will have plenty of days off, but I like the thought of one math book closing and another opening, without much time in between to forget key operations like addition and subtraction.

There you have it- my blessings counted. What good can you speak about from your life, and your waiting times?

Newbery Reads

Every winter I anticipate the Caldecott announcement. This highlights five or so books that have been selected to receive the coveted Caldecott medal, or several honors, for excellence in children’s picture books. Can I just say that to even think about Caldecott books, my hands feel electrified. I would LOVE to produce a Caldecott- winning book someday. At times, this goal seems as far off as the moon, other times I think, yeah, I could do that. Who knows. We’ll have to see.

Another coveted award is the Newbery Medal, awarded to children’s literature, usually chapter books. I hadn’t more than glanced at these lists in the past, other than to give my kids something to go by when picking books to read. But this year the winner was an author we had read last year, so my interest was piqued. I reserved Echo at the library, and searched the shelves for other titles that looked promising.

For the most part, I was not disappointed. These books are geared toward a younger set, but I was heartened by the cleaner language, the introduction to deep subjects like war and racial discrimination and ethics, and the great writing styles these authors had. Here is a list of the ones I have read lately, with a little opinion thrown in.

Echo has to come first. I love the time period, World War II, and I love the way Pam Munoz Ryan weaves three different stories together. Excellent! I am recommending it to our homeschool literary club for next year.

Number The Stars is also set during WWII. It tells the story of Denmark and their response to Hitler’s invasion and attempt to anhilate the Jews there. Great read.

The Underneath was strange, but really wonderful when I finished it and saw such redemption for the characters. An animal story (which some of my kids sneered at) that can be applied to humans, too.

Lions of Little Rock was terrific. I do not know much about the time when schools in the South were fighting desegregation. This was illuminating. I found the heroine very endearing, as well.

Wonder was thought-provoking. It is about a boy who has a severely disfigured face, and the time he starts going to public school (he was homeschooled, but his parents decided it was time to learn in the real world). There was more potty/youth humor in this one that I could do without, but I appreciated being challenged: how would I would behave toward someone who was hard to look at. I don’t often have that experience.

We also just discovered 101 Dalmations! It isn’t just a movie, it was a book first! I started reading it to the kids, and some of them have taken it to finish. It looked to be delightful.

…And Miguel (can’t remember the full title) was kinda interesting. It is about a boy anxious to be old enough for all of the responsibilities on a sheep ranch in Mexico. I only skimmed it, but came across a story that sticks in my mind, you’ll see why. Miguel knows a lot about sheep, and is describing what happens when they are bearing their young. He states that normally the female has a look on her face that is a blank stare. For whatever reason, when she is about to give birth, her eyes become very focused and she is all about finding a place to lay down. She is in the zone. Then, once the lamb is born, her eyes glaze over with a stupid look again. Isn’t that funny? Another cool story- when a mother loses a lamb, the shepherds will shear the dead lamb and put the toupee on another orphaned lamb, in the hopes that this mother will ‘adopt’ this one in her lost lamb’s place. It works, apparently. I am sure both of these sheep stories have spiritual implications, as Jesus was always talking about sheep, and us being just like them, but I am at a loss at the moment. Just enjoying a good story is enough.

 

Shower Thoughts and a Lovey Contest

 

This past Saturday, the girls and Carol threw me a surprise baby shower. I will not disclose how surprised I actually was, but I was impressed with the magnitude and extent of their planning. As I approached the church, I passed a man who looked a lot like my dad, driving what looked a lot like his Jeep. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “This is bigger than I realized.” And it was. Aspects like these I was grateful to have surprise me, and people there I had not seen in a while (I don’t get to see my parents all that often these days, either).

It was humbling to see these ladies want to come out and support my family like this. And the gifts were over the top. Julia will be well dressed! Best of all was feeling the love of my daughters and Carol for me. I didn’t deserve a word of the praises spoken of me that day, but it meant so much that they are with me in this life, that we are not on opposite poles, just trying to get along. So many parent/child relationships are that way, and stay that way into adulthood. Here I was trying to find more ways to show love to my older children, and my girls beat me to it on many levels. Oh, you guys! as Dory would put it.

So, a fun contest for us. Pictured above are all of the blankets or taggies Julia received at the shower. Whew! As she grows, she will narrow down and weed them out to reveal her one true soft lovey, and I want you to have a chance at guessing which one it will be. Click on the picture for a better view. The wait will be long; Elijah has only latched onto his blanky in the past few months. (I was horrified to see that a replacement Amy Coe cable blanket would be $40 on eBay, but Luke reminded me that we don’t have to go the replacement route, we simply offer him a different blanket if this one is reduced to tatters. Oh, yeah. That is much more cost effective. Thank you to my Lovey for pointing that out.) My money is on the red and green beauty made by a dear lady at church. I love the colors, and the back is a white plush like you would find on a stuffed lamb or bear. Love. My second choice would be the pink plush with the cow head. The horns are too much.

It is finally March, the time I can allow myself to nest and plan to my heart’s content. Feel free to join me.

Photo taken by Aliyah

What To Call It

The fog is clearing, finally. I have had a headache since Wednesday, and, quite frankly, it was getting old. Things lightened up this afternoon, and as long as I don’t bury my nose in this wonderful book I am reading, I should be able to stay pain-free this evening. So, I’ll blog, instead of finding out what happened to Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy. (And I can blog about them another time! Yay books!)

At BSF on Monday, our lecturer mentioned all of the things that were happening to people as a result of what she called “satanic oppression”. While I believe there is a lot of activity in the unseen world, I kinda shrugged off her suggestion that any of these happenings in our Bible study group could be linked to that.

Rewind to last week, where I felt the Lord saying to me, “Open their eyes,” from a verse in Acts where Jesus is commissioning Paul. I often will pray for an unbeliever’s eyes to be opened, not really thinking that that job belongs to me. But there it is, in black and white. And my children need to be the first to have their eyes opened. They are my number one priority, evangelism-wise. I spoke to them about it, saying, “If you leave our home and still do not know Jesus, have I done a good job?” So I definitely wanted to step up my efforts along those lines, especially with our littles. They get Bible stories at church, that’s great, but I need to be intentional about sharing the gospel with them on a regular basis, and living out the gospel before them on an even more frequent basis.

Fast forward to a week ago. I heard that the Iowa caucus was Monday, and really felt like I should do some targeted praying for the upcoming election, starting now. As my late father-in-law used to say, we will never know what might have been if we had prayed! So I began to gather info on the caucus, and consulted some old prayer guides from past election seasons. Good stuff there, like praying that people will not make judgments by what they see, or what they hear, but by what is right and just and true. Awesome. I added a statement to each day on my prayer list, and geared up for Monday’s caucus.

Already I am cautiously optimistic, given the outcome of the caucus. I wonder if it happened singularly as a result of people praying for it, or if this is a next step in God’s agenda for the U.S, or both. The next big day is the 9th, when New Hampshire will cast their votes. I will be praying.

Back to this week, and what a week it was! Children gone wild, illness, chaotic times in our home. On Monday I had half the day working to relinquish a bitter spirit I had, and when I finally got feeling better about that, it seemed something else was waiting at my heart’s door, all ready to wreak havoc. Tuesday continued as crazily within our house’s doors as Monday. Then on Wednesday, Adon shut his thumb in the screen door, and I had to rush him to Urgent Care. It looked like the nail was completely damaged, but underneath I could not tell if the bone was affected, with all the blood and swelling. So off we went to the doc.

Wednesday night we missed church- a prayer meeting and a chance to share a missionary story about Amy Carmichael. I felt bad for missing, but I was worn out from the running around all day.

Then when Thursday and Friday passed away in a dense headache fog, my thoughts went back to what our BSF lecturer said on Monday night. Was any of this satanic oppression?

Each mishap could be easily explained with natural, earthly terms. But I suppose it is possible that I am being silenced by the chaos and illness because I have renewed my efforts to reach my children with Jesus’ love, and to reach out to my country in prayer for the upcoming election. Stranger things have happened.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you via email.

Next to Last Projects

I have been wanting to get into art again, and a unique opportunity came my way when a friend called me to join an art project. Seems this church in our town is going through the book The Story all this year during their Sunday sermons. They will read/ hear a message on a chapter a week, 31 chapters in all. This is a program that many churches have done, making it similar to a mega-VBS with posters and interactives that you can buy or make as you go through the book. This particular church decided to commission local artists (not me) and willing wannabes (me) to do a painting for each chapter, a 20 x 20 canvas that would depict a scene from that part of The Story. I was thrilled to be asked. At first I thought the work was to be 20 FEET by 20 FEET, but I still was able to say yes right away; hey, I had never painted a mural, but this sounded like a God thing and He would help me do it. I told a lady at church (real local artist) about this, too, and she did not bat an eyelash when I said 20 by 20, probably because she had painted many murals, between work on our church’s VBS backgrounds and props for our Experience Bethlehem walk through at Christmas time.

Then I realized this Story project would be a series of 20 inch by 20 inch canvas. What a relief, but now I could feel confident enough to sign up for two! The first will represent the ‘Wandering’ chapter, and the second will represent the chapter about Hannah and Samuel, and Saul. I hope to get them both done before I have the baby, my biggest spring project.

The first painting I have had a harder time designing than I thought I would. I first thought of just a sandaled foot, emerging into a sandy, rocky wilderness floor. Or I thought of depicting some Israelites resting on rocks, rubbing their tired feet like Degas’ paintings and drawings of ‘Dancers Resting’. Then someone suggested just the wilderness, with footprints going here and there. I finally asked Luke what he thought I should do, and he came up with something totally different, and very abstract. The top left corner of the canvas would have a solid image of a quail, and that image would repeat diagonally across the canvas but morph until it was just a circle, in the bottom right corner, to represent manna. This sounds cool, but I’m not sure if it will coordinate with the other paintings very well. Obviously, each painting will be individualistic, but a painting like that might be over the top, if everyone else does scenes with people in them.

To add to my thoughts, I googled quail yesterday to find a good picture I could trace for the quail image, and came across a photograph that captured the different colors of this particular quail, it was beyond gorgeous. But I can’t do a 20 by 20 painting of a quail! That would be almost as bad as painting a 20 feet by 20 feet mural of a quail! Too much quail. Seems the Israelites had the same troubles, ha ha.

My Utmost For His Highest was talking today about simplicity. I sure need some of that right now. Email me if you want to weigh in on any of these painting ideas, or help me simplify by suggesting another.