Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Busy but good

Just a very brief update to let everyone know that we are all doing well. It continues to amaze me how one tiny baby can consume so much of one's time and energy!

Thanks for the prayers...I've also gone to all formula at feedings which means my energy level is coming back up...and my energy level coming back up seems to be helping alot with the emotional roller coaster as well.

I hope to be back blogging soon...but rest assured, I'm still reading all of YOUR blogs! (I just find it hard to type with one hand, but not so tough to navigate the favorite links!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Favorite Things: Kitchen Edition

Faithful Chick started a meme on our favorite things a couple of weeks back. Unfortunately, I've had my hands pretty full the last couple of weeks--waiting for a baby to arrive, and then caring for it and trying to rest up. I missed the first one (pout).

But, today's edition, I'm gonna make!

(Please keep in mind that I'm taking care of a 10-day old infant, three older children, and running...okay, who am I kidding? trying to run...the household now that my hubby has gone back to work. So, although many of you have taken pics especially for this meme...I'm going to use a file photo...thanks for your grace!)

So, here it is...the FAVORITE thing in my kitchen.....

Let me introduce my hubby, Mr. G. He cooks, he cleans, and he is by far the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. He cooked almost all our meals during my pregnancy and over the past two weeks. (He's pretty cute to look at, and he is a great cook, too!)

I am slowly moving back into my position as cook and bottle cleaner, but I couldn't have survived the last eight months or so without him. Basically, we'd have gone broke eating drive through or starved otherwise!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More than money

With my first three babies, I failed pretty miserably at breastfeeding. With my first baby, she didn't latch on correctly, and I gave up nursing less than a week after she was born. I was planning to go back to work in less than six weeks and it just didn't seem like a big deal to me. (I was only 20 at the time, so I was perhaps not as mature about such things as I could have been.)

My second baby was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Nursing him directly was, in fact, impossible. He could latch correctly or otherwise. Armed with a LARGE hospital-grade double electric pump, I went home from the hospital with a brand new special needs baby, a 13 month old toddler. I spent the first four weeks of his life bottlefeeding M (a 45-minute process per feeding), pumping breastmilk for another 30 minutes, feeding my daughter and changing both babies' diapers, and starting this all over again. I don't think I ever got more than 20 minutes sleep at a time during the first month. (Oh, did I mention that we also had more than 10 doctors' appointments in that month also???) At a month, I gave up. In tears, I asked them to come pick up the pump. I was only pumping 6 ounces of breastmilk each day even after being put on Reglan. I was tired, frustrated, and sad.

Baby M ended up having food allergies. Less than two weeks after I stopped adding breastmilk to his feedings, he started puking profusely, including bloodclots. It took nearly three months before the pediatric gastroenterologists listened to me and tested him for corn allergies (rare, but more common if one parent had been affected as an infant; I had been). He was allergic to corn. I'll never know for sure whether or not the little bit of breastmilk he got the first month worked to counteract the allergy, but my hunch is that it did, since the issue didn't show until breastmilk had been completely removed.

Baby #3, J. I was determined to give this baby my best shot. He latched on immediately like an old pro. We did everything right. No pacifier or bottle. But four days later, he ended up in the ER dehydrated and jaundiced. My milk had not come in adequately, and while he was nursing every 2 hours, he just wasn't getting enough milk. At four days, he had dropped from 9lb, 10oz. to 8lb, 7oz--more than a 10% loss. They got him hydrated and the jaundice resolved, and I got more Reglan, a breastpump, and lots of lessons with a lactation consultant on how to produce more milk. I pumped and nursed faithfully for three months. Baby J picked up his weight quickly and by three months, weighed in at 16 lbs. I quit when he started biting me aggressively during the nursing sessions. But he was a very healthy baby. I don't think he had a single symptom of illness until he was 11 months old and picked up a nasty tummy virus.

So with baby EM on the way, I vowed I would do everything I could to give her breastmilk too. But I have made mistakes. First, we gave her a binky and a bottle. Second, I haven't been pumping faithfully. Turns out the three older kids still want TONS of attention, and I'm short on energy. Pumping at midnight, 2am, 4am, 6am have not been attractive options. Daddy has fed baby and let me sleep many nights. Also, I thought I could get away with a manual pump. Wrong. Very wrong. And good electric pumps are not cheap. Before, we qualified for programs for low income families that provided the pumps at no charge. Now, well, we're better off even though our family is much larger.

So, pray for me. I am planning to bite the bullet and give this a real try again. Unfortunately, she still is not latching on correctly. She has nipple confusion, from what I'm reading. My milk production is still only about 4-6 oz. per day, which is far short of what she needs to survive. I don't really want to go back on the Reglan (it is a natural gas producer *blush*). But more than money, more than fame, more than anything else I can think of...okay, maybe not more than a 6 BR, 4 bath house...I want to be able to give my baby girl breastmilk. I want to be able to do what so many other women do, and what so many other women don't even try to do. God created breastmilk as best for baby, and that's what I want to give her. More than anything.

Just a rainy day

Well, I don't have much to say today. I'm sad, and being postpartum is definitely NOT helping me out much. My hubby is back to work tonight after paternity leave. That makes me sad. He works the graveyard shift and this little break has been really nice because it allowed us all to live on the same schedule instead of sharing a schedule for three days and running opposite to each other for four days each week. Also, it has been nice because he has been so active in caring for baby EM. He has allowed me to sleep in several days and has taken the baby and gotten the three older kids ready and off to school for me. Tonight, however, I will be alone caring for baby all night, and will still have to get up to get the older kids out the door in the morning. (I'm sure I can do it, it just feels daunting right now--I'm tired and hormonal, sigh.)

And this spring has been no winner in my book weather-wise. After a near record-setting winter for snowfall, our winter has overrun spring and locals are beginning to call this season "sprinter". In fact, the day we brought baby home from the hospital (4/13), the temps reached almost 80F. Before a week had passed, we were again experiencing sleet, hail and even snow.

But today, to match my mood, it is raining. Just raining. And my hubby is sleeping, and so is baby. Maybe I should too?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh the Places You'll Go! Baby EM's first week

What a busy week we've had! Baby arrived after midnight on Saturday, April 12. We escaped from the hospital mid-afternoon on Sunday, the 13th to pick up all the other kids (thank you to Heather for taking the boys overnight Saturday and to Charlene for taking Ms. B, and to Brenda and Greg for taking all three overnight Friday night!). Our first and only visit at the house so far was from our next door neighbors who had their baby girl on Sunday!

Monday was a slow day for us. We made no plans except to get the older three kids to school and back, and a run to the grocery store for Daddy.

On Tuesday, we made our first trip to the pediatrician. Dr. K checked Ms. EM out and gave his professional opinion: Everything looks good. No shots or blood tests today. Baby's weight is back up to 7lb., 11 oz. after dropping to 7lb., 8oz. before leaving the hospital.

Mommy struggled with breastfeeding--baby EM doesn't want to latch correctly and the milk is slow to come in. Much to our dismay, formula will have to be a staple at least temporarily while Mommy pumps to increase supply, letting the "owies" heal, and retraining little Ms. EM on her latch.

Ms. B came home from school "sick" on Wednesday, complaining of a sore throat. She had strep throat only a month ago, so we were quite concerned that she had gotten it again. We quarantined her to her bedroom except for meals until we got the throat culture back late Thursday morning. Once cleared, she got to spend some quality time with EM.


Thursday evening, Daddy got a bright idea. Baby loved his chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in utero, and since he had promised her juice and cookies if she would come out of her hiding spot after 41 weeks, Daddy decided to sneak baby her first taste of chocolate on the "outside". I am not proud of this, but it's cute anyway.

got chocolate?

On Friday, we got this crazy idea to head off to Portland to see our other brother and sister for the first time. Turns out baby doesn't mind a roadtrip, which is great because Mommy and Daddy both admit to enjoying roadtrips (although we fly free....???), and with siblings across the state (oh, and IKEA...gotta go to IKEA as many times as possible!), we'll likely be traveling tons.

While there, we went to OMSI for our first museum trip. We saw dinosaurs, a cool display with the human baby's development, the planetarium, and all kinds of other cool stuff. We also spent time with Uncle Chris and Faith which was really fun too!

Baby's first trip to a museum/Portland

That pretty much rounded out our week. Mommy is falling in love with baby, and so is Daddy. The sibs are working through jealousy and new schedules, and Mommy is falling even deeper in love with Daddy as she watches him with baby EM.

With big sis, Mz. S

Sorry we were gone so long...and I'm sure we'll be here less than normal for a while longer...but we wanted to drop in to brag, say hi, and share some pics!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Best from the Past--The Myth of Unanswered Prayer

Thank you for all the kind words. Baby and Mommy are now home and trying to acclimate to new routines. I will try to get more pictures up soon and share some of the joy I'm feeling. I hope you enjoy this blog that I wrote almost a year ago. It's one of my favorites (I sometimes am shocked when I read it that I actually wrote it LOL).

I have heard many people (myself included) whine about how God does not hear or answer their prayers. They bring before God a list of wants (some needs) and then wait for Him to wave a magic wand...and poof...everything is just the way that they would have wished for. They believe in some misguided way that God is nothing more than a genie locked inside a bottle that they can rub on their knees and know that He will make their every want and need happen.

Like I said, I have even been at this point in my own life. I have come before God with a list of wants, handed them to Him "graciously", and then complained that God did not hear me, or, if He did hear them, He simply chose to ignore me. This is what I call "The Myth of Unanswered Prayer."

Yes, I said MYTH. As in the exact opposite of fact, or even truth. But I will not make such a bold statement without supporting my belief that unanswered prayer is a make-believe phenomenom we create.

"Indeed, he who watches over (you) Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." --Psalm 121:4

If God is not someone who sleeps or slumbers, then how can I believe that He does not hear me? Has he gone deaf? Dumb? Blind? Mute? No, God is never sleeping, unlike the gods of the Philistines:

"At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." --I Kings 18:27

As the story continues, we see Elijah taunt the followers of Baal to arouse their god to action. In fact, in an attempt to get Baal to respond, these worshipers went so far as to cut themselves until they bled! And yet, Baal never responded. Elijah waited as the men "worshipped" for hours, all to no avail. Then, to show the power of the One true God, he called on the name of the Lord as he rebuilt the altar, doused it heavily with water (including the surrounding areas). In a short prayer, Elijah called to God to fall upon the altar in fire. Lo and behold, the altar and the surrounding areas were consumed with fire.

Now, the God of Elijah is the same God that I love, worship and serve. If God was able to hear and to drop fire upon the altar, why would He not be able to hear and answer my prayers?

"'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" --Jeremiah 33:3

First, let's look at this in bits and pieces. This is God speaking to the people of Israel. He begins His promise with a command: call to me. Note that God did not make a stipulation on when, where, or how to call upon Him, just that we do it. We must call upon Him. Second, He promises us that when we do call upon Him, He will answer us. Yes, that's right...He will answer us. It doesn't say He might answer us if He has time, if the tide is right, if our prayer is poetically stated. It says simply that He will answer us. PERIOD. If this is the same God that consumed the altar doused with water for Elijah, we have no choice but to believe that He is listening and powerful; He is the One True God. What He says He will do, He does. We can ABSOLUTELY count on Him to keep all of His promises.

If we believe the above things, then it is simple. There can be no such thing as unheard or unanswered prayer. God has promised to hear us when we call. But it gets better!

In the last part of the verse, God promises something even better! I will tell you GREAT and UNSEARCHABLE things you do not know.

Great means big, of an extreme degree. Not just large, but powerful, huge, beyond our comprehension. Unsearchable means that these things are things that we cannot find on our own. So when we say that God did not hear or answer our prayer, we are undermining God's promise to us.

Perhaps the real problem is this: not that God is not listening to us and answering us, but that we are not listening to God's actual response.

How many women have prayed repeatedly for a man to be a part of their life and then become angry at God when one did not magically appear? Girl, I have done it myself! But perhaps, it is not that God did not hear the prayer, but that God heard it and in His infinite wisdom, instead of waving the "magic wand" and producing a man, God has asked me (or you) to wait until we are walking with Him, seeking His will first, and then allowing the man we are to be with for life to mature to a point to love us as God has called husbands to do. Perhaps the "No" we thought we heard was simply a "not yet". Perhaps the silence was divine provision to protect us from a potentially harmful relationship.How many of us have prayed that God will increase our financial blessings, only to struggle for months, perhaps years, to make ends meet? In frustration, we think that God must not hear us, or if He does, He does not truly care about our "needs". I have been there too! But perhaps it is not that God has ignored us or fallen asleep, but that He knows that there is a better way, and that the struggle to bring our finances in line with His will (and sometimes also to develop a reliance on Him, and to develop humility through broken pride) will require that we come to the edge of total disaster before we can be blessed. Remember, Jesus told the rich young man in Matthew that it would be easier for a camel to enter through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God! Perhaps, until we have learned humility and Godly stewardship of our resources, we are little more than "poor" rich young men. We seek God, kinda. We seek Him so long as His will allows us to have new furniture (nevermind that the current "paid for" furniture is still in fair condition), to buy a new toy (a boat on a 30 year loan seems great the first year on the water), or the week long vacation in the tropics (which was great until we peeled from the sunburn and read the interest statement on the credit card we used to pay for the trip). But perhaps God wants us to learn to be frugal and to become givers (not just takers) before He will expand our financial resources. I think of the early church in Acts. We are told that they sold everything they had and shared with each other according to need. Clearly, there were some in the early church who were more financially stable than others. But when they were willing to give it all up, even those who had no income were provided for. God rarely hands us a $10,000 check when we come up short. However, He will provide meals for us that we don't have to buy. He will provide blessings in the form of entertainment for the single mother who has nothing left after paying the bills for her family to enjoy. He hears us and answers us. Generally, the problem is that His answer is not "our" answer.

I could continue to go on and on with examples. But the point is simple. I once believed that God simply did not answer every prayer. However, with time, prayer, and patience, God has taught me that every prayer is answered. Some are answered immediately; others take years. Some are answered with an emphatic "yes", but many more are answered with "not yet", "not now", or simply "no." When I come to a prayer request that seems to be unanswered, I simply step back and look harder. I let go, listen more, and wait. God does NOT slumber or sleep. He does NOT ignore His children. He simply sees far more and can do far more than we will ever be able to fully grasp.

And you know what? I'm glad! For every "unanswered" prayer I've griped about, there has been a great provision and blessing in God's answer that wasn't what I was hoping for.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will." --Romans 12:2

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Welcome to the world, little one

Our baby girl joined us this morning at 12:47am. We had been anxiously awaiting her arrival for quite some time as she arrived 11 days AFTER her due date. She was 8lb, 3oz. which makes her healthy but not unbearable to deliver. Here's a pic...

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." --Matthew 19:14 NIV

In Case We Forget to Tell You

Dear Baby EM,

Once you arrive, you are going to turn our world upside down. Your schedule will fully dictate our schedule, and your hunger will supersede our own. Mommy and Daddy will likely be grumpy and "slap happy" from time to time over the early weeks, and will forget simple things like putting the milk back in the fridge, closing the tube of toothpaste, and starting the washer once it's full.

It's not that we are really that lame-brained, but we are going to give you (and your brothers and sisters) everything we have. We're going to give up 99% of "me" for 110% of "baby".

We are so excited to get to see you face to face! Daddy can't wait to play with you, and I figure he's going to count your fingers and toes about 100 times before you're one week old. But that's okay. It's only because he loves you sooooo much. I know you hear him talking to you, urging you to make your way out of the womb and into our arms (much to mommy's chagrin...she's excited too...but she gets to do most of the work!).

Oh, and your siblings...they are very excited to see you too. I'm sure you're terrified of actually meeting Mr. J--he's the loud one who keeps pummeling you in your little bubble--but he's just excited to meet you! And Ms. B, well...she's excited to change your diapers and help Mommy out (at least she is right now LOL). And Mr. M is going to barrage you with origami and crochet chains. He will shower you with gifts. And Mr. B and Ms. S are excited too...we'll go to visit them soon so you can see them!

In case we forget to tell you, we are so blessed to have you join us!

The G Family

By the way, our precious new baby girl arrived very early this morning. She was a wonderful 8 lb., 3oz. and 21 inches long. Check back soon for pictures! (Mama)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...but not that busy!

So tomorrow is to be the big day! We are scheduled for medical induction tomorrow, and we are soooooo anxious to see and meet our little girl for the very first time! So today, because I am one of those types who can't sit still and wait for much of anything (doesn't it say something about being idle in the Bible and it being a bad thing? giggles), we are out and about getting a few errands handled so that next week we only have to worry about the kids and us. I'm sure that alone will be keeping us busy!

I have prepared a few short thoughts that I will share as time allows me to drop them into internet space from the hard drive. And of course, we will share pics of the new baby. I may even drag out some older writings that are near and dear to my heart and that I feel led to share with you.

I want to thank each one of you who has become a sister and friend over the last few months as I started blogging on a more serious level. The transition to SAHM has been eased by sharing my days reading your blogs and comments, and writing. I anticipate that will continue to be the case in the coming days, weeks, months, perhaps even years. I am so blessed!

Okay...I'm off and about...but we'll be checking in!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

God is so good

It's tax time again. And for the first time in many years, I faced the possibility of not getting a refund. With two incomes, things are drastically different in the tax world. But we trudged forward and found that we were going to get a refund, and a decent one at that. We proceeded to file and sent off our taxes via E-File only to get a message back less than 24 hours later that our tax filing had been rejected due to dependent issues (we are both divorced and have to alternate claiming the kids with our ex-spouses). We paid a professional tax preparer to look into the situation for us, and basically we were told we were likely out of luck.

But we prayed about and did some research on our own. With a little bit of documentation, we decided to send off our tax forms with a letter and back-up paperwork via snail mail with the understanding that they would not process our taxes for 6-8 weeks and that it could be 6-8 months before we saw any money.

This morning, while doing some financial "work" to get ready for having the baby, we accessed our checking account online. Much to our surprise, our balance was dramatically higher than we expected. Our tax returns came through in less than 3 weeks! We couldn't have asked for a faster return or better timing!

Along the way, we both agreed not to feel like we were entitled to anything. Part of the reason I did this was to avoid "righteous" anger, and partially because I've always believed that tax return money isn't necessarily an entitlement but a blessing. We had submittted to God this issue and done what we believed was right, but we had no idea what the answer might be. Getting this answer with this timing is such a blessing and further proof why we should always turn these things over to God.

Now we're going to try to be patient for another 36 hours or so until we get to have this baby!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday--"First Time"

Many thanks to Amy over at "Signs, Miracles, and Wonders" for starting this wonderful music meme--one of my personal favorites! Although I am anticipating being VERY busy this Saturday with a brand new baby, I'm going to take advantage of the ability to write this now (Tuesday afternoon), and post it late Friday night or Saturday morning.

Perhaps in response to preparing our hearts and home for our new baby, I've been thinking about something that God has given me--something that I could never have truly expected to receive although I continued to ask God for it in faith. My doubt had more to do with it being a fairytale than about God being able to provide.

When I became a single mom back in 2002 after over 8 years of marriage, everything that I had held onto as being real and true was ripped from my hands, my life, and my heart. The sacredness of the wedding vows I had spoken at the very tender age of 18 seemed so very far away, and while I never questioned God or blamed Him for the position I found myself in, I did question His design for family and marriage. At the same time, however, I knew that the only way to survive my new lot in life was to stay connected to God and the church. But often I found that the church judged me and made me question myself more often than not.

And yet, in time, I found healing from my divorce and the strength to reject the ideas that left me judged and marked with a scarlet letter. I found the grace and forgiveness that Jesus bought for me with his life on a crude wooden cross. I realized that although I had made choices and embraced decisions that ultimately helped destroy the marriage and family I was mourning, God looked at me and saw a precious little child who was hurt and broken, and reached out His arms to hug me and to calm me.
Ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here. --Jeremiah 33:3 NLT

The same grace that Jesus extended to the woman caught in adultery, the same forgiveness he gave to the leper and to the criminal on the cross beside me were being extended to me. I just had to find healing and forgive myself. I needed to seek God first in my life and move on.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. --Matthew 6:33 NIV

As I let go of my desire for a man in my life and replaced it with the desire to live for and serve God regardless of what my life looked like, God led me to some truths I had missed previously. I read the book of Ruth in a new light. I saw the provision of a wife for Isaac (and the provision of a husband for Rebekah). I saw a different way of meeting and mating than what I had experienced and viewed growing up. I saw a different version of marriage and husbandry. And I did not know if I could pick that kind of person for myself, and oh how I wanted a husband like that for myself (and a father like that for my children!).

I wanted a love, a husband who would love me like Christ loved the church, and I knew the husband I had the first time around didn't know what that meant, let alone attempted to be that. I wanted what God wanted, and more.

I gave up my hunt for a husband, realizing that I was not equipped for the search.

And I decided to surround myself with Christian friends in my neighborhood--male and female--instead of seeking a boyfriend. I hit myspace looking for these kind of people in my neighborhood. (A large number of the people I saw there paid lip service to their faith, but I had learned how to tell from a few simple sentences which were not at the same place as I, and went into it with eyes wide open).

And little did I know, there was this awesome Christian man who had been on a journey of heartbreak, healing, and was also looking for someone to spend his life with. And you know what! ? ! He lived less than 2 miles away from me...and he wanted more kids (lots more! which is good since I came with three to start...)!

Over time, I realize that what I have with my husband, my second chance, is so totally different and exactly what God had intended for me from the beginning. And when I listen to "First Time" by Lifehouse, it speaks exactly what my heart feels. I am so grateful for the second chance. And to be honest, it actually is better than the first time. It's amazing what happens when we live within God's will!

Enjoy a little bit of Lifehouse for me!


Today marks the beginning of the 41st week of my pregnancy. I'm not going to whine today. I'm not going to complain.

We are scheduled for medical intervention on Friday in the form of induction. HOWEVER, if God should choose to bless us with an earlier labor and delivery, we are going to embrace and run with it.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement, and even for ideas on how to get this baby girl moving. (She is going to be a stubborn little gal, I tell ya!)

Three more days......

Going too far

This morning, while my three kids at home were packing their lunches, I was watching the Today Show on NBC. I have to be honest: very few mornings go by that we don't watch the Today Show. Sometimes the media's view of life and the world is too liberal for me. My political and religious views are rarely reflected by the show. However, they often have interviews with celebrities that I enjoy, performances by groups I listen to (think Amy Grant on Christmas eve), and I do find value in hearing what the other side thinks or embraces.

Enter a segment today on young girls and cosmetics. Wait...let me rephrase that. I want this to be clear. The segment was about a trend in our country of marketing and selling hardcore make-up products (including fake eyelashes? ! ?) and spa treatments to young girls and preschoolers as young as 4! Yes, I did correctly type four.

Let me interject here a reminder: I am the mom to three children, stepmom to two more, and am expecting yet another. Among these six beautiful children are two girls--ages 11-1/2 and 10--and I would NEVER allow either of these girls to wear heavy makeup. The older one is allowed to wear body glitter (much to my disappointment, but it was a compromise) and clear lip gloss. She is encouraged to wear deodorant (ah, the joy of young pre-pubescent hormones!) and owns a bottle of modest body spray. I encourage her to use hair care products and to wash her face twice daily.

But I draw the line at colored makeup products for my almost 12 year old!

Perhaps I am getting old-fashioned and am losing touch. I mean, I suppose I am getting old. I'm almost (gasp) 32 years old now! LOL Yes, I do mean that in a very tongue-in-cheek sort of way! Perhaps we are sending a horrible message to our young girls. Perhaps both.

And I wonder.....
Are we surprised that the number of girls being treated for eating disorders continues to grow? Are we surprised that mothers are encouraging their young daughters to lie so that they can win tickets to see concerts that run over $200 per person? Are we surprised that there is a generation of teen girls who do not think twice about considering plastic surgery to "correct" the "imperfections" God created them with? Are we surprised that very few women in our society, even in our churches truly believe that they are beautiful?

It breaks my heart to see our girls sexualized and demoralized in the name of physical beauty. It is a sad day when five year old girls develop an eating disorder because they believe that they are fat (just as sad as the child who is obese because they are not encouraged to be physically active), when ten year old girls buy and wear thong underwear (I am still in shock that these are sold and marketed to girls that young!), and when we embrace and accept these practices as being "okay" or acceptable.

I am brought back to the root of what I feel is safe to believe:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. --Proverbs 31:30

Beauty does not last. Physical beauty is fleeting. It mocks us at best. But God loves us so much that He has designed us as women to have something that lasts a lifetime that is far more attractive to the people who really matter--fear of the Lord.

It is my deepest prayer and hope that as I raise daughters that I am able to teach them to take pride in their appearance. I believe that God created us with a physical body that is unique to us so that we could take pride in it and be good stewards of it. But it is also my hope that they will know that what they look like will NEVER supercede the importance of who they are (PRINCESSES--daughters of the King of Kings!), and what their value is (bought with the blood of Christ). And I pray that I remember and embrace these values in the face of a society that is going to laugh at me and mock me and my girls.

Father, let me balance the importance of taking pride in and care of the body you have given us with the importance of raising up girls who know that true beauty is not physical, but spiritual and emotional. Let me model a healthy lifestyle and self-esteem for my girls and the girls around us, including modesty in dress and good health habits, so that I can remain relevant to them for you. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Not yet

I'm not going to go into details today. Those of you who have been following my life or my blog will understand. Today is Friday, April 4th and the last day of spring break for my kids. It's still "warm" out, although not as sunny as yesterday. I am trying to decide where we are going to go spend the day today and walk. I am considering not checking my email, answering the phones, or checking the snail mail. And my general mood can be summed up in two words:


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tomorrow...I'm gonna...

As part of my attempt to distract myself from self-pity and just sitting here idly waiting for this baby to decide to arrive, I want to stay busy. Today, I got up raring to go and we had the most beautiful weather we've had so far in 2008. I showered, dressed, and got everyone rounded up. We went to the park and hiked for over an hour--uphill and down.

Tomorrow, my hubby will be trying to sleep during the day and since this week is spring break, there are three kids home all day. Not exactly compatible with a quiet sleeping environment. So, I have to find something constructive and cheap to do with the kids during the day.

So, I am trying to figure out what we're going to do. We are fortunate to live in an area with lots of nice playgrounds and parks, so I am leaning towards that. We can pack sammies, juice boxes, crackers, and head off for a day in the sun. All I have to do is decide which park we want to visit. Hmmmm.

I'll keep you posted. The camera's already in the car ready to go to the hospital, so perhaps we'll snap some photos of our trip...

Blessing out of frustration

At some point in our spiritual journey, we realize that nothing happens in our life in a random, irrelevant order. Everything that happens is an opportunity for spiritual growth--if we stop to evaluate and pray about it. Sometimes these events are large and hugely life altering. Other times, they are as seemingly inconsequential.

I have been blessed with three beautiful children--ages 11, 10, and 7. Each one of my pregnancies started out simply--no stretch marks, no morning sickness, and only mild emotionality. However, by the end of each pregnancy, my blood pressure would become elevated, protein would start to spill from my kidneys into my urine, and I would be put on bedrest for treatment of pre-eclampsia.

Even though I was treated in all three pregnancies for pre-eclampsia, I was still blessed. I never had to experience mag sulfate, seizures, or any of the worst symptoms. But all the same, I was watched like a hawk for problems with my baby or my own health.

Enter pregnancy #4.

With the history I have of pre-eclampsia, the doctors started my care watching me closely for any development of PIH (pregnancy-induced hypertension) which could lead to pre-eclampsia. Throughout my pregnancy, I've had extra bloodwork and urine testing. They monitored my blood pressure closely. And here I am, 40 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy with normal blood pressure, no protein or sugar in my urine, or any other symptoms of PIH or pre-eclampsia. It is exactly the opposite of what the doctors would have predicted for my pregnancy.

But, my good health and the blessing of an uneventful pregnancy has presented me with frustration. In each of my three preceding pregnancies, I was put on bedrest and ultimately induced just prior to my due dates to avoid major issues. I never went to full term (although none of my babies were "preterm" either). Today, one day past my due date, I am frustrated that I am still pregnant.

In my frustration of still being pregnant, I have missed the lesson here.

I have missed the miracle of a pregnancy without complication.

I have missed the wonder that my body has responded more positively to this baby than it has in the past.

I have missed that God has healed the issue that caused me repeated battles with pre-eclampsia.

I have missed the blessing, the miracle, the wonder of it all.

And perhaps that is why I am still pregnant. Perhaps God has been waiting for me to "wake up" and see the blessing, to grow spiritually beyond what I expected to happen and to embrace the miracle.

So, while I can't keep my maternity jeans up over my belly because it continues to expand, and while I can't remember the last time I saw my feet, and I can't sleep without some extremity falling asleep, I am going to wait patiently and embrace the blessing that baby and I are both health and safe to proceed for at least nine more days. And I'm going to trust God that whatever He has planned for us is best.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
--Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Due dates--not everything works like the library

So, here it is. My due date. And? NOTHING.

We saw the doctor this afternoon. I am happily dilated to 3 cm. (I was 2.5-3cm last Wednesday, so no real progress has been made this week.) But I am not having contractions other than those silly mild cramping Braxton Hicks contractions that come and go when they want and do next to nothing.

But, they have scheduled me for a "just in case" induction next Friday, April 11th.

This is where you guys come in. I have never gone to term before (three pregnancies all with pre-eclampsia and induction). Pray that we do not have to wait that long to meet our little girl. I'm already VERY big (last week's appointment included the pronouncement that this was going to be another big baby--baby #3 weighed in at 9 lb., 10 oz.) and not really looking forward to dragging this out another 10 days. We have two churches praying here locally for our little girl to make a quick arrival. Please join us in that prayer, and for an uneventful delivery in addition.

Thanks! (Ps. Can I charge her 10 cents each day she goes past the due date????)