Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes...

A month ago my biggest worry was the flaky plumbing in my new house. And it wasn't even a serious worry because I'm a renter, so I didn't have to foot the bill to fix it.

Today I am wondering if this is all too much for my older kids. If I am being selfish or cruel to them or Eden. I believe in my heart of hearts, and in the deepest recesses of my spirit, that this is the absolute right thing to do, but when those kinds of arrows are flung at you... it hurts.

I have spent the last several days really feeling good and confident, but today it just all fell apart.

First came the phone call. The one where I was told all about how little sense this all made. How I was hurting my older kids and how waiting was going to make everything harder on them. How it was cruel to keep Eden with me. How I should just let her go...

And then the talk with the teacher about my oldest and how out of sorts and disobedient he's been. The compassion for how he's feeling, but at the same time needing to get his behavior under control. And his long, hard, ugly cry on the way home about every "bad thing" that happened this week... the cry that ends with how much it hurts him to think about his sister who might die.

So I begin to wonder if somewhere I've made a colossal mistake and I ask him again about the impact of waiting... and he explains how it's better to wait because if they take her out now she *will* die but if we wait she could be okay. And that hope was better...

I always knew God used our children to teach us great lessons, but this was again, so true.

Jer 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I can only trust in God to bring prosperity in this situation. Nothing on earth will bring me the hope I so desperately need. So desperately cling too in moments like this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I keep going back to Lazarus...

I don't claim to be a bible scholar. I wish I were...but I just know there is so much to be learned from taking these steps everyday.

When I wake up in the morning and open my eyes...I am trying to remember to thank God I am on this journey. I mean it's not one I'd have chosen. It's not one I ever anticipated could be a good thing... but I am strangely excited by it.

I know it's all the prayer, as so many people I love and who support me, have spent, and continue to spend countless hours on their knees.

My prayer time is disjointed at best. I am trying to find my quiet place with God, time to be alone and really focus, it's not easy. And my words run out often and I am just left with the name of Jesus and a prayer shawl wrapped around me.

For whatever reason, God has put me and my family in this place, with this struggle, at this time. Several of you have commented on my strength, it is not *mine* is wholly given by God and I really don't understand it. I suppose this is "the peace that passes understanding".

Philippians 4: 4-8
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I am excited about what God will do on this journey. In me, In my husband, in my children... I am prayerful that this will impact my extended family as well. I am prayerful that I will bring my sweet baby into an extended family of believers. Of course I always think I know how God *should* operate... and spend a lot of time trying to convince Him my plan is the best.
Just like Mary and Martha with Lazarus...
John 11:21 and 32
21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
But sparing Lazarus was not His plan. God could have prevented this with Eden. He could have knit her together whole from the very beginning. He could have taken her early to avoid this painful period, He could have caused her never to be conceived in the first place...
Sparing Mary and Martha any hurt was also not His plan. Oh how I wish being a Christian got me a "get out of pain free" card, but sometimes being a Christian brings pain all it's own. Rejection, judgement, misunderstanding...
I know also that my pain causes God's heart to grieve.. just as John, chapter 11, speaks twice of Jesus' heartbreak before Lazarus' tomb. He knew that in a matter of moments the pain of those who loved Him and whom He loved would vanish...but still he wept for them.
Just as He now weeps for me.
I have mourned my daughter just as Mary and Martha mourned their brother. I pray He calls Eden from the grave as He did Lazarus... and I pray that when He does this people will turn to Him and accept the gift He so wants to give.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A little more

One of my main concerns as we faced the decision on whether or not to carry Eden to term was the impact it would have on the older kids...

Sunday, while running errands as a family, I stole a few moments with my oldest son, nearly 9 years old... When we had first told them the baby wasn't going to be able to live, they asked very few questions. Just cried... the questions came in the next few days, eventually asking where she was. I explained she was still in my tummy but the Dr might need to help get her out.

So I spoke to my oldest about how it would make him feel if I continued to get more and more pregnant but Eden was still not able to survive. His answer surprised and comforted me... He stated very matter of factly "I think that would be better. Because if the Drs take her out too soon she might still be alive and that wouldn't be good." It was so simple but so true. That wouldn't be good... not for any one of us. Mind you, for the few days I had lived with the decision to terminate I had reminded him after his prayers that Eden be okay, "I don't think that's going to happen buddy." Here was this honest and sincere childlike faith, and I was trying my best to fit it in the box I had constructed. His answer was always the same "Yeah, but it could." We have always tried to instill in the kids God's amazing ability to heal... they pray for ever cold and boo-boo, to him, this is no bigger.

Then yesterday I had a moment with my daughter, now she is my baby who loves to raise her hands and worship, or sit on her special prayer mat... but, I never really know how deep it goes with her. She is a special little girl with a certain depth to her I sometimes have a hard time figuring out. I remember her tears once as she confessed shed never actually heard God when she prayed. I remember explaining to her that it takes practice to hear Gods voice, and that every time she felt the inclination to be kind, loving, or do what's right, she was hearing the voice of God.

Yesterday I asked her the same thing about how she would feel... she paused a bit. I don't think she's terribly comfortable with the idea as it seems a little odd. But she looked at me and said "I think, but I'm not sure, I think God told me she'll be okay. 'cuz I heard a voice." That last part she said pointing to her temple.

I had to fight tears as I said "Well baby, I sure hope you are right." Now I don't know if this was the voice of God she heard, but I don't doubt it could be. I never underestimate the prayers of a child.

Monday, May 21, 2007

10 days ago my whole world changed...

11 days ago I was a wife and mother to three, expecting a fourth child in October. I had the next year or so planned, how we work things out over the summer season and how our daily schedules would jive with a newborn come the fall...

11 days ago I made an appointment for a followup ultrasound. I had some irregular pre-natal testing and my doctor seemed most convinced I was having multiples or my dates were way off... I had no idea what could possibly go wrong. I am low risk for every anomaly that I had been tested for. So 11 days ago I started preparing myself for the possibility of twins.

10 days ago I walked into an overcrowded waiting room and everything changed.

By the time I'd met with the genetic counselor I knew something *could* be wrong. I still didn't expect it to be. I consented to an amniocentesis, in case I needed one to further clarify ultrasound results. I didn't even do that amnio. The Dr performing the ultrasound took a quick peek and then started talking about moving me to a different room to see more clearly... she also started whispering with the nurse about how I wouldn't need the amnio and I felt relived. I made a joke about not really wanting one anyway. The Dr. Turned to me and said "Oh, I've already seen the anomaly and it is very clear without the amnio. That's why I'm moving you to the next room, so you will see it better. But i have to finish with a patient in there." and she left.

In that instant everything went haywire. Something was wrong with my baby... and I was left to wonder for what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality only a few minutes , what could possibly be wrong. I wondered what kind of special care my child might need.

When they transferred me over to the next room and squirted more warm jelly on my stomach the Dr, I hadn't caught her name, I think she told me but I missed it entirely, anyway, she proceeded to measure things like leg bones, heart valves...beautifully beating heart valves... and various other body parts. The whole time she did this I searched for anything that looked misshapen or wrong. Finally she told me what had happened to my child... it's skull hadn't fused and the brain had never developed fully. There was a brain stem but little to no fore brain... the part of your brain that basically makes you a person. I was stunned.

She then, proceeded to explain that the baby I was carrying would likely not survive pregnancy, and had little chance of lasting even an hour after birth. She gave me technical terms and prognosis, and whys... but all I heard was my baby wasn't going to live. After she had explained all this, had told me all the various reasons "termination" was suggested, she asked me if I had any other questions... "Is it a boy or girl?" She seemed surprised I wanted to know but confirmed what I thought I'd seen a few weeks earlier in a different ultrasound..."A girl".

I walked out of that office with everything in my head swirling... I had to tel my husband, I had to tell my two oldest children, I had to get home, I had to make decisions. I knew only one thing, I knew her name... Eden Rebekah had just been given a terminal prognosis.

As a Christian, and actually even before I ever accepted the Truth of Jesus as My Savior, I had always held firmly to the belief that life begins the moment a sperm meets egg. You may not agree, I'm not asking you too. This is not the place for that argument. I never thought there was a moment the switch flipped. I also didn't think it was the "right" of anyone to end that life. I knew there were exceptions... ectopic pregnancies need to be ended, if a mother's life is jeopardised... I was pretty sure those were the exceptions. But now, here was this whole new, and vast, and murky grey area I never knew existed. My baby, my baby can not live outside my body. Not now, not 22 weeks from now. Not ever.

So my husband and I were faced with some enormous realities and even bigger decisions.

We prayed for discernment and we prayed for hope. We prayed for miraculous healing for our baby. We felt lost. We felt we'd lost her already.

We did decide to have a confirmation ultrasound, you can't do something this enormous without a second opinion. The confirmation was just that, confirmation. No skull, no brain... but a beating heart.

We cried and consulted my wonderful OB. The options she laid out were termination or carrying the baby, knowing all along she wouldn't survive. I imagined 5 more months of that kind of pain, I wondered what I would do if any of my three older children were on life support with no hope of survival... I would let them go. We decided to let Eden go... my heart broke at the thought but it seemed right... or as right as things could seem.

All this time I had friends and church family pulling for a miracle. Praying and holding my family up. One friend told me that on that Sunday (two days before the confirmation) that God had revealed to her that Steven and I were like Moses who couldn't hold our arms up on our own to fight this battle but that she and others were being like Aaron and Hur, holding us up. (Exodus 17: 8-12)

So Tuesday we decided that we would make the heartbreaking decision to end the pregnancy. I was broken at the thought. My dr said she would call with the information that day... and that day the information didn't come, nor did it come the next day. Finally I called on Thursday, after my husband had returned to work. He'd taken off that Monday through Wednesday... I wrote the information on a pad of paper on my desk... I didn't call.

Friday came and went... I didn't call. And for the first time in a week I felt like I could breathe.

Saturday I talked to my husband and we decided to wait until this busy time at work was passed to make the appointment... and again I felt like I could breathe. I even went to a wedding reception and had a good time. My first real outing since this whole thing began.

A good friend of mine said to me on Friday "I'm just worried about you. I don't know how you will live with having made this decision." It wasn't said in judgement or to sway me. It was said in love. And I realized in that moment, I couldn't. I had begun to beg God, not for healing but for a miscarriage. I realized the terror I had at facing such a difficult choice. Even if my daughter has no conscious thought, can not feel pain, will never be whole, I can't make a choice to end her life.

Yesterday was Sunday, it was the first Sunday back at church, just nine days after the initial diagnosis. Service always starts with a time of singing and worshiping God with Song. My husband plays flute with the worship team and I sit with the kids. I had barely made it though the first song when my hear began to overflow with love and praise for my savior. Yes, this all sucks, but God is still God. he still created the heavens and the earth. He will still cause good to come from this. It is an accordance with his promise in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" I began to raise my hands in surrender to Him and at that moment I remembered the words of my friend a week earlier, about being able to hold my own hands up. I sang out to a song which said ...

Lord reign in me
Reign in your power
Over all my dreams
In my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won't you reign in me again
Over every thought
Over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
'Cause you mean more to me than any Earthly thing
So won't you reign in me again
I have sung this song a million times in my Christian life, but this was the first time i understood what it was to ask God to have his way over "every dream" in "my darkest hour". Because this hour...this hour is dark and I do have dreams.
We had a missionary couple speak and very briefly did they mention this one thing. Jesus as Healer. They said something to the effect that when we "proclaim Jesus as healer" we have done our part. He then does his part...He does the healing.
Later, after service, I did go forward for special prayer... as my pastor explained to the couple the story of my sweet baby, I sensed a brokenness in him. I grew up with his daughter, spent much of my teens in his house, and I could see that this was hard for him as well as for me. As he explained Eden's missing skull and brain the female missionary simply said "Is no problem." With such authority, such faith. They prayed for me, for Eden, and for my family. They prayed that she be "whole" they Declared her as whole and prayed peace for my husband and I.
Up until this point I hadn't yet talked to Steven about my desire to carry the baby until God brought a natural end. It wasn't even because I expected a miracle, I just didn't feel right about the choice.
On the way out to lunch after service we began to speak about the prayers of the couple, the words of encouragement from our church family, and where our hearts were leading. It came as a great relief to me to have Him agree with waiting indefinitely.
It's hard to explain but I am both fully confident God will heal Eden, and fully confident that if He doesn't this is the right choice.
I imagine being able to call my mother from the hospital and tell her of her healthy granddaughter. Of God's grace and mercy and his miracles. I wonder what challenges will come with parenting a child whom God has used like this. Asking God, just this morning, that i would have wisdom with parenting her. And then in the same moment preparing my heart to say goodbye, again.
This morning, as if to confirm what was happening in my heart I received this email...
In Daniel 3, there is the common story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar throws them into a burning fire for not bowing down to his gods. In Daniel 3: 16-18 the three God followers reply, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. I f we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your powers, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."

I am sure you are familiar with the story. In the bible study the three God followers thought of two options that God would move in their troubling situation. Scenario A: We can be delivered from the fire. Or scenario B: We can be delivered by the fire into His arms. But the message talked about another solution. A way that God moves that catches us off guard. Something that shows us that He is the one in control, and He knew the whole time. Instead, scenario C happened: They were delivered through the fire. The story is that God met them in the fire. He kept them safe, that even though they were tied up so that they could not shield themselves they were not hurt. In fact in the end as they were called out of the fire it was recalled by the King that they didn't even smell of smoke.

Sometimes I would like to tell God that I only want him to deliver me from the fire. I don't really want to go through any pain or anxiety. I pray so much that God will help you that way. I pray so much that God would heal your little baby like he healed the women who was hemorrhaging. She had so much faith that she knew if she just touched the hem of his garment she would be healed. I don't know if I have that much faith, but I pray that God will do it for you. I pray that God will touch that head that is rested in you and bring it whole. But sometimes God works other ways either delivering that baby into His arms or delivering us through the fire. I wish I knew