Saturday, March 26, 2011

Prayer for Selah

Psalm 139:13-16
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
One night a little bit ago I was lying in bed and just crying out to God. I was crying about all the concerns I have about Selah. I was crying about the broken "plans" of a perfectly healthy baby and pregnancy. I was crying about the uncertainty of what is to come. Unspoken questions were whirling through my mind and I was just coming before God, not really speaking just crying out in hopes that he knew all the unspoken fear, hurt, disappointment, and questions. As I spent time before him, he gently led me to this scripture in Psalms. I read it and asked him what he wanted me to learn. He spoke to me that it is his mighty hand that has knit and formed Selah from the beginning. It is his loving hand that is sustaining her life. It is his powerful hand that has ordained her days. So, he knows about all the "concerns" and uncertainty. He knows about what may or may not be "typical." He knows and is aware of all that she has going on and what it may involve. Now I don't understand it all or even like it all. But after reading this scripture and seeking his word, I knew he was reassuring me that not any of it is out of his control. Since that night I have prayed this scripture over Selah each day. I put my hand on my stomach and pray it, claim it, over her out loud so she and myself can hear it. God's word is mighty and alive...truth!
As I have begun to do this and have tried to see that God has formed "all" of her, my prayers for her have transformed...only by his doing. I started out praying for her to not miscarry, for her to live. I have prayed for her to grow, for her to be healthy. As we've found out about possible "concerns" or abnormalities, I have prayed that she would be healed. But with time God has changed my prayers and desires of my heart...I now come before him and ask him to help her to live, to breathe, to swallow, to develop according to his good and his purpose. Not that I don't want her to be completely healthy and happy, no problems, but as I have tried to surrender my will and desires to him, he has helped change my prayers as he is aligning the desires of my heart with his.
In addition to this there is another prayer I have been claiming over her. It came from a song I heard on the radio. I came in one night and heard a song starting. It hit home and was emotional and I raced to turn it off...just didn't want to hear it. Not too long after, I came in again and heard it coming on. As I raced to turn it off, God's gentle voice said "listen." I hesitantly sat down to listen. I'll try to summarize as gracefully as possible :). It was a man singing from a father and mother's perspective. They were pregnant and being told their baby will have certain conditions and won't have a good chance of survival...basically. The man sings from his wife's perspective that she just wants to see her baby, to touch her baby, to hold her baby, to love her baby as long as she can. Of course, tears are streaming down my face...tears of healing though. These are desires of my heart that have been unspoken but are so real. As I listened, I knew God was reassuring me that he knows these desires and he just wanted to remind me. He taught me that I need to speak these desires out loud to him, to claim them. So, after this I have also began to pray with hope and confidence that we will continue to experience God's hand on this pregnancy and that we will get to meet Selah, to hold her, to touch her, and to love her as long as we God's grace.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Restless Night

So, if you read the previous post you know that we have a "plan" in place for delivery. I am relieved to know that we do but at the same time my mind has been racing with all the "details." Being the control freak and "planner" that I am, I am struggling with wanting to have it all worked out...each detail, each piece of the puzzle fitting together just so, knowing how it will all fall into place...yeah right!!! If I have learned anything, and am still learning, it's that I am not even the slightest bit in control. I still strive to be and struggle with this though. I tried to sleep last night but it was a restless night. My mind raced from thoughts of are we doing the best procedure for us, to how will Selah do, to will my babies (dogs) be okay for so long without us, to many more worries and anxious thoughts. I thought about the procedure and the risks they discussed, the recovery associated with it. I thought about Selah and if they will get an airway for her and how things will be for her. I thought about the NICU and just wanting to be able to bring her home right away...healthy and happy. I thought about Spencer and all that he has on him right now...trying to balance work, the military, completing the remodel at the house, taking care of me. Do you get a little of the whirlwind that has been going through my mind. Needless to say, it was a long restless night.
I awoke this morning and started by praying that God would just help me let it all go. I read my devotional and it was the word I needed to hear. God spoke that he is a God of infinite resources and abilities. He is the everlasting God and he does not get weary or grow tired. So, it is not my strength, my ability, my resources that has to "figure" it all out or work it all out. He knows all about it and is in control. He reminds me yet again that when I look to him and pray to him about all of it...boy have I, then he will help take the anxiousness and worry and instead replace it with peace. When I keep looking to him and call on him and really trust him then he will continue to work for his good and purpose, on our behalf. The verse in Ephesians reminded me that he is my heavenly father and he can do so much more than I can "plan" or strive for...if I just trust him.
 Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY more than we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"The Plan"

We had another visit at UMC today to discuss test results and delivery. We were told that the amniocentesis results came back showing no chromosomal abnormalities. We are very thankful. They told us that not all conditions or syndromes are ruled out at this point though. Once she is here they will do further chromosomal/genetic testing in order to determine if there are additional conditions going on. There are still concerns about her hand, her arm, her ear, and of course her jaw. For now the primary concern is havng an airway established for her.
I am thankful to say that after leaving today we have a "plan" in place. We will plan to have Selah on Monday, April 4th!!! We will go to UMC for the procedure and have the team of specialist there for her and myself. We are not having a typical vaginal delivery or c-section. We are going to have what they called an exit section. The procedure is more invasive or more of a "major" surgery for myself. There have been only two done in Mississippi (at UMC) we'll make the third. They are recommending this procedure over the others due to the concerns about getting her an airway effectively. With this procedure they will put me under completely and then make an incision, bigger and higher than with a section. They will then bring her out, just her head and arms. This will leave her attached to the placenta and the lower part of her body still in the uterus. She will still be "connected" to the placenta and therefore able to receive oxygen from that. This will "buy" them time to try to figure out the best way to establish the airway, without lack of oxygen for her being a concern...hopefully. They will try to intubate her if possible but if not will try to use a tracheostomy to establish the airway. So, that is the plan. Needless to say....a little nervous about it!
I've been hurting and having contractions and the fear of being here in Hattiesburg when I know we need to be in Jackson has been on my mind. We will go to the doctor two times each week to be monitored for this week and the next. We will go up a few days early to get there and get everything settled before the procedure.
So, we are anticipating meeting our sweet Selah. The uncertainties and "what if" can be so real and consuming at times but we are trying to be hopeful and continue to trust that God's hand is on all of it. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate the encouragment and prayers offered up on our behalf...we are truly thankful!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Baby Story

In the previous post I ended with mentioning we are now in our third pregnancy...farthest we've gotten along in one! We are 34 weeks with a little girl. Now if you read the previous post you are aware that we've had two miscarriages previously. So, needless to say, we are so thankful that we are getting to experience this pregnancy. That is not to say that it has not been a bit of emotional roller coaster.
I found out in August 2010 that I was pregnant. I began spotting and hurting some and of course was so scared. I remember peeing on the pregnancy tests, three of them, and having mixed results. Two of the tests showed a light positive result and the other test a negative result. I couldn't wait it out so I went into our local after hours clinic for the blood test. The test came back positive and with lots of congratulations from the nurse...if only she'd know the fear and worry in my heart. The next morning I didn't call to make an appointment, I just went to my doctor's office and told the receptionist to let her nurse and her know what was going on and that I needed to see her. Now this is demanding I know, but it was what I felt needed to be done. I have regrets about the past and what should or could of been done. I knew that I didn't have time to wait to get in for an appointment...extra precautions needed to be done (hormones, medication, etc.). My doctor and I had discussed it all but then having to go through reception, etc. and trying to convey that can be the challenging part. So, my doctor, who is beyond fabulous and truly a blessing, saw me that day.
I had the blood test done and titers done to measure the pregnancy hormone. Not to my surprise, they came back postive for pregnancy but very low. The doctor explained that they were not even close to the range of where they should be, as far as how far along in the pregnancy I should be. I was given the extra hormones, etc. and told to rest and set up a follow up appointment to measure them again. Now, the first two pregnancies I did not really share a lot or call on family and friends for prayer. I know God impressed upon me to realize the blessing of how many prayer warriors we have on our behalf and to call on them...and I did. I went back to the next appointment and the numbers had almost that is nothing but a miracle. Since that visit, the numbers and ultrasounds showed a baby growing and developing, with a precious sign of life...that heartbeat.
Now I have to stop for a minute and relate what I had written in my journal during the first part of this pregnancy. I looked back and read my prayer to God asking him if he will to bless us with this life. I asked him if he didn't though to help us through it, in his grace. I ended this specific journal entry with the prayer that he would help me be joyful, thankful, and filled with peace in all of it. I wrote that he was a God of miracles. Now at the time I didn't realize the impact of this prayer. Not until a little while back did I realize that he is answering this prayer. I will continue with this part a little later in the post.
So, we continued to have ultrasounds with heartbeats and the baby developing. I hurt a lot from the start of the pregnancy though and have had to modify and limit a lot of my and take it easy. The doctor has also monitored me very closely and has been so great. Each time we go to the doctor for a visit though, my heart races and I think, "Will this be the visit where it all falls apart?" It is a struggle of fear and worry I have to try to overcome by remembering God's promises throughout the day...have fabulous family and friends to help encourage me also.
We went the week of Thanksgiving to find out the sex of the baby. We found out it was a girl. The doctor also told us about a concern she had with the baby's lower jaw development and she referred us to a specialist in Jackson to have him check it out. The next week we went for our appointment with him. He diagnosed her with abnormally small lower jaw or lack of one. He also saw abnormalities with one of her hands, arms, and legs possibly. He explained the complications involved with the jaw as well as possible syndromes or conditions that may be associated with it. We declined an amniocentesis though so none of the chromosomal or genetic information was definitive. This was hard to hear and very devastating at first. I couldn't help but ask God why this was happening...I mean we will love this baby and will try to take care of her...will we be able to, will she survive, why would she have to suffer in any way were questions racing through my head. We went home in a fog and just tried to process all of it. We began seeing him as well as my doctor here. From the start her survival after delivery was mentioned as a concern. When the lower jaw is too small it affects swallowing, breathing and feeding. The extent of how small her jaw is or how much it will affect her will not really be determined until she is here. We do know that her having an airway is a primary concern. The baby swallows the amniotic fluid and regulates it and she is swallowing some but not as much as she needs to so my amniotic fluid levels are higher than what they need to be. They recommended that we deliver in Jackson where there is a team of specialist that can hopefully be there for delivery in order to try to address all these concerns and needs.
Now let me go back to my journal entry and prayer that I mentioned above. Since this pregnancy began and throughout it, God has spoken consistently to me about thankfulness, joy, and peace in all things. He has used my devotions, messages at church, scripture read, songs, and friends encouragement to teach me about being thankful and having joy and peace no matter what "fire" we are in or what season it is. Now this has been a challenge for me. I have struggled with being thankful for some of what we are experiencing. But, he is teaching me and trying to grow me in it. I am learning that if I come before him honestly in prayer and thank him for all that is going on then joy and peace began to grow. Like I said, this has been hard...saying thank you for some of these concerns. He has led me in trying to be thankful in this experience and not letting the uncertainty and "what if" overrule that...not to miss out on the sweet moments in it. I am truly humbled and honored for this experience and have tried to enjoy these moments...seeing her grow, hearing her heartbeat, growing a belly, buying maternity clothes, having a baby shower. As I have tried to obey him, his peace and joy, beyond anything of me have penetrated through all the other "stuff."  I may not understand any of it or like it, but I do know and believe that his hand is on us and that he is working. Not until I let God help me did I realize what a priveledge this experience is and I am thankful. His word is true and alive and his presence is here...if only I will be aware. Now, not any of this is due to me, but of Him and of the truly faithful prayer warriors praying on our behalf...thank you, you are loved!
Now to mention the part on miracles. I remember looking back at my journal entry and seeing where I wrote our God is a God of miracles. I started thinking about this and asked God what does this mean, a miracle in our situation. Through time with him, he began to speak to me that it wasn't necessarily a miracle where we see it all work out how we want or plan. It wasn't that it all goes how we like it or how we feel comfortable with it. It is instead, evidence of his power, his presence, his glory, his grace at work. It is evidence of his hand in all of it. As I look back from the start of this pregnancy, what a miracle it has been. We have seen prayers answered for this sweet girl's life to continue, we have seen doctors brought into our path that are beyond compassionate and helpful, we have seen friends and family step in on our behalf and truly claim God's power over us, we have seen him gently speak to us when we come before him in our fear and disappointment. All of this has been true evidence of his hand at work...a miracle!
So, we have started having visits at UMC in Jackson where we are told is the best place for us to deliver. After a visit last week, we decided to have an amniocentesis done. We go for an appointment next week and hope to find out more about a delivery date and plan and results of any chromosomal or genentic conditions that are occuring. We are trying to be hopeful and just take it day by day. We are thankful that we know ahead of time that we need to deliver in Jackson. We are praying for the doctors involved and just asking God's hand over all of it. So as for now, we are waiting...expectantly and with hope and trust!

PS Thought I'd share a little note on our sweet baby's name...Selah. You will find it several times throughout Psalms, in the Bible. You see it to the side of the scripture or verse. It means to pause or reflect you see it and you're to pause or reflect upon God's word you just read or what he is speaking to you and to worship him. We thought about the meaning and there isn't a better fit for her and our situation. We are trying to pause in the midst of all the uncertainty and unanswered questions and to reflect on who God is...faithful, mighty to save, our Father...instead of all the other "stuff." We want to worship him by trusting him in hope and faith and that his hand is on this sweet girl...all of her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little of Our Story

Hi and welcome back,
I am making my second post...impressive :). After I posted the first time, I text some family and friends the blog address so they could check it out. I got a text back from my sister-in-law asking what I was going to blog about. I replied that she'd just have to check it out and see for herself. My phone rang and it was her and she was checking to make sure a hacker hadn't accessed my account or set up a blog in my name. She said, "I know you don't really do computer stuff, so I didn't know if this was real." I of course laughed and told her this is a genuine blog. Anyway, thought that was funny. I did think about her question though and what I will blog about. Really it seems like a way to share some of our story and how we got to where we are now and to also keep our friends and family updated on how things are going...since I'm one of the few remaining not on Facebook, LOL. So, I thought today's post could be a little history lesson of sorts...sharing a little of our story and how we got to where we are now.
Spencer and I have been married for seven years. We got married when we were still in college and didn't really have steady work or incomes. We made do though and now that we look back can say those first years were some of the sweetest. Anyway, the first few years of our marriage were filled with school, working to live, military training, and enjoying being newlyweds. We didn't really see a baby fitting into all of that. The timing just didn't seem right and frankly the thought of it was less than appealing to me. We finished school and began to get careers established with a more steady income coming in. We also were blessed to find a house and move out of our apartment. As all of this came together we began to think and talk more about the idea of having a baby. So, the idea began to become more of a routine topic of conversation. I knew that was what seemed like was supposed to come next ...I mean we were married, we had jobs, we had a house now. The thought of it still freaked me out though. There were so many to pay for it, all the screwy qualities and traits in myself I didn't want to pass on, some of the issues I carried with me from my past. But, we began to be a lot less far as preventive measures go and it was a few months later that I realized I was pregnant...after peeing on all five pregnancy test sticks. I remember being in shock and my hands shaking as I showed Spencer the test. He was surprised also but was grinning from ear to ear. I remember being so scared and having mixed emotions about it and saying, "there's no going back now."
We waited for a bit to tell anyone. The week we finally announced it was the week I began spotting and hurting. We went to the doctor for an ultrasound and there was a small figure there but just quiet, no heartbeat. I remember being sad but not really "processing" the emotions and loss really. I just did what I needed to do and had the DNC. Not until later did the emotions and feelings of it really surface.
As I tried to recover and heal, physically at least, we began to talk about trying again. In the midst of all this was the military also. Spencer started to have to be gone for about one or two weeks out of each month for military training. We also found out that his unit would be getting ready to deploy within the next several months. So, in my head was that we needed to try again before he left. I wanted to make it happen so badly, now that I look back I am not sure why. I think it was the unspoken thought that if we conceived before he left, I would have a piece of case he didn't come back home. So, we began to try again and not too long after conceived again. When I found out I was pregnant I was scared but also more excited. I started out hurting and spotting though. Of course, this was devastating. I remember really crying out to God and asking him to just let me hear a heartbeat at the doctor's office. I went for my appointment (Spencer was at training) and saw the little life on the screen. There was a heartbeat, a slow, labored one though. I remember thinking this was so sad, to hear that little heartbeat struggling for life, barely holding on. The doctor explained that this probably meant impending miscarriage and put me on extra hormones and a week of rest. I was to wait it out and come back in a week. It was a long week and it was hard. I went back that next week and there was no heartbeat, just silence. I again didn't "process" all the emotions and feelings of the loss but just did what I needed to do and had another DNC. It was not too long after that it all started to surface.
As I mentioned earlier, Spencer was having to stay gone with training a lot at this point. This didn't help anything...or so it seemed. As I began to have feelings and emotions surface, I took a lot or most of it out on him. I was so angry at him for going to the trainings all the time, even though he couldn't help it. I was so angry that I'd seen two lives along with the plans, hopes, and dreams slip through my fingers. I was hurting, broken, angry and I just hurt him and our marriage. I felt so guilty...what had I done to cause it, if only I'd been more appreciative and excited maybe it wouldn't have happened. I distanced myself from close friends also. I didn't know how to deal with all this and I had feelings and emotions that I didn't know where they were coming from or what to do with them. On top of that I had a lot of guilt about all that I was feeling. I thought that since I was a Christian that I should be full of only joy and should not feel the way I did, I wondered what was wrong with me.
It was a long struggle of my will versus God's and it took me finally coming to the point of surrender before His true peace filled me. It was when I finally realized I couldn't hold it all together, I couldn't make sense of it, I couldn't fix it, I couldn't control or plan it that I said, "Ok God, I let go, it's yours." When this happened, slowly I began to let him heal me. He was there all along, waiting patiently, I had just kept fighting him. He began to speak to me (because I was finally listening) and began to teach me. I learned that he wanted me to come before him, broken, disappointed, hurt, angry, and to let him heal me and restore me. Now this didn't happen overnight and it definitely doesn't mean I have "arrived" or am all "okay" now. The experience of miscarriage and that loss is part of me, part of my well as the deployment. It is something that with time heals a little more. There are still times though where it hurts to hear someone talking about being pregnant or their ultrasound. There are times where I get a baby shower invite and tears stream down my face. Every time I'm at the doctor and pass the ultrasound room the memories of pain flood into my mind. Now I want to say that I never wish hurt or anything but blessing on anyone. I pray for friends and others that are blessed to experience pregnancy and having children...I hope only blessings over them. Still though, others joy can bring pain, and I don't know if it will ever be explained. I do know God has taught me to be gentle with myself and to know that it is okay to feel the way I do at times. He just wants to help through it, to grow through it.
I also need to mention that Spencer made it home safely from a 15 month thankful! Now, needless to say, "trying" wasn't possible while he was gone :(. When he came home it didn't seem like the right timing initially. There are so many emotions and just transitions to make after that amount of time apart. We began to talk about it again though and to consider it more seriously. He was ready to try and see what happened while I was still more hesitant. As I mentioned earlier, I haven't "arrived" but the intensity of the hurt and emotions isn't as raw. So, the thought of trying again and possibly experiencing the loss, the pain, the brokenness, and the disappointment again was hard to think of. After prayerfully seeking God's direction on it though, he confirmed that it was time. It didn't take us long either. In August 2010, we found out we were expecting again. This is our third pregnancy and we are 34 weeks today. Now, there are definitely parts of the story that accompany this pregnancy and I look forward to sharing that...think that will have to be the next post. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Welcome to my new blog site :). Many of you who know me personally know that I am technologically say the least. So, a blog site your wondering...I know I am shocked myself! I have written in journals for years now and have always enjoyed it. For a long while now I have had the idea to "blog" but quickly put aside the idea time and again. However, it has persistently come up and I know it is something I needed to do. So, I asked a few friends...Babb, Lindsey, Mel to help me out. Babb helped me look into while Lindsey gave me some good tips. Then Mel....fabulous friend who set up the site for me and walked me through my first "lesson" on posting...thank you!!!!
As I mentioned earlier, I delayed starting a blog due to many excuses. If you know me, you know modesty is not typically in my vocabulary :). But, I do feel modest or vulnerable when I think of blogging...did I make that term up? I can't see the reaction of readers and putting my thoughts out there seems to make me feel vulnerable. I am also new to the blog world and all that it entails. So, needless to say, my site and blogs will probably be the most basic and simple out there and I hope not too big a joke, LOL. (probably grammatically incorrect also...Carpenter) But, God has impressed on me for a long time now to do this and to hopefully bring glory to what He is doing in our here it goes!
I thought I'd start with a blog that attempts to explain the title...Flames Are Visible. My hubby, Spencer, if you don't know him, is a of his jobs. One day, a long while ago, we saw smoke and fire at a building we were driving by. He explainded the call that dispatch makes when the structure is on fire and in the course of that conversation the phrase "flames are visible" came up. That phrase stuck out to me and hasn't been forgotten since then. As I thought about it, in regards to a fire, they are seeing the visible flames and know they need to go and take care of it. The flames indicate something that is hot, destructive, not necessarily
Well, I started thinking about this phrase and how it applies to my life. I know that in my life there are definitely "flames" or "fires" and trials that have occurred or are occurring. These trials, storms, broken plans, and shattered dreams happen and are definitely visible, definitely real. They often have left me broken, confused, uncomfortable, and full of unanswered questions. These flames and fires often cannot be avoided and are often not to why they happen. However, I have learned and am still learning that our Heavenly Father has not ever been unaware of any of these flames and fires in my life. There are times where I have questioned His presence and His purposes. As I seek Him and rely on Him by faith, by trust, by hope, I have come to know that His hand is on all of it and He is in control. I read once that when we are in a fire, God knows it and He is aware of how "hot" it is; He won't let the temperature become too much and we won't be consumed. I do know that despite not always liking or understanding the fires in my life, He is there and He is enough. Through these times He desires to refine me, to lessen my ways, my will, my desires and to strengthen His character, His purposes, His reactions to bring me closer to a reflection of His image.
Now I hope that makes some sense???
There is also another aspect to the Flames Are Visible. The flames and fires do happen and can shape us, refine us, grow us. As this process occurs throughout life, I believe that they are opportunities to let "flames" be seen in our lives. These flames are flames of hope, faith, trust, surrender, and obedience to God. They are visible in all seasons of our lives...the easy ones, the heartbreaking ones, the healing ones, all of them. I have the tendency to withdraw, to get overwhelmed, to freak out and try to control things when fires and flames come up. But, I am learning that instead of all that striving, God desires for me to let go, to be still, to seek Him, and to let His purposes, His strength, His glory be the source and the focus. So, it is my prayer and my hope that in all things that happen with my life that "flames" of hope, faith, trust, and awe of His grace and love are so unbelievably visible to others...not by anything of me but of God.