Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pregnancy Loss and Fear - do they have to go hand in hand?

I have had so many women email or talk to me about their pregnancy loss since I posted about Johanna, and I would like to share with you some of my thoughts about dealing with the fear women face when they think about going through another pregnancy after pregnancy loss.

Many women who have experienced pregnancy loss, deal with fear - fear of future loss, fear of personal guilt, fear of death, fear of loss of health, fear of the hardships of pregnancy as they get older, and fear of birth defects (especially those, like Down Syndrome, that have been linked to advanced maternal age).  I'd like to address these fears, especially how it should be viewed as believers.

If you are a believer, then you should know the verses about worry.  I was just studying them in my quiet time this morning (I am doing a book study on "Loving God with All Your Mind" by Elizabeth George.  The Bible has much to say about worry, such as "do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself" (Matthew 6:25-34)and  "do not worry but with thanksgiving in your heart make your petition known to God" (Philippians 4:6)...etc and so many others - check this list out.  

When you struggle with fear, you need to remind you of what is true - "whatever is true....think on these things" is a command!  Remind yourself that God knows your tomorrow, He knows your strengths and your weaknesses.  He tells us in Jeremiah 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." Remember that God is the giver and taker of life - He numbers our days, and those of our children, before even one of them comes to be (Psalm 139:16).  

Remind yourself that God gives strength to the weak, and comfort to those who mourn.  He does all things well, and He never makes mistakes.

Remind yourself that if it is in His will for you to carry another eternal soul, whether or not that child is born healthy and full term, He will give you the strength for each day through the journey, I can guarantee it - if you are living in His strength and not trying to do it in your own strength.

I love this quote I recently heard - "Pregnancy is momentary, a soul is eternal" I heard recently (Doug Philips was quoting someone else, I believe).  What other things can we do in this life that has eternal value?  And remember to, what Paul said about affliction in II Corinthians 4:17 - "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison", and I will openly admit that pregnancy for me would often be put in the category of affliction.  

So many women are concerned about pregnancy in later child bearing years, that it is "risky", that the likelihood of having a child with birth defects increases with age.  Yes, the statistics show this, but you have to remember that God is not bound by our statistics...our stats only show us how God has acted in the past, but He is free to do whatever He pleases at any time.  If He chose, every baby born in America tomorrow could be born with Down Syndrome...He is that powerful.  

I have also heard of mothers who are concerned about their own life, should they become pregnant again.  I, myself, could face this if I were to get pregnant again.  But remember that God has numbered our days before we were born...nothing can take us out of this world "before our time".  We are to take good care of the gift of our life, not to do things to jeopardize our health, but does this apply to pregnancy?  I think not, because I believe that God is the giver and taker of life.  I would rather die carrying a precious soul for my Lord, than live one day longer fearing the "what ifs".  I could avoid pregnancy like the plague, and get hit by a drunk driver tomorrow.  My life is in God's hand, and I choose to trust Him with all that I am and all that I have.   I do believe we are to be good stewards of our health, eating right, getting exercise, taking nutritional supplements, avoiding things that can compromise our health, but even if we are having health issues, God is still sovereign!

What about how hard pregnancy can be, especially in later childbearing years.  But I ask you - should we avoid all things that are difficult/painful?  I put this into the category of a trial, and James says that we should "...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  I think this is a great scripture to claim when facing a potentially difficult pregnancy, or when you are in one.  Also, Paul says in Roman's 8:28 "all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose"  No matter the outcome, we must claim God's promises and apply them to pregnancy as well.  What better thing to bring us to our knees in weakness, claiming God's promises and living in His Strength.  God can and will use pregnancy in the lives of women to bring Him glory, and to bring about good in our lives.  

I know about difficulty carrying babies later in life - I have carried and birthed three babies since I turned 40 (I am 47 now), and when I could not go on, God's grace was always sufficient...I had to make many adjustments (and my family did too) and lower my expectations of what I could do each day, but it was so worth it, every time.  Do I ever fear getting pregnant again?  Yes, I am at times fearful, but I try to catch myself every time I begin to think about the "what ifs", and to dwell on what I know is true, and the fear vanishes.

One last thought about fear/worry in our lives - I have come to believe, that when we worry about the "what ifs", we are taking on tomorrow's problems.  God does not promise that His grace is sufficient for the "what ifs" - but He does promise in II Cor 2:9 that "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" and in Phil 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" - He will give us the strength to do what He asks us to do, and the grace needed for each day.  When we worry about the "what ifs" we are facing potential trials on our own...and that breeds debilitating fear - I know, because I have done this, and I do not recommend it at all!  

I recently heard an amazing talk given by Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) and he suggested that it is possible that God uses miscarriage to populate heaven - also that it might be that in His mercy, He brings our little ones into the arms of Jesus before they see this world - they never have to suffer pain, sickness, fear, consequences of sin and all the other evils this world has to offer.  And having our unborn child precede us to heaven also makes heaven a sweeter place that we mothers will yearn for all the more for the hope of seeing our little ones there for the first time!

I realize that I may have stepped on many toes out there, and that what I have shared might offend some.  But I have learned so much through the difficult times that my loving Heavenly Father has brought me through - and many of those difficulties relate to pregnancies.  So many of the truths of scripture can be applied to pregnancy and pregnancy loss if we just meditate on it.  If your hackles were raised by what you read today, take some time and read through the passages I listed here and talk to God about your questions.  I have found in my life, that when something really gets my back up, I am usually either dealing with un-resolved guilt, or have been fighting against God in something He is trying to teach me.

I would also like to share with you, that when I meditate on the truths about God and His promises, fear seems to vanish...I have said before that where there is fear, there is no faith, and where there is faith there is no fear...they just don't go together.  

Philippians 4:6 - 7 pretty much sums this up - "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

Let me leave you with this:

I found this at an Etsy Cart - and you'll find the full lyrics to this song:

And watch to this, but you'd better get a box of tissues first.
(and you might want to get her book I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy)

If the Lord asked you to carry a little one for Him, would you do it gladly?

I pray that the Lord will use my thoughts to draw you into the peace of resting in His promises for all the things in your life.

In Christ,


Monday, April 18, 2011

Setting the Stage

I so enjoyed sharing with you about my amazing journey into this world!  But I feel that I need to go even further back to share with you some things that God orchestrated even before I was born.  One of these things came to light this past weekend, and I knew I had to share this with you!

About 5 years before I was born, my parents were unbelievers, and my mother was battling depression and my father was holding down two jobs trying to make ends meet.  They had neighbors next door that through their testimony and witness, my mother found salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  For the next several years my mother learned of Jesus and His forgiveness and restoration.  She learned that God was the giver of life, and that He was in control of her life and doing all things for her good.  She was able to overcome most of her depression through claiming the promises of her Savior.

She prayed faithfully that my father would come to know Christ as his Savior too, but it seemed to not be His will  yet.  While my mom was carrying me, my father was secretly meeting with the pastor of the church in order to profess his faith and join the church.  One the day I was baptized, my father surprised my mother by also professing his faith in Jesus Christ before the congregation that day.  Isn't God amazing?  God used these precious saints to bring both my parents to salvation by the time I was born, so I was blessed with attending a faithful church with believing parents all my life.  This also meant that I would attend a Christian school, and come to a saving knowledge of Christ at an early age, and although I have had many ups and downs in my spiritual journey,  I can say that I have been loving the Lord since I was just 8 years old, having given my heart to Christ during chapel in 3rd grade.

But I need to tell you more about these neighbors that shared the gospel with my parents.  This godly man and his wife were Ted and Willy Triezenburg.  I grew up knowing them as Uncle Ted and Aunt Willy.  They were a wonderful example to our family, an example of godly parents and a close knit family. And they loved me and my siblings as their own.  They took my mother, and later my father, under their wings and they became great friends.  They discipled my parents through they years and were always there for them.  They were even bowling team mates for the church league.   I will always remember the times I biked over to Uncle Ted's jewelry shop in Ballard and stopped in to say "hi" - he would welcome me as though I were the most precious little girl in the world.  He'd take time out of his busy day to listen to my prattle, and introduce me to some of his workers and let me ooh and aahhh over the pretty jewelry behind the glass. Aunty Willy was always ready with a sincere hug and wanting to know how I was doing.  My parents even asked them to be my godparents, and I knew this.  So in some ways I had a special bond with them through out my life.  Earlier this month Uncle Ted went to be with His Saviour, and is now singing before His throne and it is good.  I had the privilege this past weekend to attend his memorial and remember all the wonderful things about this man of God - his peppermints, his wink and a click of his tongue, the twinkle in his eye that told me that he loved me.  I was also pleased to be able to  thank Auntie Willy, probably for the first time, for sharing the gospel with my mother, which allowed me to grow up in a home with believing parents, giving me a heritage that was a foundation for serving my Lord and Saviour through my life.

Thank you, Father, for Uncle Ted and Aunt Willie and for their lives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Miracle Birth Story

This is the first installment of what I would like to call "His-Story - God's Grace in Our Lives".  These will be stories about times when God moved in mighty ways to accomplish His will in our lives and to show us His grace, sovereignty, compassion, faithfulness and love.  I have been pondering on this for nearly a year, and now it's time to start.  But where to start?  I originally thought this would be stories about His-Story in our lives as a family, but I realized this week that I had to go back farther...much farther - back to the beginning of my life and how much God moved to bring me into this world, and how He kept me here through several life-threatening experiences.  I hope you enjoy the stories, and here is one of my favorite stories of all time!

My mother and father already had experienced the ups and downs of a large family (for their time).  My mother had recently become a Christian, but my father was still an unbeliever (or so my mother thought).  They had 2 boys, and 2 girls, perfect right?  My father was going through some difficult and trying times at work, and my mother's last 3 pregnancies had ended in miscarriage, two of which were later in pregnancy and life threatening for my mom and traumatic for my father and older siblings.  Her doctor even told her not to come back to her if she got pregnant again!  Their last child had been born with a mild birth defect, but it required several surgeries in her first few years, and she dealt with difficult things like temporary hearing loss and difficulty breathing making daily life difficult.  My father was done, he had more than he could handle, he was content with the children he had.  My mother, on the other hand, yearned to have another baby.  I can relate to this - after my miscarriages and after having Esther , I did and do desire to have another baby, probably to find healing I suppose, and I have talked with other moms who have felt the same way after miscarriages, twins or having babies with special needs.  So, my pregnancy was not exactly met with excitement on all sides...even my mother did not expect this baby to survive pregnancy.

My mother was uncomfortable through her pregnancy with me, she was 35 and that in itself makes for a more uncomfortable pregnancy I can tell you.  At one point, her body was threatening to miscarry me, and she went to her doctor to see what was going on.  He said that she would probably miscarry...when my mother expressed her sorrow at that thought, he was surprised...she already had more than enough children, why would she want another one?  She wanted this baby more than she could share with this doctor who had no understanding of maternal instinct.  She prayed that this baby would make it.  She did not miscarry, and actually went past her due date!

After two attempts to induce labor, as she was more than 3 weeks overdue, my mother went to yet another appointment with he doctor, and he told her that this baby was just not ready yet...at six weeks past the due date???  So she went home, got the other children home from school, and started to make dinner.  Suddenly she was experiencing pain from one hip to the other, and it didn't seem to be going away.  Shew as very uncomfortable and felt that "something is not right".  So my father took my mother to the hospital at 8 pm that night.

 When my mother was checked, the doctor told her that she was dilated to 2 cm, but he wanted her moved to the delivery room anyway.  Once settled in the bed there, my mother experienced all the pitocin that had accumulated in her body through the two IV induction attempts.  She heard this terrible screaming, not knowing it was herself.  My father, 4 stories down in the waiting room, heard this scream, but had no idea that it was his wife!  Immediately my mother began shaking, and heard the doctor say "you have a baby girl" - looking at the doctor she saw that he was holding me like a football - still in his street clothes even.

He laid me on a little table by her bedside.  She saw a little baby with skin hanging in loose folds off her body, but with a beautiful face and she even smiled!  My skin had already begun to decompose, and I was covered in meconium.  The doctor told my mom that he would have to do some repair work on her right away, but that she'd have to come back in later for further repair.  My mother remained in the hospital with me for 5 days.  I weighed just 6 lbs 13 oz - the doctor said I had probably lost 1 1/2 to 2 pounds due to dehydration and a deteriorating placenta.  I was born at 8:30 pm, just 1/2 hour after arriving at the hospital.

My mother says that as a newborn, I was like a 6 week old baby - sleeping through the night, smiling, laughing within the first week.  She had to take special care of my skin for a while - no bathing, she had to use a special cream, and just dab it on, no rubbing, as my skin would just come off with rubbing.  She said I was a good baby and did lots of sleeping.

During my first year, I had several bouts of pneumonia, probably due to meconium aspiration and second hand smoke.  But I survived all of those as well.

God had a plan for my life, and He brought me into this world despite all the situations that would cause people to think that it wasn't meant to be.    My birth story is a story about God's sovereignty, God's Grace, and God's compassion.  My mother had a miracle baby (that's what the neighbors all called me).  She was so convinced that I would not survive that she had not prepared at all - no baby clothes, no baby things...but God provided all that as well.

In looking through my baby book this morning, it is full of cards and the list of baby gifts is long...looks like most people recognized a miracle when they saw it too!

So, why did I start our His-Story with this story?  Because I wanted to share with you that God had a plan for my life.  A plan that was not apparent to others, even my parents.  God says in His Word, in Jeremiah 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

  He had a plan for my mother, my father, my siblings, myself and for you.  In Psalm 139 He says,

 "3 For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 
15 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. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
   before one of them came to be. 

  He knew, even before I was born, God knew how many days I would live on this earth.  I thank God for His touch on my life.  I praise Him for leading me down paths that I would not have chosen for myself, but that were for my good and His glory.  He does all things well.

God is so awesome!  I am amazed at His love, compassion and almighty power.  I stand in awe.  Praise be to God who does all things well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse

They say that if you fall off (or get bucked off) a horse, you should get right back on...that was you won't freak out about it and never be brave enough to try again...well that relates to my blogging, only I couldn't get right back on.  Here are some of the things that have caused me to fall off the blogging horse, if you will!
We have been through a very crazy season since I last blogged!  The biggest event was Esther developing pneumonia from the upper respiratory bug we had running through our family.  Everyone in our family came down with this bug, with the only exception being Rachel, who decided that chicken pox was better to have (at least we think it was chicken pox, still not completely sure).    
The pneumonia put Esther in the hospital for 5 days (4 nights) and this was while I was at my sickest with a sinus infection!  We just holed up together in bed almost the entire time!  
Then it was our yearly testing time, and since we had taken an early spring break it was perfect timing to get that out of the way before we went back to our normal school days.  And since then, I have been slowly recovering and getting back into a more normal routine.  I have been working more lately, cutting for the new line of products, but we have also been trying a few new things - like soap making and home making techniques.  
I borrowed Large Family Logistics from my dear friend, Jennifer of Squaw Creek Ranch blog (who is also my inspiration for home made soaps...you have to check out all her great blog posts about soap and home made recipes for things like cleaners, lotions and even deodorant!).  So I am working to put some of the things in that book into practice around here.  Many of the things in the book I already do, and some of it has a flavor of The Fly Lady, who I learned a lot from, but found was just not practical with a large, homeschooling family with a full-fledged home business!  So far it is really making things run smoother around here, especially the laundry (but I must give thanks for Renee of Baker's Dozen Blog, for her tips on sorting laundry into loads of boys, girls and towels - that has been such a blessing! I am devouring several other books at the moment, like Emotional Purity: An Affair of the HeartCut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family, and I am going to dive into Fix, Freeze, Feast:  starting this week!  Jessica and I worked to make a quadruple batch of meat loaf (11 pounds of hamburger), so today we now have 2 meals in the freezer, at one batch last night, and have another batch in the fridge for lunches this week!  Yeah!
I also place the first seed order in years, from Territorial Seed Company, and included two seeding sets so we can do starts in the house starting this week!  I am so excited to get this going!
I need to keep this short, but I know photos are so much fun, so I'll show you some things that have been happening since we have been healthy enough to take photos again!
Rebekah got her purity ring for hte 16th birthday (Rebekah on the left, Jessica's on the right)

on our way to the petting zoo and Jennifer's house!

the boys enjoying the little chicks...so soft!

cuddly bunnies are the best!

Esther LOVED the rabbits!

And the chicks too - she was so gentle!

Elizabeth enjoyed the chicks and bunnies too!

Elizabeth with her best buddies!
Our first picnic!

my new soap cupboard - everything in one place, and safely out of reach!

doing "melt and pour soap" - fun for all!

Jessica is grating some soap we got from Jennifer  - we tried "rebatching" and it turned out OK, but I am going to try this again but next time in the crock pot!

Jessica's pink and white melt and pour soaps

My creation!
And lastly, I have a new inspiration for blogging - sharing our His-story!  I want to start compiling the stories of when God's has moved in our lives...how He has shaped and molded us through good times and trials and miracles...I hope to start this very soon, starting with the story of my birth!