One Year Photos
Zion was barely in labor when she had her babies!
Do I open the womb and not deliver the baby?
Do I, the One who delivers babies, shut the womb?
“This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in her”;
for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.”
“ The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come so they may have life, and life abundantly.”
It has been eleven days since you came into this world in the dim light of our bedroom, in the early hours of the morning; your daddy’s hands the first to touch and hold you. You gave your first cry, and he placed your warm body into my waiting arms.
This is the beginning of your story; full of miracles.
July second, two thousand and sixteen. You were born some time between 5:50 and 5:59am. We’ll never know the exact time, because we were not looking at the clock.
We were looking at you.
So much of your story is intertwined with mine. You are a part of me that could never be separated even by time or by distance. I heard your name in a dream, and my darling girl you became that dream. Your life is a fulfillment of the goodness of God, the faithfulness and follow-through of a good Father, a miracle-working Savior. A God who speaks and who creates existence. A God who redeems our days. Who in place of trauma, grief, pain and death, gives a new experience.
Babies are born everyday, and to some it may be just another regular occurrence. But to me, your day was a day that changed me. This is not only your story, but ours. A day of redemption.
After so many months of hurt, I can finally feel again. After so many years of silence, I feel worship flowing out of my heart, apprehending me. After so many days clinging to truth when I felt nothing, I can feel the love of Jesus rushing over me. After wondering If I would ever have the ability to see my future with hope and life and promise- I feel freedom. I see His power. I see His life. I see him choosing me, again and again. When I may feel so small and powerless, I hear him saying, “Daughter, I chose you, you didn’t choose me.”
And to my broken heart, “I believe in you.”
I feel hope. Hope with a momentum that can’t be stopped; a confidence that can’t be cut down or drowned out with uncertainty. A faith that comes from knowing He never gives up or forsakes me. When Isaac died, a part of me was buried with him. I buried all self-confidence, all self-belief. My insecurities were louder than they had ever been. I could believe in the character God. I could still believe in his ability to do miracles- But believe in myself? Believe in my body that had so seemingly failed me and left me devastated? I could not. Believe in my own hands to perform those miracles when my own son was not raised from the dead? I was unable. I was disillusioned. And with each miscarriage that only increased.
The day you were born, sweet girl, i found a strength inside. A fire inside that so undeniably burned into me a knowing- instilling in me a confidence that I CAN. The ability to trust him with the one thing i felt i could not- The life inside of me. Your life. I trusted him to bring you into this world; to give you your first breath as the Author of Life, The Finisher of my faith. I overcame that fear that had so crippled me, that anxiety and powerlessness that had consumed me for so long. There were no doctors, there was no midwife. There was only Jesus. Yes, we did it. He and I. A sacred and holy partnership of trust that brought you into the world. And maybe that sounds crazy to some. Of course it does. But we are not to live like the world, constantly wondering and worrying about the “What ifs” of life.
“What if I bleed out? What if she doesn’t turn, what if…?”
“–but what if it’s amazing- What if it’s incredible? What if it is the best day of my life?”
These were the thoughts that drove me.
I woke up at 2:00am. Contractions. Not too painful, not too intense. I was not impressed with them as I had been having them for 7 long weeks. I went back to sleep. 4:00am. Those are more painful than usual, I thought. I found myself having to breathe through them, and I woke up your daddy. He wasn’t very responsive and I was sure that I was probably getting my hopes up, so I tried once again to sleep. I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen and that I needed to get out of bed and wait them out. Was this real labor, finally? So many times I thought you were coming and they would stop. But this time, they kept coming. Still, I was in total denial that this was in fact labor. They were inconsistent, but wow did they start to intensify!
Your daddy finally got the message when I squeezed his hand so tightly that it hurt.
We waited to see what would happen; it was about 5:00am and Grace was fast asleep in her bed. About that time I started to shake uncontrollably and I knew suddenly- not only was this in fact real labor, but I was in transition. I knelt down on my knees next to the foot of the bed and rode the contractions like a wave, unable to move from that place.. Thoughts were racing through my mind: “This really hurts! This isn’t pain free at all! I was believing for pain free! I want to get in the bathtub! I want to brush my hair!” But I couldn’t move. I was pinned on my knees as the contractions became more and more intense and on top of one another, hardly giving me a break to breathe. I gripped the sheets (thank God or your daddy’s hands may have been broken) and with one big contraction I felt you come down. When I saw blood I knew this was really ‘it’, and my water broke just minutes later. It was probably around 5:30am. We frantically text our friends to come and get Grace as was the plan, but we knew at this point it may be too late. Now I was really starting to make some noise! It was all I could do to keep my sanity- I was sure I was going to wake our neighbors. With Grace’s birth I had been so quiet, unable to express myself in that hospital room. But here I was to my surprise roaring like a gorilla at the top of my lungs with no inhibitions. I honestly hadn’t expected that I would be so vocal and loud. It was as If I had found my voice for the first time all over again after having been told to be silent and sit down and don’t have an opinion and don’t think for yourself or be so strong-willed and passionate. But there I was.
And It was so surprising what I heard the Holy Spirit say.
I had prayed and believed for a pain free experience and this was far from it.
(And it was surprising, since Grace’s birth had been mostly pain free.)
It was intensely painful and quick and out of my control.
I felt as If I simply surrendered my body to the process
as you came down farther and made your way into position.
In the thick of the contractions, I felt him say that I needed to experience this pain. (don’t go making that a theology and I won’t either.) I needed to experience this brief, quick, intense pain. Just as I had experienced so much pain over the last four years, I needed to feel. Rather than be numb, I needed to feel. I needed to let it go and release the depths of pain and heartache and disappointment and bitterness and trauma. And I felt a release as I roared through every contraction, eager to see your face. I whispered under my breath to your daddy in-between the waves,
“This is hard, but I can do this.”
I believed Jesus for a supernatural birth, and he gave me just that. An experience with Him. So much more than labor and a delivery. So much more than a dream of home birth fulfilled. I was not afraid. There was no ounce of fear left in me. I had already buried a child and lost two more in this same bedroom. I had no more hesitations. I knew you were going to thrive. I knew what I had heard straight from Jesus himself. I had no time to process or even to think, I was only in “that place” with Him as I labored and as I surrendered.
Grace had woken up by this point at my roaring and was, to my absolute joy and amazement, watching everything now. She woke up just in time to see you be born, Deborah girl. She was propped up against our dresser with a bag of pretzel sticks just like she was watching a movie. She did so great and I was so proud of her.
I remember hearing her little voice in-between contractions, “I got some snacks, mommy!”
You came down into position and I knew it would be soon. I got on my hands and knees and a tangible peace filled the room. For the first time the contractions stopped for a little while and I could take a breath. There was a sacred quiet as I waited for the next wave. I really was not pushing at all, my body had taken over and was doing what it was made to do. If anything, I was aware of the thick presence of the Holy Spirit as he hovered over me, filling our bedroom. It really was as if time stopped, just for that moment. The next contraction came, and you started to crown. Clearly I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Don’t push yet.”
So we waited until the next contraction. You crowned again, this time your daddy saw your eyebrows. During the next contraction, I heard Jesus again so crystal clear:
“You can push now.”
And I whispered, “Catch her, daddy.”
Then your head was born; suspended between two worlds. Your eyes opened up and you saw for the first time your daddy and your sister, watching in amazement and total awe of you.
I will never forget Grace’s little voice, full of excitement saying, “She’s coming out!”
With the fourth and final contraction you came. Your sweet daddy caught you and somehow handed you to me, your umbilical cord still attached. I am pretty sure my first words were, “Oh my God, she’s so slippery! Get a towel!”
This picture is pretty blurry,
but you can definitely see that my smile is radiating!
I was honestly in total shock. I was in an other-worldly state as a rush of hormones flooded over me. I just held you in my arms and stared at your perfection. You were beautiful in every way and there will never be words to describe those first moments. I couldn’t believe I did it. It could not have gone better. There were no complications, no tearing. The placenta delivered itself in less than 10 minutes. I felt like I had just conquered the world. Well, I had in a way. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment and amazement at myself. I was not in fact incapable. Not incompetent. Not silent or small or powerless. No, I brought you into this world roaring on my hands and knees, full of raw power and trust in a God who sees me. And no one can ever take that away from me.
And just as a final gift, our sweet friends pulled up in the driveway just minutes after the birth. Like a sweet mama she helped me get off the floor (literally) and covered up in bed with my sweet babe. Then they took Grace (dressed in just a T-shirt and undies I might add!) and kept her for the better part of the day, taking her to the zoo and splash park! I am forever grateful!
A few hours later, we called the midwife and OB I had been seeing, and they told us to our complete elation that I didn’t need to come in if everyone was doing well. We took our first bath together and climbed back into bed to nurse. Your daddy and I were in heaven as we sat in the comfort and privacy of our own home, uninterrupted, just soaking you in. Also, we took plenty of pictures and ate donuts of course.
At the end of the day, we sang you happy birthday and marveled at the goodness of God to us. I remember as we all snuggled up in bed together saying that I didn’t want to go to sleep, because then the best day of my life would be over. It was honestly the best day of my life thus far. It felt like Christmas at the end of the day when you want to celebrate just a little longer.
My heart has never been so full.
You were worth every ounce of waiting,
you were my reason to never give up..
Forever my freedom girl.
I have been seriously nesting this pregnancy and enjoying making our den into a third bedroom for our girl. It is officially a third bedroom now that we have sealed the door- and you could never have known that it was there! It turned out great and I’m so thankful for a sweet Dad who can come and throw up a wall in a day. I just wanted to share some pictures of her space for inspiration and just for my records. Enjoy!
I wanted the room to be peaceful and bright, not your typical all pink girl room. In the house we were living in when Grace was born, I painted her nursery a beautiful mint color. I still miss those walls! I should bring them back one day for her. anyway…. I just was avoiding pink like the plague this time, and very into neutrals and all things multi-colored and bright. This rug just screams Happy!
My little tiger helper.. This organizer/changing table was my first diy project for this space. I found it at a salvage thrift store for 50$ – I think It was originally a vhs case from..the 80s? Really its hard to know. But it had a beautiful wood finish and it was “mid-century” so It had way too much potential to pass up. I took off the strange glass sliding doors from the front and painted the outer case pure white. Voila! two-toned changing table magic. I love the way it turned out!
This chair was a world market clearance find! It doesn’t rock of course, but we plan on eventually buying our own rocking chair runners and making it into a rocker. Theres’ a pretty awesome Pinterest post for that! > https://www.pinterest.com/pin/255579347578092634/
and I got these sweet tiny gold dot sheets off of Etsy.com. Super simple but adds some pattern and texture to the room.
This dresser was my second “trash-to-treasure” project. It was that..how do I describe it? “Strangely finished 80’s looking office faux wood” look. Not cute. But it had a great structure, plenty of space, and it was “mid-century!” I used white chalk paint (no sanding for this mama) all over and then for the legs, well, I cheated. I could have chemically stripped the wooden legs, then sanded them and then refinished them a darker wood tone. BUT instead, I just mixed up a beautiful dark cherry brown acrylic paint and painted right on top of the wood. You’d never even be able to tell it looks so smooth! So much time and energy saved!
I wanted to paint a little something personal for Deborah’s room, since I had done so for Grace. And because sometimes I just need an excuse to bust out my paints every now and then!!! Just a simple bee for my little honey bee. (Deborah means “honey bee” if you didn’t know!)
And I am loving these little IKEA book shelves that I have been seeing everywhere. They are SO cheap. I think they were 9$ each.. perfect for space-saving in a small room. The art on the top shelf was painted by Grace. I wanted to incorporate her somehow in the room and I love saving her little paintings. This one is a favorite!
Cant wait for my sweet girl to make her debut. She probably wont even be in this room for the first few months of her life, but I will make the most of the snuggles in our room until then!
We are all….Contractions, contractions and more contractions over here. She is keeping us all guessing on when she will come. Already showing her colorful personality 🙂
Hope you enjoyed!
‘How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.’
‘Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows;
laughter will spill through the doors.
Things will get better and better.
Depression days are over.
They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish.
The days of contempt will be over.
They’ll look forward to having children again’
Jeremiah 30 [the message]
Sometimes writing only goes so far, and sometimes it becomes increasingly difficult to try and give language to experiences and emotions. I am going to do my best to put into words …just how much I have wanted her.
This has been my journey for the past three years. And I am only beginning to step into this place called ‘Restoration’… But I have to say that it feels like warm sunshine on the first day of spring.
And yes, I can say with confidence that the dark days are over. How do I know that? Well, this is where her story begins.
Maybe you have followed my journey and always wondered, “Why?“
Or maybe you have stood back from afar and judged me and wondered what horrible thing I could have possibly done for this to happen to me. People do that, you know. (Please don’t do that) ..It’s called bad theology. 🙂
After the loss of Isaac in 2012, and even after I got pregnant with Grace a whole eight weeks later, I was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder called “Factor 5 Leiden.” Basically that just means that I have a genetic, hereditary gene that causes my blood to clot when it is unnecessary. I myself have never had a clot, but in pregnancy the risk is seven times higher for me and to my unborn baby due to increased estrogen. It causes clots in the placenta, and also in the umbilical cord, cutting off oxygen and nutrients. A simple blood test could have prevented the life of my son from being taken, but at the same time I can’t begin to hold that against anyone, because I would not have my Gracious girl. And she is pretty much the most amazing precious child on the planet in my biased opinion!
One Sunday morning in August of 2014, I was in the middle of worship at our new church. I was having a hard time emotionally engaging, but I just couldn’t put my finger on why. I had gotten together all of my maternity clothes to give away to my sister-in-law that morning and thought nothing of it. But as I tried to worship, my heart was heavy. I realized that grief had been triggered from just the simple act of holding them. I wore them with Isaac. They touched my belly when his heart was beating inside of me. It was a process of letting go, even still almost two years later. Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted my thoughts and whispered, “You want another baby.” I smiled. “No, I don’t.” I responded. “Yes, you do.” He said again. In my heart, I knew he was right. Despite how much I was loving my finally-back-to-normal postpartum body after pretty much a long continuous 15 month stretch of pregnancy and a year of breastfeeding, I really did want another. But I was afraid. I didn’t want to experience loss again. And then Holy Spirit spoke one more time. This time he said,
“I will heal you.”
I took in all his words and treasured them up in my heart in that moment, just like Mary.
At the end of that worship service, I worshipped like I had not worshipped in a long time. With my whole heart, I was reaching for Him. I was crying out to be healed emotionally from all of the shame. From all of the fear and anxiety. From all of the timidity and unbelief that I had harbored inside of me since the day Isaac died and I seemed to lose my identity. I desperately wanted to believe in the goodness of God- and I did. But I could not believe it was for me. I could not find within myself the faith that I had before to believe in all the things that God had promised to me. I no longer had boldness in his presence, I no longer had the capacity, the abandonment to give all of myself to Jesus.
How can you give yourself to someone you don’t fully trust? Ah, You can’t.
So I stood there tears streaming down my face, not caring a thing about what I appeared to look like. I was caught up with Him, and he was touching my heart in a deep way. All I could say was, “I believe that you can do great things. I believe that you can do great things in me.”
And even as I spoke, the worship leader stopped singing and began to speak to the room. He said, “There is someone in here, a mother, who has lost a baby. And ever since then you have doubted what God could do in your life…my wife and I, we have lost a baby and we understand…and he just wants you to know that you can trust him. Trust him to do great things in your life.”
As I listened, my heart went out to that poor mother he was talking about. “Oh, wow.” I said to myself. “There is someone here feeling exactly as I am feeling..” And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: He was talking about ME. He was talking to me!
That day changed me. God had spoken precious things to my heart. He had given me courage, when I could not find it within myself. He gave me hope.
So, of course, we began trying for another baby soon afterward. I was still breastfeeding so it was difficult and I was not regular. But still, God had said. God had spoken and initiated the desires of my heart that only he knew.
About a month or so later, I had a series of dreams. In the first dream, I was holding a positive pregnancy test up to the light. Two bright pink lines. That was all there was to it. I woke up and I was happy. I thought, ‘Yes. God is encouraging me! He knows that we have been trying. Great! I know I will get that positive soon.’ I was a bit naive in my interpretation at that point.
Then, two weeks later, I had another dream. In this dream, I had a second daughter named Deborah. I knew that she was named after the prophetess in the bible; she was a leader of the people, a counselor (judge), and a mother to the children of Israel. “Great!” I thought again. “That positive test is our daughter- and her name is Deborah!” Again, I was happy (and naive.)
After six months of trying to get pregnant, I threw away yet another test. Negative. I was feeling so emotional and discouraged. A few days later, as I was filling up a bath for myself, I felt Holy Spirit prompt me to take another pregnancy test. “No way.” I thought. “I already know that I’m not! I am not going to do that to myself and get my hopes up.” But again, I heard him say “Take the test. If it’s negative, you can always just throw it away..” By this time I could feel his smile over me. I got into the bath and noticed my slightly bloated tummy. “Maybe I really should take one..” I thought. And as I got out of the bathtub, I heard another voice, this time even clearer in my heart. “You are pregnant, but you are going to lose this baby.” I quickly brushed it off as “Not God” and went to take the test. To my utter amazement, It immediately glared positive! I was completely shocked since I had tested only days before and gotten a negative. My husband was giving our then one year old daughter a bath so I ran to the store to get another test in total disbelief! That one had to be wrong, right? Well, in the Publix bathroom there they were in all their glory. Those two lines. I just couldn’t contain my excitement and I ended up telling the cashier on the way out the door!
We had jokingly called her “Little Debbie Cake” when she was just a wish in our hearts. So to surprise my husband, I bought some “Little Debbie Swiss Rolls” and threw them and the positive test in a gift bag. When he opened it, he cried tears of joy. We were so happy! It would be months before I remembered that little voice I had heard.
This time I had a new doctor in a new state, and after talking it over we decided not to do the daily injections of Lovenox (anti-coagulent). Why? Because they were painful and downright annoying day after day for 10 months. And at that point the Doctor could not say that it was the sole cause of my loss, only that it was a possibility. So I took this medication out of assumption, not based on facts since we never did an autopsy with Isaac. Not to mention it’s really not ideal for anyone to have in their system; the long term side effects are bone loss to the mother/weakness/osteoporosis later in life etc. So we decided to believe God for the best and just take a daily aspirin. I thought to myself, “He said he would heal me.” Assuming that he meant the blood disorder. Well, the daily aspirin was not enough, and we lost that baby at 14 weeks on Easter morning. I was not miraculously healed like I’d hoped to be. It was out of assumption that I’d made that decision, not faith; because well.. faith works.
After I lost the baby on Easter morning, I remembered that voice that so lovingly
spoke to me, and I knew it was Him. It wasn’t a demon. It wasn’t all in my head. It was my Father. Ever so lovingly telling me what was to come so that I could look back with confidence trusting that He is with me every step- That He is sovereign through it all.
I realized in the days that followed that the two dreams were not in fact about the same baby. I
misinterpreted again. but still- He was speaking.
After Grace’s healthy full term pregnancy, we just didn’t think we would ever lose another child. Isaac’s story was just so intensely tragic and God forbid we ever have to walk through it again. I had already learned that lesson, right? So after almost two years and feeling like I was beginning to heal and get on with a “normal” life, that loss set back literally years of emotional healing for me. All the confidence I had rebuilt, all the faith that I had regained and let God touch and restore, seemed to be completely useless for just one moment. But then, it wasn’t. I knew at that point how to navigate the grief that was once so foreign to me. I understood all that the process entailed and the healing that I needed. But what I didn’t foresee was the waiting. The getting pregnant part has never been a problem for us.
After Isaac’s delivery and postpartum, my body went back to normal immediately and we conceived. But after this miscarriage, my body was in so much shock that I was having 35-40 day cycles and that usually means it’s not even possible to conceive. It took us six more months. Six months doesn’t seem like that long, but when you desperately want a baby, you cry every month. There is not a day that goes by that you ache and you want and you desire for that life to be inside of you. And for two weeks out of every one of those months, you let your heart swell and flutter and wonder if just maybe you are! And then you aren’t.
It’s just not always fun. trying to conceive has its serious emotional tolls, and If it were not for my scenario, I’d say just wait and let it happen. But after loss that is nearly impossible. You feel robbed, you feel so cheated. The devil comes to steal kill and destroy, and It was my warfare in all seriousness to have another child. There was no medical reason for me to wait, because my losses were not linked to any nutritional or hormonal problems. And we all know that person who has like 11 babies in 9 years, however that is possible, right?
In early September, which was around my due date for the baby we had just lost, I had little hope left and my heart was wavering with how long it felt like this process was taking. I was just trying to do what God had told me to do- have a baby! It was also around this time that Todd Bentley, a healing evangelist, came to our church. I had heard him years before so I knew that he heard from God and I had experienced the gift on his life dramatically as a teenager. So even though I didn’t really want to go to the meeting, in my heart I knew it would be worthwhile. I reluctantly went into the church meeting on the second night of his conference, not expecting much. I had just a mustard seed of faith- I guess it was enough..
He began to release a spirit of prayer and intercession, and suddenly my spirit took over and I started to pray. Tears rolled down my face as I heard my lips say to Jesus, “Let Deborah come inside me.”
That was all I could say- but it was with a desperation and a faith and a real conviction that God was in fact listening in that moment intently. It was a two fold prayer; a prayer for my daughter, and a prayer for my life.
When I was sixteen years old and I heard the audible voice of God for one of the very first times, he said this:
That I would be like Deborah, the prophetess. A mother, a teacher and counselor, a leader and a prophet. I didn’t even know Deborah was in the bible until he said that to me. So when I looked it up it was quite shocking that everything he said was right there in the book! And at that moment in Todd Bentley’s meeting I felt farther from that promise than I ever have since he gave it to me. I felt completely dejected. But something inside me began to cry out.
“Let Deborah come inside me”
And as I interceded for myself, I felt Jesus literally reaching inside of my heart and blowing on the ashes of the tiniest spark left burning.
Todd began to prophesy and intercede for Birmingham and I found myself curled up in the corner, snot and tears, all the works. And then the strangest thing happened…
He said, “I see a honey hive. I see the church as a honey hive and honey bees coming in and out carrying the rich honey presence of Jesus to the nations and all over the city. Do you know what that means?”
At this point I knew that Deborah meant “honey bee” so I was still having my encounter with Jesus thinking about all that had come out of my heart. I thought, “okay, man, I need to snap out of it and listen to what Todd is saying. I am making this all about me! Of course he isnt talking about Deborah. Hes just talking about bees.” (of course this was all just a quick internal conversation to myself!)
And then he said it. “Do you know that this means? Honey bees.. It means Deborah is coming! Awake, Arise Deborah! Let the spirit of Deborah come and let the women take their place on the front lines in the church!”
He literally was yelling “Awake! Arise Deborah! Let Deborah Come!”
I was in total shock, obviously.
Im sure everyone at that point wondered if I was in fact dying on the floor back there due to the sounds of weeping coming out of me haha.
I yelled and cried and snotted and worshipped and I just knew in my heart that she was REALLY coming and God had not forgotten me! He was listening, and he cared, and she was real.
So after Grace’s second birthday mid September, we tried ONE more time (with little conviction it would happen I might add.) But it did. Three and a half weeks later I held in my hand that little test and it gleamed it’s two pink lines at me. I couldn’t believe it. I went to the doctor’s office that next Monday and got a prescription for the lovenox right away. They also put me on progesterone. Now, I had a good doctor. He was nice enough. But they didn’t even ask me how far along I was when they checked my levels. uh, isn’t that kind of important???? After 5 days of progesterone and some horrible cramping, I started to bleed and I knew that it was over before it started.
Turns out my levels had been in a completely normal range from the beginning and I hadn’t even needed the medication that my body completely rejected. My levels dropped and the rest is history. I never even heard the heartbeat. It was worse than being stabbed in the heart at that point, even though I had only been five weeks along. We had been trying for so long it felt like. And because of someone’s careless mistake, I had to pay for it with the life of my child.
We had been so sure that this was her. So SURE. But I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you think you know. It only matters that you trust.
And trust we did. We picked ourselves up, and we took a two-night date trip to Chattanooga like any other sane couple would do. We had to get away and process and re-connect and pray. This loss was surprisingly more painful than the last. It is a shame and confusion that builds on itself. I just felt more and more incapable. More and more shame and failure. And the hardest of all, I knew it would be a long while before I got to hold a baby in my arms.
But God always shows up. And he always shows up in the least likely or expected way. He’s funny like that. I like that about Him.
One morning while we were there walking around the city, exploring coffee shops and eating too many donuts, we came across a man who was asking for help. We stopped and listened to his short mumbled sentences and his situation. He would not stop saying, “Wow! You are really listening to me! I have been asking for help since 7:00am and no one has even stopped to listen.” It was 2:00pm. All he needed was some dollars to catch the bus because his ride had fallen through when he got off his overnight work shift. He looked rough, but not like he was lying. And even if he was, we didn’t care. We just wanted to help him. So on the short walk to an ATM, we talked with Martin. As we rounded the corner, I noticed a small tattoo peeking out from his T-shirt sleeve. Do you know what it was? It was the “Little Debbie Cakes” logo. Yes, the one on the box of swiss rolls.
My heart just about leapt out of my chest and it was all I could do to hide the huge grin that was growing on my face. Really God? Really? Who even has that as a tattoo??
I knew in my heart that it would be soon, but let’s be honest,
I didn’t think that it would be two weeks! But back to the story…
When we got home from our trip that week, I remember sitting with James in our bedroom and just talking through everything. I said, “I know that God doesn’t test us.. But that Satan did tempt Job. I feel like the past three years (since Isaac died) have been a test.. And I feel like I passed this time.”
I really felt different in my heart than after any other previous losses. I felt unmovable in my faith. I felt like there was only momentum for me to keep believing, because damn it I knew Deborah was real and she was a promise and far be it from me to give up.
The next night Todd Bentley was back in town, and we went of course to his meeting. I knew better than to miss it after the last time! Again, I didn’t expect much for some reason. Ha!
That first night he shared about his recent trip to Pakistan where he saw a 12 year old boy raised from the dead in front of 300,00 muslims after preaching the gospel to them. (When he didn’t even really have faith for it, I might add! God is fun.) He then went on and began to prophesy.
He started to talk about Abraham and Isaac as a metaphor. He said in essence “The things that God has asked you to lay down and to sacrifice, he is giving you back. The mantle and calling that you laid down out of hurt or confusion or fear, God wants to give back to you. Can you keep believing when everything is against you? Through your failures, through all the hurt and betrayal? Can you still believe? God wants you to know: the Isaac that you laid down on the Altar- You passed the test, you passed the trial.”
Of course, I cried my eyes out. It was word for word what I had just told James the night before about our Isaac and it was like he was talking straight to us.
As if that weren’t confirmation enough, the next night during a lull in worship he began to prophesy again- this time about God giving out mantles. I was sitting in my chair quietly when fire fell. Right on me. Not really anyone else in the room.. haha! It was very sovereign and I was shaking uncontrollably in this encounter with our extremely gracious God. I didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t asking for it. He just came and rested on me, because He’s really good.
As Todd began to prophesy about mantles, Jesus started to speak to me.
“10 years ago when you were 16 I told you that you would be like Deborah. I’m giving you that mantle of a prophet now. And you will know that this is me, because you are pregnant with Deborah. And you will know that this baby is really Deborah, because I am giving you this mantle.”
I felt so disqualified in that moment. I felt so ugly. So like the prodigal who had wasted his inheritance and all that he had been given. But you know what? God didn’t care if I felt qualified. His love qualified me. His mercy and patience and his strength qualified me.
And this is the kind of story you just can’t make up, folks.
That next Saturday, just a few days later, was Halloween. The exact three year anniversary that we found out Isaac had died inside me. You can imagine the anticipation I felt waiting to take that test! On that friday before, in my impatience I tried to take an early test- negative. Ugh!! All the emotions! What if I was wrong? What if that wasn’t God I had heard and I am a crazy lunatic? All of these thoughts were pretty consuming that friday.
Later that evening I was in the living room with Grace and I looked up to see something on our window. Hmm. A bug? I got up and walked over to see what it was.
It was…. you guessed. A honey bee.
In October. on my window pane.
And all I could do was smile.
The next day I took a test, and we found out that I was pregnant.. With Deborah. Three years to the day.
Three years of trial, over. Three years of testing, passed. Three years of grief and pain and loss, ended. By God’s mouth- it was a new season. A season of restoration and hope and unbelievable redemption. It was almost too much to be honest. It was OVER the TOP ridiculous. OVER the TOP good and healing and comforting. My Father knows me. He knows my story. In fact, he is still writing it.
And I am still in the middle of that story…. Waiting patiently for my miracle girl and my redemption.
He is a good good Father.
He never tempts us. He doesn’t test us through loss and pain. He doesn’t “allow” the enemy to steal from us. He does not sit back wondering how we will respond like some twisted perverse child abuser that gives permission for the devil to kill our families…Just can’t convince me of that.
But he does restore.
And He did pay the highest price with the life of his son to give us healing, wholeness, and hope, and to raise the dead that have been taken. He did come and He did conquer darkness and death so that everlasting light could win forever… That is my God.
And so he is restoring in me, hope.
He is restoring in me, faith.
It’s not an overnight process. No it is uncomfortably long right now. But I know that when she is curled up in my arms and breathing her first breaths my heart will swell with a song of his continual faithfulness.
So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
And may those who love you
Be like the sun when it rises in full strength.”
The Song of Deborah,
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life
The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that
the worst day is not the last day.
is believing what God says about you on your worst day
She is a gift. She is a promise. A promise that was given a long eighteen months ago. Before she was ever conceived or thought of in my own mind. Before I ever saw those two lines or lost two more babies. Before I knew what 2015 would hold; he spoke her name and she was mine.
And now, She is here. She exists. She is real.
I may not know her face, or her sounds, or her smile just yet,
but she is alive. Her heart is beating away and her delicate hands are tracing the inside of me, learning me, even now.
I had no initial thought that motherhood would, for a time, be so full of grief for me. I never foresaw my future as being clouded with so much heartache; motherhood as being so demanding of an experience to the core of who I am.
No, I never saw it coming. And I would not wish it on anyone.
But what I have allowed within myself to be broken and mended and learned and relearned, I would not trade for gold.
Not the pain. Not the suffering. Not the tears or the sighing or confusion or questions… no, i’m not talking about those things..
We are called to let those things go.
The treasures that I have uncovered…
are those found only in Jesus.
Only someone who has experienced this kind of loss can truly understand the kind of things that come up and are exposed in the heart in the process of grief and healing. Not only in those around you, but within yourself. Every hidden insecurity, every weakness, every anxiety that you thought you had conquered suddenly reappears. Early on in this pregnancy (when every day was really hard and full of panic attacks) I had a dream. And In that dream, I was preaching in my spirit and I said this:
is believing what God says about you
on your worst day.”
At that point, my “worship” consisted of just crying and letting tears fall down my face. Just presenting myself to God was hard, because of the intense shame that seems to come with the loss of a child. My body failed. I failed. not one time, but three times. My anger and guilt and doubt and fear only increased that shame, because I wanted to believe. I knew that God had not failed me, and that he had made me a promise, but the waiting and the not-knowing was enough to suffocate me most days.
But he said….
Real worship is to know that I love you.
Real worship is not you giving me something..
It is you receiving my love,
when all of hell is whispering that you are not enough and that you will never be. When every voice tells you that this pain is who you are.
Real worship is believing
That the cross and all that he has done is more than enough
for my shame, for my loss, for my doubt and anxiety, for my future, for my past, in every circumstance. That he knows me and my true identity.
If we can truly learn and know that all the things that we have experienced do not define us, but that only His love defines us..
If we can know within ourselves that our experience, no matter how tragic or unfair or unfortunate, is not our identity.. we will be free.
And nothing can ever take that security away from us.
Today, I am thankful. Thankful to my beautiful daughter inside of me for teaching me. For giving me a reason to believe when there was no reason to believe. To hope against all hope in a world that tells you that you are powerless. No, I have learned that our lives are a reflection of the hope that we carry. I have her, because I did not give up. Because I carried within me something much greater than fear. Something more real than every medical fact and every “what if”. Because I believed that his promises are true and I refused to accept anything else other than the redemption he purchased for me.. The abundant life that he purchased for me.
We conceived her just two weeks after our third loss in October.
Because…. All things are possible to those who [continually] believe.
Today part of my heart is wishing that I was 5 months pregnant with a swollen belly full of life. But instead, I am choosing to worship when I feel in a literal sense, empty. I have been doing really well, but today just feels hard. No beach trip with a big belly underneath my bathing suit, no full term ready-to-pop belly at Grace’s 2 year birthday party. But, She will come. At just the right time.
If you think that dreams are fascinating, you will enjoy this. And if you know me well, you’ll know that this is just how I do life with Jesus. He talks to me, I talk to him. Repeat. And Im forever thankful that he hears my voice, and that he loves me. That I am not just some number, not just a face in the crowd to him. I am not a speck on a floating cosmos out there far from significance. Im not “star dust” (yes people believe that.) I am not left alone to navigate this life that is full of challenges and heartaches. I have a Redeemer. I have a Friend. and he speaks to me.
In August, we started trying for baby #3. I was still breastfeeding so it was challenging. After a month or so, I had a dream that I was holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand. That was it, that was the entire dream. Then, a few weeks later I had a second dream. A dream that I had another daughter named “Deborah” (after the prophetess Deborah from the bible!) I was pretty confident and excited since I have always gotten my babies names in dreams before they were ever conceived. I had a dream about Isaac, a dream about Gracious while I was pregnant with Isaac, (that could be a whole other blog post!) and then these two dreams. So I figured she would be here soon.
Fast forward to Christmas and I still wasn’t pregnant. But after 5 months of trying, we finally got our positive test the first week of January and I was shocked! I was completely in awe since I had already tested days earlier and counted myself as not pregnant. Apparently I had tested too early! I wasn’t even going to test again because I was so sure that I wasn’t!
This is where it gets interesting.
I was taking a bath and I thought, “Wow. my stomach looks big. I didn’t eat that much dinner! Maybe I am pregnant….” And then I felt the Holy Spirit say, “why don’t you take a test? If its negative you can just throw it away… 🙂 ” (I could feel him grinning at that point.) As I got up out of the bath to take the test I heard yet another voice; this time even clearer. “You are pregnant, but you are going to lose this baby.”
Hmmph. “THAT cant be God” I thought. Get out of here ya devil. Right?
All my “theology” says that shouldn’t have been God. That couldn’t be God telling me that. Because God is good. and he doesn’t cause miscarriages or send sickness to people or bring death. He came to give life! And I still believe that to be true one hundred percent.
But… He does know the end from the beginning friends.
And that was his voice.
His gentle, faithful voice. speaking.
After I lost the baby on Easter morning, I knew it was Him.
It wasn’t a demon. It wasn’t in my head. It was my Father.
Ever so lovingly telling me what was to come so that I could look back with confidence
trusting that He is with me every step- That He is sovereign through it all.
And those dreams that I had last September?
In my excitement I thought that those two dreams were about the same pregnancy. But I realized in the days that followed that no..
I misinterpreted again. but still- HE SPEAKS. always always. He was speaking.
This baby that I lost… was the positive pregnancy test. Truly, thats all it ever was to me. It’s so like jesus to acknowledge this little precious life in a dream even though we’d never meet on this side of heaven. I never even knew if it was a boy or a girl, so how could it be Deborah? Ah. It wasn’t.
But I am more confident now than I have ever been that she is coming soon.
She is a promise.
And nothing can stop her from happening and existing, just like a girl named Gracious.
And I’m so thankful.
Im so thankful for the One who made a way for all of humanity to escape death’s grip
and to be delivered from all of their diseases- The One who made a way for us to be free forever from our condemnation-
The One who showed us what real love and mercy look like and gave us eternal abundant life.
I have a Redeemer. I have a Friend. and he speaks to me.
“He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness will be preached in his name to all nations…You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49
As I was praying about this new year yesterday, I opened up to Luke 24. Jesus is telling his followers as he about to ascend into heaven (its better that he went, guys!) about the “promised gift” of the Holy Spirit. What a gift! I think I could read that passage 1000 times and still get wrecked every time. He died. He rose from the dead. He sent the Holy Spirit…!!!!! Its done! What more do we need to know???
Then I heard him whisper, “What day is it? its 1/8.” January 8th….
So I flipped on over to Acts 1:8— guess what it said? the exact same thing:
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit….you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.”
“The gift my Father has promised.”
again- wrecked. Its a promise. Not a promise for later, but a promise that has already been fulfilled. Its a guarantee. He has poured out his spirit, and we are those who cry “Abba! Father!”
Not only for me personally, but for his church and for the city of Birmingham-
I believe that this is a word for 2015.
“Wait in the city until you are endued with power from on high.”
We are only waiting on ourselves- Waiting for our minds to be renewed in his presence. Waiting for our hunger to bring us into his promise.
Theres nothing I would rather wait for than for His Presence. There is nothing else I want to give my life to, give my all for, than to see his manifest presence come in a way that I haven’t seen before. I pray it would be as if the history books of Birmingham AL were re-written, because no one will be able to remember what it was like before God came to our city.
I will end with sharing something God spoke to me a few weeks ago. Sometimes I go sit in my prayer closer- like, my real closet. ha. As I was talking to Him, a cry came from my heart. All I could do was ask for his power to overcome. Power to overcome feelings of powerlessness, power to heal the sick and to raise the dead, power to overcome every circumstance. He took me to John 15. I love this translation in the message:
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.
Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”
boom. It hit me so hard! Lets just go back to this one line: “..you cant produce a thing.” HA. That is good news my friend. We try so hard, in our pride, forgetting this basic truth. And he ends with this: “This is how my Father shows [the world] who he is….when you produce fruit, when you mature….”
How do we show the world the Father? Grow up. Into him, into the vine- coming to the end of ourselves and our own efforts to bear fruit for him. When we bear fruit, they will see Him. When we mature in our humility and childlike-ness… they will see him. When we give up and rest in his work… they will see him. Apart from the work of Holy Spirit- we cant do a thing.
He then took me to John 14:26. Again, Jesus is talking about sending the Holy Spirit after he ascends into heaven..
“But My Father will send The Friend……”
He didnt say, The power you need to overcome. He didnt say the power to heal, the power to raise from the dead. The power you need to overcome the world….”
He said “The friend.”
If there is one thing i have learned… it is this:
His friendship is all we need to overcome.
His friendship is the power I need.
His friendship is Life-
His friendship is The Gift.
“They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.”
Mark 6:12 The Message
What an invitation given
To those with open hearts
And tender spirits
A doorway on the inside
Into realms of myster-y
A journey of communion
What a holy consecration calling
Into chambers rich with love
quiet with the presence of God