Dear Deborah: On The Day You Were Born

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 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?
Isaiah 66

   “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.”
Psalm 87:4-6

“ The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come so they may have life, and life abundantly.”
John 10:10

//

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.

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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!”

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This picture is pretty blurry,
but you can definitely see that my smile is radiating!

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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.

 

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He Speaks. //

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.

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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.

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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.

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the waiting.

Today, I am writing because, well, I have to.

It’s like breathing. I may explode if I don’t find some way of release or expression. All I know is that something needs to get out, words that are pushing down on my ribs (wait, maybe that is Grace) and onto my heart- waiting to be released like balloons into the limitless, forgiving sky… -They will probably just eventually fall into the ocean and cause pollution and kill some beautiful creature, but hey- releasing them was really nice, anyways. ahem, moving on. They are just words, so hopefully nothing will be harmed in the process of processing.

I just recently watched the movie “The Help” again this past week or so. There is a line in the movie that keeps coming into my mind and I cant seem to help but relate to it. The main character, whose son is killed in a tragic accident says in her story:
“When my boy [Treelore] died, a bitter seed was planted inside of me- and suddenly, I just didn’t feel so accepted anymore.”
Toward the end of the movie, when her story has been written, she reflects: “No one ever asked me what if it feel[s] like to be me.”

I can relate. I know that should not define my life by tragedy, nor should I hold onto the past, but it has only been about 9 months since Isaac died.
I can hardly even write the word “died” – because it is partially untrue and I have too many negative connotations with the word. Death is not the end, and we know that. He is very much alive and thriving- But not with me. And that makes my heart grieve. I think if it was not for Grace I would have wanted to die, too. But she is my new beginning. I don’t feel the need to apologize for my honesty, and the people who choose to be close to me know that I will only begin to feel a sense of normalcy when she makes her grand entrance into the world and I can finally become what I already am- a mother.

I do have to account for all of my insane hormones also, and the possibility of lingering postpartum depression.
Can you have that even when you’re pregnant? I certainly think so. Especially after a loss.

No one can really understand unless you have been through what I have. I am not a sad person. I am not a negative person, or a solitary one. But I seem to be in this season, and I have to say I will be most relieved when I have a beautiful daughter to show off to the world and I can feel that my life has moved forward. Even that is hard, some days. Moving forward feels like leaving Isaac behind, but I know that I am closer to seeing him again everyday- and that this season wont last forever. Soon my house will be filled with baby cries and laughs and smiles and dirty diapers and lullabies. I don’t think I have ever been so grateful at the thought of changing a diaper in my life. I think it may take weeks or even months to begin to believe that she is actually mine- my girl. What a gift that no one can earn- one to be cherished unceasingly and loved unconditionally. To say I treasure her is a complete understatement and disgrace to the depth of my love for her.

All im saying is- My life is about to get rocked. I need some smiles. I need to hear my baby crying-
and I could bet a lot money that I will not be quickly irritated or impatient with taking care of a newborn baby.
I will be the last to complain about the little things. or the big things. She is almost here.

That is enough for me.
She’s perfect.

These last two months are pretty excruciating, definitely the most difficult so far, by far.
I feel like my heart may explode with anticipation- since I have been waiting for a year and a month for a baby to bring home.

I just keep myself busy, making the nursery pretty and I must say I have become quite the homemaker. weird.
And Isaac’s little headstone finally came in. (Why it took 8 months, I dont know. Dumb headstone making people.)

      I took him some flowers for the fourth of July-
since July 3rd is when we found out I was pregnant with him last year- and we laughed- A lot.
It is now forever dubbed “Isaac Day.”

If you read this, bless your soul.
I am thankful for anyone and everyone who cares enough to take the time to know me in this season-
because I don’t exactly feel like being known. at least not until I get my life together- whatever that means.

waiting for Grace-
one day at a time.

Grief and a Good God Part II

I just had some final thoughts to add to my last post.

I am only writing out of an honest heart, so dont worry I am sure that this not
an entire synopsis of my theological beliefs. 😉

I know that my son is in heaven and he is doing great.
I thoroughly understand spiritual warfare.
I have seen God time and time again do incredible, supernatural, miraculous, spectacular things in my life personally;
too many times and years to even write down or remember.
And I also experienced my son dying before he even had a chance to breathe a breath.

I guess that was the point I was trying to make… I don’t get it.
There are days when I wish that I had understanding.
But understanding is not what i need-
I need the person of Jesus,
not answers.

John the baptist knew what I was talking about when he said this right
before he was about to die in the midst of revival with Jesus in the flesh on earth:

“So the men came to Jesus and said, John the Baptist sent us to You to ask,
‘Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we [continue to] look for another?’

In other words…’You’re here right? but I am going to die?
I don’t get it. Are you sure that you are God…..?’

21 In that very hour Jesus was healing many [people] of sicknesses and distressing
bodily plagues and evil spirits, and to many who were blind He gave [a free, gracious, joy-giving gift of] sight.

22 So He replied to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the
good news (the Gospel) preached to them.

23 And blessed (happy—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation,
apart from outward conditions—and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me
and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble [whatever may occur].”

Luke 7:20-24

whatever may occur- That is a hard pill to swallow Jesus.
But I have to trust that you are God, and that your kingdom is advancing.
And that there is a reward for those who remain faithful.

Grief and a Good God.

How can God be so incredibly and undeniably good,
and yet the pain of this world so crippling?

I don’t pretend to understand the paradox, other than the fact that we live in a fallen world.
Nor do I feel the need to defend God on the matter.
But still there is a question–
lying dormant or maybe raging within each one of us for some kind of understanding.

It seems that some days God’s will triumphs without resistance,
and other days that he has failed us tremendously.
Although I know that the latter is not true, the sting of reality leaves so many broken hearts to grieve without answers.
Where was He? Why did this happen to covenant sons and daughters who trust in his word?

All of these emotions became fresh to me again today as I read of a well-known leader and his wife in the body of Christ
losing their infant son without any known reason of death. My heart swelled, mixed with feelings of my own grief
and overflowing with compassion towards their loss.

What can you even say in the midst of such tragedies?
Most people are left speechless with their faith shaken
and have no words of comfort for the bereaving.

So many days feel quiet. If you have ever lost someone close and dear to you, especially if you have ever lost a child,
you will understand what I mean by that. Some days you are left only with your thoughts, only with your unanswered questions,
only with a creeping feeling of powerlessness and emptiness.

I have fought so many of those days with tears and undistinguishable worship
that more resembles a desperation to trust and a wordless belief that simply refuses to let go of the goodness of God.
And there have been so many other days that I didn’t have it in me to fight at all, only wait.

Wait, and hope that there will be some kind of redemption in so much suffering.
That God will again show his face to my hiding heart,
and give me a song when opening my mouth at all stings with feelings of disillusionment.

I realize now that so many who could not offer me comfort in my time of need
were themselves offended with God and unable to come to terms with so much pain, or even be near it.
I now know so deeply the value of a thoughtful or kind word, a genuine hug,
or how powerful a simple acknowledgement of loss can be.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion,
who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement,
who can tolerate not knowing, not curing,
not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness,
that is a friend who cares.” -author unknown

even still, those who know God and offer support cannot replace the source of our healing.
There is still lack.

But then, there is his goodness whispering throughout.
In and out of the mundane He is still there;
his reaching for our hearts unmistakable and his kindness undeniable. 

I have had good days this week, but today I woke up with that familiar heaviness and anxiety.
I decided that I would go ahead and get out of bed if only to keep it from taking over my thoughts
and pinning me there for the next few hours. My new ritual is to go visit James at starbucks and
read my bible while he is working in the morning. It has been good to have at least some kind of routine.

I got in my car and headed up the seven minute drive there, and realized that I had forgotten to put gas in the car–
you know, one of those days. I came to the conclusion that I might really run out of gas at any second,
and it was cold and raining. Three months pregnant, stranded on the side of the road.. Gosh that just doesn’t sound like fun.
So I started thanking Jesus for taking care of me and not letting the car run out of gas 😉
I also decided, since I of course left my wallet at home, that I would not try to drive back home –
so that means the next two and a half hours at Starbucks until James got off of work…. ehh… but I just didn’t want to risk it.
I was on fumes as it was.

I get there and laughingly proceed to tell my husband that I wasn’t going to try to drive home,
because I forgot to put gas in the car. And then- a complete stranger behind me overhears the conversation
and when I sat down in the cafe, she came over and put 50$ in my hand and told me to go fill up.

umm…..okay God?!

And there He was again in all his Lavish Goodness, brightening my day.

I think about my sweet little baby growing inside of me, and I am thankful.
I think about how faithful God has been in the every day things, and I am grateful.

I can’t deny that He is who he says he is.
You couldn’t convince me otherwise, but even with the backdrop of his character,
I still have questions. I still don’t understand why things happen.

And on those days of deepest heartache, I am sure that even understanding would not heal us.
The answers would not comfort us; even if in this mystery we somehow found a reason.

Our Hope is found only in the most vulnerable of places:
The heart of our Father.

The One who we are most prone to be angry with; The One who we are most deeply offended by,
The One we feel has betrayed us most of all.

It is his great heart that is full of compassion, and overflowing with empathy and comfort for the hurting.
His arms that hold the grieving and violated, the desolate and hopeless.
He is the only one that can handle your barrage of raging emotions,
He alone is able to speak to the loneliest places of our broken souls with gentleness and the utmost of care.
It is only Him.

Does the enemy win battles? Does the darkness have power over us?
I am desperate to believe that it cannot touch us.
I am desperate to believe that his goodness triumphs in every situation.

Circumstances remain unpredictable and we may feel powerless to control any outcome,
but we can against all odds and reason cling to Trust- cling to our Good Shepherd-
lean into his Faithfulness and believe that it is more than a word;
it is the very substance that sustains us in our time of need.


We can still choose to believe in Love.
When all else fails,
it does not.

“Grief dares us to love once more.”
– Terry Tempest Williams

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