Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let's imagine together...

...the moment Samuel is born. Here is how I see it. The doctor lifts him up and says "he's here!" At that moment, we hear a loud cry from his perfect little mouth. That's when we know his lungs are fully developed (something the doctors told us wouldn't happen due to the lack of amniotic fluid). We sob with love and joy and he is placed in my arms and I look in his eyes for the first time. He is perfect! No prune belly, no squished body and face, no cuts or tears (all things we've been told to expect based on his condition). Just a perfect little guy that we smother with kisses and tears of happiness. "Praise God!" is all we can muster through the emotions. Then, as they take him to weighed and measured, we see a long stream of fluid flowing up in the air. What's that? It's him peeing on the doctor! (sorry to be crude). Why is this important? Because if he can pee, then the blockage is healed! God, I can't think of a better way for us to quickly know the healing is done :) . After we are told he is just right size-wise, I get him back all clean and fresh and we thank God for what He has done. Then we tell every person in the room how it was God who saved this baby.

After some time of just us loving on him, Bryan will walk out to the waiting room to tell our families what God has done. I imagine lots of cheering and crying and shouts of joy coming from them as they thank God for the miracle. Then I picture them scrambling down the hallway, trying to see who gets to hold him first. On the way, I'd imagine them making such a racket that people start asking  "what's going on?" That is our chance to say, "God has saved our baby boy!" What an amazing day it will be!
Luke 18:27 -
Jesus said "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Thank you Jesus for that promise!

Today we had another appointment in Mankato. As we expected, all is well. His heart rate is 145 and he has gained over a pound! He now weighs 2lbs, 7oz. He has also moved from being transverse (sideways) to an upright position with his head up and his feet down, resting on my bladder. This past week, he had started this new thing where he would kick me in the bladder and for a moment I would get the urge to wet myself (yes, very lady like). Now I know why! He feet are perfectly positioned for this sneak attack :) . When the ultrasound was done, as per usual, the doctor said something about how there is still no amniotic fluid. Why do they always need to end on the bad notes? Oh well, it doesn't matter...God will provide for Samuel's every need. (Philippians 4:19, "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus").

*Thank you all for your continued prayer and support. Less than 3 months to go!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nothing too small or too great

For the past two days or so, Samuel has not been moving much. I don't like that! It makes me start down the "what's going on in there" path. Yesterday, after a very quiet afternoon on Samuel's part, I was praying, "God, please let him move! That's when I started thinking about how I need to be strong and have faith no matter what. As I've been learning more about what it means to truly have faith, I've realized it is more than just saying "I think this or that is going to happen." It's being confident. (Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being confident in things we hope for and sure of things unseen.") Sure and Confident. Those words don't exactly leave any room for doubt. When is the last time I was absolutely sure about something? So, right then and there, I changed my prayer from "please let him move" to "help me to be courageous no matter what." I decided that even if I don't feel him move for the next 3 months, I'm not going to give in to the temptation to worry. I have asked God in faith to heal him and so that's what I'm going to expect. Nothing more, nothing less. (Bryan and I were thinking that he may not have much room to move since there is almost no amniotic fluid and he keeps growing.)

Last Sunday night, we met for the first time with our new small group at church. It was a fun night. During the conversation, we talked about how we can pray for help with anything. Nothing is too big or too small for God. (One family in our group prayed for a treadmill and ended up having someone give them one for free!) He loves to hear from you!

Another issue Bryan and I have been toiling with is the issue of interventions. For our next appointment in Rochester, we are meeting with a neonatologist  to discuss what, if anything, will be done for Samuel when he is born. Our regular doctor had told us quite clearly, the answer is "nothing, really, except to make him comfortable". (thanks again, Doctor). I've been going over this point again and again. If we are asking God for a complete healing, then He will either heal him completely or He won't. I don't think He would give us a "sort-of" miracle where Samuel is born alive but not healed. In Matthew 7, Jesus says "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are sinners, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" This tells me two things. One, God will not give us a weird version of our request. (The healing will be complete and everything will be restored). Two, God gives "good gifts to those who ask". He doesn't say anything about what kinds of requests will be honored (big or small) just that he will do it if we ask. Notice that is takes work on our part first; we have to ask not just assume. (Now, I don't for one second think we can ask for things that don't line up with who God is. i.e "please God, let me win the lottery".) But He is our father and wants good things for us. So, we will plan out steps with the neonatologist, but expect not to use them. 

This also applies to my decision not to be induced. I know people have all sorts of opinions on this and that's fine, you do what feels right to you. For me, the idea of induction is weird. Why make a baby come before it's "done"? I especially cringe when people are induced just because of their doctors schedule. Unless there is a specific medical reason for doing so, let the baby tell you when he or she is ready. To my knowledge, no baby has ever stayed in there forever. (Ok, that was my soap-box, now to get to the point).

At our last appointment, our doctor told us that he only delivers on Mondays, so eventually we would just pick our Monday and I'd be induced. I didn't tell him this, but NO WAY! We specifically pray that Samuel will be born in God's due time. I refuse to do anything to determine when that time should be. This goes back to my idea that God doesn't do "sort-of" miracles. If I pray for something specifically, then I better be willing to do my part if I expect God to do His. So, unless I go into labor on a Monday, then I guess we'll get whichever doctor is there that day! 

I purposely left the best for last: This morning, when I woke up, Samuel was kicking up a storm. Not just little kicks, but big huge "I'm here" kicks. And it's continued all day long. How awesome when God provides things for you, even things you don't need.

Thank you Lord for always hearing my prayers. You knew I needed to feel him (in my weakness) so you answered me! You are awesome! Thank you that I can ask for anything, big or small, and you hear me. 

On an unrelated note, we FINALLY got our bedding! It's perfect and I love it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our Doctor is hopeless...

...he tries so hard to get us to understand that Samuel won't live. Too bad for him that God is the author of life! I'm starting to feel bad for him. We went in for our appointment at the Mayo Clinic yesterday. We knew Samuel was ok, so there was really no stress at all. We were happy and content. Our doctor came in with the ultrasound machine and all was as we expected; Samuel's heart beat was steady and he was squirming all around as per usual. At one point, the doctor stopped the sensor over Samuel's chest and we noticed some movements. He asked us "Do you know what those movements are?" "That's him practicing breathing." I smiled and must have looked really happy because he immediately said, "unfortunately, this doesn't mean anything has changed". (He is SUCH a nice guy, so don't think he meant to be cruel). I said, "I know you have to keep reminding us, but we believe God is healing him, so we are going to be hopeful". Blank stare from doctor. "Ok, it's good to have hope". The poor man! He spent 10 minutes telling us all the things wrong and we spent 10 minutes telling him we don't accept it. Both he and I are polite people, so it was kind of funny. He, trying to tell us the "reality" of the situation, us, trying to tell him the TRUTH of the situation. I smile just thinking of this poor fellow! Little does he know that he will be a witness to a miracle! While I was praying for Samuel this week, I asked God to show me something...anything...that would tell me God was working on him. So, to the doctor, practicing breathing was just something happening. To me, it was a love note from God: "I am with Samuel and I love him!" God knows he is going to need to know how to breathe, so He is teaching Samuel how. How awesome!

I heard something this past week that I love. Natural truths that speak of destruction are heavenly lies.The person went on to explain how what seems to be truth based on earthly "facts" that result in destruction are lies when compared to the promises and plans of God. So, in other words, when the very skilled and educated doctor looks at the facts, he interprets them according to natural truths (PUV = death). But when God looks at the situation, he knows the truth  (nothing is impossible). It's not always easy to live with this mindset (I like science and I think there are amazing things that doctors have created/accomplished - Thank God for them!). Sometimes, I feel like a crazy person. But if complete and utter faith is what God requires, then I will do my very best.

When I stop to think about where I was a few months ago and what we have been through, I get overwhelmed. The pain and horror of the initial period after we received the diagnosis is still fresh in my mind. Whenever I have to tell the story, and I bring those days/weeks to mind, I can't help but cry because the pain was so intense. And now, months later, we are ok. How on earth did we get to this place? Only through the love of God and the support of family and friends who care and diligently pray for us. The amount of gratitude I have for God is unending. Early this morning, I wasn't able to sleep so I was reading some things online and trying to find him a bedding set (the original set is not an option anymore and despite looking at what seems like 492 thousand of them, I hate them all and none are good enough for him - more to come on this later).

During my early morning computer-fest, I was on the Duggars' website. One of my favorite things in life is their show called 19 Kids and Counting. (Yes,yes, everyone has opinions about them..blah, blah, blah. I love them!) I was watching a clip from the new season that showed the moment Michelle (the mom) lost her baby (she was due a few weeks before me). The look on her face was one I know all too well. The pain in her eyes was a pain I felt when I thought I had lost Samuel. I couldn't help but remember that feeling and I cried. Not because I felt the bad again, but because I am so utterly and completely thankful beyond words that God has saved us from that pain. I owe everything to Him and I can't possible repay Him in any way other than my bumbling words of gratitude. Thank you Lord God of heaven and earth! You are awesome and powerful! You are my protector and my ever-present help in times of trouble! 

Samuel is the joy in my life and he makes me smile every day. I imagine what he will look like and how it will feel to hold him close. I can't wait!! I may not ever let anyone else hold him :) I will love him forever; he is my precious little guy. Now, if only I could find bedding good enough for him...


Monday, February 6, 2012

Walking by faith, not by sight.

*This is long! But I really want people to understand where I'm at in all this. Please take the time to read it through and listen to the song. Thanks!*

Sometimes these days, when I tell people how I'm ok because I'm believing Samuel is ok (or things like how we buy him clothes/decorate his nursery/plan his shower) I get this "look". It's the slightly-tilted-head, sad-eye, sympathy-smile-nodding that seams to be saying "this poor woman can't face reality". It's usually accompanied by some type of "that's nice", "I'm so glad you've found some peace", "that's all you can do" or "that would be wonderful". My guess it that the thought of the person is something like "it's going to be so much harder on her when he dies". I don't like that look. I understand that look, but I don't like it.

Many Christians today don't seem to really believe God can and will do the things He says He will. (I was one of those Christians up until a month or so ago). They believe things like "God can do it, but He probably won't and that's just going to have to be ok with us since we can't do anything about it anyway". In the past, I would hear people talk about "this miracle" or "that miracle" that happened to their friend's mother's sister's roommate and I'd do the "look" and say "that's great" but really be thinking "yeah, right" or "Ohh...kay...sure".  It is so easy to not believe miracles. It's also easy to rationalize them. "It probably wasn't really as bad as they thought and that's why the person is ok now". Or, "the diagnosis must not have been accurate". Anything to keep us from acknowledging the miracles that are outside our understanding. How many Christians can truly say they have read for themselves and fully believe the message of the Bible? My guess is that many people just listen to teaching on the Bible without ever really studying it themselves and just base their worldviews on those opinions of others. That, in my opinion, is why there are SO MANY dead-wrong Christians. Any Christian who does things that hurt others (Anti-gay movements, abortion clinic bombings, funeral protests) is so wrong! Jesus himself would never, ever have said or done things people do in His name all the time . Jesus is love, never hate. So we may wonder why we don't see miracles today. My guess is that our dishonoring actions and massive unbelief is causing God to stay distant.

All you have to do is read any one of the gospels  for 10 minutes and you will find the truth about who God is. It's almost all Jesus talked about. God is love, God is help, God is healing, God is mercy, God is all powerful, God is unlimited, etc, etc. If you have a bad opinion of God, you probably don't know who He truly is. You probably only know the God "Christians" present. (Sadly, it's the god of their own design, not the true God). In the past, in discussions about God, the question "how can we believe in a God who causes to many horrible things?" comes up. " Very recently, I've faced that same question. "God, why are you doing this to us??" The more I read about who the real God is, the more I realize I've/we've got it all wrong. It's not God doing these things to us. It's the evil of sin causing all types of horrible things and our ONLY hope to survive them/counter them is turning to God. In the Bible, Jesus was healing people who were afflicted by demon attacks. When he release them, the religious leaders said "he must be the devil since he has control over demons". Jesus replied "A house cannot be divided against itself or it will not stand". He was saying he could not possibly be the devil because the devil wouldn't free people from his own attacks. What this means to me is this: when trouble comes, we are very quick to get angry at God (hey, I did it.) But we forget that evil comes from the devil not God. So, instead, I believe we need to turn our anger against the devil. Then, we need to immediately turn to God and ask in faith for His help. It's our only hope.

All this is to say that I've recently come along way in my belief of who God is. For so long, I've been wrong. I was one of the people who said "God can, but probably won't" because I didn't understand. If I'm going to believe in God then I need to really believe. If God makes a direct promise in the Bible, I'm going to stand on that promise. Sometimes Christians get anxious being bold in declaring God's promises. "What if He doesn't do it??" "I'll look stupid and the people who don't believe in God will just have confirmation that their beliefs are right!" I've been there. I have two people in my life who don't believe in God (I won't name names). One of my concerns in making claims about God is what I just mentioned. They don't need any more reasons not to believe in Him. So for a while, I let that fear keep me from being bold in my belief. How dumb is that?! If God is who He says He is, He doesn't need me to "cover" for Him. He either is who He claims or He is not...end of story. (He said it best himself, "I AM who I AM" (Exodus 3:14). So I will take verses like Mark 11:24 that says "therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" and I claim it back to God.  You said in your Word, God, that if I ask for Samuel's complete healing and believe it's done, then it will be mine. Done. If God doesn't honor what He says in His Word, then He is going to have to explain it, not me. All I can do it go by what He says. So I am. This is where the "walk by faith, not sight part" comes in. No matter what the doctors tell me, I'm going to believe Samuel is healed. That's all there is to it. It's not denial; I know what the ultrasound looks like. I can see the issues. But God is not limited. He can do anything. So it doesn't matter what looks wrong/is wrong. All that matters is that God is powerful and made me a promise. All I have to do is pray and believe. So I will.

Another recent realization I've had is that, instead of complaining and whining to God about how unfair it is that this happened to us, I'm going to praise Him. He gave Samuel to us! He knew this would happen, but also knew we could stand up under it. I use to think "we are good people, why would God allow us to suffer like this?!" Now, I remember that "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We have nothing without Him. So instead of "why me" I'm choosing "thank you God for blessing us with this special baby". Sometimes I think about what one of the doctors told me a right when this all happened. I asked him, "what are the chances he'll come out of this ok?" He said, "it's hard to know exactly, because most couples who learn of this diagnosis choose to terminate the pregnancy." How sad! Believe me when I say, I understand how you might make that choice. It's SO HARD to make it day to day when you believe your baby is just suffering and going to die. But I thank God often that He gave us the courage to say no to that option. Every day I have with my baby boy is precious to me. Every kick is a reminder that he is alive and with me. I couldn't imagine my days without him.

On a final, but very important note, I know many people are praying for us. All I can do is say thank you so much! God said, in Genesis 12:13, "I will bless those who bless you..." So I know God will bless your efforts and faith as you pray. We can feel that God is with us and I know it's because so many people pray for that very thing. In Matthew 18:19 Jesus says "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." There are important promises in this verse that I'm going to take very seriously and literally. First, we need people to pray with us/for us. Thank you! Second, we need to AGREE on what we are asking for. So, please, if you are praying for us, agree with us on what we ask. This is our prayer:

God, we ask that you be with Samuel. Give him joy in his heart and let him see you and feel your love. God, we also ask that when we talk with him, he will hear us and know how much we love him. We ask that you touch his body and heal him completely; remove the blockage and restore his kidneys.We are asking in faith that you will restore his body completely, God. We ask that he be born in his due time, in perfect health, with not even a single indication that there ever was a problem. We ask that you use Samuel's healing to show your power to those who hear of his story; let it be a testimony of your unfailing power. We know you are the God of miracles.You told us if we ask for this in prayer, with faith, it will be done. So thank you, Lord! You also told us in Luke 18 that we should be persistent in our asking, so for that reason, although we believe you will heal him already, we will continue to ask for it until we hold his perfect body in our arms. Thank you Jesus!!

This past weekend, since we were up in the cities, we went to my brother's church Northstar Community Church (www.thechurchthatsmellslikepopcorn.blogspot.com). The pastor and his wife had us come to a prayer time before the service and we told Samuel's story and then were prayed for by a huge group. It was awesome!! We know God had heard us and I can't wait to bring Samuel there in a few months to show them the power of God! 

During the services, they played a song I've heard before, but it now has so much more meaning for us. Please listen and read the words.