Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Birth of Jude Allen - Part Two

Read part one.

I had mentally prepared myself that, if induced, it would be a long labor to a vaginal birth. I based this on my family's history of not progressing and the fact that I started with an unfavorable cervix. For some, an induction means having a baby the same day. Well, not for me.

Early the next morning, I felt the exhaustion set in. I had not really slept the night before the induction since I had contractions about every 15 minutes from my acupuncture that afternoon. So, I was going on about 48 hours with no sleep, except for very short naps. To say I had a meltdown would be a big understatement.  All I wanted was sleep. I began to think about getting an epidural.

My wish had originally been to have a natural birth but, when I agreed to labor augmentation, I knew the chances were that I would eventually want an epidural. For a brief moment, I felt like a failure. We weighed the pros and cons of this intervention. We asked questions. Talked to our doula. I got it.  The anesthesiologist administered it at 5 am on Thursday morning. With the epidural, I also had to be put on IV fluids, which I had declined up until this point.

While we were waiting on the anesthesiologist, I took advantage of my last opportunity to be on my feet.  I stood, facing Stephen, with my hands on his shoulders and head on his chest and we just rocked. I have no idea how long we did that - it seemed like forever. It was one of my favorite moments of labor. I wish I had a picture, but during the wee hours of the morning there was no one there to take it.

The epidural took the edge off the contractions and I slept of and on for a few hours. I was checked around 6 am and was still only a fingertip dialated, but 90% efeaced. While being checked, my water broke, which I was upset about. I knew that would put me on the clock as it increased my risk of infection. They also gave me another dose of miso, as my contractions had spaced out to about every 7 minutes. The medicine increased my contractions back to every 2-4 minutes.

I napped off and on until around 10 am.  Sometime between naps my doula called and we talked about the probability that "c-section" may be mentioned soon since my water was broke and I wasn't making much progress.

At 11 am, the doctor came in to check me and talk to me about our options.  I immediately began to tear up, fearing they would want to do a c-section. But, she knew my feelings about that so she started with, "I think it is too soon to talk about a c-section."  She said she wanted to check me and get a little more agressive by starting pitocin.  She also said she did not want me to be pregnant on the 19th, considering how long I had been off of blood thinners and that my water was broken. I did not like that I was being put on a time frame, but was thankful for her honesty.

So, she checked and I was 1 cm and basically fully effaced. Meaning I still had a long way to go, but now my cervix was favorable enough for pitocin.

The pitocin began and they slowly increased it all throughout the day trying to get me to 3 contractions within 10 minutes.

On oxygen when Judes heart-rate began to slow.
So far, Jude, (who I did not know was Jude at the time) had been doing great. His heart rate looked wonderful and he seemed to be happy. However, after starting the pitocin, we noticed he was not happy when I laid on my right. So, I stayed on my left and was put on oxygen. This caused the medicine to pool on my left side, which meant the epidural was not working on my right side.

The doctor retuned to check me between 4-5 pm. I was dilated to 4 cm!  This may not sound like a big deal to you but, in my family, the women have a history of not dialating. In fact, just a few weeks before I had Jude, I was at a family function where I was told to be prepared that I would not dilate, since this is probably a genetic thing. So when the doctor told me I was 4 cm I almost cried. I said, "I broke a family record!" I am sure she's never seen someone so happy to be 4 cm.

The plan was to check again at 9 pm, at which time I should be 7-8 if my progress continued.

In the meantime the pain on my right got worse. Much worse.  I was having a hard time working though contractions and was wishing I could get up and move though them.

We could not decide if this was from the medicine pooling on my left, or if it was just a hot spot (a hot spot is a place where the epidural just doesn't work at all). Upping the epidural (which was at the lowest dose I could have) was not an option for ether of these. So, we decided to try my right side once again.

I turned to lay on my right, and Jude's heart rate began to decelerate   So,  Patricia and her assistant, Gloria, began pressing pressure points on my legs and feet. As they did, his heart rate immediately picked back up. They continued to apply pressure and massage my legs to help improve my circulation (I had begun to swell) as I worked though contractions.
Me, Patricia, and Gloria
Patricia took such good care of me!
On my right side, the pain did not improve. In fact, the "hot spot" began to grow and soon I could feel my entire right side and some on my left. At this point we called for the anesthesiologist. Of couse, he was in an emergency c-section at the moment.

About 7:00 I began to feel like my catheter was slipping down with each contraction. When we began the pitocin, I had a catheter inserted past my cervix that recorded the strength of my contractions. I told those in the room that I felt like my catheter was slipping out. But, the nurse checked and said it was still in place.

I continued to feel like that catheter was moving down with each contraction. Just a few minutes before 8, I told my doula I was feeling funny. I think I said something like, "I know this sounds crazy, but I am kinda feeling the urge to push."

She said, "You should probably call your nurse."

I did. They summoned a doctor to check me. I was FULLY dilated.

About that time the anesthesiologist showed up. But, of course, there was no adjusting or upping the epidural at this point.

Stephen, Dayle, Patricia, and Gloria (my doula's assistant), gathered around me and Stephen lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving and continued protection to God. It was such a precious moment.

Stephen holding my hand while he prays
Also notice the popsicle in my other hand -
I deserve a reward for how many popsicles I ate!
The nurses and doctors left for a while and my doula had me doing some exercises to help the baby come down more. With each contraction, she had me play tug of war using a towel. During each break of tugging I ate on a popsicle  I think I ate 26 popsicles during all this.  I would eat on my popsicle during my breaks, then pass it to Stephen (or someone else) to hold while I did the tug-of-war thing.

Around 11 pm (I think) the nurse returned and I began doing more directed pushing. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, if this baby wants its own birthday it only has an hour (my sister's birthday is the 19th) and I also remembered what the doctor had told me that morning about being pregnant on the 19th. I thought it would be close.

I think the doctor was called in around 12:45am. I honestly don't remember for sure. But, I do remember that as soon as she came in I saw all 26 of those popsicles again. Someone told me that was a good and normal thing. Yuck.

So, this was it. I knew about the whole breathe your baby out and let your body do the pushing thing, but it did not matter. I wanted it done. I pushed. A lot. And HARD.

He arrived at 1:04 am. Stephen was to announce his sex, so as he was lifted up and over to my chest he said, "We have a baby Jude!" We had a son.
The pic is blurry, but notice the clock.
Jude had just been born and placed on my chest.
We have a son.

Stephen seeing his son for the first time.

Our first family pic

I love this picture.
Look at Patricia's face. Can you tell she loves what she does?

I was surprised he was a boy.  I honestly had begun to expect a girl. My mom and sister had me basically convinced. I had dreamed of our firstborn being a boy, but did not think it was so! Poor guy, I am pretty sure I told him all that while I held him on my chest - "I thought you were a girl, but I am so glad you aren't!"  There was much rejoicing in that room. Then Stephen got to announce the birth to those in the waiting room and there was much more rejoicing.

Watch Stephen announce the gender in the waiting room by clicking here.

Jude was born October 19th at 1:04 am. He weighted 7 pounds 7 ounces and was 19.68 inches long.

I ended up with almost as many medical interventions as I could have had without surgery. But, by the grace of God, I  have no guilt and regret. The staff at Shands were so accommodating and followed every other aspect of my birth plan without hesitation. Things like delayed cord clamping, no shots, no eye ointment, no bath, no bottle/pacifier, and they let me forgo IV fluids (until I go the epidural). They were even prepared to let me labor in water, even with the pitocin, if I had not gotten a epidural.

All in all, I am just so thankful to have a  beautiful baby boy. God's grace to us is undeserved, but so amazing.

The Birth of Jude Allen - Part One

This story really began over two years ago, when Stephen and I first decided to add children to our family.  If you are unfamiliar with our struggle with pregnancy loss you can read more here.

My last prego pic - the evening before I was induced
At Satchel's Pizza in Gainesville
My pregnancy with Jude was textbook (other than the fact that I took heparin injections twice daily to keep him alive). I had minimal amounts of nausea, tiredness, and other symptoms. I felt well overall.  I even continued running until somewhere around 28-30 weeks.

Due to my "high risk" condition, my doctor wanted to induce at 39 weeks. I am "high risk" due to a condition I have - Antiphospholipid Syndrome. I, however, was not on board with induction.  I had hoped for a natural childbirth. When we lived in Loisuana we were even planning for a waterbirth. Sadly, I could not have a waterbirth here in Florida as I would have to be in a  birth center and I am too high risk to be taken by one.

So, I knew there would have to be some compromises. After our long journey, I wanted more than anything to finally hold a living, breathing child. But, I also wanted to aviod a  c-section. I knew that every medical intervention increased the chances of surgery.

My doctor agreed to wait until 40 weeks for an induction assuming the weekly stress tests I was having showed everything to be well.  Jude scored a 10/10 on every stress test, so we waited.

I did all the natural labor inducing methods you can think of, well, except castor oil...I drew the line there. But I tried EVERYTHING else. I even went to the chiropractor and did three rounds of acupuncture.

I was scheduled for an induction on Wednesday, October 17th. I had a doctor appointment the day before. I went into that appointment thinking I would fight to move the induction back to the following Monday. We talked in detail of the plans for induction - what we would do if I failed to dilate, if the baby distressed, etc. Honestly, my doctor was willing to try everything to aviod a c-section (well, except for taking the risk of waiting any longer).

She did not want me to wait until Monday, but she told me that I did not have to show up for the induction. She also told me that they had reserved the room for me that would accomodate an inflatable tub so that I could labor in water.  Yes, they were going to let me labor in water even WITH and induction! In addition, they had arranged for several nurses who were natural birth minded to manage my labor. Stephen and I left the doctors office with a lot to think about. I had my last accupuncture session that afternooon, so I was still hoping to go into labor on my own maybe that night.

The accupuncture did give me contractions ALL NIGHT long. They averaged 10-15 minutes apart, and kept me pretty much awake all night.  After much thought, we decided to proceed with the induction.  My doctor and the hospital staff had went to alot of trouble to set up a birth as close to what I dreamed of as possible even with the induction - I was not promised they would go to that trouble a second time.

We showed up to Shands at UF at 6:00 am. I was 70% effaced but not dialated at all. We began with medicine to ripen my cervix before starting pitocin. They started me with a dose of misoprostal. When they hooked me up to the monitor they commented on the fact that I was still having small contractions (from the accupunture). The first dose of miso amped up my contractions and had them coming every 2-4 minutes lasting 30 seconds to a minute... and the fun began.

My doula, Patricia, visited that evening. She brought me a birthing dress, snacks, and other goodies. She posted positive messages all over the walls of my room and a sign on the door. My favorite message was the one that read "I accept this labor as my labor and believe it is the right labor for me and my baby." It would have been so easy to be envious of friends who had intervention-free births, water births and home births. It would have been easy to get frustrated with my slow progress. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was reminded that my labor and delivery was not like anyone else's. In fact, it was sheer grace to even be in labor with a full-term baby.

The door to my room. Extra note added by Stephen.
I continued having contractions every 2-4 minutes for the rest of the day and through the night. As long as the contractions were coming that fequently there would be no more miso, for risk of hyperstimulation. To work through the contractions I used the birth ball and leaned over the bed. That evening one of the midwives came in and set up a tub.  I labored for several hours in the tub through the night.  I tried to nap between contractions. Needless to say, there was not much napping to be had. Also, despite the regular contractions I wasn't progressing much - I was only dilated a fingertip.

On the birth ball texting updates

My sweet husband decided to document the whole labor/delivery by writing a letter to our baby telling them about their birth. As he updated, he would read them to me.

To be continued.....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life Lately....

So much has changed in the past month. In fact, there have been so many changes that getting back into blogging has seemed, well, overwhelming.

But, I know I will have regrets if I do not write down all that has happened - Because I know this wild and crazy season of life will be one of much learning and growing.

Exactly three weeks ago (when I was "blossoming" at 31 weeks pregnant), the Powells moved. Now, when I say "moved" I don't mean we bought a house on the other side of town. I mean, we packed up every morsel of belongings we owned, put them in a uhaul, and trekked it over 650 miles to Lake City, Florida. I still chuckle at the thought of how crazy it sounds!

Stephen resigned from his position at First Baptist Church and his last Sunday to lead worship there was August 12th. I can't even begin to express in words how difficult this decision was. However, we do not want to over-spiritualize our decision. There was not some dream in which God told us to move. There was not an audible spoken word of God. We came to this decision the way we believe Christians should make any decision: by reading Scripture, thinking Biblically, praying, and seeking wise counsel. (For more detail on how I think Christians should make decisions click here.)

Yet, it was one of the toughest decisions we have had to make. Our church had been our family for a little over 3 years. We were a part of that body for some of our most difficult days. We grew spiritually by leaps and bounds while serving there. And, the love that was shown to us as we left was absolutely incomprehensible. If you are reading this, and you are a member of FBCV, thank you.  You made us feel so overwhelmingly loved. There is no way you can know how much this meant to us. Because of past experience, we had some fears about being shunned or ignored during our last few weeks there, but what we experienced was the complete opposite. As I think back upon the love you so freely lavished upon us, I can't help but think that WE were the ones ministered to even though Stephen had the title of minister. Thank you.

Perhaps the weirdest thing about this whole deal is that Stephen does not yet have a new church position.  It is common for pastors to resign from one church to go to another. However, we did not yet have something lined up. We decided not to seek a position first because we felt this would require some degree of sneakiness and did not want the decision to leave Vidalia to be "muddied up." Stephen felt that by looking for another church he would be tempted to "unplug" from his ministry at Vidalia before he actually left. We wanted our departure to be more like a jump off a cliff rather than a "slow fade." So, we entered into a time of "transition"- also known as being unemployed. Of course, there are some things we are hoping for and dreaming about, but nothing is set in stone, yet.

We temporarily live in Lake City, Florida. Each time I unpack a box, I wonder, how long it will be before I am packing to move again. However, it is nice to be able to share some time with Florida family and friends. I have especially enjoyed spending time with my nephew, Calvin.  It is a blessing to no longer be a "stranger" to him.

We are also blessed to have an amazing church to attend during this time of transition. We have been going to First Baptist Church of Lake Butler, the church we attended before we went off to college. They have embraced us with loving arms and shown us much encouragement.

A new town also means a new doctor. I was slightly disappointed to have to give up my dreams of a water birth. (In Florida, I am considered too high-risk for a birth center.) However, as of now, I will be able to labor in water, just not actually birth there. I have found a wonderful doula who has been so supportive and instrumental in helping me stick as closely to our previous birth plan as possible. I am hoping that I will go into labor on my own. My doctor is concerned about me going past 39 weeks because my anti-phospholipid syndrome makes me prone to preeclampsia, premature placental failure, and clots in the umbilical cord. To monitor for these I am getting weekly biophysical profiles and non-stress tests. If anything ever looks amiss, we will be facing a medical induction. So far, praise God, everything looks perfect.
33 weeks - chewing on their hand

Well, thats an update to our slightly crazy life as of lately. One thing I do know, as our future looks more and more unknown God is displaying more and more grace to us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Still Learning

Difficult seasons teach us much about ourselves. I continue to see what a wretched sinner that I am. Over the past week, I have learned much about myself: 
  • I am more prone to idol worship than I thought.
  • I am materialistic.
  • I struggle to accept change without anxiety - indicating a lack of trust in God's sovereignty.
  • I am rather self-absorbed.
  • I make excuses instead of owning up to my mistakes/downfalls.
  • I am more concerned with what people think my motives are behind my decision-making, than with examining what my motives actually are.
  • I like to be comfortable.
But, as I see this sin in myself, I am reminded to repent and look to the grace of God in Jesus. I echo Paul, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pregnancy Update

I am 27 weeks.  And that means, that this time next week, I will be writing you from the third trimester. Can you believe it? Somedays, I still can't. And, when I think that we haven't even started on a nursery (other than planning - see my Pinterest board) it seems unbelieveable.

27 weeks.
Week 27 has taught me that I am not superwoman. I know, I know, you're shocked (insert sarcasm). I fully anticipated keeping up my running regimen and not struggling with it until at least week 32 or 33. HA! I mean, I am still getting a "run" in twice per week and walk 3-4 miles on the other days. But, the days of running an easy 5 miler are long gone.  Instead, I run either a quarter or half of a mile then walk a minute or two - then repeat that for a total of 3-4 miles. Somedays, I cant even do that much!

I had a pretty good run Saturday morning. I ran most of 4 miles and felt good. No ligament pain, hip pain, and it wasn't too hot. I felt pretty proud of myself.  But an hour later, I wound up with awful pelvic pain. So, I shuffled around wincing for the rest of the day. I began to think maybe my running days are over. I was relieved that it was gone the next morning.

My midwife told me that I could keep running as long as I "listened to my body." I am pretty sure this is what she meant. So, I am slowing it down even more. I ran with some ladies from church on Monday night, who are doing the couch to 5k program.  They alternated 2 minutes running with 1 min walking. I had no pain after that, so I will follow a similar plan for the next couple weeks.

The little one should arrive mid-October. October would have been the month that I really got back into marathon training. I still hope to run at least a half-marathon in February or March. But, we shall see how quickly I am able to bounce back after delivery. I figure, why not aim high?

I have not been great about blogging pregnancy updates, and I somewhat regret that.  I love reading other blogger's pregnancy updates. So, here's an official update:

How far along -  27 weeks and 1 day

Maternity clothes - Oh, yes. I am blessed that I have had a ton of clothes lent to me. 

Weight gain - 17 lbs. I had hoped to stay around 25 lbs for the entire pregnancy, but if I gain a pound a week from here on out, that will put me at 30. I can't imagine where I'd be if I hadn't kept up exercising and eating (fairly) well. Sheesh! I noticed my weight gain picked up a bit after I started following the Brewer Diet recommendations for protein. It takes quite a bit of food to get 90-120 grams of protein each day. But, since doing that, I quit noticing swelling in the evenings. I also have much more energy and don't need afternoon naps.

Stretch marks - None.... yet. But, the heparin shots do leave me a bit bruised up. So, there will NOT be any bare belly maternity pics. (Not that I was really planning on it.)

Belly Button - Innie and I am wiling to bet it stays that way.

Sleep - Sleep and I have always been BFF. Thankfully, I am the worlds HEAVIEST sleeper so the little one's movements don't keep me up. Stephen says he has touched my tummy while I was sleeping and the baby was moving around. Meanwhile, I was dead to the world. I am sure I will sleep lighter once our little one arrives! 

Movement - Yes. Most active an hour after I walk/run or as I am trying to go to sleep.  But, it seems our little one is pretty quiet compared to what I hear from other prego ladies. 

Food I'm loving - Dairy - Milk, greek yogurt, sour cream, cheese!

Food I'm hating - Not a thing! 

Symptoms - Somedays, I don't really feel pregnant. So, I just now asked Stephen, "What are my symptoms?"  He said, "Belly."  I had to laugh, because that's about it lately (if you don't count the pains I had from my run).

Gender - Still don't know! And won't until they arrive. :) Most of the votes have been for a boy, but my mom and sisters say girl. I honestly have NO idea. Apparently, I am not one of those mamas that "just know." 

What I'm looking forward to - IKEA!  I am visiting my parents in a couple weeks so I will be in the vicinity of an IKEA and have a few things picked out there.  (crib, rocker, high chair)

What I miss - Enjoying running.

Emotions -  I cry a little more easily, but no totally crazy mood swings. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Gospel and Children

At our church, summertime brings with it VBS, children's camps, and youth camps. These events bring forth opportunity to share the Gospel with young people.

I have been guilty of saying, "I am not good at sharing the Gospel with kids." But, interestingly enough, through being a public school teacher, and involvement in things like AWANA and VBS, I have had far more opportunities to share the Gospel with children than with adults. My feelings of inadequacy in sharing the Gospel with kids, are invalid.  The power to Salvation does not rely in how "good"a presentation is, the power lies in the message of the Gospel. (Romans 1:16)

Through talking to children, it has become apparent that the biggest impediment to the Gospel is a lack of understanding of sin. Here are some conversations I have had with children:

Me: What is sin?

Child: It is the stuff bad people do.

Me: Like who?

Child: You know, the people in jail and stuff.

Me: What is sin?

Child: The wrong things we do, but we don't really mean to do them.....maybe we just get angry and do them on accident.

Me: Are you a sinner?

Child: No.

Me: Are you a sinner?

Child: (Hesitates...) Well, sometimes.  But, not a really bad one.

Me: Why do you do things like hit your brother or sister?

Child: (Shrugs) They hit me first.

I know this lack of seeing sin is not limited to only children. In fact, I would say it is the tendency of all humans to try and convince themselves that they are not "that bad." The truth is we are all wicked in our hearts. Perhaps we have not physically committed some sin as grievous as murder, but Christ makes it abundantly clear that we are guilty because of the nature of our heart.  "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:15

So, this has caused Stephen and I to really think about how we will teach our child that they are a sinner in need of a Savior. There is nothing more important to teach our children. And, as we are intentional about this we approach it with a humbleness realizing that we cannot artificially produce spiritual fruit in our child's life. However, we trust that as we are obedient God will prepare their heart and bring them to repentance and faith. So, I share these thoughts with you in hopes that it may give you some things to think about as you intentionally teach the Gospel .

1) Accept responsibility as parents. It is our duty, not anyone else's to teach our child about their sin and the Gospel. We are responsible for lovingly identifying sin, its consequence, and the hope offered in Christ. That means that when our child is disobedient we call it sin. That means when we mess up, we call it sin. We don't simply rely on the church and its leaders to identify sin for our kids. After all, we are the ones who see them everyday and can teach them to recognize sin in their everyday actions and in their heart.

2) Begin young.  The temptation is to wait until the child is "old enough" to understand. Or, to wait until the child begins to ask questions. But we don't teach our children other things in this manner! Think of a child who has not even begun to talk. We tell this child, "Look at the green tree."  or "The cow says moo." We will repeat these types of sentences over and over again before the child even knows what a color or animal is. Eventually, it clicks and the child begins to point at the tree and say, "TEE." They don't get it just right at first but we use that as a stepping stone to teach them more, to teach them better. We are so intentional in teaching our children things that are much less significant than the truth of the Gospel. But when it comes to teaching the Gospel, we think we should wait until they can understand what we are saying! Seems kind of silly, huh?

So, what would it look like to begin young?  When that child is disciplined for disobeying a command, we say, "It is a sin to disobey mommy and daddy. God does not like sin. He must punish sin.  That's why he sent Jesus." Now, granted this is not the full Gospel, but when we teach our child, "The cow says moo," we are not concerned that they know that the cow is a ruminant bovine mammal from which we get most things dairy. NO! We just want them to have a foundation of knowledge so that later in life they will be prepared for a deeper understanding.

3) Identify motives.  We know that Jesus' death was not simply to pay for our "mistakes." It was to pay for the deep, sinfulness of our heart; sinfulness that deserves hell.  We would do our children a disservice if we only pointed out actions as sin. Instead, we should help them discover the sinful motives of their heart. For example, Mom says, "Johnny, why did you hit your brother?" Johnny, "He took my car." Mom, as she gets down to Johnny's level, lovingly and calmly says, "No, that's not why. You hit your brother because you think it is your job to punish people who make you mad. But, that is not your job, that is God's job. When humans try to do God's job it shows how sinful we are. God's word says it is my job as your parent to punish you when you are sinful so you will get a spanking for hitting your brother." This conversation could even proceed to the fact that God will punish sinners who do not repent and believe in Jesus.  By helping our children identify their motives we prepare them to understand sin as something they are, not just something they do.

4) Modeling the Gospel in discipline. We will aim to model our corrective discipline after the Gospel. Hence, the process of corrective disciple should be: identify the transgression, identify the punishment for this transgression, administer the punishment, then model reconciliation. We cannot forget this last step as it is the ultimate goal of the Gospel. Once the punishment has been fulfilled we must be intentional about reconciliation. This means that there are no grudges held and no late additions to the punishment. By being purposeful to reconcile with our kids we wil model the sufficiency of Christ's payment for sin and the reality of Christ making possible reconciliation with God.

Now, I am not trying to be naive. I know all of this will be easier said than done. There will be days that I lose my temper. There will be days that our child covers their ears as we attempt to point out their sin and tell them about Jesus. There will be times when we fail miserably at teaching our children the Gospel. As much as I know that, I also know that God has entrusted me as a parent to teach my child the truth of the Gospel. Not doing so is disobedience.

I pray this gives you some things to think about. I am not claiming to have answers, but instead wanted to humbly share with you talks Stephen and I have had regarding how to teach our children the Gospel. I know without a doubt that we still have much to learn.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bittersweet Decision

Last Thursday, I went to the school board office and turned in my resignation. I will not be returning to teach this fall. Thankfully, both my principal and superintendent were gracious and supportive. I have to admit it was a hard decision. It is hard to let people down.

Many of you had asked if I planned to return after maternity leave, and the truth was: I didn't. I am strongly convicted that a woman's first ministry is her home. And, contrary to what our feminist culture tells us, we cannot have it all.  Therefore, I did not plan to return after maternity leave.

So, this put me in a predicament of returning to work at the beginning of August, then leaving on maternity leave early to mid-October. I dreaded the thought of being secretive about my plans to take the rest of the year off, because I did not want to be dishonest. In addition, this would put my class without a teacher mid-year. I knew it would be much more difficult to find a good teacher to take my place mid-year than it would be during the summer.

So, after thinking and talking all of this through with Stephen, we decided it would be best for me to go ahead and resign.

I am excited to be able to be fully devoted to my husband, my baby, and my home. But, I am not naive. This decision will not be without sacrifice. Of course, we will have to sacrifice income, better health insurance, and some of our luxuries.  I am also aware that I will be sacrificing some "personal fulfillment" -  a year spent cleaning up puke and poop may not afford me the same sense of accomplishment that I felt from seeing students' test scores improve. But, I know experiencing the Lord's design for family will be well worth it.

Giving up a career for family is a bittersweet decision, but it is not a decision I second-guess. As I transition to full-time wife and mommy, I pray that the Lord would continuously remind me that His plans are better than any this world could offer.  I pray that I better understand the sweetness and beauty of the Gospel as I have the opportunity to lay down my own desires for those of my family. I pray that He reminds me to lay down my desires joyfully as my worship to Him. I pray that He teaches me much about Himself.

And, of course, I look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons learned with you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When You Need Advice

Who do you go to when you need advice?  Whose counsel do you seek?  

Our first instinct may be to say that we should never seek the counsel of man, but solely rely on the counsel of God.  While all counsel should be carefully scrutinized through the lens of scripture, the Bible itself tells us that wise counsel from others is a good and important thing.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

However, we should receive counsel with discernment. 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1

If we were to think Biblically about giving and receiving counsel, I believe it will have two important implications for us:

1)  We will carefully select whom we go to for counsel and/or whose counsel we heed.
  • Usually, we get advice from people who meet one of two criteria: they have experienced whatever it is we are going through or, they have received some sort of formal, usually secular, education on the issue at hand. When these two criteria become our sole premise for determining if another can give us sound counsel, we have elevated experience and education above the Word of God. While experience and education are useful, they are no replacement for Biblical counsel.
  • So, instead of searching for advice from someone who has "been there," search for people who will advise you Biblically. (If that person has also "been there," great!) I would much rather receive parenting advice from someone who has no children but thinks Biblically, than from someone who has a house full of kids but will only offer me the latest pop-psychology for advice. 
  • Sometimes, the right person to go to for counsel is one who you know will honestly tell you what is right/wrong even if it hurts your feelings. I beg you to make sure you have people like this in your life. Anyone can tell you things that will make you feel better, but a person who will give you Godly advice is a gem of a friend.
2) We will more carefully counsel others.
  • I have been guilty of offering cliche' and worldly advice.  Advice like, "You have to do what feels right,"  or "Make the decision that gives you peace,"  or "You have to take up for yourself." All of these are unbiblical and worldly advice that Christians are guilty of throwing around haphazardly.
  • I am especially guilty of giving such poor advice in day-to-day interactions. I don't consciously think of it as "advice."  But, it is. We must realize that we are constantly counseling people when we interact with them. Therefore, we must not be so flippant with our advice.  We should desire that all counsel we give is carefully based on the Word of God.
I pray that you seek Biblical counsel. I pray that you will have the guts to find someone who will advise you honestly even if it hurts your feelings.  I pray you will be more careful with the way in which you counsel others as you go about your day-to-day routine. May God be glorified as we seek to give and receive Godly counsel.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Running while Pregnant

I finished a 5 mile run this morning with my favorite running partner. It was wonderful.

My average pace of 11:53 min/mile is a far cry from my pre-pregnancy pace of around 9:30 min/mile.  But, I am totally ok with that. I just want to run.

My running partner.
My running addiction started sometime in high school. While my frequency, intensity, and dedication has waxed and waned over the years, my love for this hobby has not.  I am honestly addicted.  Perhaps it is the release of endorphins or the sense of accomplishment that makes it impossible to imagine a life without running.

I am blessed that my husband, midwife, and obstetrician are supportive of me running during pregnancy. In fact, the doctor and midwife encouraged me to continue, despite my history of miscarriage. I did mostly brisk walking up until about 9 weeks, the point in which I had passed my previous miscarriage risks. After that, I was told, "Go for it, but just listen to your body."

Right now, those I see on my route can't tell I am pregnant by looking at me. But, I am anticipating the stares I will get as my belly begins to grow.

Of course, many well-intentioned individuals have advised me that I should "just walk." They don't bother me; I know they mean well. And, I realize I seem a bit crazy to be so adamant about continuing running, especially with my history. But, I knew exercise was not causing my miscarriages; I did not run during those pregnancies. I also knew that I wanted to enjoy as normal of a pregnancy as possible instead of one filled with worry and anxiety.

Research regarding running while pregnant shows interesting benefits:

  • Mom is healthier
  • Reduces preterm delivery
  • Reduces pregnancy symptoms like nausea, back pain and swelling
  • Shorter labor and fewer delivery complications, including C-sections
  • Increased placental efficiency
  • Increase newborn ability to self-soothe 
  • Greater fetal activity, which is linked to quicker development of oral language skills.

Don't worry, I have no performance goals for running while pregnant. I am not trying to improve my time or distance.  I am not training for a  race (though, I wouldn't be opposed to one, for fun, of course). I will walk if I feel winded.

My only goal is to keep lacing up my running shoes for as long as I am able. I believe my body, health, sanity, and baby will benefit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boy or Girl?

It only takes about 5 seconds after finding out that I am pregnant for the next question to be asked.

"Do you know what you are having yet?" 

I respond, "No, we are not finding out."

It is amazing the emotion this stirs up in the other person. Some people are super excited, but some seem almost defensive about our decision. 

The most common response is, "Oh, I could NEVER do that; I am too much of a planner." 

Yeah, me too, sister. Believe me, me too.

So, why is this planner with perfectionistic tendencies not finding out the sex of their child? Before I share the reasons, let me be clear,  I am NOT saying finding out or not finding out is a right/wrong decision. I believe it is perfectly wonderful for parents to find out!  These are just mine and Stephen's personal thoughts, and reasons for our decision..... 

1. Our journey to this pregnancy was one in which God has taught us to fully rely on His sovereignty. We have learned to be content were we are instead of fretting about our plans and our timing. It just seems that not finding out will help me embrace this lesson to an even greater level. I believe it will help me fight my temptation to stress over having everything "perfectly planned."

2. I think that not knowing our baby's sex will help me fight of the materialistic temptation to buy more than what we need. The cute boy or girl outfits don't call my name when I go to the store. I  am thinking more about buying the things we need rather than the cutesy stuff. I am not saying it is wrong to buy cutesy things; I am sure I will at some point. However, we have decided to become more frugal over the next few months and that means needs trump wants.

3. Lord willing, we would love to have a BIG family. Unisex equipment and clothes will be much easier to hand down from one child to the next.

4. We have opted for a natural water birth. (Did your eyes just bulge?) In the midst of labor, I think it would be a motivation to anticipate wether I will meet my son or my daughter. 

5. It appeals to me to have either Stephen or myself announce the sex. I think it would be much more exciting for us to be the first to say, "It's a __________, "  than to hear the ultrasound tech say it.

6. If we were to find out, I would want to have a reveal party. However, with our family living so far away it is highly unlikely that all of them could be here for it.

I will admit, it is hard. Really hard. I really want to know.  I want to say "he" or "she" instead of "the baby." I want to call baby Powell by name.  But, I really think it will be exciting and rewarding if we stick to our plan. Hopefully, our resolve will remain strong!

By the way,  feel free to offer your guesses! I honestly have no clue.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Mini-Vaca

A little over a week ago, we had the wonderful pleasure of spending a 4 day weekend in Destin, Fl. We enjoyed this mini-vacation immensely. The best part was that we got to share this time with some very special people.  One of the most difficult parts of ministry is living far away from family and close friends, so we relished the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones.

Joining us in Destin was my sister, Dayle, her husband, John, and my precious nephew Calvin. We also invited our best friends from college Mike and Angie and their three kids Jon, Wesley, and Renee.

It was fantastic to spend time with my sister and to see my precious nephew. It was also a blessing to meet Mike and Angie's kids for the first time. Mike and Angie adopted their three kids in December. Their story is amazing and may make you cry, but is a must read!  You can read their story here.

Here are a few pictures from our trip. You can see more of Angie's pictures here.

Kite flyin'

John, Dayle and Calvin


Stephen and Me ready for church.

Jon and Wesley


Stephen, Me and Renee

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In All Modesty

I recently listened to a sermon by C.J. Mahaney on modesty. It was a very convicting message, but I am so grateful for his absolute honesty on this issue. I know it is a difficult issue for males to address in front of women, but it is needed, desperately.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire. 1 Timothy 2:8-9

"Ladies your wardrobe is a public statement of your personal and private motivation. And if you profess godliness, your motivation is to be distinct from our culture." - C.J. Mahaney

So, I began to examine my heart. Why do I choose the clothes I choose?  What is my motivation?

Examining your motivation for how you dress is much more challenging than examining if your hemline is too short or if your neckline is too low. Examining motivation gets to the heart of the matter. Am I dressing this way because I want people to think I am attractive? Am I dressing this way because I want others to think I have good fashion taste?  Do I consider if my selections glorify God?

If you are anything like me, you have spent many years measuring modesty by the wrong standard. I am guilty of looking at the women around me and feeling modest because I am not showing as much skin as her or wearing clothes as tight as hers. Instead, we should ONLY judge our own motivation for what we wear.

As women of God, our motivation should be to glorify God. We should not draw attention to ourselves. We should not wear anything that may cause our brothers in Christ to stumble. We should be sensitive to the stuggles of the men around us. We should not say, "Well, that's their problem," as this only reveals our own selfishness.

Also, we should realize that women who dress in a way to call attention to themselves don't need rules to abide by (how short, how low, how tight). The rules are not the underlying issue. Lack of modesty is a direct result of a woman not being satisfied in the Lord and filled with the truth of the Gospel.

Women, we also need to be more open with each other in accountability regarding this issue. Not in a rude or condescending way, but in a humble and loving way. When someone approaches us with concerns about our dress we should THANK them. Even if we do not agree, it is a blessing to have women who are willing to speak up.

As a minister's wife, I know I have a special responsibility in this. My husband cannot expect anything of a church member that he does not expect of me. When someone asks, "Do the women in your church dress modestly?" the first place one would look, and rightfully so, is at the minister's wives.

So, ladies I challenge you as I have been challenged to examine our motivation for the way we dress. May we dress in a way that reveals our humility before God and our motivation to glorify God in all we do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

13 Weeks

I am back after a wonderful and much needed 3-week break from social networking. And, of course, it is time to update.

We have passed the 13-week mark. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
4-5-12  12weeks 3days

4-5-12 12weeks 3 days

Easter. 12weeks 6days.
Everything is going well. I am feeling good now and even back to running (moderately). I have gained 3 pounds, but I think it looks like more.

We are starting to feel more comfortable dreaming about nurseries and names.