Thursday, July 29, 2010

How great is our God, sing with me, How great is our God, All the world will see, How great is our God

Time and time again God provides my daily bread. Why do I worry over the future when He so generously gives me what I need for the day? I'd like to share with you a piece by Elizabeth Elliot that I read during my quiet time a few days ago. It is amazing how God knew what I needed to hear and provided just that. I have decided not to paraphrase but write the piece in it's entirety hoping that it will bless you as it has me.

"My friend Judy Squier of Portola Valley, California, is one of the most cheerful and radiant women I know. I met her first in a prayer meeting at the beginning of a conference. She was sitting in a wheel chair, and I noticed something funny about her legs. Later that day I saw her with no legs at all. In the evening she was walking around with crutches. Of course I had to ask her some questions. She was born with no legs; she had artificial ones which she used sometimes, but they were tiresome, she said (laughing) and she often left them behind. When I heard of a little baby boy named Brandon Scott, born without arms or legs, I asked if she would write to his parents. She did:

'The first thing I would say is that all that this entails is at least one hundred times harder on the parents than the child. A birth defect by God's grace does not rob a childhood of its wonder, nor is a child burdened by high expectations. Given a supportive, creative, and loving family, I know personally that I enjoyed not a less-than-average life nor an average life, but as I've told many, my life has been not ordinary but extraordinary.

I am convinced without a doubt that a loving Heavenly Father oversees the creative miracles in the inner sanctum of each mother's womb (Psalm 139), and that in His sovereignty there are no accidents.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly. As humanity we see only the imperfect, underside of God's tapestry of our lives. What we judge to be 'tragic-the most dreaded thing that could happen,' I expect we'll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family. I think that's why James 1:2 is a favorite verse of mine. Phillips' translation put it this way: 'when all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends.'

I love Joni Eareckson Tada's quote. When I saw it on the front of Moody Monthly, October 1982, I was convinced she'd penned the words of my epitaph. Now my husband David is aghast to hear me say I want it on my tombstone! Glory be!

"People with disabilities are God's best visual aids to demonstrate who He really is. His power shows up best in weakness. And who by the world's standards is weaker that the mentally or physically disabled? As the world watches, these people persevere. They live, love, trust and obey Him. Eventually the world is forced to say, "How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty."

Being a Christian didn't shield my family from the pain and tears that came with my birth defect. In fact, ten years ago when David and I interviewed our parents for a Keepsake Tape, I was stunned to hear my mother's true feelings. I asked her to tell the hardest thing in her life. Her response: "the day Judy Ann was born and it still is..." And yet when we as a family look back over the years, our reflections are invariably silenced by the wonder of God's handiwork. Someday I hope to put it in a book and I know it will be to the glory of God.

Getting married and becoming a mother were dreams I never dared to dream, but God, the doer of all miracles intended that my life be blessed with an incredible husband and three daughters. Emily is nine, Betsy will soon be seven, and Naphtalie Joy is four. I've decided that every handicapped person needs at least one child. They are fantastic helpers and so willing to let me 'borrow their legs' when I need help.

You as a family have been chosen in a special way to display His unique Masterwork. I pray that your roots of faith will grow deep down into the faithfulness of God's Loving Plan, that you will exchange your inadequacy for the Adequacy of Jesus' resurrection power, and that you will be awed as you witness the fruits of the Spirit manifested in your family.'"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Refrigerator Art

Well it’s been awhile since my last post, and I’ll try to catch everyone up on the goings on around here. Somehow I thought that since I was pregnant, life would move a bit slower, but really I feel like life couldn’t be crazier!!!!

On June 24th I had a baby shower in Covington hosted by some wonderful friends. I can’t tell you all how lovely everything was. Not only was the d├ęcor stunning but the food was delicious. My friend Claire made her mother’s famous chocolate mousse, which I can eat by the pound and my friend Meghan made Oreo truffles…which I did eat by the pound!!! There were also a host of wonderful gifts for Charlotte and me. But best of all, I was surrounded by some of the most important women in my life. Many of the ladies who came helped raise me at Trinity or were encouragers in my life during those tough high school years. It is amazing to me that God has blessed me and now Charlotte with such a strong group of Godly women. They were central in teaching me what it means to be a Godly woman and it gives me great peace and joy to know that they will also pray, encourage, and help disciple Charlotte in Godly ways. For more pictures and information on the party I’m going to refer you to my wonderful friend Meghan’s blog post: Big thanks to all the women who made the shower such a wonderful affair!!!

I came back home Friday after the shower and proceeded to start packing for Canada. It is a trip that I look forward to every year, but this year seemed special. Maybe it’s all the hormones but I felt such a strong need to be surrounded by all my family. Ben and I spent the night in Chattanooga and my mom picked me up Tuesday morning to start the long (around 19hr) drive. We had a blast driving up together…or at least I did. We talked until Ohio where we stopped at a wonderful sewing store. It was great, filled with smock dress patterns, silk ribbon, and an array of wonderful books. About 1.5 hr later we were on our way again. The next day we picked up my Dad in Toronto and began the last leg of our trip. We finally arrived at Manakiki and started to unpack. A few surprises greeted us when we got there. A grouse had flown through the newly screened porch and unfortunately died there. We also found a dead bat in the main cabin, and my parent’s sleeping cabin had been home to a porcupine all winter which had eaten their rug and used the cabin as a bathroom. A few things to deal with, but we were on Ahmic!!!

Henry, Dana, and Ben arrived Thursday, and Will did not make it in until Saturday. Finally my whole family was together and I enjoyed every minute of it. Well…almost every minute. :) Sharing one bathroom with seven people can get a bit cramped, and there were moments when I longed for the conveniences of electricity in the form of a fan and air conditioning. However, we had a blast swimming, kayaking, fishing, cooking, roasting marshmallows, reading, playing Rummikub, laughing, boating, and being together. I was very sad to leave, and both Ben and I agreed that we could definitely have stayed at least another week. Plus, the trip home was pretty rough. Henry, Dana, Ben, and I headed home Saturday July 10. We were flying out of Buffalo, NY and gave ourselves plenty of time to get through the border and make our flight which was suppose to depart a little after 6pm. We got to the gate around an hour ahead and proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, around 7pm they told us there was a problem with the plane and were trying to fix it. Many grueling hours later we boarded a new plane and left Buffalo around midnight. Ben and I did not make it home until 5am central. We were both exhausted, and it took me the whole week to recover from the debacle.

Thursday July 15th, we headed to Birmingham for a long weekend. I had another doctor visit, and we also had birthing classes. My grandparents had already headed off to Canada and given us the generous offer of staying at their house. It worked out wonderfully, because not only do they keep the fridge stocked full of ice-cream, but they also have a pool which we enjoyed to the hilt. Friday morning we had the doctor visit at UAB, and all went well. Charlotte is growing…though she is on the small side, and all looks as it should. The only blip in the visit was finding out she is breached. We are of course hoping she turns around but no matter what, it is looking like I will be induce or (if she is stilled breached) have a c-section sometime in my 39 week barring any other complications. My next appointment is in three weeks.

The birthing class was VERY long but also quite informative. I found much of the information helpful yet was a bit overwhelmed with all that one has to go through. Maybe ignorance is bliss, because the video on the epidural freaked me out!!! I consider myself pretty tough when it comes to medical stuff but I guess it’s the idea of something going into your spine. Many of you are probably thinking “wait, I thought she wanted to labor drug free???” Well I did, but when I found out I would most likely be induced I started to forgo the idea of drug free labor. Why? Because inducing creates stronger contractions and many times lengthens push labor by HOURS. And of course, if I have a c-section I will most definitely have an epidural. This is not the process I had in mind when I first found out I was pregnant, and I have had moments of sadness when I think I won’t get to tell Ben I’m in labor and we rush off to the hospital. But I’m realizing that acceptance is the path to peace. Things might not go the “typical” way with this labor, but I trust the doctors that God has placed in my life and the end result is still fabulous: CHARLOTTE!!!!!!!!!!!

In the class we also were able to tour UAB’s new facilities. The Women and Infants building is amazing!!! The labor and delivery rooms are huge and feel more like hotel rooms than a hospital. And best of all was the NICU. Each infant has a small private room with an NICU incubator, chair, and loveseat. There is typically one nurse for every one to two babies. This eased my mind so much. It was great to know that there would be a place to breastfeed and watch Charlotte sleep :) I am extremely impressed with both the facilities and staff at UAB hospital. God continues to provide!!!

A few more doctor visits and Charlotte will be here. I still can’t believe I only have around 5 ½ weeks to go!!! Everyone told be by the time I was in my 9th month I’d be ready to deliver, but I’m not so sure. Yes, I am looking forward to taking Advil again and not waking up screaming from leg cramps, but am I really ready??? I am still in shock that I’m going to be a mom and have a tiny little infant to take care of. A friend asked me if I was scared because of Charlotte’s complications. I would have to say somewhat, but really I think if Charlotte was the healthiest baby in the world I’d still be in a bit of a panic. Being a parent is such a huge responsibility, and I only hope I can provide her with the kind of love, support, and care that my parents gave me. I am frightened of the responsibility but thrilled at the prospect of holding and loving her. Oh well, ready or not, here she comes!!!

I pray that God would give me strength for those two weeks at the hospital, that He would give me peace as she is in surgery, that He would give me comfort if complications should arise, and that He would give me wisdom as I try to raise this sweet baby girl to glorify Him. It is a lot to ask but I found that there are no limits to His generosity. God’s grace in my life continues to overwhelm me and His sovereignty has been my comfort.

“Your little kid comes home from kindergarten.
He say’s “Mom, I drew a picture just for you”
A masterpiece on green construction paper,
Though what it is you haven’t got a clue.

But you love those little scribbles because of who’s they are.
Just what they mean you really do not care.
You just kiss your little Rembrandt and say “when we get home,
We gonna tape it up on the Frigidaire”

Cause you’re a collector of refrigerator art

Little kids create their world with their Crayola
To some it might just look a colored mess
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder
And moms can be so easy to impress

They are collectors of refrigerator art

And no mother worth the keeping would chaste or deplore
She would open up a gallery right on the freezer door.

We try to do the best of which we’re able
But every time you know we fall so short
Compare to true perfection, we all fall outside the lines
As best we’re just refrigerator art.

But the one who put the stars up in the heavens
The one who made the wings of the butterflies
He will take us with are awful disproportion
Somehow, we’re all still lovely in His eyes

He’s a collector of refrigerator art
He’s a corrector of refrigerator art
He’s the protector of refrigerator art”
-Allen Levi