Friday, April 4, 2014

April 14, 2014

I have to be honest.  I want to be pregnant one more time.  It just seems right.  Use everything one last time and then be ready to get rid of it.  After a visit to my new OB/GYN last month, I walked away feeling a little nervous, because I am 37.  I am still on birth control, and it did become clear that I should really consider getting pregnant soon or maybe we should go the adoption/foster baby route.  All of these things were spinning around in my head, and I kept praying that God would speak to Scott about what we should do.
On the outside it would appear that I can barely keep it all together with two kids, so how could we even possibly think of adding more?  But as a lot of moms know (who have more than 2), it's still chaotic, whether you add another one or two.  With God's help, I would be able to make it.  Plus, the girls are at an age that I believe having another one would actually be good for them (and I think they would enjoy it).  Anna keeps saying that she wants me to have 2 boys and 1 more girl (she has been saying this since she could talk).  She doesn't know that her pregnancy I was believing God for boy twins (because I thought that is what He had promised to me).  She knows about baby Grace dying in my womb before her, but I don't know if baby Grace counts or if she is hoping for another little girl in our family ;)  (you can read that whole story by going to the part of my blog from 2008.)
I don't know how to explain it, but after we lost baby Grace, it seemed like God was speaking I would become pregnant April 14 with boy twins (I even had names for them).  I showed up at Bible Study on April 14, and a lady asked me if I was pregnant or more specifically, did I know for sure I wasn't pregnant.  I was kind of taken aback and said, "I don't know, why?"  She said that she had a book she felt like God had wanted her to give to me.  She had boy twins that were about 7 years old. The book she gave me on April 14, 2008 was The Art of Parenting Twins.  This definitely fueled my faith to believe that I did conceive and we soon found out the beginning of May that I was pregnant. Of course, we were shocked when at 21 weeks they told us we were having a girl. . .From that point forward I have always wondered about what did I really hear?  Would we still have boy twins? We are so happy with our 2 girls, and yes, God did bless us double for what we lost, but are boy twins still in the picture? The timing of her giving me the book still remained significant to me (April 14), even though that pregnancy turned out to be Anna.  For 6 years, the boy twins have been on my mind.
It seemed I sometimes hear January 21 or September 21 being significant, too.  So all of these dates I am super sensitive to whether or not I would be pregnant or if we would adopt, etc.  On September 23, 2013, I received the phone call from my brother that "Jonathan Daniel" was born.  My breath was taken away.   Jonathan was one of the names that I thought I had heard from God to name the firstborn twin boy.  I went through a tough couple of weeks trying to decipher--are we done having kids?  did I hear wrong?  would we adopt boy twins, one that would already be named Jonathan?, etc. etc.  Finally I came to peace with just waiting and resting in the Lord that He would make it loud and clear what we were supposed to do next (i.e. get off birth control, start the adoption/foster baby process, or even just start thinking of our family as complete), and I did not need to figure it out.  My sister-in-law reassured me that she knew someone who had also heard a name for a sibling's child that she thought was for her own, and maybe this is what had happened for me.  Then I started wondering if maybe by September of next year we would give birth to a boy and he and Jonathan would be really close.  Well, January 21 came and went, and I was not pregnant.  I still waited expectantly to see if Scott might have any direction.  I was feeling at peace with just waiting to see what would happen, and also knowing that if I were to get pregnant it really would have to be in the next year or two.  (I do not want to be 40 and pregnant).  Of course, I still am on birth control and we haven't had a discussion about me stopping, but I did hope and pray often that God would speak something to Scott so that we would know when.
Every April 14 I always wonder what might happen.  Nicole (my good friend and faith cheerleader, who I have mentioned before) always said, "whenever it happens (me having boy twins), it's going to be big.  God is going to make it big," just because He is orderly, magnificent, cares about us, and has a sense of humor (I think).  He always keeps his promises, too.
So, where did the date April 14 pop in my head?  I won't go into the whole story, but the Bible references "the 14th day of the first month" quite a bit when discussing Passover instructions.  When you look at your notes, the time period is described as late March or early April.  Typically it is describing Passover, or God's instructions to the Israelites regarding Passover.  It is also the same time when the Israelites left Egypt and then 40 years later when they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.
I have always been aware of this timing since I first started paying attention to these dates (in 2007/2008 after we lost Grace).  This is the first year that Passover actually begins at sundown on April 14.  A few weeks ago, God led me to some verses that instructed the Israelites the second year after leaving Egypt for celebrating Passover on the "14th day of the first month."  Although we love the people in Waco, we often refer to our life there as our Egypt.  We moved here mid-April last year and always thought the timing was profound.  I did a double-take, when the verses were saying "in the second year after their exodus from Egypt."  We are about to begin our second year here.  I googled the dates of Passover and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it actually fell on April 14, that the Jewish calendar actually lines up with the numbered day that is mentioned in the Bible.  This got me really wondering if this would be the year of our boy twins. In fact, if I were to get pregnant April 14, this year, they would be born 7 years after I first thought I heard the message.  God has always been orderly with numbers.  Isaac in the Bible was born on April 15, the first full day of Passover (even though they weren't celebrating Passover yet).  400 years later, as prophesied, the Israelites left Egypt on April 15. (Check it out on a Jewish website giving the history of Passover for children).  I find this orchestration fascinating and faith-filling.
Here's what doesn't make sense.  1.  I am still on birth control.  2.  Scott will be out of town on that particular day.  With God, this is what is possible.  Maybe I have conceived in spite of being on birth control and will find out on April 14, or maybe something else big will happen in our lives that day that I can't even comprehend.  Please understand I do not believe I am extra-ordinary to think or expect that I would conceive or find out on the same day as the birth of Isaac or the same day as a huge Jewish holiday.  It just happens that from 1998 to 2017, this is the only year that the first full day of Passover begins on the same day as mentioned in the Bible, and the same date that I have always held in my heart as significant.  And since Anna's birth, I have always wondered if I still had a twin pregnancy in the future.  To be honest, I would be fine with just one more ;).
The other amazing fact is that a Blood Moon is scheduled for April 15, the first full day of Passover.  The next one is scheduled for October 8, 2014, which is the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.  In history, when a set of four blood moons has coincided with the Jewish feasts, it has been major for Israel.  This website seems to describe it well. http://www.pray4zion.org/TheComingBloodMoons.html  I do not know what this all means, but I do feel like this year something big will happen on April 14, not only for our family, but for the world.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I downloaded the Believing God Day by Day by Beth Moore as a free download.  I was catching up on my reading the other night, and I loved these two days.

FEBRUARY 25 When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him, and Jesus said to them, “ Do you believe that I can do this?” Matthew 9: 28 We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle. If in God’s sovereignty He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we “have not” because we “ask not” (James 4: 2) or because we believe not. If you dare to believe and yet don’t get your miracle, God has a greater one planned. If what you desperately need or deeply desire is founded in the Word of God, don’t let anyone tell you that God can’t or that He undoubtedly won’t. Remove the wonders from God, and you can no longer call Him wonderful. Has He ceased to be wonderful to you?

Moore, Beth (2013-11-26). Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long (pp. 56-57). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

FEBRUARY 26 As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:12 With all my heart, I believe God is willing to perform outstanding miracles in our generation as we increase our faith. I have and will continue to ask God to perform wonders on behalf of my loved ones and those whom I serve. At the same time, I also believe that the greatest miracle of all is glory coming to the Father through mortal creatures . If God can gain glory through the miracle I’ve requested hallelujah! If I don’t get my miracle but God gets greater glory, I believe I received the greater miracle with the most eternal dividends. We are most blessed when God is most glorified.

Moore, Beth (2013-11-26). Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long (p. 58). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I was doing the Beth Moore Believing God study when I felt like God was telling me I would be pregnant with our twins on April 14 back in 2008.  (Instead I ended up being pregnant with our Anna--you can read all of that history at the very beginning of the blog).  Needless to say, her study was impacting for me, and I love reviewing the truths that she taught me back then.  Believe God!  He is faithful and merciful, and He will lead you!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Great is Thy Faithfulness

The song "Great is Thy Faithfulness" sticks in my mind as one of those you always hear someone say "my mom or aunt or grandmother loved "Great is Thy Faithfulness" kind of song.  It seemed often one I would hear at funerals, because it was the person's favorite song and he/she had either requested it to be sung or the family wanted to honor his/her life by singing it.  While I had nothing against the song, it was not my favorite, but it always seemed that the older generation favored it.  (no offense--keep reading and you'll see where I'm going with this.)  I always knew it was a nice song, but it didn't resonate with me and just seemed they could sing their hearts out to the tune as I mindlessly plowed through the simple rhythm and melody.  (and it sometimes felt with each verse the notes got longer).
Flash forward to now; I'm 37--still not that old, but old enough to have had a lot more life experience.  I get it now.  By the time you are older, you have seen God's faithfulness in countless ways, and you believe it with all your heart, and you are so thankful you can't stand it.  Then all the memories of how He has been faithful come pouring through as you are singing.  You remember the moments of deep heartache, loss, uncertainty, and hard times.  And you also realize that you are still standing strong and can boldly sing it, only because GOD IS FAITHFUL and GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS.  I always knew this concept, but now I can see His faithfulness mercifully written over our lives and others, and I know my Old Testament better and the countless stories of His faithfulness woven throughout. 
The last few times I have heard this song sung (as a matter of fact this morning) I get teary-eyed  and choked-up and am grateful for where God has brought us.  With each time I sing it, I like the song even more, and each time I can add another memory of how God has been faithful and His mercies have been poured out.  My fondness grows deeper every time.  Perhaps the notes get dragged out longer, because you are lost in thought, emotion, and gratitude.  And maybe by the time I am 80 years old, my girls will say it was my favorite song.  The writer based the lyrics on one of his favorite scriptures from Lamentations 3:22-23: “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Please read

There is not much to say about this one other than please read Dana's post.  (to get the background you can read earlier in her blog or check out my post the other day.)  I never cease to be amazed at how God works during times of grief.  I have experienced it with the loss of our baby (which is why I even started this blog in the first place), and I was always so encouraged by how God reached out to Nicole after she lost her husband, Doug. (www.nicsrevelations.com). 
David passed away yesterday around 5:00.  So as Dana's last moments with David unfold and you hear the rest of the story, you can know that God is into the details of your life.  He hears your cries in the darkness.  Please take the time to read.  You will cry and be blessed all at the same time.
http://hurstfamilyupdate.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-end.html

Friday, October 11, 2013

Team Hurst

I have been silent for awhile, but that does not mean a lack of emotion or empathy for people all around me who are struggling and suffering.  Yes, there are joys amidst the pain, but it makes Heaven seem so much sweeter and almost impossible to imagine without heartache or struggles!!!  This post is turning out to be more for me to process my thoughts than for you, so bear with me, and hopefully it will be worth your time.
This picture was taken in October of 2010.  It's the only photo I have with Dana Hurst (with the black and white necklace), and it happens to be the night we met at a Medical Alliance function in Waco.  I had just given birth to Elizabeth a couple of weeks before (which is why I look half asleep :)  Dana has a magnetic personality.  I remember getting her phone number and hoping we would get together (since she had a daughter a little older than Anna, and Parker, who was 5 months old).  Dana and David had just moved to Waco, and our husbands worked at the same hospital.  We had just found our church home and stopped attending where they began to be involved, so we ended up just seeing each other at hospital functions and Medical Alliance functions.  She became friends with Wren, who was soon diagnosed with cancer, and rallied around her with encouragement and faith and support.  Then, not too long after that, David was acting strange, and when they did an MRI, a huge tumor was revealed.  Their friendship with Wren and Brian grew as both families were struggling and fighting cancer.  I was crushed for them.  But every time I prayed for him before the surgery, I got a sense that God was going to do something big and David would make it through fine.  I never e-mail my prayers to people, but for some reason, I felt led to type my prayer as I prayed it, sensing God was giving me the words to pray.  I felt so awkward since we were not close, but it just seemed like what I was supposed to do.  Dana ended up e-mailing my prayer to everyone as a guide for what to pray.  I was so embarrassed, but I knew then why God had led me to do that out of my comfort zone--because it was about what He wanted to accomplish and increasing other people's faith. Amazingly, God answered every part of that prayer--and I know that He was leading me to pray His will in that situation. We were all cheering them on, knowing that he was recovering so quickly and without side effects!!!
Fast forward to now--a couple of months ago, the cancer returned to David's brain.  They have enjoyed such a full life during this time of surgery and cancer treatments, but now the end seems to be coming so rapidly.  It's hard to grasp after God did such a work to remove the cancer so "effortlessly" the first time.  Now I'm praying more out of desperation.  Even that today they would have an amazing day together, because often now he is cognitively not himself.  Hard to imagine thinking of life in terms of days left with your husband.  We forget about that--to measure our life in days.

Why am I telling all of this background?  Dana and I are not close friends.  I barely know much about her or their lives, but our faith has drawn us together.  God has given me a depth of emotion for them that I cannot explain.  He obviously is thinking of them during their suffering, to place a prayer on my heart for them that He answered every point.  I cannot explain it to people who do not have a relationship with Christ, but I KNOW God hurts with those who are suffering, because of the heavy burden He puts on my heart.  My heart crushes under the weight.  This probably sounds ridiculous, and I do realize that we are all empathetic toward our friends when they are going through hard things, no matter who you are.  I'm not even imagining myself in her situation--that would even be harder; the feelings are just there, and it is "supernatural."
My heart has been BREAKING for her since the end of September, and I didn't even know how bad things had gotten.  God had just constantly been putting them on my heart and mind, and my heart felt like a weight was crushing it.  Once I read her posts, I understood why she had been on my mind so much.
I can-not i-mag-ine how hard this is to know that you are losing the daddy of your 5 and 3 year olds. (having my own).  David's faith in God has grown exponentially, but it is so hard to comprehend that his life is nearing its end.  Dana is young--I'm sad for her to have to let go of hopes and dreams (we did that with our move to Nashville).  It's hard to think you are losing the love of your life.  It's hard to see him suffer or to have his personality change at the end.  And then to even think of the grief that comes afterwards.  Not to mention all of the ups and downs of treatments and tests and waiting for test results.  And all of the amazing memories, but then all of the good-bye moments.  It seems too much.
But, I have been here before in a different way with Nic.  When Doug was taken from her, it was black, but she depended upon Jesus to get her through.  And when we lost our baby, it was the kind of pain that makes a momma wail, but I knew deep down this was God's story, and He would do something big with it, even if I never knew what that would be.  And now I know that Dana will do the same--put her faith in Jesus to get her through.
Tuesday was Dana's birthday.  She was a little uncertain about the day, because a week before, David had mentioned that he felt he only had about 2 weeks left (in a rare moment where he was himself).  Apparently, he had arranged with friends beforehand to give her a birthday present--a Bible engraved by him and with green ribbons to remind them of their journey together (green is the color of Team Hurst).  When you look at the verse she underlined, you will see where our worlds collide.  Even though the weight of grief will soon crush her, she knows that God will stand by her and strengthen her.  She's choosing to believe in that, and what a powerful message to all who have been following their story.
We don't know why our loved ones are taken too soon on this earth or why our babies aren't born, but God has given us a story.  I promise you.  If you choose to put your faith in Him in the darkness, His message will be proclaimed in the way that is unique to His story through you and for the people who surround you.  Take Nic who lost her husband in Iraq, Katie who lost her baby girl, Reese, Bailey who lost her husband Andrew to cancer, and Angie Smith who lost her little baby girl.  I pray that you will feel God's love by reading their stories.  And I pray that you will take that baby step of faith to trust God through your darkness.  He will meet you.  As Nic has on her blog, "Hope shines in the dark if you dare to believe."
Please say a prayer for Dana and David tonight.  Pray that they can have sweet, memorable times together each day--that their conversation would be rich and their home would be full of laughter.  Give Audrey and Parker lasting memories of their daddy in these last days.  http://hurstfamilyupdate.blogspot.com/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Gray Faith

I had heard about Andrew Beard, somehow feeling like we might have met or crossed paths, because several people we know are friends with him.  I randomly clicked on his blog and saw his book A Gray Faith.  Here is his own description of the book he wrote:
Andrew’s Summary:  "Do you struggle with the question of faith?  What is it?  Why is it that we trust for some things with our whole heart, but God doesn’t come through?  Do you have loved ones that are facing death and need encouragement?  “A Gray Faith” chronicles my walk through stage 4 lung cancer and deals with the questions of faith, hope, and death.  My hope is that by honestly walking through life with someone who follows Jesus, and is facing death in the next few months or years, that I can bring new light to your faith, death, and hope for the future!"


I ordered the book yesterday after I learned he passed away.  Someone posted his wife's blog post of his last minutes--it is heart wrenching.  I just had to share it with you http://baileyheard.com/2013/07/26/no-more-pain/ In the comments section you can see his life had a profound impact on everyone around him.  Even though I have not read his book, I encourage you to purchase it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon or check out his blog at www.andrewbheard.com  I have a feeling it will inspire you and help you or your loved ones who are struggling with loss or areas of our lives where we are forced to walk along enduring uncertain outcomes. 
My uncle is right in the middle of it.  He is waiting for a bone marrow transplant on August 6 to treat acute leukemia.  We all hope and pray that he stays well and has 15 years added to his life.  But obviously, the outcome is uncertain so we wait. . .and hope. . .and pray.  If you have not listened to the sermon I posted awhile back and you are struggling with a terminal illness or you are walking with a loved one, I also encourage you to go here and listen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Feel No Shame

 
Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Capitol in Austin, Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry signed the abortion restriction bill, House Bill 2, on Thursday July 18, 2013. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed sweeping new abortion restrictions on Thursday that could shutter most of the clinics in the nation's second most populous state. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner) AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, MAGS OUT; NO SALES; INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM
Lenell Ripley, second from left, cries as she demonstrates with other abortion rights supporters outside the Capitol auditorium in Austin, Texas, Thursday July 18, 2013. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed sweeping new abortion restrictions on Thursday that could shutter most of the clinics in the nation's second most populous state. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner) AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, MAGS OUT; NO SALES; INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM
(AP Photo--Austin/American--Statesman, Jay Janner)
These are pictures of the protestors at the Texas Capitol building yesterday as the Governor signed into law House Bill 2 that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks and requires doctors performing abortions to have hospital privileges within 30 miles of their clinics.  It also requires the clinics to upgrade to surgical centers.  No matter what view of abortion you have, these are valid concerns for women's health.
I am a woman.  I am not ashamed to protect future men and women's lives.  I do agree we have to provide alternative help.  We cannot close down abortion clinics without aiding in alternatives--paying for norplant or other birth control or incentives to help women and men who would like to give their babies for adoption (because we've already established it is an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy).  For every woman crying, the blood of hundreds of thousands of babies is crying out--remember, these are our sisters and our brothers, and our kids' friends who never were given a chance at living.  If you have not read my previous post, let it be food for thought.  I understand these women are angry, because they feel that rights have been taken away and that government is telling them what they can and can't do with their bodies.  But again, whose rights are we aiming to protect?  Have these babies not been silenced before they ever had a chance to speak?  What about the women who never got a chance to stand up here, because they were aborted?  I don't understand in my head how we can cry about a story where someone kills a 4 month old, but we can't see the connection that we were in the womb once, and we were alive in the womb.  We were vulnerable--our futures lay before us, just like any baby in the womb.  Thank God our mothers and fathers didn't abort us.
Just in case you were wondering if there really is a connection between us and life in a womb, and whether these babies really matter even if they are unwanted pregnancies, I have to share a personal story.  We found out on December 18, 2007 our baby, Grace, had died in my womb at 22 weeks.  My parents live in Ft. Worth, TX.  They had been in Houston and came home to this sight in their back yard the day after I was not pregnant anymore.  You can see it's the middle of winter--later part of December, and the picture was taken at night.
While they thought their rose bush was dormant or dead after a spell of ice and cold, a single pink bud had appeared.  The pink bud never opened--the stem eventually broke off and they cut it off, dried it, and brought it to me.  They felt sure this was a sweet reminder of her, and they didn't even know she was a girl at that point.  When we have lost loved ones and these sort of coincidences happen, we feel a connection (sometimes spiritual) to that person.  If this sort of thing can happen with a baby in my womb, there has to be a validity to her life, whether I wanted her or not.  Her heart beat on earth while in my womb.  I saw her kicking and moving her arms with my own eyes.  She was most definitely alive.  Her heart stopped, so she did not live outside the womb.  But she was most definitely a baby.
I know there are many who are upset and angry at this law passing.  I cannot help it that my heart BREAKS and ACHES for the twin baby girls who were delivered in a toilet last August, because the mom did not want to have more girls.  I cannot change that about myself and how deeply it affects me.   (you can read the story here.  Even though the organization is biased for life, the story is real.).  Many people offered to adopt the baby girls.  She took medication to begin labor, endured labor for a couple of days, and then delivered in a toilet.  This is one type of an abortion at 20 weeks.  The law just signed bans abortions after 20 weeks, and I'm okay with that.  You may not agree with me, but I cannot help it that I am shaken by the thought of this scene.  I cannot help it that sadness wells up within me and for several days my heart sank just thinking about these baby girls and how someone could have raised them. Enjoying my two precious girls (even though they are not twins) and what these two twin girls would have been just hurts my heart.  These girls and boys deserve a voice. 
 
***A side note in case someone mentions that our country can't  handle more people.  We are not overpopulated.  Last reported in 2010, our fertility rate in the US is 1.9.  The replacement rate is 2.1. (http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2012/world-population-data-sheet/fact-sheet-us-population.aspx)  from the Population Reference Bureau.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Women's Rights

I believe in women's rights.  I believe a woman shouldn't be told when to get pregnant, when to have a baby, whether she should be sexually active or not, what kind of birth control to use, be expected to care for a baby if she cannot afford it or simply doesn't want to or does not have the support.  I do have my own thoughts and convictions on these things, but I do agree that a person cannot tell another person what she can and can't do with her body.  She must make her own choices and learn and grow from them, no matter which side of the fence you are on.  I am thankful for a woman like Wendy Davis (Texas Senator) who is bold enough and committed enough to stand up for what she believes in--we often lack this in our country.  The part I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around is when did women's rights become synonymous to the ability to stop a heartbeat?  Why is it that women and men who are Pro-Life are not considered supporting Women's Rights?  I understand the belief in the freedom of the woman to choose, but are we really talking about what a woman can and can't do with her body, or are we talking something more basic--the right to stop a heartbeat?  It just so happens that a woman's body provides the place where a heartbeat begins, undeniably where we ALL began.  We can restart a heart that has been beating before, but I do not know any human who can create a beating heart.  Before you read further, can we agree that even if you believe that a fetus is just tissue, what separates it from a pregnancy and a terminated pregnancy is the lack of a heartbeat caused by someone doing something to stop the heartbeat? I remember early with our first pregnancy we could see the 2 fetal poles beating and hear the unmistakable sound of a heartbeat at just 6 weeks! I understand people say we can't legislate morality, but we are talking about something deeper than a particular religious belief.   We do have the power to stop a beating heart, but should we? 
And amazingly, a woman's body can even recognize when the fetus is not viable--often people have been pregnant before they even know it, and they miscarry in a late period or as you know, with miscarriages and stillbirths--its own natural selection.  Our bodies can distinguish when the fetus has died and hormone levels start going down as the body prepares to miscarry.  I find this amazing!  Ever since I heard about the legislation in Texas, and people fighting for women's rights, I have been desperately trying to make sense of this concept that larger access to abortions equals a positive step for women's rights.

This issue is dear to my heart.  Maybe it's my own experience or having children of my own that makes me more sensitive.  During our first pregnancy, we went in for her 22 week ultrasound, fully expecting to see her heart beating and her arms and legs moving around on the screen. Suddenly, right before our eyes, the realization hit that she had died in my womb. I would have given anything to have a beating heart--even if she weren't going to survive.  There was NOTHING I could do.  I watched her at 18 weeks, just four weeks before, kicking and waving her arms--she was very much alive and very much a baby.  Now the difference was that her heart had stopped, and she was lifeless.  (If you want to read more about what happened, go here and here) How can we say that it's okay to stop a living being from "breathing," (yes, babies inhale and exhale amniotic fluid) and if you held that form, you would see its heart beating out of its chest.  The difference--my pregnancy was wanted.  So the issue at hand is that if a woman doesn't want a pregnancy or has an "unintended pregnancy," she has the right to choose an abortion. But does she or any physician or technician truly have the right to end a heartbeat? Anyone who has lost a loved one, would give anything to have that beating heart, for that person to have life! Why is it different for a baby in utero, even if it is an unwanted pregnancy?
The bill in Texas aims to ban abortions past 20 weeks.  I have held a baby at 23 weeks.  I know what they look like at this age.  I cannot imagine treating this body as anything but a baby.  I know some might argue that this is my opinion, but the baby I held and other pictures I have seen were perfectly formed, a miracle of life even in death.  She even had her own unique face, with characteristics of her daddy.  Because of modern neonatal science, a baby has a chance a living a normal life if born outside the womb at 24 weeks!  If you want to see real pictures of what a 19 week old baby looks like, you can read a precious story of a baby born too early just 2 weeks ago.  She posted the pics as a way to honor him.  If you have never seen a baby this early, their skin is still translucent, so they appear with a reddish, purple color.  But you can see clearly that his body is perfect. http://f2photographybylexi.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/walter-joshua-fretz/#comments

Obviously, there are all kinds of factors that contribute to why a pregnancy is unwanted--I don't deny this.  But the women who choose to carry the baby and give it up for adoption--they are true heroes, basically surrogate mothers, if you will.  A beautiful example is a mom who was unable to get pregnant.  Recently a birth mom, late in her pregnancy started feeling overwhelmed, because she had 2 other children at home and financially they weren't sure if they could make it.  Yes, it was emotional for her to give up her baby, but the joy she provided the other family and the life that our world will get to experience knowing is undeniably more positive than the thought of that birth mom choosing abortion and the baby ending up in the trash.  (just stating facts not casting blame).  Yes, I can say that, because my baby ended up in the trash, and even though she had died before I had the D&E, I went through a lot of regret realizing that she had ended up in the trash. 
While we are on the topic of my D&E (an abortion past the first trimester), some have had concerns over the strict stipulations the bill in Texas has regarding requiring that the physician performing the abortion have privileges at a hospital within a 30 mile radius.  Bleeding is a HUGE complication of this type of procedure.  Maybe it is rare, but when it happens, it is life-threatening.  There is not the same concern with colonoscopies or other outpatient procedures.  My D&E happened at a hospital, and I am so grateful, because I ended up losing 1800mL of blood.  They had already ordered the bags to do the transfusion.  What would have happened if I had been in a rural outpatient clinic more than 30 miles from a hospital?  I realize some argue that this might limit abortions for rural patients, but many ERs see botched abortions or even complications from good doctors performing the abortion (read link below of former abortion doctors).  Please try to see this as a way to protect women's health!
Another myth is that a late-term abortion is necessary for women whose life is in danger.  If a woman's blood pressure is so high it is about to kill her, there would not be 24-72 hours needed to properly dilate for the D&E abortion.  An emergency C-section would be performed to "terminate" the pregnancy to protect the mother's health.  If you want to read more regarding later term abortions from an OB who did them and his testimony to congress,  click here
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/23/doctor-who-did-1200-abortions-tells-congress-to-ban-them/

The last piece that has been buzzing around in my head that I just can't silence is the collection of good doctors who began performing abortions for all the right reasons--they wanted to help women or they had seen so many botched abortions they wanted to provide a better service.  Why did they get out of it?  Somehow when they crossed a line either having their own children or contemplating whether a fetus is a living being, they changed their minds and walked away from the practice.  I find this fascinating!  You can read their stories here and make your own conclusions.  http://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/abortiondoctors.cfm
Beyond doctors who did abortions changing their minds, what about Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Doe" in Roe v. Wade?  After working in the abortion industry, she now has become pro-life.  You can read her book Won By Love  What is it that is so powerfully changing people's minds who were once pro-abortion (not just pro-choice)?  The person who was the focus of the case to legalize abortions now is pro life?  Here is a quote about her book (author unknown)
"Working inside the abortion industry, Norma saw how abortion degraded women; she was surprised at the exorbitant dollars that kept rolling into the doctors' pockets; she saw the blatant exploitation as abortion advocates put political rhetoric above safe medicine; and she eventually began to question the movement for which she once said she "lived and breathed."'  I know not every abortion clinic is like this, but after hearing recently about Dr. Gosnell's clinic and others being exposed, I do believe we have some responsibility to protect women and it is okay to have stricter regulations governing abortion clinics to ensure sanitation and health. 
In my line of work with women who have had miscarriages and stillbirths, I have come across several ladies who had abortions in the past. They still grieve the loss of that baby nearly the same way a mother grieves a miscarriage. I know each woman is different, but I am just speaking from my own personal experiences. Watching videos from the ladies affected by the Gosnell clinic--so many regret what happened later. I especially feel for the ones who felt like once they were in the clinic they were forced to have the abortion against their will--I cannot imagine the pain and regret as one of them testifies she cannot have any more children as a result of the abortion he performed on her.
Part of women's rights is for women who maybe have been down that road coming alongside other women and helping them weigh out how they might feel in the future! Additionally, who is speaking out for those women and girls who are being forced into abortion either by a parent or boyfriend, etc? They have a right to be protected, too! Read their stories here; it makes my heart hurt! http://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/pushedintoabortion.cfmhttp://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/girlswhoaborted.cfm?start=35
I am not here to argue about whether the "tissue" or fetus is a living being.  I do think abortions past the first trimester are inconceivable, knowing how undeniably full of life these fetuses are.
If in fact it is just "tissue," the final piece I have had going through my brain--why do so many states have regulations about where the human tissue goes?  The tissue or body parts usually have to be unrecognizable as human tissue before it can go to a landfill.  This means most of it is incinerated.  Some states have it sent to other states.  If you want to read more about what happens to the remains, you can read here.  Again, if it is all trash, there is a distincition that it is HUMAN tissue and has to be dealt with differently than other waste.  This bothers me.  Maybe I don't like to think about it, but the smoke is there.
Even though we don't personally know these aborted babies, these tissues and parts are often someone's BROTHER!  or SISTER!  sometimes twin BROTHER or SISTER who didn't survive but the other twin did.  Here are some excerpts that teenagers have written about their own family members they found out were aborted.
http://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/abortionsurvivors.cfm  You can watch the film October Baby to also understand this side of being an abortion survivor.

I am not naive enough to skip over the fact that there are women who are happy with their choices to abort.  I personally have not heard these stories yet.  I have only heard stories of women filled with sadness and regret, and not because of shame.  They miss the life that they would have had!  My heart hurts for them.  My heart goes out to the girls/women who get pregnant and the tough decisions they face.  Abortion is a big decision, and it's permanent.  I hope we can surround all of these girls/women with the support they need, and I know there are many who are doing their part.
According to Guttmacher Institute (a research institute by Planned Parenthood) "There were roughly 1.2 million abortions performed in 2008 [in the US], and the abortion rate was 20 per 1,000 women aged 15–44."  If you do the math, that comes to 3297 abortions per day.  Today.  These babies being aborted right now are my daughter's classmates, and potentially our kids' friends.  It's hard to imagine, because we don't feel a loss never having known them.  But when I think of those today that almost were aborted but are here, it resonates with me.  Perhaps my favorite personal story--a friend of mine could not get pregnant except by scientific means. They decided to adopt. A birth mom chose them, and the interesting thing about her story is that the baby had nearly been aborted 2 times. The birth mom tried to get an abortion in one state, but the baby measured just days beyond the legal age for an abortion so the clinic turned her away. She traveled to another state in which the abortion was legal at a later term. Again, the birth mom was within the range to have the abortion, but because the baby measured larger, she was denied the abortion in that state. When I saw the picture of Joy (name changed) just minutes after she was born, it literally looked like she was smiling and saying "I'm alive!" As I've watched her grow up, her history haunts me that she came so close to not being here. 
Pro-Choice.  I agree--a woman has a right to treat her body any way--that is America.  But is there a better way if it is an unintended or unwanted pregnancy?  Once a woman decides she has an unintended or unwanted pregnancy, she does have 3 choices: abortion, adoption, or keep the baby. Of those 3 choices, and in this legislative debate, women's rights has been equated with Pro-Choice. Why is Pro-Choice considered the opposite of Pro-Life?  Maybe that's the answer--we all understand what the choice really is about.  Pro-Choice offers 3 choices.  Pro-Life offers 2 choices.  I'm not saying that in an accusatory or judgemental way--but taken down to its barest principle, the choice really is about continuing a life or not.  Decide for yourself between abortion, adoption or keeping the baby.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pampered Chef Fundraiser for Cradled!

As you know, Cradled, by Love Hope and Healing is near to my heart.  It is a soon to be non-profit organization that serves women and families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant loss or infertility.  You can check out our website at www.Cradled.org to learn more.

Pampered Chef and my new friend Patricia are teaming up to donate up to 30% of the sales beginning July 1-15.  Please click the link below to buy a gift for someone or finally purchase that item you have been waiting to get at your next show.  This one is easy, because you can shop online!  Please spread the word--we are an all-volunteer organization that depends on donations of time and resources!

Your generosity is appreciated!  One of my favorite Pampered Chef products is the small micro-cooker.  Melting chocolate or almond bark for frostings or treats is so easy in the microwave in this non-stick, lightweight pan.   And of course, your baked goods come out perfectly in the stoneware.  I recently bought the small ridged baker (in stoneware), and it is great for microwaving chicken (just cover with wax paper or parchment paper, and you have perfectly tender chicken cooked faster than in your oven or when you don't want to heat up the house!)

Thank you for shopping through this link; choose direct shipping/ship to customer
http://www.pamperedchef.biz/patricialinsteadman?page=host-search-results&showId=4203839
July's special: FREE Superswat with any purchase of $60 or more


Spread the word to friends and family!  Even if you cannot buy something right now, please let your family and friends know!
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

 
I was reading this Golden Book about Jesus before bed last night, and Anna said "I want Jesus to hold me in His lap like that little girl."  I was so touched that she thought to put herself into the picture and knew that Jesus is real and that it might be possible to sit in His lap.  She is only 4, but her faith and understanding of theology boggles my mind sometimes--yet it's an uncomplicated faith.  I told her how much Jesus loves her and would love to hold her in His lap.  This is true for you, too. And you can believe it.  This is more than believing in the magic of Christmas, like the Macy's commercials and banners simply say "Believe" during the holiday season.  This is a God who sees you.  He knows you by name.  He loves you.  He took our guilt; he took our shame.  He wants to be a part of your life.  How He loves us.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16 from the Bible.  It doesn't get any simpler than that.  Anna understands that even if she doesn't know that verse by heart yet; it's not a requirement to know everything about the Bible or to do good deeds.  It's about His Grace and mercy for us.  She always wants me to sing 2 verses of Jesus Loves Me right before bed.  "Jesus loves me, He who died, heaven's gate to open wide.  He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so."

Friday, June 21, 2013

2 Months

We moved into our new house exactly two months ago.  It has been a whirlwind, and I have wanted to write every single day.  Each day my thoughts have gone on a train about what would be a good post, but here we are.  Our move out of Waco went pretty smoothly.  The evening the truck left was the night of the explosion in West, TX.  We received an e-mail about a friend's daughter who had just lost her house, which prompted us to stay the night in Waco.  Had we not received the e-mail, we would have been sitting on I-35 right after it all had happened.  Our hearts still go out to those families who lost their houses and family/friends when the fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded.
We love our new house; this made it a lot easier to leave our house in Waco behind.  But it wasn't until we got the keys that we started learning about all of the underlying problems.  We have spent a lot of time cleaning, going without hot water, hot water heater exploding, replacing a hot water heater, fixing a refrigerator 3 times, having the air conditioner worked on 3 times (and still waiting for the evaporative coil to be replaced), work done in our master closet, replacing incredibly stained carpet (when we looked at the house it was pretty clean, but in the month between purchasing and closing, all of the stains reappeared).  This has been a mighty test of my endurance--some moments I felt a had reached my breaking point.  I know all of these things sound so trivial compared to other life moments people are going through, but I really did feel overwhelmed and discouraged.  I did remain thankful for our house and where God had brought us, but amidst the chaos and two young children acting out, it was difficult.  I kept reminding myself that when the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land, they still had to conquer Jericho, and God made a way for them--they had to march around the entire city 7 times.  I am sure this was a test of endurance as well, just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing no results.  Then God told them to blow their horns, and the walls crumbled down!  There was one night where I was feeling pretty down, and as I stood and looked at the stars on our back deck, I felt God say "I know all of your troubles."  Just knowing that He knew and was not surprised made me feel reassured.  Even though we would clean up one flood to turn around and have another one or something else break, I knew God would see us through.

My last post I put up the link to a sermon from a local pastor here who has terminal cancer.  Hearing his sermon really helped me to rise above the discouragement.  The next week, after posting his story and perspective of how he is dealing with the prognosis, I got the call that my uncle was diagnosed with acute Leukemia.  This was shocking and scary.  Some people die within 2 weeks of this diagnosis.  He has now been through 2 rounds of chemo and awaiting the results of the second round, hoping that this stronger chemo killed the cancer cells.  This particular aunt and uncle helped us move in here, so it was tough to digest after just having been with them.  We are now in the waiting period--if the chemo killed most of the cancer, the next step is a bone marrow transplant, and they are hoping my dad will be a perfect match.

We miss our church, our friends, our children's friends, and my heart sinks when I think about gearing up for Baylor football and basketball to start back up.  I don't love football, but I LOVE the excitement of new freshmen moving in the dorms and the spirit of the first football games.  I am already sad about missing out.  Yes, we can watch on TV, but it's not the same as being there.  The girls said they wanted to go to a "Go Bears" game this week, and they were very sad to learn that moving away from Waco also meant that we left Baylor behind.  Texas feels very far away. . . These were all of the reasons we did not want to leave Waco, but it just kept being confirmed that this was our time to go.

We are truly grateful for where we are.  Yes, it has been a difficult 2 months trying to get settled, but I know that things can only get better and eventually, all of the repairs will be done, and things will have found a place.  On a daily basis I am so thankful for
1. Every time I look out the front, I see a glimpse of a hillside valley with houses on it, and it makes me nostalgically feel like I'm looking out over a German village.  2.  Beginning at dusk there are a hundred fireflies lighting up a surprise chorus that dazzles every night.  3.  Most evenings it is cool enough to sit out on the back deck and eat dinner looking out another tree-filled hillside (see above).  You can hear many birds chirping and watch the clouds change color as the sun sets. 4.  I equally love it when I wake up and there is fog hovering over the hillside--gives me other flashbacks to the hillside we could see from our apartment in Germany.  We so look forward to seeing fall and snow on "our" hillside.  5.  Scott's phone hardly rings when he is on call and he is home most of the weekend rather than being gone most of a weekend.  6.  Anna has prayed many times for a rainbow.  God has given us 4 rainbows so far.  One time she was praying and asking God for a rainbow right before dinner, and there it was--her first rainbow.  She was so excited and exclaimed "God heard me!"  Even though she is 4, she has faith, and I am so thankful. 7.  Scott is definitely not as stressed as he was at his other job.  8.  We were able to find a house that we can still host a lot of people.  We thought we would have to downsize, but although this house is larger than our other house, our house payments are actually less because of the difference in taxes.  9.  The girls just started a new preschool for a few days this summer, and they love it  10.  We have a neighborhood pool and an amazing park across from our neighborhood with playgrounds, walking trails, and lots of opportunity for baseball, soccer, etc.
All that to say, we have been off to a very slow start getting settled, but we are happy here, and we are so thankful for the beauty and opportunity that surrounds us.  Both sets of grandparents have come to help, and without them, I would be going crazy, so I am most thankful for them taking their time to be here!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Real Life

This video is worth watching.  It's about 40 minutes long--put it on while you are cooking or getting ready, etc.  We visited this church last Sunday, and this afternoon I stumbled upon his message from a few weeks ago.  Their pastor has terminal cancer, and he has such courage, grace, honesty and truth.  No matter what you are going through; no matter what you have been through, his update is worth hearing.  I was feeling a bit discouraged today, because the girls were being difficult, and I was feeling overwhelmed that I was not making any progress toward getting our house settled.  But, his words gripped my heart, and I feel like I should share them with the rest of you.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/61556118?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&color=558089

Sunday, April 14, 2013

GO Put Your Strengths to Work

We had just had a job interview and confirmation of the land we were supposed to live in all in the same weekend (Nashville area--see the previous post).  Now we had to wait for a job offer and figure out if indeed the job Scott had just interviewed for was in fact, "the one."  In our last meal with the practice, the doctors invited their spouses to join us.  Many of them were very encouraging that Scott would be a perfect fit for this practice.  We both agreed that it seemed this time they really understood his strengths as an entrepreneur and understanding the business side of medicine, as well as always seeking ways to improve the care for kids in his clinic as well as the community as a whole.  They offered him the position a few days after we returned home, and he asked for a week to think it over and pray about it.  He spent the week talking with any connection he could think of in Nashville and asked them who were the most collegial practices, the most innovative, and the most up-to-date with their medical practice.  He did not tell any of these people who he had interviewed with, and we were amazed that this group was always mentioned in the top 2 choices as answers to these questions.  The night before we had to make a decision, I asked him what he felt like he should do--was this the practice he should join, or should he interview with the others?  We were sitting in his office talking about it, and as he was explaining the reasons why he felt pretty good about this job, just above his head was a book.  The words that I kept seeing directly above him, hovering above his head the whole time he talked, boldly spoke "GO, Put Your Strengths to Work."
It was pretty clear that God had provided a job that finally he would be appreciated and respected for his gifts and talents instead of feeling like he had to squelch them to not make a hospital administrator uncomfortable (only because when you're not working with a children's hospital, there is potential for conflict about the focus of the hospital's services/money).  It's in his nature to evaluate if money is being spent well, if services are provided at their best, and he is passionate about the care for kids, our most vulnerable and valuable citizens.
He called the practice the next day and accepted the job.  I felt like I couldn't breath when he was on the phone--not because it was the wrong thing, but because I knew our lives were going to drastically change.  This was in November.  The following Sunday we felt a confirmation during our worship service at church.  The music pastor started describing how Joshua and the Israelites approached the Jordan to cross into the Promised Land, and the waters were raging.  Then he proceeded to describe how Joshua instructed them to pick up twelve stones to place in the Jordan as they crossed and how the raging waters dried up when the feet of those holding the Ark of the Covenant (God's Presence)stepped in the water.  They all passed through on dry ground, and the stones were placed as a memorial.  We could not believe this was the reference he chose to describe--we cannot recall being in a service where this picture has been detailed.  This gave us great peace that we were on the right track.
We did not tell anyone until we had a signed contract, because we knew something might fall through, and we didn't want to cause unnecessary panic.  So this time period from mid-November until January was difficult.  As things got less promising here, it was comforting to know we had greater opportunity ahead, but it was sad knowing that soon we would be letting people know and making preparations.  Be confident in this--when God leads, He definitely goes before you and prepares the way.  We were overwhelmed with His goodness in providing us this opportunity and leading us so clearly.
Scott had been through quite a bit of soul-searching during this whole process.  If you are going through a tough time in your work identity, maybe you will find encouragement from some of the books on his shelf.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Promised Land. . .

This is my most favorite part of our moving story, and it has been hard to wait to get to this point!  November 10th, the clinic flew us out for an all weekend interview.  My job was to observe, listen, ask questions only when necessary, and decide whether Scott and these other doctors would be a good fit together.  The Wednesday before we left, Scott was called into a difficult meeting.  At the same time, I had looked up houses for sale in this area to see if we could even afford it or what the area was like.  I found one with the same colors and decor as ours, and it seemed affordable.  I was also impressed with the area's parks and the proximity to Nashville, so I texted Scott that there was hope--this might be a possibility.  Even if he was having a terrible meeting, he could rest in the fact that I thought it was worth checking out the north side of Nashville if he felt this group would allow him to use his gifts/skills.  He had already been impressed with the last couple of conversations with them, and since they wanted to fly us out so quickly, we at least felt that was an indication they were truly interested in him.  We flew in early Sat. morning, toured the clinic, met with some of the partners, ate lunch with everyone, and then a friend of theirs who was a realtor took us around the area.  We were especially interested, because we had never been there, and we wanted to see neighborhoods, parks, shopping, library etc.  The house I had seen online had already sold, so I didn't plan on looking at any houses at the time.  One neighborhood we came to had a pool with a toddler playground fenced off and attached to it.  I was so excited, because often one kid wants to swim and the other one doesn't, and it's difficult to watch a toddler who just wants to run around a pool!  Then we turned onto a street, and I realized it was the same street as the house I had liked that had just sold.  As we were leaving the neighborhood, I strained to look back at what the neighborhood was called in case we ever ended up needing to look at houses.  I loved the community pool, and across the way was a huge park where the girls could play, we could walk as a family, or possibly they could be involved in sports.  The neighborhood was called "Twelve Stones Crossing."  I catalogued it away in my brain as a good area to live in but thought nothing more about it.
We got back late that night from having a nice dinner with the clinic doctors so we did not talk much about it all.  Because we did not have the girls with us, I was looking forward to sleeping in before church that Sunday morning.  I awoke at 6:30am and could not sleep.  All night long I had been hearing "12 Stones. 12 Stones. 12 Stones" in my head, so I had not slept well.  I kind of started to panic when I awoke.  How would we know where we were supposed to go?  Should we still be thinking Northwest Arkansas?  I even got online to see what job openings a children's hospital had for their clinics in Fort Worth (that's where my parents live right now).  We had also networked with other physicians at the AAP conference in October.  Could we really get a different, private clinic to work in Waco?  But he'd have to drop privileges at the hospital in order for the call and inpatient demands to change, and we didn't feel like this was a positive.  I asked Scott, "what are you going to do?"  These thoughts were flooding my brain, and I was getting very anxious.  Then I said, "we need to pray.  I'm getting confused."  So I prayed and asked God to lead us and show us the land we are to live, just like He showed Abraham in the Bible.  I asked for Him to give us the fire and cloud to guide us, just like He did for the Israelites wandering through the desert.    Then I stopped and said to Scott "I don't know whether to ask for another sign or what."  The Scott started praying.  When he stopped, I asked him what Bible story the 12 stones were in.  I knew they were about the 12 tribes of Israel, but I couldn't place the exact story.  I told him how I had heard "12 Stones" all night in my head (and hadn't slept well) and that the name of the neighborhood was "Twelve Stones Crossing."  He said he hadn't even thought about it but that he guessed Joshua and Jericho and then started looking in his Bible.  I googled "12 Stones and Joshua" and Joshua 4:3 was the first thing that came up.  Only a part of the verse was written, and some of the words were missing, so it just said something like "Joshua instructed them to place 12 stones in the Jordan."  Then I started crying when it all clicked--12 stones, crossing the Jordan--and I said, "didn't Joshua take them (the Israelites) into the Promised Land?"  So Scott turned to the passage and read all of Joshua 4 about how the waters of the Jordan were raging and overflowing, but as soon as the Ark of the Covenant (God's presence) was in the water, the water stopped flowing there, and the Israelites walked across on dry ground into the Promised Land they had been awaiting.  Joshua commanded the tribes to each pick up a stone, and after everyone had crossed, they placed the stones on the other side as a memorial. We were quite stunned and tears were streaming down our faces.
Joshua 4:20-24  And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know,‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
It was at this moment that we received our 3rd sign.  We knew this meant that the Nashville area was the land we were supposed to live in, possibly our "Promised Land."  We weren't certain enough to say this was the exact neighborhood we were to live or the exact clinic (because there were others starting to be interested in Scott), but we felt it was pretty clear we were not to look anywhere else.  I found it funny that none of it clicked for me the day before, because God's timing was for us to realize it together when we could read the whole story straight from the Bible.  The restaurant at the neighborhood was called "Joshua's," but even then it didn't stick out to me.  This developer was very intentional about this name--it wasn't just "Twelve Stones anything"  It was "Twelve Stones Crossing."  I have mentioned before that I have felt the Israelites' journey through the wilderness has been a definite theme in our lives the past few years, so it was completely shaking us that this was all culminating in this one moment.  We felt very at peace about the where; now it was time to answer "what?"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Surveying the land. . .

Before we made our trip to Nashville to survey the land to see if we could even see ourselves there, I fasted breakfast and lunch.  My prayer was that God would open doors wherever we were supposed to be--Waco, Fort Worth, Northwest Arkansas, or Nashville.  I was praying specifically for clear guidance and direction over our weekend there as we drove around Brentwood and Franklin and met with various people.  Scott fell in love with the rolling hills, trees and winding creeks and truly was impressed by the clinics we saw and the people we met.  The medical community is something special there, and he longed to be a part of a community like that.  Sometime in October we heard that the clinic we had informally met with had chosen to hire a resident, so we still weren't sure where we were to be.  I still was pondering Rick Warren's talk, and kept thinking about "what God has you lay down (my love and desire for Waco) He only has something better for you to pick up."  Sometimes I wondered if Waco was like my "Egypt."  When God had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and opened the Red Sea for them to escape and wander in the wilderness, He provided food and water and clothes for them that never ran out.  But, they started complaining about what they missed in Egypt--how soon they forgot how miserable they were as slaves.  Of course, we are not miserable in Waco, but the job is taking its toll on our family, and I kept thinking of things I did not want to leave behind.  I didn't want to be holding onto the dreams for my life in Waco that I thought were permanent (Baylor events/sports, our house, where we live, our church) only to miss something better.  On October 31, I wrote "Lord, you know where you want us to live, where you want us to go to church, where you want the girls to go to school.  Lord, help us as we get from now until we are going wherever we are going.  There is a group on the north side of Nashville that is interested in him--it seems like a good opportunity.  We just pray that you will make it a smooth transition if that is where you want him."
A private practice on the north side of Nashville saw Scott's CV and called him.  He talked with them a couple of times and was pretty impressed with what they were doing.  It was a little foreign to us, because we had only looked at the south side of Nashville (Brentwood/Franklin). I started googling the area to see what it might be like.  I looked up houses and saw one that was decorated almost exactly like our house and seemed affordable compared to houses on the south side.  I told Scott if he decided he wanted to interview with them I would be willing to consider it.  With the demands of his call schedule, he told them it would be sometime in January when we could make it out there.  Or if they flew him out there, he could come the next weekend (out on Sat. morning, and fly back Sun night, because he had patients scheduled Fri and Mon).  All this time we had to keep this all secret, because we didn't want to cause panic with his patients that we might be leaving (especially when we weren't certain what was in store).  Since he was under a contract with the hospital, we felt it would be unwise to let anyone know our thoughts until he actually had a signed contract--whether we were staying in Waco or not.
This clinic agreed to fly us out the next week.  The Wednesday before we left, Scott got called into another meeting that was not positive.  I was so thankful for God's mercy for providing the interview that following weekend.  It gave us hope that he did not have to stay in this situation in which it was becoming clear his call demands were not going to change.  I believed Scott hearing the song about mercy might just be foretelling God's character in this situation.  Scott was able to sit through the 2 hour meeting graciously, because he know of an opportunity ahead. Thank you, Lord!  Stick with me on some of this background--God gives us an amazing sign during the interview that I can't wait to share!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Second Sign

On August 11, I found the sermon notes from Nehemiah remembering that he surveyed the land, prayed and fasted before acting on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  This was a big task, because he needed favor from the king for time away as well as help with building materials.  Finding these notes reminded me that after we had heard this sermon, we both had fasted from something, and then I had seen the street sign "Brentwood."  That night my reading in my One Year Bible was Nehemiah.  I knew if I wanted to hear the next thing God wanted to say (or get closer to God), I needed to give up Coke this week.  (Some of you may feel like this is a small sacrifice, but I like a fountain Coke better than food sometimes :)
The next day was Sunday, so my heart was expectant for anything--would something in a song or verse speak to us?  A lady next to me turned to me and said "God has something to say to you this week--pay attention when you're reading scriptures or what other people tell you--God has something to say."  I was speechless.  This is the first time this has ever happened to me.  She had no idea of the decision we had made the night before to do a partial fast in order to hear from God again.  I said "I believe it!"  In my journal on August 12 I wrote, "I don't know what He's going to speak about--where we'll live, the job, the twins, etc. but I am ready, and I am so encouraged!"
Following that Sunday, every meeting Scott had was completely negative.  Not only did it seem there was no hope of the decision being reversed, the attitude toward his clinic was very negative, and his time on call was busier than ever, including having to spend the night at the hospital.  He was worn out.  Was God showing us that the administration was not supportive of the clinic and it was time to move on?  Since we had checked out Northwest Arkansas while we were visiting family to see if we could see ourselves living there, my thought was we should check out the Nashville area to see if it was even possible that we would want to live there before even pursuing a job opportunity.  I knew Scott did not have the time to be looking for a job.  Yes, my brother lives there, but I was not really familiar with the Brentwood/Franklin area.  We didn't get a clear cut sign that week, just a series of events that were so frustrating it was obvious that his job was not going to improve here.  It was heartbreaking.  His clinic was going so well, and they were all on board to make it a great clinic, but their hands were tied in certain areas, and the call demands were hurting our family.  I also had a dream that a baby was delivered too young at the hospital (there is no NICU there) and the baby ended up dying and a particular hospital administrator tried to blame Scott for it.  (Even though it would have been the OBs fault for choosing to deliver when there is a hospital just minutes away with a NICU).  Once the baby is out, the responsibility is on the pediatrician.  I was amused by this dream, because this administrator rarely talks to Scott, and I was surprised that it wasn't about someone else more involved with his clinic.  When I awoke, I definitely felt a clear warning from the dream that Scott should be careful--in the dream this administrator was deceptive and making Scott take the blame for many problems.  I also felt a little nervous, because the reality of this scenario was all too plausible.
I believed it was okay to go look at the Nashville area just for the sake of surveying the area.  I longed to just see if we could even see ourselves there before pursuing a job.  Scott felt reluctant to go unless he had some interviews or contacts.  But by the end of this exhausting week, he was asking me to buy plane tickets.  Within 1-2 weeks, Scott had networked with several pediatricians there and was just astounded at the collegiality of all of the practices working together.  Most of the clinics are private practices, and even though they compete against each other for business, they work together for the good of children in the community.  By the time we reached Franklin/Brentwood, he had 2 informal interviews lined up.  We were amazed at how quickly things had come together, especially not realizing that most of the time they hire residents coming out of Vanderbilt, and they make their decisions by November.  We were there at the right time but couldn't have planned it that way without God's help. 
Scott never dreams.  One night he had asked God to give him a dream or a vision.  He awoke at 1:00am and 2:00am, and heard the chorus from the Rhett Walker Band (although he didn't know that at the time).  "In one moment everything changed.  Who I was got washed away, when mercy found me."  One of his informal interviews was with a clinic named, Mercy, so we began to wonder again, was this literally telling him the name of the clinic or was God promising, that in one moment He would make all things new and provide a job where Scott could use his gifts as a doctor and with administration?
It just so happened that the women's ministry was starting the study Nehemiah by Kelly Minter.  I knew I had to be a part of that study since Nehemiah was such a theme in my life during this time.  My first week or two there I was feeling so sad, because this was comfortable.  Just the thought of starting over in a new church with new Bible study groups made me not want to leave.  On top of that, the husband of the clinic's receptionist was telling me how much she loved working with Scott, and it just killed me on the inside, because all of these people and friends had no idea of the turmoil we were in.  I wrote in my journal on September 15, "Honestly, I still don't want to leave, but I don't know what choice we have.  If God wants us to stay, I think that will become really clear.  I suppose after this trip we will know if God is calling us there to Brentwood/Franklin."  The night before, we heard Rick Warren speak, and he said so many thought provoking things.  I had felt like an emotional mess, because I was crying just imagining all of the people we would say good-bye to or friends we would feel we were letting down (since they were patients of Scott's).  After hearing Rick Warren's talk, I felt so much more at peace.  The past couple of years, the theme of the Israelites wandering in the desert has been so prevalent in our lives.  Rick used Moses and his time in the wilderness to illustrate many of his points, and it just hit home and gave me peace.  One main point was that when God asked Moses to throw down his staff--which was his identity, his finances and job--it became alive, a snake.  And when God told him to pick it back up, it became a stick again.  This spoke powerfully to Scott and me about throwing out his identity/job/finances to God, and seeing God make it alive.  As soon as Moses/we pick it back up in our own hands, it becomes a lifeless stick again.  Then later, that staff was the Rod of God in which all of the miracles were performed.  Moses obeyed God, surrendered his identity/finances to God, and God did amazing things with that staff.  Rick Warren challenged everyone with giving God your resources and influence to use however God would have you to.  I felt peaceful and uplifted about whatever God had in store for us as long as we were willing to surrender to His plans and give Him our ambitions.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The First Sign

Folks, sorry it has been so long!  We have bought and sold a house since I last wrote, so it has been busy here!  As I mentioned in the last post, God made it pretty clear we were supposed to ask for a sign.  We prayed and asked Him to give us a sign and that we would be open to seeing it.  We did not know when or how it would come--would it literally be written words or would it be something else?--we didn't know what we were looking for, but we had peace that God would show us a sign when He was ready.  In July my heart wanted it to work so badly here in Waco.  I didn't want to leave Baylor, our church, our friends, or the girls' friends and preschool.  I didn't want to give up the dream of our kids going to elementary school with our friends' kids.  All I knew was that I was willing to move if it meant Scott would be home more and when he was home, he'd have the chance to be involved.  I also knew that Northwest Arkansas had been piquing my curiosity, because I had been following a couple blog friends up there, and I longed to live somewhere with the four seasons like we had in Germany.  It made me so homesick for our life there--the seasons and being able to walk to restaurants, etc.  Somehow I had stumbled on a blog of a family moving from Houston, TX to Franklin, TN.  As I read her story (you can begin it here) I thought, I need to talk to her.  Her husband is a physician as well, and I wanted to hear how they knew God was leading them to go when his practice was going so well.  And once they made that decision to go, how were they able to detach from patients who love him so much?  At Scott's medical school reunion the previous summer, we had met up with 2 friends who had relocated to Franklin, and they had begged us to come out there and check it out.  We kind of put it on the back burner, but then when I started reading about the rolling hills, the 4 seasons, and the historic downtown, I started to wonder if this might be the place for us.  I googled pediatric clinics in Franklin, and Brentwood Children's Clinic appeared first.  I started reading about the physicians and started thinking--Scott would love being in a partnership like this.  Don't get me wrong, he loves his current colleagues, but they are not in control of their clinic; they work ultimately for the hospital.  We also knew people in Northwest Arkansas that have a great private practice there, and with his sister and some close friends just moving there, we were wondering if that was where we were to go.  As I said, at the same time, my heart longed for things to work out in Waco, but we weren't seeing a solution. 
Somewhere later in July, we heard a sermon on Nehemiah and how he fasted and prayed and surveyed the land before he did anything to start rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  I decided to give up Coke that week (I love a fountain Coke, and most afternoons I enjoy a Coke at home :) ) One particular day I was very emotionally overwhelmed--things were so hard, and I knew if we were supposed to stay, I would jump in and continuously pray for a miracle for his job demands to change, the hospital's decision to change or some other opportunity that we didn't know about yet.  If we were to go, I wanted to be able to mentally prepare and then let God begin to show us where.  I knew that would be just as big of a miracle--the timing would have to be just right for a clinic to need another pediatrician and for them to choose Scott.  A lot of really good clinics don't use a recruiter, so it's often difficult to find out about positions available.  I knew if we were to go, God would drop an opportunity in our laps like He had done so many other times when I needed a job.
One day I was driving the girls to preschool and just in tears crying out to God--"God please show us.  Are we to stay in Waco or are we to go?"  It was getting overwhelming to plug our lives in here not knowing if it was to work out for us to stay, and it was hard to live a double life.  I looked up, and the street sign said "Brentwood."  I couldn't believe my eyes, and I kind of laughed it off thinking "really God? you're going to show me a literal street sign?"  then the next street said "Brentwood" as if God was proving His point to me.  Apparently the street curves around so the street sign is "Brentwood" 2 streets in a row.  I promise you I have driven by these signs for a year and never noticed them.  When I picked up the girls later that day, I looked for the signs, and they were not easy to see.  I called Nicole and told her about my experience with asking for a sign, literally seeing a sign, and that I would catalogue this away as the first sign.  I didn't know if this meant we were to live in Brentwood (a suburb of Nashville in between Nashville and Franklin) or if Scott would in fact get a job at the Brentwood Children's Clinic or if it just meant "not Waco."  But it seemed to be my first clue that we were not staying.
the Brentwood sign on the left under the tree

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Background of our Moving Story

Back in June, we were on our way to Northwest Arkansas for a family reunion.  We received a phone call that began to be the turning point of our lives.  Scott had been working many hours doing his clinic job and fulfilling his extra inpatient hospital duties unique to this job.  Not only was he away from home a lot on weekdays and weekends, but the call phone was ringing all throughout the evening and night, especially during times when I needed help with the girls--dinnertime, or putting them to bed.  We had hopes this would change as a partnership with a well-known childrens hospital was in the works.  This would be great for our family as well as the nurses, restaurants, gas stations, etc. in Waco, because it would make this hospital potentially the premiere pediatric center between DFW and Austin.   The phone call informed us that the partnership had been turned down, and they were basically believing a different children's hospital would come through.  This partnership would potentially happen, but the first offer was ready to go, and for various reasons we could not wait years for the second hospital to develop and implement their plan, especially since there was no guarantee about what they would do.

This was the first clue that we could not stay in this job forever.  After hopes of trying to get help with the call demands or inpatient demands were denied, the heartbreak started to set it.  Their clinic is awesome, but we felt they weren't getting the respect or consideration even to the level of the other clinics.  Our hands were tied with what was the perception of the clinic and work hours, and the reality that they were working a clinic job and an inpatient job.  Let's just say, you can manipulate data and downplay "oh it's only 7 calls" to justify not solving the problem.  It was difficult to be told to see more patients to cover new rent, and then in the next conversation be told to block off schedules (meaning don't schedule patients during those times) to deal with having to go back and forth to the hospital after deliveries that needed to be transferred.

Now what?  I was in a lot of turmoil, because I didn't want to move, but we could not figure out any other way to make things work.  I was constantly feeling uneasy, because it was hard to grasp if we were here long-term or if we were to go.  I told Scott, "I almost want to ask God for a sign so that we at least would know whether we were staying or going."  If we are staying, we know to try to make it work at all costs.  If we are to go, we can begin that process of changing our plans to be here forever and then figure out where we were to go.  I felt a bit selfish to ask God for a sign if He wasn't ready to reveal that to us just so I could relax my mind from all of the muddled thoughts in my head about it all.  But then how else do I know what to do?  We talked it over, and Scott wondered if asking God for a sign was like putting Him to the test.  I literally opened the Bible to see if we would get any direction, and the page it fell open to was in Isaiah.  Isaiah 7:10-14 "Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.  But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.' Then Isaiah said, 'Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign"  We both looked at each other in shock and said, "it's pretty clear we are supposed to ask for a sign, and it would almost be like we were disobeying to not ask."  So we prayed and asked God to show us a sign and that we would be open to seeing it.  This is the part of the story where it is just starting to get exciting.  I can't wait to tell you more, so stick with me now that the boring details are out of the way!