Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Redemption Baby

God wrote the story and now I'm telling it.

I was eight years old when I asked Jesus to come in to my heart so I didn’t have a dramatic “before and after” story of the difference Jesus made in my life. Growing up, I was a rule-following “good girl” who aimed to please so I never had any rock-bottom moments or times of darkness. Aside from a few normal bumps in the road, life was pretty peachy. It was hard for me to grasp the concept of being depraved or wrap my brain around the concept of being a “new creation.” As far back as I could remember, I had always loved Jesus and had lived a life that reflected that. Even when I heard testimonies of the pits Jesus had pulled people out of, I never bemoaned my story. Sometimes, however, I wished I could appreciate my conversion experience more by understanding what God truly saved me from.

Fast forward to 2005. My husband, Drew and I had been married for three years when we decided to start a family. I got pregnant easily and was due on my mother’s birthday. My pregnancy was picture-perfect and we planned to have a home birth. I imagined laboring in our bath tub, having a gentle birth, Drew helping catch the baby and announcing the gender and basking in the love of our new baby in the comfort of our own home. That dream was dashed when, in the final phase of labor, I was rushed to the hospital because of complications and had nearly the exact opposite birth I’d wanted. Andrew was born fast and furious and I don’t even remember who told me he was a boy. He was taken away from me immediately and I didn’t get to hold him for over an hour. Thank God he was perfectly healthy and we bonded quickly, despite his somewhat traumatic birth.

It was over two years later when we decided to try for a second baby. I was shocked when I got pregnant on the first try in April of 2008 and we didn’t hesitate to share our news with friends and family. I wasn’t even five weeks along when I filled out a pregnancy journal with a December 28th due date. Before I hit six weeks, I started having complications. It was Mother’s Day weekend when we knew the pregnancy was over. I cried in the shower. I couldn’t believe I was having a miscarriage. The experience definitely had a spiritual component to it. I was reminded of John 10:10 that says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” That’s what he had set out to do to me and my baby. But I knew God was bigger and had already won the battle.

That Sunday, I went to church because I knew that’s where I needed to be and I sang tearful praises to the Lord, reminding myself of Romans 8:28 that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I celebrated Mother’s Day with my family, hugging Andrew and my mom extra-tight. A few days later, when the miscarriage actually occurred, I assigned it a word: heinous.

Drew and I were blind-sided by the miscarriage. When I told other women about what had happened, I was astonished at how many had also experienced a miscarriage. As with the other bumps in the road I’d experienced in my life, I knew God would use my story to reach other women going through the same thing. I had a compassion I’d never known before for women who had lost babies, while knowing mine was, by the grace of God, fairly minor.

Drew as the one who was eager to start trying for another baby. After a few months, we decided that with the next baby, we would take nothing for granted. We asked trusted friends and family to pray for our future baby, having a new appreciation for how delicate those early days are, especially the ones before you even know you are pregnant. We knew God was up to something but even then, we were thrilled and shocked when we got pregnant on the first try again. A day or two after I got the positive pregnancy test, I calculated my due date as May 13, which would be the exact day I’d miscarried a year earlier. I saw it as an affirmation that God was writing an amazing story. We asked those same friends and family to pray for our tiny baby.

The first 36 or so weeks of my pregnancy were, again, picture-perfect. We’d found out we were having A BOY and were ecstatic. As my baby shower approached, I ran across a verse and knew right away that God gave it to me as a reassurance: Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.” I claimed that verse and imagined the dancing we would do when our son was born!

The final month of my pregnancy brought anxiety and a loss of appetite. I was weak, drained and losing weight but I knew I’d be dancing soon! At almost 41 weeks along, I started having labor pains one night. By 3:00am, I woke Drew up to help me cope with contractions. We left for the hospital and were checked in by 6:00am. The nurses were amazed that I was in advanced labor and still smiling and joking around. I felt fantastic and marveled at how “easy” this labor was. It was so different than my first labor! Things progressed quickly. My family arrived at 7:00am and Ethan was born at 8:12am on May 12. His birth was exactly what I had wanted. They placed him on my chest and I held him for over an hour before they took him to take his stats. My family was there to meet him and marvel in his perfection. Everyone congratulated me on his by-the-book birth. My doctor even said, “I haven’t attended a birth like that in a long time,” and we thanked the Lord together.

Ethan, whose name means “strong,” came home on May 13th, a year after my miscarriage. May 13 now marks “the day our redemption baby came home.” Ethan has, since literally day one, been an amazing baby. He has been perfectly healthy, is sweet-natured, easy-going, cheerful, smart and affectionate and delights everyone he meets. Even strangers have commented on how precious and angelic he is. He seems to exude joy. Even when I was dealing with more anxiety postpartum, when I woke up to his smiling face, I was reminded of God’s goodness and the work of redemption that God did.

During a recent sermon from the Genesis account of creation, our pastor, Tim Jacobs, said, “God’s greatest work wasn’t creation; His greatest work is redemption.” I didn’t have a dramatic redemption story from my childhood but when I think of how heinous that miscarriage was and how perfect our baby is, I know I will always hold our story of redemption in my heart. God took something heinous and turned it into something beautiful. I know now what being depraved looks like and it is truly heinous. I am so grateful that God pulled me out of that pit.
That is how God works. He redeemed my first birth experience. He redeemed a lost pregnancy. He turned our mourning into dancing!

The enemy didn’t account for the second part of John 10:10 which says that “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jesus came to offer redemption and God is still in the business of redemption today. And I will dance for joy every day because of it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gift Ideas for Mom {or yourself!}

Wondering what to get Mom for Mother's Day?

Need some ideas to pass along for your loved ones for what to get YOU??

Let's go shopping on Etsy!

First stop: Teri's Treasure. I ordered this fabric bin made out of my favorite "Happy All Over" fabric and it's perfect for holding my crafty goodies! The quality is EXCELLENT.

I adore her quilted table toppers & coasters. These tea-themed ones are so sweet.

These re-usable fabric labels are so cool!!

How about an eco-friendly cleaning mitt?? Cute AND practical!

She's got a slew of other nifty stuff, too--check her out!!

Next up: Crafty Addictions where you can get amazing personalized birthstone pendants for a GREAT price!! I love the "est." option! I ordered these for my mom with "Nana" (to the power of three) and mother-in-law with "Grandma" (to the power of five). They're sure to be a hit!

She's got lots of other neat personalize-able jewelry, too--don't miss it!

And #3: Moja Creations! This is where I shopped for my mom last year and she's still getting compliments!! If your mom takes her lunch to work or school like mine does, and/or carries snacks in her purse, these are a great alternative to throw-away plastic or paper bags! I got my mom one large and one small, in coordinating colors. Any mom will love these reusable lunch/snack bags.

Moving on to Nicole at Owl Naturals. She's new to Etsy and among the very FEW {I've checked} who use REAL natural ingredients in her products and doesn't use "fragrance oil." Her
soaps are delightful AND she wraps them in pages from vintage children's books!

I'm eyeing the mini bar soap sampler (just $4.50) to give to my favorite mom-friends.

She also offers beeswax candles from her local bee-keeper, which I adore! I can't tolerate scented candles while I eat so these are perfect.

We also have Distressed Designs for custom signs. Any mom would love to have this with her family name.

As a mother of two sons, this one is especially delightful!

Lastly is J Lynn Creations, which has oodles of hand-stamped jewelry and these nifty stamped spoons/garden stakes.

It would be precious if you gave it in a potted plant.

I hope you enjoyed this little "shop tour" and have fun checking out these lovely ladies' wares! Tell them I sent ya!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My boys

Big sentences. Big imagination. Big ideas. My big son, almost 4.5 years old.

He does a little exploring. He's a little mischevious.

Brothers learning to play together.

My new glasses :)

Life is good and time sure flies.