Monday, June 30, 2008

A Walk to Remember

Yes, I happen to like this book by Nicholas Sparks... well, most books by Nicholas Spraks, really. But this was a different sort of walk.

On Saturday, Spence and I went up to Sugarloaf Mountain for a hike. I had looked at the trail maps online and found that the white trail at the top of the mountain was a nice 2 1/2 mile loop... sounded about right. Well, something wasn't measured quite right, because I can tell you that it was a LOT longer than 2 1/2 miles! We eventually figured out a little shortcut (after getting a little lost) back to the car. So, our walk was a bit memorable because we got a little lost, but also because I was reminded of a truth I greatly needed to hear.

It was nice to get out on a beautiful day and do something different. There's something refreshing to me about being face to face with God's creation... wheteher it's being in the woods, on the top of a mountain and being able to see for miles, or at the beach with the crashing waves. While we were there, I was reminded of Matthew 6, where Jesus tells us not to worry, and makes a point of talking about the birds, the lilies, and the grass of the fields, and how if they are taken care of, then how much more will we be? It was a wonderful truth to remember and to be reminded of. Here's a picture from our walk...

Lately one of the things I have wondered through this is how am I going to be okay? I know that I will be; God promises to never leave us or foresake us...but how? How am I going to be okay when I go back to teaching in August? How am I going to be okay when we go to meet with the people at the cemetery and the funeral home? How am I going to be okay the night before my scheduled c-section? And how am I going to be okay in that moment where Isaac takes his last little breath, should God decide to call him home?

I don't really know. I do know that God gives us enough grace for each moment, and that He just wants us to trust that He is who He says He is. He has surrounded us with wonderful people who are being His hands and His feet to us every day.

On Wednesday we have another ultrasound with the perinatologist at the maternal-fetal medicine group. In some ways I am excited becuase we'll get to "see" our sweet baby boy. I am hoping I'll get the chance to both see and feel him move at the same time. Would you please pray for us for that ultrasound? Would you please pray for a miracle, that God would heal Isaac's little spine, unteather his spinal cord, grow his lungs, and heal the omphalocele? Would you please also pray for wisdom for the doctor as he reads and interprets what he's seeing, and that he could clearly convey that information to us and the implications for Isaac? Would you please pray for wisdom for Spencer and I as we think through all that we hear, as we'll be meeting with the neonatologist the following week at the hospital where I'll be delivering to discuss our wishes for Isaac's birth? And would you please pray for continued comfort and peace for us, grace for each step of the journey, and the courage to love little Isaac as perfectly as possibly while he's with us?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rams, Stretcher Bearers, and Arms

You may be wondering what rams, stretcher bearers, and arms have to do with each other. Truthfully, the answer is nothing, except that all three have been on my mind lately. It has been a few days since I have written, mostly because I have been doing a lot of thinking and just taking in a lot of what has been before me.

I finished reading "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent, the book I mentioned in a previous post. I really just couldn't stop reading it. She addressed so many of the feelings and questions that my meandering heart have felt and wondered. One of them was, What happens when God doesn't provide a ram in the thicket?

In Genesis 22, as Abraham is about to slay Isaac, an angel of the Lord calls out to him. Verses 12-14 read, "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

But what happens when God doesn't provide the way out? What if there's no ram in the thicket? I was comforted to know that I am not the only who has ever asked this question.

Another part of this book that touched my heart was in a chapter about community. Kent introduced the term "Stretcher Bearers," named after the passage in the gospels where Jesus heals a paralytic brought to him on a mat. Here is the story as told in Mark 2:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 1But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 1He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

This man couldn't get to Jesus on his own; he had to be carried there. What's interesting about a stretcher is that one person can't carry it alone; the job is shared by several people. The same is true about community. One person can't provide everything to someone, but each person can do something.

Spencer and I have been so fortunate to be surrounded, supported, and sometimes even carried by a wonderful group of stretcher bearers. Some of you are people whom I have never met in real life who have committed to praying for us. Others of you are people with whom we are very close, who have also prayed with us, asked the hard questions, shown up just to be with us, and who at times, have carried us to the feet of Jesus. We are so grateful for you and for the blessing you are, have been, and will continue to be in our lives.

Today I was at the pool with our neighbors. They have two kids, one of whom, turns 6 in a few weeks. Her name is Hannah, and she is learning to swim. I was sitting on the edge of the pool with her while her mom was in the water asking Hannah to jump in and swim to her. Her mom was standing a bit further back than she would have liked, and Hannah was afraid to jump. She looked up at her mom and motioned with her arms as she said, "Arms out, Mom." Then, she jumped in and swam to her.

I was struck by how much I feel like Hannah. God has allowed the circumstances Spencer and I are currently facing, and they're not how we want them look. We would write the story differently if we could. Sometimes I feel like I am staring God in the face, not knowing what to make of the situation. What I do know is that His arms are already out, and what He asks is that we trust Him and jump in.

He wants us to trust Him, even if he doesn't provide the ram in the thicket. He wants us to trust Him, even in what feels like one of the most unthinkable circumstances. He never changes, He is who He says He is, and He is worthy of our trust.

I don't know what God's plans are for our sweet Isaac. I know what I would like them to be. I was reminded today by one of our dear "strecher bearers" that God has given me the gift of already experiencing one of the truest joys of being a mother, which is seeing your child's life impact others for God. I couldn't be more proud.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Little Gifts

This has been a long week... a week filled with a roller coaster of emotions, less sleep than normal, and a lot of energy needed to just feel "normal." I've had moments where I have just been so angry I can't stand it, and other moments where God's peace was just so incredibly real.

A few things have happened this week that have encouraged my heart, and I am so greateful that God has brought these people, whom I have never met in real life, across my path.

On Friday, I received an e-mail from someone who has been reading this blog. She very tragically lost her son when he was five years old. I couldn't even imagine. With her permission, I have included part of her e-mail to me. I love her candor and I love what God is doing in her heart...

So after hearing your plans and that you guys were very faithful in your beliefs, being agnostic at best, I was angry at you for being so stupid and blind to your reality. And for weeks now my son has come to me in dreams, come up in conversations, and is everywhere. Now granted I feel him a lot, but it’s like he was trying to tell me something. So I sat and thought about him, thought about you and how crazy you were to subject yourself to my reality, and it came to me all at once. I cherish every single moment I shared with my son. EVERY single moment, no matter how small, from wiping snot off his nose to him squeezing me and telling me I’m the best mom in the world. And I began to cry…for me and my son, then I fell apart for days and I still do for you and Isaac. There is no way I’d change anything, even if I knew the outcome in advance, I’d do it all the same, just for those precious moments with him, and now I see you are no different. You have no idea how you’ve impacted me. Your story, and your son, what a precious gift he is to you, and to me and I’m sure there are many, many people out there who’ve already been touched by him. I know I’ve not thought much about God since my son died. It’s hard to feel compassion and love for someone who took your child from you. However my rational thought believes he was here to teach me lessons and left when they were over, or perhaps he was here to touch my heart and teach me lessons upon his death, which ever way it was supposed to go it’s worked. I’m a completely different person since he’s gone. All for the better I know. I decided his death wouldn’t be in vain and made some huge changes. Everything about him was such a blessing to me, and continues to be so. I had no idea how strong I was until that day. I had no idea how strong he was either. What an angel. You are so strong and have such faith in God and your little boy. I love you for it. I love your Isaac for God’s presence in my life again.

After reading this I just wept. I wept for this woman's heartache and her brokeness. I wept for my heartache and my brokeness. And I wept tears of pride as a mother who's son is already impacting lives for eternity. What a gift.

I received another e-mail from another woman whom I have never met who has also been reading this blog. She said,

So, I say all that to say this. I WILL BE HERE FOR YOU, each day, as you take this journey. Whatever you need that is in my power to give, it is yours. I lift you up numerous times a day, and will continue to do so in the coming months.

I will be faithful to post to your blogs (by the way, you will break my heart daily with your letters to Isaac - they are beautiful) and to email you so that you never feel completely alone.

I will hold you and Spencer and Isaac close to my heart. I will tell my little one about how brave you and your little boy are. Isaac's legacy begins now.

Your testimony is shining brightly, Stacy. I am blessed to be standing in the shadows around you, holding you up

This woman's faithfulness to God, to prayer, and to encouraging me is such a gift.

Today is Spencer's birthday, and we're going out later with some friends to celebrate his last years in his twenties with a good old Maryland-style crab feast. It feels almost wrong to be celebrating in some ways, but I don't think that's God's heart about it. I know that there can be joy in the midst of sorrow, and today (well, every day) I am so thankful for my husband... for his courage, his sense of humor, his determination, his authenticity, and the way that he loves God, loves me, and loves our little Isaac so completely. If you don't know him, you should :) He is a gift to anyone who knows him.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers for Spencer and I, and for Isaac. They mean more to us than you could know.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Isaac Timothy

A while back I posted that I love the name Noah. Spencer didn't, which is okay. With the way that this story has been unfolding, I am not sure it's the perfect fit, either.

Yesterday, we officially named our little boy Isaac Timothy. I am sure the first name goes without explanation, but I'll give one anyway. I wrote a little while ago about how I have always been drawn to the story in Genesis 22 about Abraham and Isaac. God called Abraham to obedience and complete faithfulness to Him by being willing to lay Isaac on the altar and to trust God to provide, knowing that even if he were to slay Isaac, God could raise him from the dead. Thankfully, it didn't get that far, and God provided the ram in the thicket instead. Although Spencer and I obviously don't feel like we're being called to slay our son, we do know that we are being called to lay our son in God's hands, and to so fully trust in Him... not knowing what the days ahead will look like, but knowing that God can intervene at any time.

Timothy means "to honor God." Not only did we think that it sounds good with Isaac, but we want so much for God to be glorified and honored by the choices we make, the way we walk through this (although I know some days might get ugly), and most importantly, by the way we love Him, each other, and our son.

So Isaac Timothy it is. We were undecided about whether or not we were going to share his name ahead of time. Ordinarily, I don't think we would have. But given the circumstances, I want you to be able to pray for him by name. I want his presence to matter and to be real. I want the chance to use his name rather than have it just be something given in rememberance.

I also started another blog with the hopes of compiling it all into a book (I hear there's a website that does that) at the end. It's essentially just a compilation of letters that I am writing to Isaac. The link is in case you'd like to check it out.

I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday looking for a book... I didn't know which one really. I wasn't sure if I was looking for a book on infant loss, a book on loving well, or just what. I came across this book by Carol Kent called "When I Lay My Isaac Down." I was captivated by the title and took it off the shelf. The tag line for the book read, "Unshakeable faith in unthinkable circumstances." I had to read more.

This is a true story of Carol and her husband Gene's son, Jason, who was arrested for the murder of his wife's ex-husband. It's not about infant loss, or a pregnancy with a poor diagnosis. I think it's almost better that it's not. What it is about is the grief that these parents faced, the uncertainty of the road ahead, and the helplessness of not being able to help their son. It's about choosing to trust God when He seems to make no sense.

That's what Abraham did... and he was richly, richly blessed. I want that kind of faith... it doesn't mean that it looks pretty or perfect, but it's a faith that knows there's a bigger picture and a God who is in control of it all.

So would you please continue to pray for our sweet Isaac? For God to intervene and perform a miracle? That He would fix Isaac's abdomen, straighten his little spine, and cause his lungs to grow? Would you please pray that he wouldn't ever be in any sort of pain? And lastly, would you please pray for the grace and the peace for Spencer and I to keep walking through this well?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What Does It Mean?

I want to thank each of you for your encouraging comments, e-mails, and phone calls over these last two days. Sometimes I sit here and just hit the refresh button on my computer hoping that another message will come through and will encourage my heart.

It has been a long two days... longer than any two I can remember, really. Yesterday I watched some videos on You Tube that a church put out. They had to do with what happens when life hands you "Plan B" because your orginal plans and dreams were shattered. They interviewed Todd and Angie Smith, whom I have mentioned before (and sweet Angie even took the time to comment on my last post... THANK YOU!)and I was just captivated. I felt like so many aspects of their story is our story, though their's has unfolded a bit more than ours currently has.

One of the things they talked about was living in this balance of maintaining hope in who God is and the fact that He could at any time perform a miracle and fix all of this, with the need to face and plan for the reality that lies ahead. They put into words the exact tension that my heart and mind are experiencing. I have included the videos at the end of this post.

What does that mean? What does that look like? How does that play itself out when you're at the baby pool with your friend and her kids, and the other moms notice that you're pregnant and start asking if this is your first (I never know how to answer that), when you are due, etc. How do you answer? How will that play itself out when I go back to work in August at a new school, with a brand new staff, looking very pregnant? How do I live out that balance day after day in these next 18-20 weeks so that God continues to be honored by my thoughts, words, and actions?

In the short time I have had to think about that, I haven't figured it out. I feel like God is just saying to me that I don't have to... I just need to bring it to Him. He will show me.

Would you continue to pray with us? Would you pray that God would heal our baby boy and make him whole? That He would straighten his spine, un-teather his spinal cord, heal his abdomen, and cause his lungs to grow? Would you pray that God would teach Spencer and I how to live in the balance of having hope in what God could still do (because nothing is too big for Him), with the reality of what may lie ahead? Would you pray that He would help us to enjoy every moment with our sweet little boy while he is here, whether that's in the womb or out? And would you please pray that we would love well through this? We continue to cherish your encouragement, your prayers, and your friendships.

Smith Family Story Part 1

Smith Family Story Part 2

Smith Family Story Part 3

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He's My Son

In case you may not have figured out, I love music. Somehow it just captures my heart and speaks to my soul. Mark Schultz is an artist I am particularly fond of because his lyrics express things within me that my words never could. Here's the first verse and the chorus of one of his older songs called "He's My Son"...

I'm down on my knees again tonight
I'm hoping this prayer will turn out right
See there is a boy that needs Your help
I've done all that I can do myself

His mother is tired
I'm sure You can understand
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand
And she tries not to cry
As the tears fill her eyes

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place somehow
See, he's not just anyone
He's my son

I always was touched by the pain that this child's parents were experiencing... now I can relate.

Today we had our marathon day at Children's National Medical Center. I wish that I had some positive news to report. In some ways I do. The cystic hygroma is gone, and the cardiologist said that she thinks the heart looks normal. It was still difficult for them to see all that they needed to.

However, the overall report we received today was devastating. The omphalocele is much larger than they had thought. It not only includes the intestines and liver, but also the stomach and part of the bladder. In addition, a new problem arose. Our little boy's spine has an extremely sharp curvature (about 90 degrees) forward, about midway down his back, though higher up then where your back typically bends. It is also bent sideways somewhat. There is also an issue with the spinal cord, something about it being teathered. Consequently, his lungs are extremely small and not developing normally. They are suspecting something called hypoplasia of the lungs.

One of the difficulties with repairing an omphalocele with a normal spine and normal lungs can be breathing difficulties for the baby in the short term. However, with the underdeveloped lungs, the spine the way that it is, and the extremely small abdominal cavity, things do not look good. Although the omphalocele is fixable, the underdeveloped lungs and spine are not.

When we asked the doctors point blank, they said that there's a very strong likelihood that our little boy will die shortly after birth because his lungs would be too underdeveloped to allow him to breathe on his own.

Needless to say, Spencer and I are completely devastated and crushed. Although we knew this could be what we heard today, it wasn't what we were expecting. We really were expecting God to show up in a big way. Maybe He has and I have yet to recognize it.

We could really use your prayers for peace and for wisdom in some pretty significant decisions we're going to need to make with regard to medical intervention. I would also really appreciate your prayers for the boldness to love our baby well while he's still here with us... that I would enjoy feeling him kick and move, even though I know my time with him will most likely be extremely short.

I'll end with some more song lyrics. This is a song Todd Smith (from Selah) and his wife Angie wrote for their little girl, Audrey, who passed away shortly after birth. I changed the word "her" to "him".

"I Will Carry You"

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years

I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown him photographs of time beginning
Walked him through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love him like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement. We definitely need them :)

Monday, June 16, 2008


Hello again,

I just received a call from my sweet friend Melanie who is 31 weeks pregnant with her second baby. She went into pre-term labor Friday morning, and is still in the high-risk area of the labor and delivery ward at the hospital. The doctors have tried to stop the labor, but she has still been having contractions today and the ultrasounds showed that the baby's head is very low.

Please pray for her... she is scared and worried about her little one. Please pray that the doctors are able to stop her from going into labor, that the baby isn't under any stress, and that she is able to remain hopeful. I am hoping to visit her tomorrow after all of our appointments since the hospital where she is staying is near Children's.

So... lots of updates coming tomorrow!

Philippians 4:6


This post will be quick. I have my first "proud mommy" moment to share! This weekend our little guy had been moving around so much, that I put my hand on my stomach to see if I could feel him kick from the outside, and I did!!! Spencer and my sister Kate both got to feel him move too. It was so, so cool. I know for Spencer it made his little presence even more real. I love it. I love him.

Tomorrow is a huge day for us. To be honest, in some ways I have been really anxious, despite repeating Philippians 4:6 to myself over and over, "Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." So when I feel anxious, I pray.

Would you please join us in living out Philippians 4:6 by praying with us for tomorrow? Specifically, would you please pray:
- For God to work out a miracle for our little boy
- That the cystic hygroma has continued to shrink and that hydrops have still not developed
- That our little boy's heart looks perfect and that the cardiologist can conclusively say that it is in his chest
- This his brain and spinal column have continued to develop normally
- That his lungs look perfect and are developing just as they should
- That there are no signs or markers of a genetic syndrome (Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome and Pantology of Cantrell often have an omphalocele as a marker, so additional markers could point to one of these)
- That the omphalocele hasn't gotten any larger and that no other abdominal organs, like the spleen or kidneys, are exposed
- The the baby's limbs and everything else have developed perfectly
- For the doctors-- for wisdom in their interpretations of their findings, that they would be somehow impacted by our faith and that God would use this to influence their lives
- For a heart of peace for Spencer and I, that we would be able to hear and understand what the doctors are saying, and for wisdom as we continue to walk forward through this.

Last night I realized that although living in so much unknown has been hard, one thing that has been great about it is that it leaves room for hope. Knowing that the hygroma had shrunk, that his heart has 4 chambers, and that the omphalocele is fixable has given me a lot of reason to have hope and to believe that our little boy, although will have a tough road ahead of him, will be okay. I think my anxiousness has stemmed from the fact that tomorrow the doctors will be able to see so much more and may be able to more definitively deliniate what is going on. My fear in that is if what we hear isn't good, that there will be less room for hope and that it will be harder to remain optimistic. Would you please pray that God would guard our hearts, my heart, against that?

Finally, I can truly say that this experience is the first time in which I have really had this true desire to fast. I wish I could say that there have been other experiences where I have felt lead to do that, but for some reason I haven't. I don't why. The trouble is that I don't think that being 20 weeks pregnant is a good time to fast because it wouldn't be healthy for the baby. So, if any of you feel so inclined to fast and to pray today or tomorrow on our little boy's behalf, it would mean the world to me.

Thank you to each of you who has read our blog, left notes of encouragement, and has prayed for us and for our son. God continues to be so faithful, and I am hopeful that we see an even bigger glimpse of that faithfulness tomorrow in a way that brings glory to God.

I will be sure to update when we get home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Better Than Expected

Today we had a "routine" prenatal appointment. My OB and I both chuckle everytime she marks that on her sheet because nothing about this pregnancy seems routine.

Not many details to share... boring things like my blood pressure looks good, and the fact I gained six pounds in five weeks (seriously?!?!). Then there are the not so boring things, like the little man's heartbeat being found right away and it beating healthfully in the 150's.

We talked about the perinatologist's report from a few weeks ago and she was delighted to see in the report that so far the brain looks good and that there are no signs of neural tube defects. I also mentioned to her that the hygroma had shrunk and she seemed glad to hear that. She mentioned that "this isn't good..." referring to the omphalocele, but we already knew that.

What was encouraging was to hear her saying at the beginning of the appointment, "You guys are taking a real leap of faith here, and we want to support you in any way we can." Then, after our discussion of the perinatologist's report, she said, "This all looks a lot better than I expected it to."

You could have picked my jaw up off the floor. Of course, there wasn't any new information to speak of. But, she was surprised... surprised that what she is reading is better than she originally thought.

That's God at work!

I told her, "Well, we've been praying, and maybe those prayers are really working!" She politely smiled, nodded, and said, "Mmmhmmm." I don't know where this doctor stands with any of that. But I knew it was God at work, and knew that He deserves the praise for the good things that are happening (even in the midst of some ugly, not so good things). Would you pray for her that she would recognize that, too?

God is a God who delivers the "better than expected." There's a great promise in Jeremiah 29:11 when God declares to prosper us and not to harm us, and promises to give us a hope and a future.

So, would you pray with us that next week we would be fortunate enough to hear those same words from the other doctors with whom we meet? That things look "better than expected," and that our little boy is free of any heart defects, issues with his lungs or any other major organs, and that despite the omphalocele, he is continuing to grow healthy and strong? Would you pray that Spencer and I would remain joyful in hope, and for a bright future with our little guy... however long that may be? And would you pray for the grace for Spencer and I to handle what we hear that day with courage and peace in our hearts?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Facing the Giants

Well wouldn't it fit that after my own reflection about Abraham and Isaac, that we would go to church yesterday and our Pastor would preach on that very same passage. It was overwhelming.

He has been doing a series entitled "Facing the Giants," focusing on various trials that we face in life. Yesterday's was on the topic of sacrifice. The overiding theme focusing on being willing to give up what you love the most, and allowing God to provide what you need the most. Abraham was willing to give up Isaac, the beloved son that he and Sarah had waited so long for, and trusted God to provide what he would need. And God didn't fail. He came through.

I have been so encouraged lately by the acts of God's faithfulness that I have seen all around me... He always is, and He will continue to be. What has been really cool lately is that I have started to feel the little man move. Often, it's those "flutters" to which people refer, but sometimes there's a noticeable kick or jab in there... nothing to hard, but obvious nonetheless.

I love it. I love that it is a reminder that there is a life inside of me, and a little boy who needs to know how much he is loved, despite what the ultimate outcome might be. Those little kicks and movements just make everything so much more real, and are times that I can truly say that I can enjoy this pregnancy. They are little bouts of ammunition that I can carry with me, allowing me to love my little boy in the face of uncertainty and sometimes fear... the little rocks that I can load in my slingshot, just like David did, while facing the giant battle ahead. God is good... He is faithful.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In the Meantime

It has been a while since Spencer and I have received any real news about our little man. Granted, it was wonderful to hear at the echocardiogram that his heart has 4 chambers. Sometimes the waiting, though, is just so hard. We're approaching our next prenatal appointment this Tuesday, and those are usually uneventful... a heartbeat check and then lots of dialogue with my OB. A week from Tuesday is our big day at Children's Hospital, a day where I hope we have a better picture of what's going on with our little guy, and hope even more that the picture and prognosis are better than anyone would have ever hoped or dreamed.

What has been hard lately is knowing how to live life well in the meantime. There are days where that's a breeze, and other days where I find myself in situations just not feeling like myself. Work has been like that lately. I haven't told my students that I am pregnant, even though it has become quite obvious and I am pretty sure they've figured it out (middle schoolers love to talk, ya know!). That has been weird. This past Friday evening I was back at my home church for a Sara Groves and Derek Webb concert to benefit Blood:Water Mission (if you've never heard of it... check it out at!). I ran into some of my sister's friends and some of my old friends from growing up, all of whom were congratulating me on my pregnancy and asking all of the "normal" questions.... Is it a boy or a girl? When is he due? Do you have ideas for a nursery yet? Any names picked out?

I wanted to say, "But wait... you don't understand... it's not like that... this isn't good... we don't know what's going to happen." But I didn't. Because it is good... it's not the way it's supposed to be, but God is soverign, He is allowing it, and He is always good. So it's good.

I have had a paradigm shift lately in my understanding of what "good" means. I always used to think of it as something favorable. This circumstance certainly isn't favorable... it's not the way I would plan it or have wanted it to be.

So I looked up the word "good" on, and do you know what the first definition said? " 1. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous." I had never really thought of those words first when I thought of "good." All the time you hear people say that God is good... doesn't this definition just fit? And if He is good, then this trial... this valley that He is walking us through is also good because somehow it is shaping us into people who are more like Him.

Living life well in the meantime has been on the forefront of my mind for a while now. It's easy to let your circumstances get you down and to pull you into this viscious cycle of self-pity and pessimism. And there are days where the sadness and grief are real, and for good reason. I've been learning that living life well in the meantime means giving yourself the grace to have those moments, but then having the courage and the strength to choose joy in the midst of hardship... just like Paul when he is imprisoned talking about his hardships and then proclaiming that his joy knows no bounds.

Living life well in the meantime also means allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I have always been drawn to the story of Abraham and Isaac because I have always been astounded by Abraham's faith and God's provision. Lately, I have felt like Abraham because of his call to be willing to place Isaac on the altar and to let God do what He is going to do. That type of surrender is heart-wrenching, I think in part due to the amount of vulnerability that it requires.

So I am still learning what it means to live life well in the meantime, but so far God has been gracious in allowing me to find joy in the midst of hardship and has brought me to a place of unprecedented reliance on Him.

Would you please pray with us for our upcoming appointments? Particularly for our day at Children's Hospital, that we would receive more information, that Spencer and I would be able to maintain hearts of peace regardless of what we hear, but most of all, that the baby's heart, lungs, brain, limbs, size would all be perfect?

Thursday, June 5, 2008



Our dear friend Kristin is about 9 weeks pregnant with her first baby. The last two ultrasounds have not been good. The baby was measuring a bit behind, and they have been unable to detect a heartbeat. Last week, Kristin and her husband were told that they had miscarried, but knowing that the baby was measuring about 6 1/2 weeks, they wanted to wait a week for another ultrasound because they thought it could be too early to see a heartbeat.

Today they have that follow-up ultrasound at 3:45. Would you please pray for them? Would you please pray for a heart of peace leading up to the appointment, for God to intervene in a big way, for clarity of what is seen on the ultrasound, and for the grace to accept whatever it is God chooses to do in this?

Thank you for joining me in praying for them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mighty to Save

It was once said that music is the soundtrack to life. I am one of those people that when I find something I love, I stick with it. At certain restaurants, I always order the same thing. There are movies that I would watch over and over again before wanting to try a new one. I tend to be the same way with music, too.

There's a song we sing at church that at first I wasn't too keen on. I heard a slightly different version of it by Laura Story on the radio recently and it just touched my heart. Now, I seem to hear it all the time. It was the last song that came on during my drive home on Sundayafternoon, came on Monday morning on my way in to work... it's rare that I am in the car and it doesn't come on.

Mighty to Save

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine Your light and
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

As I continued to sing and to hear this song over and over, it has sort of become one of my anthems. It's in my head all day, and I am so grateful for God's goodness in that. The refrain is the cry of my heart... if God can move the mountains, then why wouldn't he be able to do something equally as big and miraculous in our little boy's life? And wouldn't that miracle be a light to the world, bringing glory to God?

We have a while before our next appointment with any specialists. The waiting is hard. My next regular prenatal visit is June 10, and we go for an echocardiogram, MRI, and to consult with a pediatric surgeon at Children's Hospital on June 17. In the meantime, would you continue to pray that God would be mighty to save our little boy? That the God, who is mighty enough to move mountains and conquer death, would be mighty enough to do a miracle in out little boy's life?

If you're interested in hearing this song, one version is on the playlist for this blog. You can hear the one by Laura Story (my personal favorite) at at the bottom of the page.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.