Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Letter to our child

I commented yesterday that the days seem to be slipping away from me. I have been so excited about this pregnancy and don’t want to forget how I feel during this time so I decided to find some way to document some of the things I have been thinking and feeling so that in years to come I won’t forget or take for granted the true gift that we have been given right at this moment. I got this idea from another blog in which the mother put together a compilation of letters that she wrote to her son before he was born. It seemed like a precious way to celebrate the life that is growing inside of me.

Dear little miracle
Did you know that is what you are to us, a miracle? Not just because of the months and months that we tried to have you, but also because you hung on through my surgery in early September. We didn’t even know about you then and might not have had the surgery done if we had. But God did, and He had something special planned for us in you. When we saw you on that first ultrasound and heard your tiny heart beating, we almost couldn’t believe it was true! We celebrated initially with caution, worried that something might happen but you have continued growing and now at almost 12 weeks along, we are able to openly express our joy over your presence.
We got to see you in another ultrasound almost 2 weeks ago. You were active and kicking and it made us laugh seeing your little arms and legs moving around. Your heart rate was strong at 178bpm. We are so very excited to be given the opportunity to add another child into our family!
Isaac and Gabriel are excited to be big brothers. Gabriel said he hopes you are a girl. He said he won’t play dolls with you but he will play "tools" with you. He did say that he thinks he can be nice even if you aren’t a girl! Isaac has been praying for you in his Sunday School class. His teacher told me she knows how much he cares about you already! Can you see the impact you are having on our family?
Today I am grateful just to be allowed this experience once again. I know that God has a special plan just for you and I am excited to see what that is in the years to come! Welcome to our family little one. We love you!
Mommy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Priorities

I got an e-mail from a good friend that asked why I hadn’t posted anything new on my blog recently. Truth is things have just been crazy it seems. Nothing special really just life passing me by, day at a time until another week is gone. It is scary sometimes how that happens. There are times in my day where it feels like my day will never end and then poof it is 3 days later! With work and meetings, basketball practices and piano, family get togethers, church and alone time – life seems to be getting away from me.

Beth also e-mailed me today and said how we needed to get together and just spend some time hanging out, enjoying these pregnancies that we both have been blessed with. She said she doesn’t want the next several months to pass us by and we realize what we have missed out on. And she is right. I don’t want to have the next several months pass me by and realize too late that I have missed the journey because I was so focused on the destination.

It causes me to pause and reflect a little on my priorities. I know that this is a constant struggle with us. Making sure that we are using our time wisely. Dominic said at dinner on Sunday that he was contemplating the idea of taking a break from TV for a while. WHAT?! He said he wondered what would happen if he spent time reading the Bible or a book instead of watching TV. Secretly I was thinking to myself that I hoped he wouldn’t want me to be a part of his plan.

Honestly I get a little sick feeling in my stomach when I think about missing some of my favorite shows, this is sad I know!! But if I really stop and think about it – what do most of those shows we watch offer me? Usually it is a half hour by half hour ticking away of my evening. Whether it is a sitcom or the Food network, usually the shows last a half hour and pretty soon it is 10pm and I am ready for bed.

That isn’t entirely true either. Better stated, I usually fall asleep on the couch around 9pm and Dominic wakes me up when the news starts and tells me to go to bed. Sad I know!!

And if I had to tell you what I watched a week ago and what I remember from it – I probably couldn’t do it. So even though I can’t stand the idea of giving up my TV crutch I can see why Dominic would consider it.

Now am I going to put this plan into action? I would like to confidently say “Yes I am” and then do it. Maybe we could replace our background TV time with some good music. Or dare I even suggest it – conversation with my family?! In reality I don’t know. I will have to let you know how that is going later.

For tonight I am having dinner with my parents before I go to my regular Tuesday night meeting. I usually don’t get home until 9:30pm so “No TV” tonight might just be feasible. Wednesday is a whole other story. It will be a challenge to myself if I can go through with it. And as I type that I am embarrassed by the fact that it has become such a crutch for me!

But God wants my priorities to be on Him. He desires that I spend time seeking Him and learning about Him. And although I can do this for Sunday School I don’t spend much time doing it because of my own self-motivation. We pray each morning that He would show us His will for our lives and give us the Power to carry it out. If I really desire that prayer for my life, I need to be open to what sacrifices that might mean for me.

Lots for me to think about and pray about. For now I can commit to at least this - earnestly seeking His path even if it means giving up my crutch for a while. Lean on something – better yet Someone instead.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Churched" Contest Winner!!

Thank you to the few of you that left comments for me about the review of "Churched". :) The winner of the extra copy is Dee F. I also thought it would be nice to share the copy that I had a chance to read so I am giving that away also - and the second winner is Kristin (yes great name!!)

I hope that you both enjoy the book and if you do pass it along to someone else that might need a laugh too! If you both could e-mail me your full names and addresses I will get the books out to you next week! My e-mail is kasmith03@gmail.com.

Thanks again and have a blessed weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gabriel is 5!

I meant to post this yesterday on Gabriel’s actual birthday but I just didn’t get to it.

My baby is 5! I can hardly believe it, he isn’t a baby anymore he is a little boy and I wanted to take some time today to remember some of the things that are so special about our amazing, youngest son.

When I was pregnant with Gabriel I really thought he was going to be a girl. We didn’t find out what we were having at our 20 week ultrasound. I really wanted to know but Dominic didn’t and as much as I hate to admit it – that was the one surprise we had at the end! So husband you were right about waiting, it was worth it!

Apparently it was clear on my ultrasound that we were having a boy – my parents took one look and knew but they didn’t let on. Although looking back they did encourage us to make sure that we had boy names picked out too! I never figured it out! Blonde moment!!

My labor was pretty quick, we were rushing to get to the hospital that Wednesday night. Isaac was only 7 so we called my parents to meet us at the hospital and take him. I was in so much pain and I didn’t want Isaac to see me that way. I think we checked into the hospital around 10pm and Gabriel was born at 12:10am.

His heart rate kept dropping with every contraction I had and they were getting concerned. I remember the doctor telling us that if I couldn’t push him out with the next contraction that they were going to have to take me into the OR for an emergency C-section and because we were out of time they wouldn’t have time to give me a block so I would be put totally under. There was no way that I was going to miss the birth of my child so one more push and he was out. The cord was wrapped around his neck, thus the reason for his distress. But he started crying a minute later and we knew he was going to be ok.

7lbs 5oz. Ten fingers, ten toes and lots of dark hair. And he looked exactly like Isaac did when he was first born. He was perfect and beautiful.

When Gabriel was just a few months old he got RSV and was very sick. Dominic and I didn’t realize how serious it had gotten and my parents happened to come down to our house for my birthday one of the nights we had been home with him. My mom took one look at him and could see the distress he was having breathing and my dad called the ER and let them know we were on the way.

That was a terrifying moment. I remember my dad sat in the back seat next to his car seat and kept shining a light on him to make sure he was ok on the drive up. Our doctor said he wouldn’t have lasted for too many more hours in the condition he was in. His little heart wouldn’t have handled the stress because every breath was difficult for him. We spent 9 long days in the hospital with him. I left once in that time for about a ½ hour. I was lucky to have a job to go back to when it was over! And Thank God that my parents came when they did, they helped save his life.

He scared us again when he got a little older. I got a call at work one afternoon from our daycare. One of the women had been showing the young kids these flashcards with animals on them. She held up a lion and said “the lion says roar”. This scared Gabriel and he turned to crawl away and passed out on the floor. He looked like he might be having a seizure and turned a bluish/grey color. The called they ambulance and then me as he was being brought up to Sioux Falls.

More time in the hospital, and this time lots and lots of tests. We met neurologists, cardiologists, had MRI’s and heart echo’s and probably every blood test they could run. He didn’t have any of the signs that he actually had a seizure and after every test was run they decided that he had a pallid breath holding disorder.

Gabriel continued to have these “episodes” over the next several years. They told us that they eventually would end around the age of 5 – we haven’t seen one in probably a year or longer so I think we are in the clear. But boy at the time he sure gave me some grey hairs!

Now Gabriel is a healthy, strong and happy young boy. He got his first bike with training wheels and a new helmet for his birthday and he loves it. It was so cute the day we gave it to him he just hopped right on and went off riding. I am so proud of the boy he is growing up to be. He has been such a blessing to our family and I wouldn’t trade even a moment of it.

Gabriel you are a gift from God and I am so grateful for every day God allows me to be your mommy. Happy Birthday little man! I love you.

Mom

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15

Today, October 15, is the National Day of Remembrance for pregnancy and infant loss. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, it has been suggested that grieving parents and family members light a candle at 7 p.m. in their respective time zones to create a wave of light around the world in memory of babies lost to pregnancy and infant loss. Would you join me in this today?

When we experienced a loss of a pregnancy in February I found great comfort in Angie’s blog - www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com - because she was a woman working out her faith and love for God in spite of the terrible situation she was in – pregnant with a baby girl they knew couldn’t survive outside the womb.

On her site today she has asked all who have experienced a loss of a pregnancy/child to post a comment and she will be in prayer for each one. Last I checked there were over 1200 comments. My heart is heavy for all women who have suffered a loss of a precious little one. I will be praying for these women today, that God will be real to those who still struggle, that He would comfort those who continue to grieve and He would protect and guard the hearts of those of us that have been given an opportunity to carry life again.

If you have been personaly affected by a loss and would like me to pray for you specifically, please leave a comment and I will add you to my prayer list.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

“Churched” Blog Tour

Ok – so this is something new for me on my blog so please stick with me! One of the other blogs that I follow is of a woman from Nashville TN who is married to a man that is a Christian author. One day on her blog she talked about the new book he had written and that they were looking for volunteers to participate in a “blog tour” review of his book. I was intrigued so I signed up!

As a participant I received 2 hardcover copies of Matthew Paul Turner’s new book ‘Churched”. One for me to read and review and another for me to give away on my blog as a contest! So if you like contests and free stuff like I do – all you have to do is leave me a comment on this post and I will draw randomly from the names and someone will win a copy of this book! And if I don’t have any takers I will be donating the book to my church library!

For those not familiar with leaving comments…you don’t need a Google identity/password to do so, just choose “anonymous” and leave your name at the bottom of the post so I know who you are!

If you want to find out more about the author please see his blog site at: www.matthewpaulturner.com!

“Churched” is the journey of a young boy, Matthew Turner, who grows up in a family that decides to become “Fundamental Baptists” switching from a different religion. I found this very idea funny – is that what a lot of families do…”decide” to be Catholic, or Lutheran or Methodist…etc when one religion or another doesn’t suit them any longer? He made a point to say that his parents weren’t Christian before this decision they were Methodist. I sometimes find myself making that distinction if someone asks what religion I am “in”. “I am a Christina who attends a Baptist church” - for me it is my personal walk with Jesus that is more important than the building I call my church home.

This book chronicles his journey of faith, how his years of strict church affected him and how he eventually found God in the process. It is a funny book and a quick read. And one that really made me reflect on how we are presenting God to our kids. Am I encouraging a relationship with a Savior or just giving my kids a list of rules that one needs to follow in order to get to Heaven. Too often I am afraid we see people who turn away from the church because of this very reason instead of falling in love with and developing a relationship with Jesus. Although the “rules” are important for our children to understand it is so important for us to be fostering that relationship as they grow too.

Matthew was submerged in a life of rules and regulations and examples of Hell. Men had to have their hair cut above their ears, Barbie dolls were burned in Sunday School to give young children a glimpse into what Hell would be like for people who smoked, the Pastor had an annual boxing match with Satan and all Christian music was of the “devil”.

He finds a way in these short excerpts, to give us a glimpse into the fear he felt towards God at the time. And although it is good I think to have a healthy fear of God, his was much more than that and after telling a lie as a child spent a long time begging God to please not send him to Hell. But despite his rigid upbringing he later found his way to a God of his understanding. A God that he can call a Savior and a friend.

I do wish the author would have shared more about his current “walk” with God, a little more into how he values that relationship today, because it is those stories that I am encouraged the most by – but maybe that is for another book! If you are looking for a book that is a humorous and quick read you will enjoy the book “Churched”.

And if you are interested in this little “contest” please leave me your name and/or comment by the end of this week – October 17th and I will pick our winner after that!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fear

I can’t explain it, I don’t understand it and I know it is irrational, but today I seem to be filled with fear.

I don’t suffer from panic attacks or anything like that but I do have a very active imagination and I often allow my mind to wander to places I know it shouldn’t go. Quickly and very easily everything can become a catastrophe and I begin to consider the “worst case scenario” in different situations.

Today I seem to be consumed with fear over this pregnancy. I have no “legitimate” reasons for this fear. In fact I have a host of reasons to believe that everything is fine and going along as planned – but yet my mind wanders to that dark place and I am filled with fear.

I feel the fear of the possibility that we could still lose this pregnancy, or the fear that something will be “wrong” with our baby, or…the list could go on and on.

Fear – it is ugly. It masks the truth, it darkens hope and it makes me feel out of control.

I believe that satan is real in our society today and I believe that this is where these fears come from. He wants me to succumb to these fears, to believe them. Because when I do I am shutting myself off from the Light and the truth.

I did a search for bible versus related to fear and here are some that I found.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41: 10)

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you should eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?" (Matthew 6:25-27)

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1)

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalms 56:3-4)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Promises – promises to us that no matter what we face, real or not, He is with us. He is my rock and my salvation, He is the strength of my life. Do not fear for He is with me.

What do I want to believe today? Promises or lies? Real truth or unrealized fear?

It is my choice really. I holdfast to the promises today and I will shield myself with His word and His truth - that the lies of one who seeks to destroy me will flee in terror of the almighty truth of a God who love me.

And the truth shall set me free….

Monday, October 6, 2008

Today

Today I was getting ready for work and went to put on my dress pants that I had chosen to wear.

They didn’t fit!

They zipped up and everything but it was that kind of not fitting when the pockets on the side were pushed out to the max and I was afraid that if I did sit down at all for the day I would break the clasp that was keeping them closed.

This clothing problem seems to be coming on a little early and in my defense they were weird fitting pants to begin with – the kind that sat a little higher on my waist. But regardless, I brought them into the bedroom and told Dominic that they needed to go into the “not so much anymore” pile. This is the first addition to that pile but I am sure there will be more – and soon!

We started 2 weeks ago taking a picture of my belly every Sunday morning so that this time we could document the changes. We never did that before – I was always too self-conscious about it. Although I loved being pregnant I never was comfortable with the fact that I was getting heavy, even if it were for a good reason.

But this time – although some of those lurking feelings still remain – I am trying to rejoice in every change. Even if it means that I am getting “thick” around the middle.

This is probably the worst phase to be in. Besides the “morning sickness” – which by the way lasts on and off ALL DAY – things are changing, but in a way that just makes me look like I am packing on the pounds for winter! So if you don’t know I am pregnant you would probably just say I look “solid”.

I am laughing as I type this, really I am. It is good to poke fun at myself a little and to not take myself so seriously. And even though I don’t feel great most days and I am getting too big for my regular pants and yet still too small for maternity pants, I am thankful for each and every moment.

Dominic said it in church yesterday and it is true. This child is God’s. It isn’t mine/ours, it is God’s and He is allowing us the opportunity to care for this baby. What a great responsibility we have as parents. What a gift we have been given – I am so grateful!

In our church we don’t have infant baptisms – we leave that until the child is willing/able to make that choice to accept Jesus as their own personal savior. Isaac made that choice last year and it was amazing to watch him confess his faith and love for God in front of our whole church. Instead we have what is called a “Baby Dedication”.

Dominic made an interesting observation yesterday. He said it really isn’t as much a baby dedication as it is a “parent dedication”. Knowing that this is God’s child first we don’t really need to dedicate this baby back to Him. But we do as parents need to dedicate and commit to God that we will raise this baby in a Christian home, teach him/her the bible and bring him to church. We really do have a great responsibility to lead this child to a personal relationship with the One who gave this child to us.

For now though, I will just pray that God will guide us in the month’s to come, preparing us for the journey we have ahead.

And I might just need to begin my search for a couple pairs of pants that will “grow” with me. I am going to be needing them – and soon!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings

Alright I have a confession to make – this post was written awhile ago, but because of respect for another’s wishes and timing I was unable to post until now. But I have been given the go ahead and so I am shouting out my list of blessings today!

A few weeks ago Dominic and I were out for a dinner together alone and I had a missed call from Beth. I didn’t think much of it and called her as soon as I got the message. After a little talk about how and what they were doing for the weekend she said she had some news for me.

Yep – you guessed it Beth is pregnant!!! I can’t tell you how very excited I was when I got that call. I mean really – in all honesty I had not been so excited for something in a long time. I was thrilled for her and Jeff. And from the moment she told me – and I shared this with her – I had a feeling that she was going to have the first girl for our family! Call me crazy but I guess we will see huh?!

As some of you know Dominic and I have been trying for a LONG time to be pregnant again. It is something I have struggled with and truth be told in certain circumstances, around people that are pregnant or with their new babies I have had a really hard time.

But when this call came I felt nothing but sheer joy. Joy that they were going to be experiencing kids of their own, joy that they live close and I could walk along with her on this journey, joy that Beth and I have established a relationship and a friendship that I am grateful for. This is such a gift for our family and I was so excited. I have been praying for her daily that God would bless her with a healthy, easy and enjoyable pregnancy. She is due May 8, 2009!

I remember thinking the next day that I was glad she got pregnant before I did again. That she deserved this. I have had almost 12 years of “firsts” with Isaac as the only grandchild for a long time and they deserve a “first” of their own – thus the hopes for a girl for them.

I guess I really felt for the first time that I was healed from the loss I had experienced back in February, that I was finally able to let that go and just jump for joy over someone else’s miracle.

Well God has a sense of humor and just when I think things can’t be any better…well, He changes things up a bit.

When I was with Karlena in Denver I had terrible heartburn – which for me is out of the ordinary - that is unless I am pregnant. But I dismissed it until after I got home that next week and I was continuing to feel “icky” in the morning.

I knew the chance of me being pregnant was slim to none, but I had a test left over from before and I decided to take it.

I was wrong about the slim to none – it flashed positive so fast I could hardly believe it! I literally fell to my knees in the bathroom and cried. I knew how early it must be and all the fears of losing this pregnancy just flooded over me. All I could do was just pray that God would prepare my heart for whatever this might mean – good or bad. I didn’t pray for the pregnancy to be safe just that I would be prepared to walk whatever path He had for me.

I saw my doctor that same day for a follow up from my surgery and told her the news. She said she would do some blood work to see where my “numbers” were and we would go from there.

Again I waited – asking for my heart to be prepared. I got a call the next day that my numbers were higher than expected and they wanted to see me the following day for an ultrasound. Here is where I tried to understand and control what was happening….I Googled. Darn the google! Let me say from experience – sometimes the not knowing is better than all the stuff that Google has to offer us. I found every terrible thing I could find that it might be – all mostly bad and prepared myself for the worst.

So after another day of waiting and now praying that He would be with me when we got the news that something was wrong – we went to that ultrasound appointment. I was terrified. I kept reminding myself that God was God regardless of the outcome and I had to trust in His plan.

“There’s your baby”. Three simple words and the tears started falling. “And it is where it is “supposed,” to be” – that was their main concern. And then “there’s the heart beating”, “122bpm a good, strong heartbeat”.

And then something I didn’t expect – you are 6 weeks, 3 days along. WHAT?! Tears again. “But I don’t understand – I had surgery 3 weeks ago, they tested me that day, it was negative, how could it have survived?”

Our little miracle was conceived before my surgery, and somehow, by the grace of God, survived that whole ordeal and is now growing, just like it should. What a little fighter we have on our hands!

Then she told me my due date – May 18, 2009. Here is where God’s sense of humor comes in I think…Beth and I are due only 10 days apart! You know there is no way we could have planned this ourselves – no way if we had tried this on our own would it have turned out. But with God – anything is possible!

God chose to bless us both with this amazing gift. The gift of being able to share in a similar experience at the same time. The gift of having kids that are the same age and will grow up knowing how special this time was for their moms. This very well may be the only opportunity for us to be pregnant at the same time, and living so close. It truly is a blessing and I am overjoyed!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Warm towels and other morning routines

We have this routine every morning with the boys that started as a fluke but has developed into a necessary part of our morning. One day when the boys were getting done with their showers they needed clean towels. I had been running the dryer that morning and there were a couple of clean towels in there so I grabbed them….thus started the tradition of the warm towels.

The next day Gabriel wanted to know where his warm towel was. I hadn’t made it warm and he was very disappointed. So from that day on it is something that I have done every morning. Before I get in the shower when I get up I put their towels into the dryer so that in an hour when I have to get them up their towels will be toasty warm!

And if you think about it, what would be better after a warm shower and the cold air of the house starts to come into the room and then you are covered with a warm towel to dry off with! Hey I think I need someone to get me a warm towel every morning! Don’t feel too bad for me though Dominic doesn’t get the warm towels either!

There is something comforting about being wrapped up in a warm towel, or a warm blanket when it is cold. So I can understand how they enjoy this. And really it is very little out of my time every day to give them a good start to their morning. And mornings can be difficult at times with sleepy kids so this is something that hopefully will make good memories for them of their childhood.

Another routine that we have developed over the past couple of years has been that before we leave in the morning we say prayers together as a family. We have a couple of “recited” prayers that we say first and then one of us will say a closing prayer. Although Gabriel is only 4 (almost 5) he is a smart little guy. One day he surprised us and said the prayers along with us, reciting every word! We were so impressed because it took us awhile to memorize them. But I suppose hearing them over and over stuck in his mind.

For a long time he wouldn’t say them with us even though we knew he had them down. Just his way of showing his defiance I guess! But in the past few weeks he has been saying them with us again. It is the way that he says them that has me laughing almost every morning. He starts out all sweet “God…” and then the rest of the prayer he says in this almost angry sounding loud whisper.

I have to really concentrate not to laugh when he does this because it sounds so hilarious! And I don’t really think he is angry but it sure sounds like he is! Oh well, God loves to hear our voices even if the “tone” isn’t the best. I am glad that for today he was at least willing to try! I thought I would end by sharing these recited prayers with you – we enjoy them because they help us focus on God’s will for our lives and how we can help our fellow man.

“God, I offer myself to thee
To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt
Relieve me of the bondage of self that I might better do Thy will
Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to
Those I might help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life
May I do Thy will always.”

“My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad
I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character
Which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding. Amen”


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