This thought has been on my mind for a long while and I haven’t yet put it to any good use.

We talk about tithing, we talk about treasure, we talk about money, storing, investing, saving, spending….  It seems to me that money takes up a good portion of our energy.  And not that is not needfully so sometimes.

But, there are those of us who believe that money is not our only treasure.  I believe this is especially true of Christian mothers.  If treasure is defined as something of great value, great worth, that isn’t easily come by, then I know of a treasure more precious than money in our household.  Money might be hard to come by, difficult to budget, and quickly gone, but I can think of one thing of greater value, more difficult to come by, incredibly hard to budget, and even more quickly gone than money.

Time.

Oh, Christian mothers.  Could I beg that we tithe our time?  Or more importantly, let’s look at Matthew 6:21.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So I want you to evaluate – how do you spend your time?  Because how you spend your time will tell you where your heart TRULY lies.

Homeschooling mothers, do you spend over 95% of your schooling on academics and give a mere 5% to teaching your children about God?  Christian wives, are you spending your precious time on things that do not support your God given role of wife and mother?

How we spend our time is one of our best reflections of our hearts.   If truly we love and honor God should we not give Him the first fruits?  The best of the best?  Shouldn’t He get our best and not what is left over?  Should we not devote our “riches” to furthering His good, His will, His intentions?

Today, the Lord has granted you twenty four hours.

How will you “spend” it?  How will you honor Him with it?  Will you use your time in a grateful and obedient manner, fulfilling your God given purposes through Him and for Him?   Will you tithe your 10%?  Will you go even further with a joyous and obedient heart?

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I want to share an organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

It’s a topic on child loss.  So, if you want to continue, please do so.  If not, you should probably stop reading……….

If you’ve followed the blog, you’ve gathered bits and pieces of our loss.

In 2001 we were expecting our third child, a beautiful baby girl.  The pregnancy was going well, I was wretchedly nauseous.  In late December I started experiencing contractions, nothing dire, just unusual for me.  When I saw my OB (military hospital literally in the middle of the desert) she was young and inexperienced and pooh-poohed me.  We went home for leave in January and I saw my old obstetrician who put me on monitors and affirmed I was indeed having contractions and contacted my obstetrician back in California.

Following that week, they did an ultrasound with a specialist in the room and she told me I needed to be on bedrest.   It wasn’t anything I was terribly concerned with because no one thinks of bad things happening to them, especially not at 24 years old.   At least I wasn’t concerned until she said, “Well, if you can just get through March…….”  That opened my eyes.  I was horrified.  March? March!?  I wasn’t due until May 25, 2001.

Early  February 2001 I had a normal doctor’s appointment.  It didn’t go well.  They put me in an ambulance, lights on, and drove the 2+ hours to a hospital that could handle such a preterm birth.   I had a bolus of magnesium sulfate and then they put me on a drip.  That night was wretched.  I ended up with numerous tests and an EKG because they thought the mag. sulfate was causing serious heart problems.

I spent the next ten days getting alternating IVs all over my arms, hands, et cetera because the magnesium sulfate isn’t something your body particularly likes.   I was in a trendelemburg position (head down, legs up) on my hospital bed and wasn’t allowed up, even to use the bathroom.  Ten days.   That’s how long we lasted, Hannah and I.

Away from my babies who were almost 5 and almost 2 for ten days now, I gave birth to Hannah Elizabeth.  She was 26 weeks, 1 day, 1lb 15 oz, and she was tiny.  We tried so hard to keep our hopes down, but when she came out crying (mewing) and red and mad…… Well, it was hard NOT to hope.  It was SO hard not to hope.

And then the tests.  Oh my goodness, the tests.  She had two holes in her heart, a severe brain bleed, her respiratory system was a mess… These were the first reports.

But as the days, and honestly?  They melded into one very long day.  I don’t really remember where we ate, where we slept, what we did in between times at the NICU.  It’s such a blur now with just moments of clarity, of  “I remember…..”   As the days passed the reports came in and it turns out she had one hole (normal) not closed, and that closed with medication.  The brain bleed?  Not nearly as major as they thought.  And her respiratory system?  Well, not good, but not awful.  There WAS hope.

I remember…..

Those few moments of clarity.  The few things you remember.  I remember being SO angry at a grandmother who didn’t remove her rings like we were supposed to to stop the spread of germs.  I was so upset with her.   I remember requesting Hannah be baptised.  I remember going to the Ronald McDonald house and feeling relieved….  We couldn’t very well afford a hotel and to drive back and forth… Well, that wasn’t affordable either.  We had to figure out what to do with our little ones too… They were used to Mama being around.  And who in the world did we know that could watch them?  No one.  We were military, newly moved half way (literally) across the country.  I remember the baby across the aisle and how he had a huge machine that circulated his blood for him.   I remember watching a “kangaroo” video about how to hold your baby and was amazed that we might just hold her.   I remember how thin and transparent her skin was.  And how she looked so much like Briana, I thought.  She had hair, dark hair.  I remember, most of all, how perfect she was in every way.  Just tiny, miniature, like a baby doll.  And so incredibly delicate.  And I vividly remember watching her chest rise and fall.

And I remember the day she died, just twelve days after her birth.  We had gone home that weekend.  It was the first time I’d been home since February 4th.  My mother-in-law, who had come to take care of us since the end of January, had to go back to the airport and I remember feeling very alone with my children while DH took her……..  I had been so surrounded by people for the last three weeks.   And we called Sunday night to make sure she was okay and they said they thought she had a bit of an infection.  She had begun breastmilk just a couple days before, through a gastro tube.  We were concerned, but not overly, and we were planning on going in in the morning.

The next morning I was bathing and the phone rang.  We were getting ready to go the hospital.  They told us we had to come.  Now.  She wasn’t doing well.  They thought we’d have to make a decision today.  THE decision.

Oh Lord.  It was the single thing I had earnestly prayed for through it all… to NOT have to make such a decision.  How could I?  How could we ever decide it?  Live or die?  Hope or give up hope?  At what point do you give up hope?  I still don’t the answer to that.

When we got there we met her doctor, having also been gone for the weekend and we told her we had come to make a decision.  She felt we were hasty and we couldn’t be thinking about that.  She hadn’t seen her charts.  She went and came back and said she was so sorry……  And in that conversation before we could really talk about what we needed to decide, the nurse came and said we should hold her while we could.

And they took that tiny little girl out of her incubator for the very first time.  And they let us hold her.  And they gave her morphine.  A lot of morphine.  And then more, and more.  I’m sure it wasn’t so much but she had had some before we came and her eyes were open, really open for the first time ever and do you know just know how you know when an animal is in pain, even if it doesn’t cry out?  That’s how you know………..

There is a point.  There is a point that a parent should never, ever reach.  Should never know is even possible.   The point is when you come to the end of your child’s life and you come that single point when you turn the corner and you stop praying, “Oh Lord, let her live” and instead you pray, “Lord, please, please, please, let it be over.”  And you beg for the end of your child’s life.  It is not a point I ever, ever, ever, ever want to experience again in my life.  And I remember whispering for God to please take this sweet baby because her death was not painless nor was it fast.   But in the end it was most merciful.

When it was over we were allowed in a mourning room, to hold our daughter Hannah.  And we held her and sat there, we two.  We were so much younger then, this eight years ago.  Just barely turned 24 and and 28.  I don’t think we knew what to talk about……. What to do next?  What to do now?   How long do you hold a dead baby in your arms?  The answer is until she is cold and lying there so still and you realize that you will have to let her go.   You don’t have a choice, and you can’t take her with you………. You have to hand her to the nurse and walk away.

When they brought her to us, and it is in NO way the fault of the hospital, but when they brought her to us she was dressed in a cheap doll outfit.  It was scratchy and pink and I still have it and can I just say how much I despise that little pink dress?  How dare it touch her skin?  Didn’t they see how delicate she was?  How easily her skin was scratched?  The blanket was no better, itchy scratchy thing.  And what can they offer to a 1lb 15 oz. baby?  There isn’t much…………

And that became a driving obsession……. to find something to dress my baby in.  The only chance for a mama to take care of her daughter, the burial.

On the way home that night, and it seems too miraculous for me myself to believe, but it did indeed happen, friends can vouch for it….  Our van started on fire.  Not a major one, just a bit of flame and a lot of smoke.  And if you know the road between Barstow and Fort Irwin, you know it’s long and lonely and dark.  And there is no “little town” or “little stop” along the way. A van pulled up behind us and he was kind enough to throw his soda on the fire, but of course the van didn’t work.  And so they offered us a ride back.  Ironic, they thought, fortunate timing.  She lived off base and her brother in law was visiting… Had to run back on base for something and he offered to come with or else she probably wouldn’t have stopped.  They picked us up and so how was our night going?  Exhaustion.  That’s all I can say.  Because if I had had my wits about me maybe I wouldn’t have told this unfortunate one that our daughter had just died.

In the end, and here is the miracle, she helped to run the AER – the Army Emergency Relief.   By midnight that night we had virtual strangers, the gal who babysat my little ones 2-3 times when I had doctor appointments, also from Iowa, but barely an aquaintance, offer the use of her car.  The AER had promised burial expenses, car repair expenses, plan tickets… All on them.  We were new to the military.  We had NO idea that AER existed.  We had family and in the end they probably would have helped out, but when we could do NOTHING for ourselves, God stopped in.  I’m not fond of coincidences, I don’t much believe in them, for I know, I’ve seen, He can use all things, ALL things, for His purpose.  And I say this having buried a child.

The burial was very hard.  I made her outfit.  Blessedly I had learned to sew just months before that.  We had bought fabric to make preemie clothes in for her and I used soft knit with gray koalas and bits of pink and purple.  I didn’t make a lovely gown, there was no lace, no trim, but it was soft and comfortable and everything that that wretched pink dress wasn’t.  We made her a hat.  We got her a blanket.  We got her soft pink booties…..

What do I regret?  Well, looking at the organizations who supply things for the families for dead babies…… Oh. Sigh.  I wish I had  a decent picture of her.  That last weekend she had gotten necrotizing entercolitis, an infection in the gut that begins to eat away tissue.  It was invasive and acted quickly before they could.  The stress on her little body caused a massive hemorrhage in her brain and then a complete failure of her respiratory system.  The bleeding in her brain caused her head to be very dark and in the pictures, well, they’re hard to look at.  Elizabeth came across them one day not so long ago….. And she saw Hannah’s poor little body… Where they had intubated her they used tape.  And when they took off the tape, the skin of a premature baby is so delicate, it tore.  Her head was incredibly bruised.  As  a matter of fact even my most beloved friends and my family, including my mother and mother in law, have never seen pictures of their grand-daughter.  They aren’t something I’d share.  You have an instant recoil.  If you can get past it, I can, to see the face….. She looks like her sisters, so very, very much like all of her sisters.  She has the fine nose and the little doll lips.  She had dark hair and a bit of a narrow heart shaped face like Elizabeth.  I think she would have looked very much like Elizabeth Grace.

I hear now of all the things they have for mourning families and I think it’s an amazing ministry.   I pray that no one experiences the loss of a child.  But I am so very grateful that such ministries exist.   And I pray that if you know someone in the future that experiences loss, please, please, please contact them immediately and let them know such a place exists.  I look at the pictures they’ve taken and I am SO grateful that that nurse grabbed her camera that day or we would have nothing.  But oh what it would be like to have lovely pictures of her……  Something I could actually hang on my wall or carry with me.

I know that our family and friends were so far away.  And I know that they didn’t really experience her life or her death with us.   But if you could just let those mamas talk…….  They have such a need to talk.  To recognize that their babies DID exist.  They did live.  There isn’t a flow chart on the time it takes to mourn the loss of a child.  It takes a lifetime to mourn the loss of a child.  Every night as we bless our children, pray with our children, thank God for our children, we also thank Him for her.   Such a short life and yet it impacted us so greatly.

It is not so very long ago that a cousin lost his baby.   They were not prepared.  Is anyone?  I thought I could go to that wake and I wasn’t prepared for how hard it hit me.  From the moment I saw a coffin that looked like Hannah’s I started sobbing and couldn’t stop.  Later I felt a little odd and silly……. Eight years.  I thought that I had dealt with it.

And then tonight reading a story from a mama on Hyenacart that has just buried her little girl, and a couple months ago when another mama buried her daughter from HyenaCart, I just started sobbing all over again.

And there are times when I wonder…. Oh I don’t even know what I wonder.  I wonder if the time comes when you don’t cry.  And I wonder if that is even good or bad?

Am I still sad?  No, I don’t think so.  I’m not sad.  I’m not angry.  I’m not broken either.  I am thankful.  Not for her death, but how it’s changed me as a person, as a mother.   I’m thankful that I can console someone.   Or that I know to listen.   Or that I know that it’s okay for them to talk and I don’t have to say the right words.  Or that I know I don’t have to forget.  That it’s okay to remember her every single day of my life.  I’m grateful I’m a Christian and I have hope.  Hope and knowledge I’ll see her again, that I know where she is.

I’ll tell you a bit of a secret.  She is buried not too terribly far from here.  We had her buried in Iowa.  And we almost never visit.  I have family that visits her burial site far more often than we do.  They place statues and flowers and ornaments at the appropriate season.  They visit on Memorial Day and around Christmas.  And I don’t.  I don’t even feel compelled to…..  I know something they don’t.  She isn’t there.   Her life didn’t stop with burial.  The end is not a cold casket.  That is not all there is.

And in that I can find joy.  I will still mourn not knowing her….  What unique personality and quirks and joy she’d bring into our family.  But I have found joy beyond her death.  After all that isn’t all her life boiled down to.  Hannah Elizabeth wasn’t just about a death that occurred.  It was about a life that existed, a blessing given.   And for that gift, that blessing,  I am eternally grateful.

Oh my goodness what a great break!!  We took a vacation (literally) from the internet and our television.  I initially intended for the vacay to be 21 days.  BUT, then I loved it and decided I’d make it ’til December 1st.  Alas cabin fever set in and I caved after TWENTY THREE days.  But, with a twist.  I went ahead and installed a child guard software on the computer that only allows me a certain amount of time on the computer and only during very specific hours.  It’s one half hour in the AM (6:00-6:30) so that it falls after dressing/devotions and before the little ones are awake.  In the afternoon it’s an hour between 2:00 and 3:00 – so after phonics (little kids) and history/science with the big kids.   So far so good!

Although it took a LOT of work!  I had to transfer all my files into shared folders and set up separate windows accounts for each family member.  DH was sweet enough to password protect his account and promises not to tell me the password, lol.  Truth is, I have NO self control, so I have to build it in for myself.  And it’s working beautifully so far.

So, did I accomplish anything during those 23 days?  Sure did!  I switched out all of the summer/spring clothes for winter/fall and packed up the warm stuff.  Separated everything into Trash, Give Away, and Keep piles and got them packed back up, with the exception of the shoes.  I made the girls dresses and skirts for Unschool Day and we have really thrown ourselves into Tapestry of Grace and we’re loving it!

Unschool Day Picnic

Unschool Day Picnic

Pic1 Unschool Morning

I had time to make Abigail a new bag and an apron, complete with an EGG pocket for her birthday.

An apron like mama's!

An apron like mama's!

A mama from RGT made milk crate covers and they were so cute we made some as well!

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

I did INDEED learn to knit while we were on our break and I can now honestly say I can cast on, knit, purl, yarn over, bind off, and a couple other hand things.  With the help of online friends I discovered RAVELRY.com and I’m loving that!   Now, there are knitting sites and there are KNITTING sites.  This is the latter.  Oh my!  You can look up yarn reviews, patterns that are most popular, HUNDREDS of free patterns, you can sort through them, see the completed projects… It’s absolutely incredible.

My next project is LegWarmies.

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

I just know they’re perfect for us because the little girls will go through tights like crazy but Iowa in the winter is too cold for just socks.  I’m going to forego the stripes for the first pair and give it a shot on some pretty peony colored wool.  I’m using this pattern and I’m pretty excited to get started!   Ana suggested I size them for Sarah so that IF they’re too small they can be for baby Daniella and if they’re too big then Abigail can wear them.  Good idea!

So, it was a pretty fruitful three weeks.  We spent a few weekends at the timber and on the trail.  We gathered wild berries, wild elderberries, wild plums.  We harvested most of the garden.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

And some taters

And some taters

Did a little baking…

Pic9 Making bread on the weekend

We’re preparing to hatch our last round of laying hens for the year.  I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am that we got out of the house and enjoyed the bounty of the season.  It’s hard to truly appreciate how beautiful fall is unless you’re outdoors.  Here in Iowa  it is absolutely the BEST time of year.  It isn’t too hot, it’s not too cold, and there is a harvest to be seen all around you.

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Our Bounty of Plums!

Our Bounty of Plums!

Trail5

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

And, naturally we had time to read a few good books.

Pic11 Reading more

Legend has grown this year into a big beautiful brute.   Tira, our beloved good mama, has had a new litter of baby bunnies.

Pic12 Leg and Abby

On the homeschooling front we’re also seeing our hard work come to fruition.  Little Rebecca has memorized almost all of her phonics… She’s in SUCH a big hurry to be able to read.  But her enthusiasm is lovely.  Elizabeth Grace is reading quite well now.  She memorizes with ease and we made her some flashcards yesterday, lol.  She was so excited.   She’s reading four and five letter words now with ease and some that are larger as long as they are phonetically correct.  We ordered new math books for her yesterday as she is a WORKBOOK lover.  Gasp!  Yes, I suppose every family has to have one.   Ana and Christian are enjoying TOG.  Although I’ll readily admit that Christian is the one who loves it most.  This surprised me VERY much as he was originally a hesitant book lover.  I’m thrilled!

Tapestry is working out just as I had hoped.  At this point I can safely say we WILL be using Tapestry next year as we enter our first year of high school.

And finally our most important update.  You all know we had our cerclage surgery in Iowa City.  The placenta had moved 100% out of the way and is not even considered low lying.  I’m now past 22 weeks…. A point we greatly feared we’d never even make it to.  God is good…  ALL the time.   Our Baby Girl is growing beautifully and is right on track.  We had a beautiful ultrasound of her last week and we are SO incredibly grateful for this little one.  I get comments like this must be old hat.  She’s our ninth baby, our eleventh pregnancy.  No, no it never is.  Each time is special, each time is unique.  Each pregnancy is a completely and totally different resulting in a completely unique and beautiful blessing especially meant for our family.  Old hat?  Um, no.

Sooooooooo… What’s next for the family?

Well, we have play-doh and some bread to make today.  Afterall it’s difficult to make the earth without play-doh.   It’s time to gather nuts and I’m wrangling for a trip to the timber again this weekend.  My great uncle went through and labeled various types of trees in the timber… It will make for an incredible leaf collection for the children.  They’ve learned to identify many trees but there are SO many we don’t know yet.  I’m dreadful… I can tell a maple from an oak, but the only tree I REALLY know is a shagbark hickory.  And that one is REALLY obvious.    We have a pioneer festival coming up in October that will be fun and exciting.  We go every year and drink real rootbeer, see blacksmithing and spinning, and enjoy talking to the soap lady.  They always have lefse and Ana enjoys the lady who does geneaology.  It inspired the trip to the Norwegian festival this year.    The boys are going on their annual camping trip to Wisconsin in the next few weeks. I’m only a tiny bit jealous, kwim?  Ana and I have a llama and alpaca festival planned for October as well.  We’re going to buy some natural yarn and try our hands at some simple dying…. tutorial here if you want to peek.  I’m terribly excited about this… And a little fearful that I’ll destroy some really beautiful Alpaca wool.  And, of course, we’re expecting the wee one to debut in December.

We’re also planning a move.  To where?  Oh sigh.  DH got transferred in his job.  The REALLY big decision is whether to have him drive there 2-3 days per week or to move there full time and he’ll work there 4 days a week with one day at home.  He’s been doing the drive for weeks now while all of this medical mess was up in the air.   But, we’re thinking we’d like to be moved by Spring.   We like this house well enough, but I’m not going to lie… If we could find a house with an acreage with a BIG barn or with a little pasture, we’d love it!  A four bedroom farm house with a horse barn and pasture came up last week, but it would only increase his drive at this point.

We’re still very much up in the air about this and it is on my prayer list…  Not to necessarily find the “perfect” house but to be where God wants me when He wants me there…  After all, that’s the best place to be, blossoming wherever God plants us.

Okay, not a REAL vacation, but a vacation nonetheless.

We’re taking a mini-break from the internet and from the television.  We are shutting it all down for two weeks through our vacation option at the telephone company so I’m not tempted to cheat and hook everything back up in between.

So our beloved supervising teacher was nice enough to give us all a gift – The Why of Homeschooling by Voddie Baucham.  How is it I have missed knowing who Voddie Baucham is?  So, my husband listened to the CD this past week.  And he came home excited for ME to listen to it.  This is usually backwards in our house, by the way.  He made sure I had time to listen to it unbothered in the car on the way home from the hospital, lol.  It’s QUITE convicting.

I can’t find it online for ya’all.  But since mostly mamas and wives read my blog, I did find this one that you might enjoy.

Biblical Womanhood

And so my goal is to listen to this one today.

It was MORE than a little painful to listen to the Why of Homeschooling.  Oh, I’m a CONVICTED homeschooler.  Unfortunately he deeply addressed the proper training of our children.  And I wasn’t quite ready for that.  I have a tendency to get sidetracked and I excuse it being my personality.  But I’ll not have an excuse before God and so……..

Ask yourself today this one question please.

When I stand before God and I am accountable to Him for how I trained up those blessings He gifted me with, when He laid out His ministry before me……..  How will I justify how I spent my moments?  Sixty minutes in each hour, twenty four hours in each day, 365 days in each year.  If we ONLY have our children for 18 years then we have had 9,460,800  minutes to spend, teach, indoctrinate, love, educate, and catechize our children.  We are accountable for EACH of those minutes.  How will we explain the job we’ve done?

Do we truly believe that THIRTY of those minutes, five days a week is sufficient?  What about an HOUR?  Is that sufficient for a twenty four hour day?  When we wake up and when we lie down………

Enjoy my vacation.  And I hope you’re challenged.

I’m so very sorry for not updating the blog.  But things have moved quickly this week and have been very chaotic around here.  Friday we went to the obstetrician (Dr. O) and ya’all know about that already.

Monday we had another appointment with Dr. O and we requested a referral to a University hospital here.   He not only gave us the referral, he said he was glad to do it, his only goal was healthy mama and healthy baby and he hoped they could do it.  He had them call IMMEDIATELY down there.  My appointment was at 1:00. By 4:00 that day, the phone consult had been done, the records had been faxed, and the appointment for an indepth ultrasound and a physician consult with the perinatologists had been scheduled… For THURSDAY!  We were thrilled.

I should go into more detail about Dr.  O.  For one, the man has zero ego.  When he says he only wants a healthy mama and a healthy baby, it’s true.  He cares very much about his patients.  I’ve heard from the grandmother of a baby born still through no fault of anyone and  I hear he cried with Mom and Dad after the delivery.  He is deeply invested in his patients and I can’t tell you how incredibly blessed we feel to have him as our obstetrician.  That said, a doctor is as good as his staff.  And honestly?  I can’t tell you how much I look forward to going into that office.  Every single person from receptionist, to the person who takes my blood, to the nurses and ultrasound tech are about the most cheerful, encouraging, lovely people I’ve ever had the joy to be around and I’m glad to be going back to a place that very OBVIOUSLY loves children.  They constantly ask about mine and we enjoy taking them in on occasion and getting them ooh’ed and aah’ed over.  What an amazing blessing.

Thursday was the consult.  With a LOT of people, sigh.  First we did a very (VERY) thorough ultrasound.  After all we had denied all of the prenatal testing and you’d not want to go to extraordinary lengths to keep a pregnancy of a less than perfect child, right?  Oh my.  I think I answered that one with grace, I think.  I explained to the doctor that knowing ahead of time that there was something wrong with the child and doing less than we would for a “perfect” baby and not try to keep the pregnancy would entail a very serious ethical dilemma for us and that we would do exactly the same for a less than “perfect” baby as we would for a so called perfect baby.  And he dropped it thankfully.  I don’t say this to say he’s a bad man.  Actually we QUITE liked this Dr. Y.  I feel a bit sorry for him.  I suppose seeing high risk patients with babies with serious issues probably does jade one quite a bit, don’t you suppose?  We had two ultrasound techs and two perinatologists consult on that.  Then we were sent over to the OB clinic for an internal exam, a history work-up of past pregnancies, and a consult.  Had the exam and was found to be a “good two” whatever that means…  I HAD been 4.1 on the previous Friday, so that was a little concerning but not surprising.   They wanted to fit my cerclage into the schedule by the following Wednesday but couldn’t do it with the two particular doctors they wanted to do it, and they didn’t feel it would be prudent to wait longer than that at this point as we would be past the 17 week mark….  So they fit me in on Friday,  the NEXT day.  LOL, it was such a relief but oh my what CHAOS.

Oh, and did I mention I developed some kind of infection/bite on my leg on Wednesday?  It showed up on Tuesday and we drew a marker circle around it.  It was hot and inflamed and obviously growing.  By Wednesday it was really unpleasant, having grown a full inch all the way around.  DH was concerned and so off to the doctor I went.  I’ll say nothing nice about the doctor, so I’ll just say nothing at all.  Suffice to say that was a clinic visit utterly wasted.  Do you ever feel you should get to deny a payment to the medical field if they don’t actually DO something?  Kind of like any other profession where they sit and hmmmm at something but don’t actually touch the car or whatever they’re supposed to fix?  Sigh.

At the appointments on Thursday and again on Friday they were quite interested in my infection.  It was general consensus among the doctors down there that it was cellulitis, a fairly non threatening infection of normal bacteria like staph or strep that would normally live on the skin.   At this point (Thursday afternoon) it was over the circumference of a softball.  I was on antibiotics at this point and they decided to do the surgery anyway, but gave me more antibiotics injected.  I can honestly say today it looks MUCH better.

Onto Friday.  We showed up at the hospital at noon.   The procedure began around 3:30.  It’s normally a 20 minute surgery.  It took a little longer due to a small issue with scar tissue from past cerclages.  They were able to deal with it beautifully though and instead of placing the normal 1-2 purse string stitches, they placed FOUR.  That made me smile a little.  I guess we can safely say we got our money’s worth?  There were three doctors, including the department head,  doing the surgery as apparently they found this pretty fascinating.  The popular discussion of the day seemed to be wondering how much scar tissue I’d have in there with this many cerclages.   We were later told by her that she’s glad they scheduled it for Friday and not the following week as I was very soft and already dilating.  Thank God.

Thanks to ansthesia and some nice drugs that helped me to not vomit violently 😉 it was by far the most pleasant cerclage experience I’ve ever had.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to God for what He has done.  Oh, and that pesky previa?  Yeah, it’s gone.  Not marginal, not low lying, but a very nice, healthy placenta exactly where it should be.  No signs of accreta, and no abruption.  I can’t begin to explain the miracle that has been done here.  I guess if you read the past excerpts you’ll begin to understand where I was, almost hopeless, to where we are now.

Oh, and they think she’s a girl.  Did I mention that?!  How blessed are we?

I looked at our two year old today and wondered if there was anything more beautiful than a child.  I think not.  Mamas, do you know how blessed you are?  You were CHOSEN.  Yes, YOU!  You were CHOSEN by God Himself with the remarkable task of being entrusted with His beloved children for their training, protection, and love.  What a shocking and mind boggling task.  Without dependence on Him I wonder how we should succeed at all???  And be so grateful.  You should SEE my house right now.  It is an absolute disaster.  Pictures would only begin to describe the smell of the dishes that have sat for about four days now.  It is more than a little chaotic and exhausting.  And we have my sister’s shower tomorrow to celebrate her daughter whom we will welcome to this family sometime in the next four weeks.   What a perfect end to an exhausting week – the celebration of a new life!

Don’t begrudge your tasks.  Don’t belittle your role.  You were chosen.  Your ministry personally given and assigned by God Himself.  What a beautiful thing to be given such an important, vital, life altering ministry.   And to something to precious to God as a child?!?!?!  Truly, mother, He must love you and think highly of your ability….  And remember not all children are given biologically.  Mother, if you haven’t children biologically please think not that I don’t include you.  He shall and perhaps has also laid out your ministry….  God bless each and every one of you in this amazing blessing we’ve been given.  Please be grateful each and every mess, er, I mean DAY, that we even have the chance to be a mom……  We are so blessed.

So, I admit it.  I didn’t do the lesson plans! 😉  I got the girls all dolled up and off we went to a cousin’s bridal shower.  We did the hair, the nails, the jewelry, the whole ball of wax and they had fun.   I’m not “bound” to go to all these showers for my cousins… Each of my parents had ten siblings and it resulted in an awful lot of cousins, lol. But it was enjoyable and I love my dad’s sisters.  They were a big part of my life growing up and it’s always nice to see them all together.  It reminds me why I want a large family.  They absolutely adore being together and tease one another without ANY regard to mercy. 😛

It was a bit of a challenge for me.  The easy questions weren’t difficult to field – “So, when are you due again?”  “Boy or girl this time?”  “Any names picked out?”  And then there were the more challenging ones…  “How are things going this time?”  And one aunt went to Canada with Mom & Dad last week, so they were aware of what was going on.  She wondered if she could help with the kids, how I was feeling, etc.  Showers aren’t exactly intimate in our family.  You can’t picture ten people celebrating…  There’s our side, their side, whichever cousins show up, et cetera, so after presents are opened, cake eaten, there’s generally just a dozen or so little conversations taking place in the room as people break up into little chit-chatty groups.

It’s complicated.

So, I tried to answer as shallowly as I could.

And on the way home I felt sadly lacking.

It seems to me that the answers I give are very “pat” and they are NOT pointing others to the peace a faith in God can bring.  And that frustrates me….

I’m not sure how this is supposed to go.

I was thinking in the car yesterday that I feel an awful lot like a Doubting Thomas. 😦  It isn’t that I don’t believe God CAN perform a miracle. I do.  I fully embrace that He can.  It’s only that I doubt that He will.  After all, I’ve been on both sides.  With Elizabeth, we ended up with a beautifully healthy little girl.  With Hannah, He also performed a miracle (in that we didn’t have to choose to shut off the machines, an answer to prayer) but she DID die.  And so I know that God’s will isn’t always our will.

I’m actually okay with that.  There are, in general two questions that every non-Christian likes to ask a Christian.  And often our answers to these two are found lacking.

The first question is:  “If God is truly God then why do bad things happen?”

The answer is, of course, that we live in a fallen world.  Our Lord never created sin.  He created free will.  He INTENDED for us to live eternally, with no death, no sickness, no sin.  Unfortunately through our free will, WE brought sin into the world.

The second question is of course: “If your God is entirely GOOD and completely masterful of the world then why does He ALLOW bad things to happen?”

Which is entirely different.  It assumes two things.  Either your God is NOT good, because He allows bad things to happen or the second conclusion, He is not all powerful, because He doesn’t stop them.  And if He IS good, and He IS all-powerful then WHY would He allow it?

And that is when we Christians stop and say, “Uh, um, um, uh…”

I am certainly not wise.  I would disagree even with ever being a mature Christian as I have a VERY hard time (and often don’t) control my tongue.  I fail on a daily basis.  It scares me to even make the assumption that I know the answer to this.  I’d pray that those who read it, read it with much prayer and revelation from Him.

The truth?  What I’ve read in the Bible is for several reasons.  One the Bible tells us He can use bad things for good.  Sometimes bad things happen as a result of our own poor decisions.  He allows us to face the consequences of our bad choices, although there are obviously times when He chooses, in His great mercy, shield us from those consequences as well.  Sometimes allowing your children to experience the consequences of their actions serves a greater purpose than shielding them from it, no?

Supportive scripture:

~ Romans 8:28 ~
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

So it says that in ALL things God can work for good.

Now, our definition of “good” and what God defines as for good is certainly often different.

Death is a wonderful example.  If anyone knows the quote, I’d be grateful… I feel it is C.S. Lewis, but cannot remember it.  But it went on to say, when you think of the pain experienced in life and the alternative of the joy of living after death without sin, why is it we embrace life so tightly and fear death?  We have the exact opposite view as God.  When I think of death for Hannah it saddens me.  Should it not bring me joy that she doesn’t experience pain?  She is already with Christ.  What an amazing blessing, to know a child of mine is near God?  Think of the joy in that, should only my other children some day experience that same blessing?  And yet, we consider death the ultimate “bad thing” and consider that pain, or misery in sickness, the better alternative…..

God lets us know that we experience trials so that we may be refined, brought closer to Him, gain wisdom and maturity.  I know I’ve quoted this verse as well here.

~ James 1 ~

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials grow us, they stretch us, they cause us to depend on God.  If you’ve read ANYTHING of the Old Testament then you know, trials are what would continually bring back a wandering people to God.  They were stiff necked and when things would go well, they would wander from the Lord.  Trials would help them to depend on Him and bring them back…..

And finally we face trials so we can help others.

~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles,  so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are in distress, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

I will be the first to say that we have been able to offer comfort to others who have experienced baby loss after we ourselves lost Hannah.  I will be completely honest in that I have been able to distance myself a bit from this by sending a card, a note, a gift……  Recently it was closer to home.  A cousin of mine lost his little boy quite unexpectedly after his birth.  And we attended the wake.  I was NOT prepared to see the baby, or the casket, or not nearly so as I had thought.  I had thought I’d be able to offer words of comfort and was not able to offer more than, “I’m so sorry” as I sobbed.  But, thankfully, I had written  down that which I wanted to offer in a card ahead of time.  It had been eight years since Hannah’s death and I hadn’t seen a baby casket since hers.  In retrospect I’m still a little shocked at the depth with which it affected me……

I can honestly say that now that we are possibly facing some difficult scenarios I am not finding myself praying for the life of the child again.  It very much surprised me when we were faced with losing Hannah and I prayed more to not have to make the decision of ending her life than for her life.  Perhaps God had prepared me for the fact that we were going to lose her?  I’ll not know in this life.

I find myself now praying for faith for the walk….  I wonder if that actually shows a lack of faith?  My saving faith is always there, I do not doubt my Lord.  I do not doubt His ability to perform a miracle and never, since July 2000,  have I doubted His existence, His goodness, His mercy, or His compassion through this.

You’ll find this strange, but about ten years ago we had a discussion about God and faith after the death of a child.  I had befriended people with a deep faith, and yet mine was very shallow.  I had been raised Catholic and my belief system very much reflected that of my family.  I believed in the existence of God.  I believed in the existence of Christ much like I believed in the existence of George Washington, lol.  I took for granted that he lived and that he died and that he did great things in history while he lived.  It certainly was no SAVING faith, just a belief that yes, He was a figure in history.  We were involved in a conversation one day and I remember clearly, as I’m certain they do, that I said something to the effect that should I ever lose a child I’d lose my faith in God.  Who could believe in a God that would allow a child to die?

When we lost Hannah it was 2001.  I had been saved for all of almost seven months.  It was of great consolation to me, but I can’t pretend that I could grasp anything… Only the arms of peace and comfort around me.  But it’s a bit like drowning in the ocean I think.  You didn’t have time to really catch your breath between waves.  It took one’s concentration to just keep your head above water and you couldn’t think ahead five minutes because you had to simply exist in the moment you were in.  It was all you could do.

I can say that having walked that road I certainly would not have wanted to walk it without God.  What hope can a person have who experiences such a loss and doesn’t have the grace of God with them?  I should think it would be utterly desolate and without any comfort at all.

I said earlier that I felt a bit like a doubting Thomas.  I have multitudes of friends praying for a healing miracle  – that the placenta should move so they can perform the surgery…. That the pregnancy continue well past when it medically “should” even without the surgery…  A healthy baby at the end of it all.  And I FULLY and COMPLETELY recognize that my God is quite capable of doing these things.  I almost feel like it is a betrayal to have them pray for such a thing when I myself do not feel compelled to pray for this…….

I find it strange that I doubt that He will.  I wonder if perhaps it isn’t a bit more like Hannah’s death?  I never doubted for one instant that He COULD keep her alive, it was just that I doubted that He would.  I feel much like that.  I can say that it would be amazing and I would be eternally grateful if He should decide to perform one of those medical miracles.

And yet, I’m left with the comfort that should He NOT perform these, that if I should be left with the previa, and if they should NOT do the surgery, and that if the progesterone injections NOT work, I still have this confusing (to me) peace that good certainly will come of this.  I wondered aloud to a friend that I wonder  sometimes ifwe aren’t allowed to walk through trials for the benefit of those around us who do NOT believe?  That they may see a difference in the comfort we are given by God?  It is strange, this sense of peace I have about all of it.  I’d be leaving a bit out if I didn’t say I’m eagerly awaiting my next doctor’s appointment.  Or that I don’t want to “skip ahead” and see how this is going to work out…  But this thing, this web He’s weaving in my life, it is a miracle by itself to stand aside and see the works He is doing within my own heart.  I feel a renewal of faith that I have needed, wanted, ached for, for a very long time.  It is spurring me towards prayers, towards teaching, seeking,  and more……  Not for what most people think I’m praying for, but for a true hunger for the gifts of God……  Don’t you think that’s strange?  I’m surprised myself.

Ah, this ended up so much longer than I intended this morning.  I pray it is received as I meant it to be taken and all glory given to God for His word, His comfort, His goodness through all the times of trials that we face….  May we each learn to depend on Him a little more and ourselves a little less.

I hear the slogan, “We will not forget” an awful lot.  And mostly, I think of 9/11 and think, “But we have.”

And when I ran across these articles today, they same slogan and knee jerk reaction came to mind.

Why do you homeschool?  Do you remember why?  Do you remember how you ended up on this journey and where your original destination was?

For my husband and I we each had different destination points.  While we’ve managed to maintain a grip on one (the easier), I feel we’ve allowed ourselves to forget the greater purpose.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, researching and comparing curriculums, cores, books, guides, and articles, I’ve been searching for the answer to our families need for all things academic.  It is not that these things are not important, it is that they are not the most important thing.  Why do we homeschool?  To raise up strong and capable children for God and to further His kingdom.  Obviously for this we need children that are well educated, well spoken, and capable of presenting themselves and His word.  That said, we tend to lose sight of our real goal in all this.  We end up with children that are well educated and are well spoken, but they don’t understand they were created and made for HIM.  They were never educated for the goal of education, but educated only to further His purpose.

And so I ask you, what good is all that education if you’ve fed your children a steady diet of the world and raised them for the world?  All is lost at that point.  They will serve the master they’ve been taught to serve.  You must choose Mother.  You must choose Father.  Whom shall you train your child to serve?  You can only have one master.

It is acceptable to utilize a curriculum to acheive your end goals.   It is NOT okay to allow that curriculum to take the place of active, living faith… Your children are a witness to your day to day priorities.  If math or reading or history should take place above the daily Bible reading and teaching they will KNOW what is more important to you.  They’ve seen how you prioritize.  If the computer or the blogging, or your research or your email takes the place of your morning time alone with Him and His Word, they will KNOW what your priorities are… Even if you have fooled yourself.  I am very guilty of this.  Sometimes I think through our failings, we are able to bless others.  Is that not why we’re allowed hardships?  I struggle with this on a daily basis as the world competes with God for my attention, my focus, my teachings…..

That’s all I’ll say on it for today, but I ask that you please read the two links today.  And when you are planning for this fall, I ask that as you write down your priorities, you place Him at the very top of the list.  And much further down, list your priorities and make sure each is accountable to the first.

Homeschooling is Not About Education by Chris Davis

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 Major Blindspots by Reb Bradley

Thank you so much to Paula’s Archives for the links to these two vital articles.