Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hadley's Salvation

As we were reading the story of Lazarus during school on March 14, 2011, Hadley made the decision for Christ.

It went like this...

We were at the part where Lazarus had already died. Jesus had taken His sweet time about getting there and of course by the time He did arrive, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. And his sisters were very, very sad...not only with Lazarus' passing, but with disappointment and heartbreak in Jesus' actions. They had been friends. Why didn't He come? Why didn't He heal and save?

Jesus got there and our Bible storybook reads like this:

To comfort her Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."

"I know he will be resurrected in the last day," she answered.

At that point, I explained to the kids that she thought He meant just that her brother, Lazarus, would be raised only when all are raised...when they go to heaven and live with God there. I explained how everyone who has made the decision to live for Jesus all of their days here on earth, really making Him their boss and giving Him control of their lives, really asking Him for wisdom in how to live their lives and what He wants them to do every second of every day...they are the ones who are raised and go to live with God in heaven. We talked about the ones who don't follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives when He is prompting them to make that decision...and the life that they live here on earth that can sometimes be still a good life, but it is not abundant and not full and doesn't include God's peace or guidance. And, that when they die, it is very tragic and very sad...and they don't get to go to heaven, but will spend forever in hell with the enemy, who does not comfort.

Sidenote: I'm not a dramatic person in general. But especially with things like this, I just present the a very factual tone of voice (not monotone and with expression, but no hype or sensationalism) and never harping on things. It is not my job to coax my children, or anyone else, into a relationship with or decision for Christ. That is the job of the Holy Spirit and that person responding to the Holy Spirit. Just to clarify. :)

So I explained that Martha thought that Jesus was talking about that...and how Lazarus had made the decision for Christ, so he would be raised to live in heaven.

At that point, Hadley asked a couple of questions about Lazarus and what he had done, the decision he had made. I made it very clear that Lazarus made this decision because he loved the Lord and because he wanted to live all of his days living for Him, working for Him, serving Him, asking Him what to do with his life, what His plans were for him.

Hadley said, very matter-of-factly, but full of excitement and certainty on her face, "Well, I want to do that."


I asked her a few questions to make sure she understood exactly what she was doing. She did. And so, she did just that.

All of this conversation was going on with Grady sitting between us. I love that boy. He is not a conformist, that is for sure. I just asked him, "Grady, what do you think about all of this? Do you want to do this too?" He simply said, "Not now. I'm not ready." :) Love it. I am quite sure that one day it will be his time (God's time for him), but I'm so thankful that he will not do it just because others are. He will not be moved, even by his little sister 'beating him to' something. Great quality.

So, I led Hadley in a prayer and she prayed. And she was just beside herself after that. She was trying to pay attention to the rest of the Lazarus story and our other school books after that, but I kept looking over to find her with a huge smile on her face and shaking with excitement. Haha. Too cute. She kept saying, "Ahh, I'm so excited. I'm saved!"

I remember that feeling well. The initial feelings right after you make your decision for Christ. That wash and flood of excitement and relief. I remember after I 'walked the aisle' on a Monday night of revival (preached by Bro. Doyle McGrew) at Briarwood Baptist Church in Readhimer, Louisiana, May 1982. :) Our friend, Rebekah, looked over at me as she was talking to someone about something else. Apparently I had that same smile that Hadley had. Rebekah said, "Feels good dudnit?" (that's Southern for "doesn't it") And it did.

Hadley has been excited ever since. She went around for days, and still sometimes even now, proclaiming "I'm saved! Oh, I'm so excited that I'm a Christian!" Every now and then she would get mixed up with the words and say, "I'm a missionary!" :) Which, we do live as missionaries in a foreign land. But, I didn't correct her. Because as Christians, we are all missionaries, wherever you live, wherever you work, whoever you are with.

Shortly after that day, she finished up her 'reading lesson' for this year. She learned to read and after they finish up learning to read, they get a Bible. We put the message in it that that is the most important book they will ever read. She is in love with her Bible. She can be found on the couch, before anyone else gets out of bed in the morning, reading her Bible. She is constantly asking us to read it with her.

She also is on the lookout for God in all things. Yesterday she came in and said that she saw 'God birds.' If you call them in a certain way, the birds ("and all animals actually" she said) come to her and all the ones that come with that certain call she does are Godly. :) I asked her how she knew that. "Because God told me." I just now went outside to ask her about it again to make sure I had my story straight and what did I find her doing? The same thing again. And this time she was in the middle of teaching Eissa how to do it too. :) She said, "Come on, Mama. You need to try this. It's incredible."

Are they really 'God birds?' I don't know. But, God said to be like a little child. She definitely has child-like faith. And that? That's a good thing. She is looking for Him in EVERYthing. She is constantly praying and constantly looking. And that's the Holy Spirit leading...not anything we as her parents have told her to do. We've taught her the Biblical principles of doing those things, but we haven't ever said, "Go pray." She's doing it. She's listening to the leading of God.

I posted on Facebook a few days ago that one day she didn't eat her lunch. The rule here is that if you don't eat your lunch, you don't get a snack...and then you eat that lunch for supper (and then breakfast if you don't eat it at get the usually ends at supper though:) ). I was giving out snacks that day and forgot about Hadley not eating her lunch. She forgot too. They took their snacks outside and a few seconds later Hadley came in and put her snack back on the counter. She casually said, "I didn't eat my lunch" and started walking away. I thanked her for being honest and she said, "Well, God told me. Thank Him." :) She is listening for God's reminders of things, His leading. Soooo great to watch in your kids.

She is still learning what it means to be saved. For instance, that it doesn't mean that you are perfect. When she makes a wrong choice, it grieves her. A good thing. But, a couple of times she's said through tears, "I'm not saved. I can't be saved. I keep doing wrong things." :) She is learning about still being saved and the power of forgiveness. But, I am glad that making wrong choices grieves her. Oh that we would all react that way!

She can't wait to be baptized (yet to be determined when and how that will happen). And last night at the Easter service at Asas de Socorro, she participated in her first communion. She was beside herself. :) And so thankful for all that it signifies. We said a little prayer together before she ate the bread (way before the guy said to...hahaha) and grape juice. Then she hugged me in excitement. :) Special that it worked out that her first communion happened at Easter time.

So, that's how it went down and how things have progressed since. SO FUN to watch Hadley growing in the things of God. And really fun to gently guide and steer her along in it all. Parenting is great!

Reading her last 'reading lesson.' :) GREAT day! ;)
"What is it?!?"

The siblings excited about Hadley's Bible.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Well, I'm Statistical...

That is a horrid title, but it's the best I could come up with. Not trying to minimize what happened, so I pray that it's not offensive to anyone. But, also don't want to focus on the bad either. So, that's the title.

They say that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, then I had 4 wonderful, healthy, fun children. Then...

Yes, I had a miscarriage.

We found out that I was pregnant on the 4th. We don't wait to tell people, but being in the middle of this concentrated time with God, Lent, I wanted to wait until Easter. I knew that if I told people about the pregnancy right away, my focus would life would quickly become about answering the 'congratulations' messages from others (which is so fun) and focusing on the exciting news of baby on the way...planning and dreaming like we all always do. I did that personally of course, but was able to keep my life/dreams/plans simple and controlled by not telling just yet. Therefore, maximizing my time with God during this time.

Unfortunately, last Monday night I began to bleed (only a week after the positive pregnancy test). Some women spot during their pregnancies and some even bleed and that is the norm for them...everything is just fine and they have a baby at the end of 9ish months. But, I had never bled...never even spotted. Even when I had my first miscarriage, I never bled (the heartbeat that I had seen by ultrasound at 6 weeks just wasn't beating anymore at 8 weeks...and I had a D&C the next day). So, when I started bleeding, of course I felt that something was definitely not right.

But, there can technically be many causes of bleeding in pregnancy. Many. It's not always miscarriage. Implantation, cervical changes, and infection are just a very short list of the possible reasons for bleeding other than miscarriage. And sometimes there are no 'reasons' that can be seen. You just bleed...and have to trust God. So Tuesday, off we went to determine my cause for bleeding. The bleeding started the night before as bright red, but not that much...spotting basically. Actually, what it looked like (and felt like to my body...I have a little practice with this) at the very first was like my mucus plug coming out. I knew that wasn't good. And during the night, it felt like my uterus was very tight and in a constant contraction. Tuesday morning the bleeding progressed to something like a light period. I wasn't cramping, but knew that (the bleeding like a light period thing) wasn't a good sign of course.

By the time we were able to get an ultrasound Tuesday afternoon, I was back to minimal bleeding and still had not really cramped. It was a very interesting afternoon.

The ultrasound showed no signs of my pregnancy. Well, what it showed was that there could've been a pregnancy, but that everything had exited already (my corpus luteum was there in my right ovary and I had a thickened area in my uterus, but no sac or anything), OR that there was a pregnancy in progress and it was still too early to even see anything. The first option was the case, because I know my body and knew what was going on. Then, the radiologist called a doctor in town who had actually requested the ultrasound for us (a doc here in town had to do it instead of my own doctor who lives and practices in another town) and he thought that maybe I hadn't been pregnant at all.

Long story short, which includes the ultrasound, going to meet with that doctor, going back to talk with the radiologist, and having my HCG blood levels checked (the result was 430, which according to this is right on for where I was in my pregnancy)...yes, I was pregnant and I had a miscarriage.

As of Tuesday I was 5 weeks 5 days along. Very early (my first miscarriage was at 8 weeks along). I was due on December 8th.

I'm doing fine...physically, mentally, emotionally. It's sad, yes. But I generally view a miscarriage as, well...a blessing in a way. An act of God's mercy. I just think that when a miscarriage happens, something was wrong. And God in His mercy takes that wee one to be with Him.

There are a couple of things I'm bummed about (other than the is a death after all). I was excited to have a baby this year. And even if we decide to/God decides to let us conceive again, 2011 won't be the year for a baby for us. Silly maybe, but our last baby was born in 2008...2011 was a good year for the next. :)

3 days after we had our pregnancy test show positive, Joel's brother called to let us know that he and his wife are expecting a baby. So fun, we thought. Our 3rd and their 2nd were born 2 weeks apart. It was going to happen again, this time 3 weeks apart.

As of right now the first quarter of our years are pretty you saw a few posts ago. January is when everybody kind of recovers from the holidays. But we also have Grady's birthday. February brings Joel's birthday, our anniversary, and Hadley's birthday (and of course Valentine's Day when we celebrate that the American way). March is Cass' birthday. So, I was glad when this baby was to be due in December...kind of spread things out a bit. December 8th is a busy time too (smack dab in the middle of holidays), but I was already dreaming about how sweet it would be to have a brand new little newborn to snuggle with on Christmas. :)

So, disappointed, yes. Those things are all things that I'd already thought about and daydreamed about and even planned a bit. But, then I realize how silly those things are in light of what God must know. Obviously, He must know some information that is a bit more substantial than all of those things I was thinking of. My timing is not perfect, His is.

Plus, there are many things to be thankful for. 2 sweet babies that we get to meet in heaven. 4 sweet kiddos here with me in my home all day every day. As far as miscarriages go, mine was very painless and straightforward and the ultrasound showed that I was already all 'clean' in there (for the most part...I will have a follow-up ultrasound next week to confirm that nothing remains). I got to experience pregnancy again, even if only for a couple of weeks. I do love being pregnant and consider it a privilege. And, if we and God so choose, we can 'do this again.' :) I'm a healthy, not-so-young-but-still-young woman who has all her parts and they are all working. :)

We told the kids that night before we prayed at bedtime. They are so grown up and understanding. They said, "Awww." and actually asked why we hadn't told them yet that we had a baby in our belly. :) Grady: "Why didn't you tell us?" :) We explained how the baby was very, very tiny and we had only found out ourselves. They talked about how both our babies were in a house that God gave them for us, up there waiting for us to meet them there. After a while, Grady did say he was kind of sad..."What if that was a brother for me?" :) Sweeeet. I assured him that God would send him a brother if that is what He thinks is best for him. He smiled and was fine. (I personally hope God gives that to him, but then again I know many guys who have multiple sisters and no brothers and they are just fine. And, Grady recently recognized the fact that I have no sisters, and found pleasure in us being alike in that. So for right now, we just focus on those things. :) We'll see if a brother comes along for him someday...I do hope so, but we'll see.)

Interesting sidenote: Cass randomly came up, put her hands on my belly, and prayed "for the baby in my belly" Tuesday morning (I was bleeding at the time...they had no idea). They occasionally talk about the baby in my belly...mostly just wishingly I think. But, they've never prayed for the baby in my belly. It was very, very sweet. And very timely.

People definitely handle miscarriages in different ways. I know that God knows and for me that's enough. I trust that this was best for whatever reason. And I don't have to know any answers. Therefore, I truly am fine. It also helps that I've been through a miscarriage before and that I have 4 sweet precious 'babies' at home already. I was a bit sadder the first time (although HUGE needed lessons during that time as you can read about...Part 1 link there and Part 2 here)...and I had no babies at home to be swept up in gratefulness about. So thankful for my babies this time...and thankful that I'm still 'Mama' even after miscarriage. That's a huge difference in the amount of disappointment and sadness that can be felt in miscarriages.

Easter marks the end of Lent. That's when we had planned on telling our family and starting the announcing process. Very cool and special, too, because exactly 8 years ago on Easter we were announcing our pregnancy with Grady. We thought we'd be sharing the wonderful news of new life and God's blessing.

But, this is still news of new life and God's blessing. A little life that is now with Him...and the blessing of many things that we can be thankful for that I've already listed., family, and peace.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Little Victories

I am on day 28 of Lent (which is 40 days total). It's been really, really great. I'll write more about it specifically later.

But, for years now my little family and I have been working on something. Specifically a little thing called temper...or 'temperature' as the kids call it. While I don't yell at them or hit them or anything like that, even the slightest bit of unkindness I do not want to spread. And unkindness I tend to show when things don't go according to planned, even if it's just a little huff or puff, and not the blowing down of the house. I come from a long line of 'temperature'-losers. And in the name of Jesus, we goan break this!! (that's Southern for 'we are going to break this'). ;)

So, I have always been very honest about this with my kids and they know that they can/need to call me out on it. I need their help to break this bad habit and not pass this on to them. They recognize it as wrong and bad, so hopefully it will stop with me and not pass on to them. But, I plan to be free from it too! ;)

Anyway, today Hadley spilled her cereal at breakfast. I was busy as mothers usually are around breakfast time. But, instead of doing a disappointed, huffy sigh or saying, "Hadley..." with a frown on my face, I just grabbed some paper towels and set to work cleaning it up.

Grady's comment made me chuckle. "See?'re trying to keep your temperature. And you're doing a good job." was so funny, but also so very praiseworthy. God is growing me and I am changing. Praise. The. Lord!! Seriously.

Now, I'm quite sure that I will still need to apologize to them in the future about something. Thank God I learned how to humble myself and apologize. It's come in handy with them. But, I love that they are rooting me on and helping me, holding me accountable. And I love that they are encouraged by the changes that God has made in me. We're all in this together after all. The future of all of us will be affected by our (my in this case) willingness to grow and change. It's so much easier for children to just walk in the footsteps of their parents instead of trying to find another path. The kids are helping me to provide that for them. That is definitely our goal.

Loved today's little stepping stone toward that. Temperature, be gone!! :)