Friday, June 15, 2012


I'm not feeling so well these days.  It never ceases to amaze me how I can actually be jealous of pregnant moms who get morning sickness, but seriously, I am jealous.  How wonderful it would be to wake up each morning, feel like crap for a few hours, throw up, and then get on with my day!  Instead, I feel nauseous day in and day out, never actually "getting" sick, but feeling sick all the time. 

I'm trying to take it one day at a time, moment to moment, knowing that this is in finished along with the first trimester (hopefully!).  If this pregnancy follows the pattern of the other three, in only four-and-a-half more weeks, I'll start to feel like myself again; although right now, that feels about as out-of-reach as the moon.

The one thing I keep reminding myself is that this will all be worth it in the end.  I've never looked at any of my biological children and thought, "Man, all that sickness and that restless sleep, having to go to the bathroom eighteen times each night, gaining all that weight that I worked so hard to take off, back pains and swollen ankles and then hours of agonizing labor...and this is what I got?!"

Nope, they placed my baby in my arms, I fell instantly in love,
and none of it ever crossed my mind again.

And I'm sure it will be the same this time.

Hanging onto that promise right now, and also to the thought of the tiny human being God is knitting together inside my body. 

The miracle of it all never ceases to amaze me. 

Yesterday marked our littlest peanut's seventh week of life (from conception: I'm technically nine weeks pregnant out of forty, the way they figure it).  In honor of this milestone, I did a little research (found here):

Week 9: Fingers and Toes form

You are in week nine of pregnancy. (seven weeks from conception)
  • The embryo has grown to measure 30 mm (1.2 inches) in length.
  • The fingers and toes are well defined. Cartilage and bones begin to form.
  • The upper lip as well as the nose tip is being formed.
  • The tongue begins to develop and the larynx is developing.
  • The eyelids are developed, although they stay closed for several months.
  • The main construction of the heart is complete.

During this week of pregnancy your baby is now swimming
round in a little bag of fluid. The arms and legs have
lengthened. The fingers and toes are forming, but are still
joined by webs of skin. They can flex their elbows and wrists.
They are growing eyelids as well as forming their anus. The
embryo is protected by the amniotic sac that is filled with
fluid.  Inside the embryo swims and moves gracefully. The
embryo is now about 1 inch long.

During this time of development, the baby's head appears much larger than the
body because the brain is growing very rapidly. Brain waves can now be
measured.  The main construction of the heart is complete. Through its parchment
thin skin, the baby's veins are clearly visible. During this week the ears, the teeth
and the palate are continuing to form.


    In seven short weeks (at only about an inch long), our baby has a beating heart, brain waves, fingers and toes, and a completely different genetic code from any other human being that has ever existed.  Fully alive, completely unique, being knitted together at this very moment in the image of the Creator. 

    Nothing but the hand of God could perform such wonders.

    And if being sick and uncomfortable is the role I have to play for the privilege of being part of this miracle, then I will gladly endure it the best I can.  

    I just really hope the next four-and-a-half weeks fly by!

    Psalm 139:13

    For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Keeping the Focus

    Several years ago, I came across an envelope of letters that I'd written to my parents from camp.  I spent my first (and only) week of horse camp, the summer after fifth grade, learning to ride and care for horses; yet judging from these letters that I found, I spent far more time at camp being prideful and appallingly self-centered than actually learning about horses. 

    You see, I'm a pretty good singer.  I've come to a point in my walk with God that I can accept the talents He's given me without being prideful, because I know that I'm only good at anything because He allows me to be.  All of my talents as well as all of my weaknesses have been offered up to Him to use as He pleases.  For His glory.  And this has freed me to embrace them, without guilt, for what they are.

    But I did not feel the same way in fifth grade.

    What happened at camp was this: I took every opportunity that I could find for other people to hear me sing.  I always got recognized and applauded when people, both adults and peers, listened to me;  it was where my self-esteem came from back then, and it felt good.  My goal at camp quickly shifted from horseback-riding to ego-stroking, as I was repeatedly asked to sing throughout the week, ending with a solo of "Wind Beneath my Wings" at the closing ceremony. 

    And while life could have just moved on with no mention of my youthful egocentricity, I chose to document each and every prideful thought in letter form.  To my parents.  In scrupulous detail.

    I was appalled when I found them years later, once I had turned the corner of self-centeredness and had entered the next phase: talent denial.  During these years, in my early twenties, I was so fearful of relapsing in my tendency toward sinful pride that I stopped singing publicly altogether.  I spent years sitting in the sanctuary fighting with myself, knowing that I had something to offer the worship service, something to offer to God, and yet not feeling able to do so.  It was only when I surrendered my talents completely to Him that I was able to discover His plan for the talents He'd chosen for me.

    God pursued me for a solid year before I finally relented and turned in my application to the worship office.  With the constant nudging from the Holy Spirit, I assumed that He must have had some big plans for me, but God didn't ask me to be a soloist or a worship leader...He asked me to join the praise team.  I must admit, I was surprised.  You can't even hear the praise team at our church unless you're listening online, I thought.  This is how God wants me to use my talents?

    Within a few months of singing on the praise team, however, it became really obvious what God was doing.  There I was, belting out these songs, microphone in hand, knowing that hardly anyone in the service could actually hear me.  I was singing for God alone.  He was teaching me to sing for Him, not for other people, and before long the strangest thing happened:  I began to love singing on the praise team.  I was free from the pressure of my youth, the constant wondering of what other people were thinking, and I could just sing for Jesus.

    Since my praise team days, God is now entrusting me to sing for Him in front of other people in several different capacities.  I feel so incredibly blessed to be allowed to serve Him in this way, in a way that I love, and yet I have to be very careful to keep my focus on Him.  Singing is one of those areas of service where people don't hesitate to give glowing compliments, shifting the focus from Christ back to the individual.  The best compliment you can give someone who is serving God - whether delivering a sermon, scrubbing a toilet, singing, or rocking a screaming baby in the nursery - is to thank them for allowing God to use their gifts!  Tell them that God has blessed you through their service.  Keep the focus on Him.

    I refuse to sing for myself or for others in an attempt to find my self-worth in this world.  My self-worth was established when I was fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image, when He sent His Son to die in my place, and as He continues to love and guide me every day of my life. 

    I only ever want to sing for Him.

    The pathway of pride is dangerous, but equally sinful is the refusal to use the gifts God has given you. He's given us talents to use for His glory, not to hide away and not to use for our own gain.  Is there something that God is asking you to surrender to Him?

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    To My Friend With Cancer

    I'm feeling nauseous right now, and I'm thinking of you.  I'm thinking of you so often these days, nearly every hour, when the nausea returns...because I know you're feeling nauseous, too.

    I'm forcing myself to eat something right now, and I'm thinking of you.  Nothing sounds good, nothing tastes good, really, and yet I know I have to eat if I'm ever going to feel better.  And I'm thinking of you as I force something down because I know that nothing sounds good to you, either...and yet you need to choke something down, too.

    I had trouble sleeping last night, and every night recently, and I find myself thinking of you.  I can't get comfortable, I can't find that perfect spot to nestle in where I can sleep like a baby for hours, and I keep drifting in and out of consciousness all night long.  And I'm thinking of you because I know that sweet and peaceful sleep is not coming nearly as easily for you these days, either.

    I'm not sick for the same reason as you.

    My body is doing something beautiful.  Nurturing and protecting the tiniest of human beings until he or she is ready to enter the world.

    Your body is poisoning itself.  Pitted against your very life, sapping you of your vibrancy and comfort and freedom.

    No, we aren't sick for the same reason, but I feel so blessed to be sick with you right now, because every hour all day long, I'm thinking of you.  And every hour all day long, and every sleepless moment throughout the night, I'm reminded to pray for you, my friend.  And for that I am truly thankful.


    Our world is a fallen world.  In the perfect world that God created, there was no sickness, no nausea, no pain.  There was no cancer.

    And yet here we are, in this broken, sick world, and cancer remains.  We have tried to pray it away.  We've begged and pleaded and cried until our throats are hoarse, and yet cancer remains.  We've fought and treated and operated and consulted, we've sought new and better opinions and investigated alternative treatments, and yet cancer remains.  We've trusted God, we've hoped in Him, we've believed that His will is the best place for us to be, and still cancer remains.

    Does God not hear our prayers?  Does He not see our heartache?  Does He not care?

    Yes, He cares.  He cares so much, in fact, that He constantly reminds hundreds of people to walk together on this journey, some every hour on the hour.  But God is far more concerned with healing the cancer of the soul...the cancer called sin, which we all have...than the cancer of the body.  This healing has already been accomplished through Jesus Christ on the cross, and will be fulfilled in Heaven, if only we would believe in Him and allow Him to work in us. 

    My friend, I haven't known you long, but my heart is filled with love for you.  I see in you a passion for Jesus that cannot be extinguished by cancer, a love for your Savior that can't be contained by human boundaries or described using simple human words.  Your faith is beautiful and inspiring, my friend, and I have complete faith that God will heal you from cancer one way or another.  I'm praying fervently that He will stretch out His hand to heal the cancer of your body on this earth.

    But if He should choose not to, I stand in awe of the future I see before us. Of you and me and countless others, our God-fearing husbands and families and friends, every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us washed cancer-free forever by the blood of Jesus.  Someday we'll be there, kneeling at God's throne, worshipping our Savior, and basking in the glow of His Glorious Presence. 

    Praying for you, my friend.  You are well loved by those around you, and even in times such as this...or perhaps especially in times such as this...held gently in the hands of our Almighty God.

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Second Wind

    Moving has been a  l o n g  and  t i r i n g  process. 

    The weeks leading up to our move were full of laundry, packing, cleaning, sorting and hyperventilating.  For an ADHD girl who has trouble concentrating on any one thing for any length of time, there were an awful lot of things that needed to be concentrated on for long lengths of time.  It was exhausting, and I found myself longing for that magical second wind to hit me.

    After a couple of weeks of all that motivation-requiring craziness, I was pooped.  Yet I had no choice but to keep going, as many of our fabulous friends and family members were gearing up for the big moving weekend, which was looming in the future like a previously-committed-to bungee jump.  The dreaded weekend came and went ever so slowly, taking with it even more energy and leaving our family (as well as several of those fabulous friends) completely sapped.

    I woke up the day after the move...the first night in our new house...feeling every muscle in my entire body, and I hadn't even helped lift the piano.  I felt like a moving truck had run me over, backed up, and done it again just for laughs, and yet our home-transference was not nearly over.  No, not nearly over at all.

    I had no choice but to pick myself up the following day and plod along, trusting that rivers of energy would find me along the journey of cleaning out our old house.  For days, I packed up the children, ventured from the new house (where I wanted to be) to the old house (where I needed to be) to perform hundreds of motivation-and-concentration-requiring, energy-stealing tasks.

    And instead of getting my second (or third, or fourth) wind, and instead of bouncing back from that achy hit-by-a-moving-truck feeling or drinking deeply from those abundant rivers of energy, I was getting more wiped out each day. 

    Curious, I thought.  Very curious.

    And then one day, it became quite clear why I wasn't bouncing back from the chaos and busyness as we would expect, as well as why I was feeling nauseous every hour on the hour, and why I nearly got sick in the coffee aisle at Meijer. 

    And suddenly, we find ourselves even more thankful for the blessing of this great big farmhouse.

    Scott and I are very pleased to announce that baby number six will be joining our family in January. 
    Somewhere between now and then, I'm hoping to finally get my second wind so I can unpack all these boxes!