Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Living Every Little Girl's Dream

It's amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the mundane details of life and forget about the big picture and to fret about current life situations. For instance, all afternoon Emerson was being especially whiny AND I didn't have any familiar doctors to type for at work (not good when you get paid for productivity) AND there's still so much to be done on the house before we can put it on the market that just stares at me all day AND just the everyday upkeep and cleaning I am responsible around the house--so much to do and never enough time.

But, there's always enough time to do that which is important to you. So I was thinking, when I was little, what did I always want? I wanted a husband to cook for and a baby to take care of, all I wanted was to "play house." That's what's important, my family and what we are doing to honor God.

Today, it hit me. I'm living the life I've always wanted. I have a husband who loves me more than anyone I've ever known and who loves God even more than me. He doesn't have all the answers and in no way should I expect him to. We are learning, day by day, what God has in store for us. He doesn't love his job by any means, but we've been blessed and it pays the bills every month. Not only that, but he yearns for more--for himself, for us, and for our God. We are pursuing options that have been laid out before us as far as full time ministry. Our first thought was teaching English in China because the people there are yearning to know English, but what more a need can be met with the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More recently, we have been drawn to a ministry opportunity with Purdue University using English as an open door to international students. They have over 5,000 int'l students this year from over 120 countries. What an opportunity we could be a part of here in Indiana!

Not only do I have an amazing husband, but I have a healthy baby girl who amazes me every day with something new that she is learning. She tackles simple things like clapping or shaking her head in response to a question or climbing into and out of a chair. When she sets her mind to it, she is starting to master bigger things like climbing the stairs like a pro and taking a few steps at a time. She can be a real handful some days (most days she's a little angel), but one smile at her mommy makes everything worth it. I don't think she will ever know how much she means to me. Hopefully, I'll soon be able to introduce her to a baby brother or sister.

All in all, I've got nothing to complain about it. God is good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

First Steps!!

Yep. She did it. Emma took her first steps today. Almost 11 months. That's so crazy to think that 11 months ago she was still in my belly and today walking. Okay, not exactly walking, but 4 or 5 legitimate consecutive steps. Sorry, dad, you were out here JUST A WEEK too early.

I'm trying to figure out ideas for family Christmas gifts and all that... oh the possibilities (especially when people don't give much help with hints ;))

That's all for now. I'm tired and it's only 9:30. Ridiculous.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God's gentle reminders that He is in control.

It's amazing to have a day when you can sit back and realize that God really is in control, even in the little things.

This morning I had an appointment at WIC for both Emerson and I at 8:30. I had searched for an hour or so last night for my WIC folder. I had just cleaned up the house for when Dad and Karla were out here and knew that I had seen it somewhere--just wasn't sure where. Well, I thought I had all the paystubs and things gathered that I needed for me to re-apply (apparently, you're still eligible for x amount of months after a miscarriage). I could only find three of the pay stubs, so i had to grab another one out of our finance binder. Sure enough, when I opened it, I found the folder I had been looking for just in time for my appointment.

Then I realized it was already 8:10 and Emma was still sleeping and obviously I hadn't made her bottle. I get her up and get things going and I'm out the door with only 10 minutes to get to the south side of Indianapolis. I showed up only 5 minutes late for my appointment, but it didn't really matter because they were already running behind due to computer issues so it really wasn't a big deal.

Because of the computer issues, the appointment took a little longer than expected. I did find out that Emma is 51% in weight and 52% in height--about as average as they come! 19lb 6oz and I can't remember the height. Her pediatrician said she should be around 20 by 1 year, so we're right on track! Anywho, John called me on his first break just as I got in the car and was headed to the cemetery. I had looked online this morning and found that the cemetery was only 2 miles from the WIC office, so I thought I would look for Jordan's gravesite before I went back to the house. Our system was going to be down for work at 9:30, so I had some time to fill. It makes sense to me now though that the hospital I delivered Jordan at is a Catholic hospital and that religion recognizes an infant is life at conception. They hold a memorial service for the babies which were miscarried at St. Vincent's from the prior two months. The flowers were still on the gravemarker from the November 1 service.

Well, after leaving the cemetery my plan was to get my work done while Emma napped and then head over to Mom and Dad Sharbaugh's so that I could see some of John's side of the family. Emma fell asleep on the way home, so I thought surely that I wouldn't get a good nap out of her and that I'd have to break my work up into two parts. As soon as we got home I put her in her crib and thankfully she fell right to sleep. Like I said before, the work system was down so I was worried I wouldn't have any easy reports to transcribe. Sure enough, there weren't any doctors on the system I was familiar with. I prayed, "Lord, you're in control." As soon as I submitted my first report the hospital downloaded a ton of audio onto the system. Not only were there a lot of easy doctors, but I was able to submit all my work (my personal goal is $20/day--takes me 2 hours on a good day) JUST as Emma started making noises in her crib. Not only did I finish my work in Emma's nap, BUT I was able to do so in 1 hour and 45 minutes (I avg'd $13/hr--SWEET!) I got Emma up, we ate lunch, gave her a bath, and just as we were packing all our stuff up to go to Mom and Dad's, Julie called to make sure I remembered that today was Thursday when she was going to be in Brownsburg.

I know that it doesn't really seem like much, but when I'm at a time like this where I have NO CLUE what specifially God would have for my little family, it's nice to be gently reminded that He is always in control of my surroundings. What an amazing God that am I able to serve!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Highlights from the weekend

This is us happy after the Colts scored!

Well, the HIGHLIGHT of the weekend was being able to spend time with family. But, a close second was spending some of that time at Lucas Oil Stadium and seeing the Colts beat the Texans. SWEET! Oh, and we were on the goal line in the second section up from the field.

Also, my sweet darling Emerson decided she was going to ham it up at the restaurant during dinner. Too funny! I let her suck on my lemon and she got the classic "lemon face." Well, then she started just moving her mouth as close the lemon wedge as she could without actually getting any of the juice in her mouth. She would then quickly pull her head back and make the same face shaking her head. Not only that, but she would "coyly" look to the side to make sure everyone was watching her performance.
I'm sure there will be more to follow, but I'm pooped and off to bed. Have a good night!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where would you have us go, Lord?

Quite the concept to grasp. So many questions. So few answers. Now what? In perfect timing with regard to our questions, I came across this missions article:

"Called to a Field" by Bill Commons, Strategic Initiative and Research for ABWE missions agency. (for the entire article: http://message.abwe.org/vol56no04/Called-to-a-Field.html)

Is the call to missions geographic? Many missionaries speak of how God called them to their field. What about those who sense God moving them into missions, but who have never had a “call” to a particular field? Can someone be called to missions without having a specific location in mind?

Dedicated believers who desire to be missionaries can go through life without feeling called to a particular location. I wonder how many never “go” for this reason

It is often assumed that the missionary call is to a field. Without that specific certainty, the call might be questioned.

God calls to a vocation and leads to a location. The same principal that applies to pastors also applies to missionaries

As God reveals His purpose for strategic life investment, unreached peoples and places come into focus.
The Lord of the harvest is still calling disciples out of local churches to go to the nations with the gospel. He is leading them step by step to the people and place where they will serve.

This article obviously doesn't answer all of our questions. But it gives us assurance that a heart for missions is what we have and even though we don't know right now where God will place us, we can step forward knowing that He will show us the way. In the meantime, we are getting the house in selling condition. We are praying to get $115,000 for it. Other homes in our neighboorhood are listed for just above that, so it's not an unreasonable figure. We are also researching the locations and ESL opportunities in which we are interested in possibly pursuing (Mexico, Spain, China, and campus ministry to internationals in the US).

We are very thankful for those who have come alongside us, shared our enthusiasm, and encouraged us to pursue a life in missions. It will not be an easy road, but with God's grace we will move forward one step at a time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

convicted, disheartened, yet thankful

The Holy Spirit really hit me hard during the music portion of our worship service on Sunday morning. I didn't put a whole lot of effort into the organization of this, so bear with me...

Convicted because I realized I had just been reading/singing the words of the hymns, not truly singing praises to the God who saved me.

Convicted because family was in town and not once did I share even a morsel of the work He had done, is doing, and will continue to do within me and my life.

Convicted because I have not considered God's Word as precious as it truly is.

Convicted because I was more concerned with what I was going to wear to church that morning than preparing my heart for the service.

I was disheartened because as I was being convicted of all the above, I looked around the church. There were so many with just blank stares on their face while reciting words along with the music, completely oblivious to what they were actually saying. How often is this the case in our local churches and no wonder the world doesn't want to devote their lives to Christ when this is the first impression they receive when they step inside the church. (Note: This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is not alive and well in our local church--if it wasn't I would not have come to many of these realizations and would have been content to go on with my morning without a change of heart).

But, I am thankful.

I am thankful because God is not done with me yet.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

I am thankful because it is God who works in me when I am faithful to obey His Word.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13

I am thankful that God has provided us with a local Bible-based church in which we can gather, worship, serve, and encourage fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

He Chose Me

"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)

This verse is talking about the general call to all mankind. It is a summons to repentance and faith that is inherent within the gospel message. This call extends to all who hear the gospel. But there's a "but." But only few are chosen. These "few" describe those who respond to that calling, repent of their sins, and make a conscious decision to follow Christ.

The Gospel, or the Good News, is the true account of Christ's birth, sinless life, horrible/undeserved death, and glorious resurrection as described in the first four books of the New Testament. It is an account of Christ's perfect life and how He is the only replacement for the punishment of my sin. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) All sin is punishable, and it is punishable only by death (Romans 6:23). Christ came to be the payment for that punishment. He came so that we might accept His calling, live obedient to His ways, and bear more fruit for His name-- by sharing Christ and inviting others to have a saving faith in Him.

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last." (John 15:16)

Wow. The very person who created the entire universe--from the largest galaxy, to each species of animal, to the smallest particle of substance--that very person chose little ol' Marissa Kaye Sharbaugh to be His. He chose to save me. He chose to give me eternal life with Him instead of eternal life in hell which is what my sin deserves. And not just eternal life, but an abundant life that comes through serving Him and obeying His ways as laid out in the Bible. I've accepted that call. Now what?

"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:19-20)

"...you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem [locally], Judea and Samaria [regionally], and to the end of the earth [globally]." (Acts 1:8)

"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2)

John and I will, Lord willing, be headed to China as laborers for Him on a global scale. There are a few things that we are trusting for Him to take care of to allow us to be on our way as soon as possible. For instance, we need to sell the house, pay off all debts, receive training, and set up all the logistics as far as a job opportunity for john, making sure we have a place to live when we arrive, and then all of the traveling arrangements. This was originally our post-graduation plans back in May of 2007; however, we were caught up in ourselves and our current circumstances and lost view of the greater calling for our lives. So we press on, stepping in faith knowing and "being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for calling me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hated by the world

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first...

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin...

If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.”
(John 15:18, 22, 24)

It is almost ironic that today many biblical passages are considered hate speech by the majority of our society. For example, many will be offended by the statement that homosexuality is something that is forbidden by God. The only thing our world hates is intolerance and those who display intolerance. It is not so much that the world (mainstream society) hates the Christian, but rather the one whom that Christian serves—Jesus.

You either ACCEPT or REJECT the Jesus of the Bible.

When you die, it is either HEAVEN or HELL.

Growing up I went to a Lutheran church. There were a lot of morally good people and friends, but the only thing I received there was a false sense of salvation. I thought I was a good person. I had been baptized as an infant. I had been through confirmation. But that was it, I was too busy trying to please everyone by being “perfect” that I thought I was good enough. I never once had been convicted of my sin and that payment for that sin was required.

God saved me my junior year of high school. I know that some people assumed that—because of what my family was going through—that I had just “turned to religion” and that it was a crutch, a way for me to handle life’s circumstances. Instead, I was truly born again and at that point became a follower of Christ. I also had the privilege of being baptized by my father-in-law at a church in Indiana.

There will be more to come on this topic, but John and I have decided to use ESL (English as a Second Language) as a means to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tentative plan is to finish and sell the house, pay off all outstanding debts, and enroll John in a 4-week CELTA certification course. From there we are planning on accepting teaching positions in different areas of the world for a few years. If we truly think that this is what God would have for us we will then decide if we can best be used here or abroad. Personally, I would love to be used in some sort of ministry for international students at a good sized university. We’ll see what God has in store, but this is where we are for now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9 months.... we've survived!!

It's official. On Monday, Emerson Grace reached 9 months!

She is pictured here with one of her newest cousins, MacKenna Sharbaugh (2 1/2 months).

Currently, she is crawling all over the place, pulling herself up on furniture, the window sills, and even the dogs.

Gotta go meet John at Lucas Oil Arena, I'll add more later.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Couple random things...

Weird to think that this picture was taken in June, so just about 3 months ago and Emerson looks COMPLETELY different.

Anywho, John and I were talking with some friends the other day and realized a couple of funny things.

1) We have a baby who says "goo-goo gah-gah."

2) We have a pup that says "woof."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Fork in the Road

When Christ came to earth He would speak to the masses. Crowds would gather to listen to the things this man would say--either that or they would come hungry expecting lunch as He had a tendency to fulfill physical needs as well as spiritual. One thing brought to my attention today though was that after Jesus died and was resurrected, He only appeared to believers. An account of His life here on earth is recorded in the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). We never physically saw Jesus, but the Bible reveals to us all we need to know. Not only can we know Christ's life, but also his death and resurrection. The resurrection is a historical account of what happened after Christ's execution. It really happened. Not only did it happen, but it proves that Jesus is God.

The Bible says "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." Jesus is the Word. The truth God has written within the Bible demands a response. One can either choose to accept and decide to follow Christ or choose to deny him and spend an eternity in hell. It is a fork in the road. You choose to go to the right or to the left. Scripture says that the majority of people will not choose to follow Christ. I'm thankful to be in the minority.

By choosing to align myself with Christ and become one of His disciples, my faith should and will be displayed in how I live my life. There should be a radical difference in my life compared to those trying to find a place in the world. For instance, the world often equates an abundant life with the abundance of STUFF--ex. keeping up with the Joneses. My concious, willful response to God's Word displays itself in my obedience, having a personal relationship with a living God and my creator, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work from within and transform me into Christlikeness.

Some people will just straight up tell you that God is not real or that Christianity is a crutch or a weak self-help strategy. These people have obviously made a conscious decision at that fork and turned away from God. Others, though, will tell you that they believe in God. They will tell you things a believer would say to convince themselves and others of their "faith" in Christ. It is important to remember: believing in God is completely different from a saving faith. One who possesses a saving faith with not only have that factual component of faith covered, but the tangible results of living as a believer will be evident in that person's life.

Here's the fork: you can choose to serve Christ with your life or deny Him as Savior and Creator. God is the one you will need to answer to. You are accountable for you.

How you live, think, and act reveals your true self.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

John's Birthday -- September 19

My husband turned 26 yesterday! Getting close to 30 that one ;).

Thankfully, we took advantage of Mom's last trip out here and we celebrated by going out to a Mexican restaurant and then I took him to see Dark Knight at the IMAX theater in Indianapolis. It was a great flick and I only had one nightmare pertaining to the Joker, so that was good, too. I say 'thankfully' because on his actual birthday John worked a double shift. He went in to work at 530 and didn't get home until 1030 that night.

Emerson and I made him birthday cupcakes (strawberry cake mix with rainbow chip frosting) and he got to open up cards and presents when he got home. Due to the tight budget, I had to be practical with a birthday gift (technically, the IMAX movie was his present, but everyone likes to OPEN a real gift on their birthday), so John's gift was a t-shirt and underwear. What a loving wife I am! We did stop at GameStop this morning and he was able to buy 3 wii games with his birthday money.

If John was at work all day, what did I do? Let's see... obviously, I did all the necessary "take care of the baby" things (feed/change/etc), picked up EVERYTHING, caught up on ALL the laundry, mopped floors, went through more of Emerson's clothes, finished all the dishes, made the birthday cupcakes, worked for 3 hours, took emerson on an hour-long walk. All I need to do now is sweep floors upstairs and clean bathrooms. Granted, I'll have to start that process over again next week, but it's a start!

Also today we dropped off some stuff at Mom and Dad Sharbaugh's for the twins to use while they are up from Florida. Emma got to play with the Simpkins' kids and see GG Hubble and Grandma Sharbaugh. John let me stop at a garage sale on the way and Emerson and I got a bunch of cute clothes for 9 bucks--sweet! We also stopped at the new Half Price Books and I got like 6 or 7 books for 4.01--love it!

John worked on the floor some more today, now we just have to get the vinyl flooring or whatever we're going to use right around the door area and it will be all fixed up! Also, I marked off the walls for the chair rail that will go around the living room. I need to paint it though before john can put it up. I think it will be a nice added touch to the space.

I like that our house truly is our home, our sanctuary.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hawks Win! Hawks Win!

A Hawkeye State of Mind

"Intrastate rivalries seem to bring out the best in teams. There is something to be said about being the pride of your home state. The University of Iowa made one thing clear Saturday in Kinnick Stadium: the Hawkeyes are the champagne of the state of Iowa in 2008. Iowa defeated Iowa State, 17-5, on Sept. 13 to re-capture the Cy-Hawk Trophy."

Okay, So I haven't watched the game yet. BUT, I heard through the grapevine that my Hawkeyes pulled off the victory. My mother-in-law so kindly agreed to tape the game for me so I will at least get to see how it all went down. Thank you, Teri, and thank you, Big Ten Network.

As a way of showing support for our Hawks, Emerson and I wore some Iowa gear. GO HAWKS!

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God (Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald)

...Fresh Vision for the Hopeful Homemaker.

I liked it. Easy read, very practical, great purpose.

Back Cover Description

Have you struggled to reconcile God's vision of virtuous womanhood with worldly myths that marginalize and mock the role of the homemaker? Do you wrestle with cultural messages that demean the homemaker s calling and exalt instead the emotionally androgynous power-woman---the wife whose worth is measured only by the degree of her self-ambition, the shape of her body, or her money-making skills?

Delightfully fresh and honest, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God debunks the modern 'desperate housewife' myth and provides fresh vision for the homemaker. Hear a former Christian feminist share how she went from a die-hard homemaker-in-training to a dedicated career woman, and then back again---after God gripped her heart. See the hollow counterfeit of whitewashed feminism and me-ology destroyed. And consider the beautiful picture painted in Scripture of the truly fulfilled homemaker who glories in the hopeful calling God created for her.

Pull up a chair, dust off the cookie crumbs, and join Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald as they lay aside demeaning stereotypes like the 'Stepford wife,' and reveal the 1950s' 'perfect homemaker' trap. Laughter and tears will flow, and hopefully you will be infused with a renewed vision for victory as a wife and mother. Discover what it means to be a passionate housewife 'desperate' for God alone!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Marketing of Evil (David Kupelian)

It's interesting to look back over the last 100 years--the last 50 for that matter--and think about things in our society that are deeemed "acceptable" today that would have horrified those in generations before us (including, but not limited to, easy divorce, unrestricted abortion, and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers). "The Marketing of Evil reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value."

The chapter that I found most interesting was the one regarding homosexuality. For example, did you know that AIDS was not always called AIDS? When it was discovered it was given the name GRID, which stood for "gay-related immunodeficiency disease," but was later given the more vague name, AIDS, when the medical community was pressured by homosexual activists. Two Harvard graduates, Kirk and Madsen, wrote a book entitled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s. This book details a complex, straightforward marketing strategy to "sell homosexuality" to middle-class America including desensitization and by convincing the general public that homosexuality is not a personal choice.

A few quotes from the homosexuality chapter:

A generation ago, we understood there is such a thing as sin, and that sin is a serious matter and to be avoided. Now there is no societal consciousness of sin—only limitless "freedom," "choice," and "consensual relationships."

We've forgotten as a society what love is, because supporting and justifying homosexuality is not real love any more than glorifying drinking helps the alcoholic or celebrating smoking helps wipe out lung cancer.

We need to side with the afflicted person's conscience. In America, we've done the opposite.

The other chapters that had intrigued me the most dealt with the topics of abortion, separation of church and state, and the public education system. I would very highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good nonfiction read.

Amazon Book Description:
Americans have come to tolerate, embrace and even champion many things that would have horrified their parents' generation—from easy divorce and unrestricted abortion-on-demand to extreme body piercing and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers. Does that mean today's Americans are inherently more morally confused and depraved than previous generations? Of course not, says veteran journalist David Kupelian. But they have fallen victim to some of the most stunningly brilliant and compelling marketing campaigns in modern history. The Marketing of Evil reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value. Highly skilled marketers, playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity and tolerance, have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous generations since America's founding regarded as grossly self-destructive—in a word, evil. In this groundbreaking and meticulously researched book, Kupelian peels back the veil of marketing-induced deception to reveal exactly when, where, how, and especially why Americans bought into the lies that now threaten the future of the country. For example, few of us realize that the widely revered father of the "sexual revolution" has been irrefutably exposed as a full-fledged sexual psychopath who encouraged pedophilia. Or that giant corporations voraciously competing for America's $150 billion teen market routinely infiltrate young people's social groups to find out how better to lead children into ever more debauched forms of "authentic self-expression." Likewise, most of us mistakenly believe the "abortion rights" and "gay rights" movements were spontaneous, grassroots uprisings of neglected or persecuted minorities wanting to breathe free. Few people realize America was actually "sold" on abortion thanks to an audacious public relations campaign that relied on fantastic lies and fabrications. Or that the "gay rights" movement—which transformed America's former view of homosexuals as self-destructive human beings into their current status as victims and cultural heroes—faithfully followed an in-depth, phased plan laid out by professional Harvard-trained marketers. No quarter is given in this riveting, insightful exploration of how lies, both subtle and outrageous, are packaged as truth. From the federal government to the public school system to the news media to the hidden creators of "youth culture," nothing is exempt from the thousand-watt spotlight of Kupelian's journalistic inquiry. In the end, The Marketing of Evil is an up-close, modern-day look at what is traditionally known as "tempation"—the art and science of making evil look good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lessons learned and blessings received...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
—2 Corinthians 12:9

My plan was to include this part at the end of what I posted yesterday instead of ending so abruptly. However, I was completely exhausted and decided to postpone until today. I have never personally experienced God's comforting presence as much as I have in the past week. Truly amazing.

The greatest blessing, I believe, that could result from this tragedy is that someone would see God at work in our lives, see the redemptive work of Christ and the peace that comes through His salvation, and in turn put their trust in Him. We are praying for a true heart transformation and a life completely changed and devoted to serving Christ.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
—Philippians 4:8-9

So I have been challenged, challenged to think upon the good we have experienced throughout this tragedy. Here's what I have come up with thus far:
God is good.
"God is good, and everything He does is good." –Psalm 119:68

God is in control.
"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." –Romans 8:28

God is faithful and has given us the grace to successfully come through this trial.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." –2 Corinthians 12:9

Jordan is waiting for us in heaven and has been spared from the wicked world in which we live.
"Jesus answered [the thief on the cross], 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" –Luke 23:43

We have a healthy 8-month-old little girl that we have been blessed to raise here and now.
"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." –Psalm 127:3

There are still many childbearing years ahead of me as I'm only 22.
"Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" –Genesis 17:17

God can more easily mold us and sanctify us through trials and suffering when we lean on Him.
"In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." –1 Peter 5:10

I am sure that there are many more blessings that we will see throughout the loss of our dear Jordan. I am thankful to have things which are true, right, pure, and lovely to dwell on. God is good and has allowed all these things to happen to our little family. Praise be to God.

All things are possible with God—including surviving a miscarriage.

Well, this wasn't exactly what I was expecting for my first "real" entry. In my little introduction I stated I would like to keep a record of those things which I would hope to never forget. Well, I will never forget our baby Jordan, but honestly, I wouldn't mind if the details of Jordan's death became a little fuzzy.

This is where we are now...

I first noticed the bleeding Thursday morning. I thought it was just the typical spotting I got after having sex. When I woke up Saturday and realized I was still bleeding I decided to call the 24/7 nurse hotline associated with my health plan. I figured I would explain the situation and they would assure me that everything was fine and just to make sure I mentioned it to my doctor at the next appointment. Unfortunately that wasn't the response I received. After going over the situation and answering a ton of questions, the nurse on the other end of the phone calmly told me, "You need to go to urgent care within the next four hours."

I was stunned. John immediately could tell something was wrong and he packed a diaper bag and got Emerson ready so that we could go to the hospital. We arrived at 9:20. Unbeknownst to us, urgent care doesn't open until 10:00 on Saturdays—very urgent. Needless to say we were the first ones to get registered and see the doctor. When the doctor was able to see me he did a speculum exam. He told us that the cervix was open which was causing the bleeding and there were two probable diagnoses: placenta previa or miscarriage. I was praying for placenta previa and was trying to brainstorm how to handle bed rest and take care of an 8-month-old and two dogs. An obstacle I would try to overcome in order to hold a healthy baby in 6.5 months.

The nurse came in and attempted to draw blood in order to test different hormone levels. I say attempted because she missed the vein—twice. She finally succeeded with a vein in my right hand. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and we waited for a few hours before they could get the on-call ultrasound tech. So we waited. Thankfully, little Emerson did as well as she could for not being able to crawl around all over the place.

My wheelchair escort arrived and they took me back to the ultrasound room. My MIL hadn't quite made it to the hospital yet, so John stayed in the room with Emerson until she got there. After Teri had arrived to watch Emma, John asked if he could go back with me (it had been close to 45 minutes at this point). The nurse replied, "No, I don't think so." So he was left to wait with his mom and our baby.

It was a very lonely hour and a half in the ultrasound room. With Emerson we had an ultrasound done at 10 weeks so I knew at least what a developing baby should look like that this point. I remembered two circles (head and body) with four limbs sticking out—not to mention the little round mass expanding and contracting with each heartbeat. She even looked like she was boxing the wall of my uterus. I knew at least that much. I also had just read that by 12 weeks the baby would be at least 2 inches long. When the tech moved the wand across my stomach I could immediately tell something was wrong. There was a lifeless being that barely measured 2.5 cm. After 35 minutes the tech changed to an endovaginal ultrasound. (On a side note, an endovaginal ultrasound is like 50 times worse than a standard gynecological exam. Goodness!)

When she switched to the internal ultrasound she moved the screen to where I almost was unable to see what was going on. However, I could see when she was trying to find a heartbeat. She tried again and again and again to find any sign of a heartbeat. I laid there for 15 minutes while she kept trying and trying, but it was useless. My underdeveloped baby's heart was not beating. The technician did not say a word. After the longest 15 minutes of my life she said in a very flat tone, "Well, I guess that's all we need then."

I was taken back to my room and told John and Teri what I thought I had seen on the ultrasound screen. I was still hoping I was wrong and that it was placenta previa, all the while knowing what I saw for myself on the ultrasound. At this point Teri took Emerson back to out house to put her down for a nap and to let the pups out. An hour or two later the doctor finally received the radiology report and came to tell me the news: there was not a viable fetus in my body. He left the room and contacted the OB doc for my clinic that was on-call (Dr. Perry). He came back and stated that I was to call Dr. Perry Monday morning and he would see me in his office at that time and they'd probably admit me for a D&C. If I had any severe cramping or bleeding I was to go straight to Labor & Delivery.

John and I left urgent care in a shock-like state. It was a beautiful day outside, but it was hard to appreciate considering the news we just discovered. When we got to our car we just hugged and cried, knowing we would never get to hold our Jordan—at least not in our physical bodies. When we got home we told Teri what the doctor had said. I called my side of the family and Teri would let everyone know on John's side. After my mom woke up and the news registered, she drove out to our house from Iowa.

All day Saturday John and I tried to stay busy and keep our mind off of things. My mom got into town at about 11:30 pm. After she got here we all decided to call it a night and we went to bed. Sunday morning came and we tried to just go on with life as usual. I was surprised at how few moments there were where I really broke down and cried. When I did it was only for a few minutes and I just prayed for God to give me strength. It wasn't that I was trying to avoid dealing with the pain of losing a child, but I do think I was trying to postpone a lot of the emotion until Jordan was no longer actually in my body. That was one of the hardest parts of the entire situation—knowing that Jordan was still within me, dead. The very thought made me sick to my stomach. Since we had a babysitter already at the house, John and I decided to get out and we decided to see a movie at the dollar theater to take our minds off things.

When we got home I basically parked it in the recliner and didn't move a whole lot. John and my mom took care of me and Emerson so I could lay low and hopefully not worsen the bleeding. I went to bed around 10:30 and tried to get some sleep. I woke up around 1:00 with some pain in my abdomen. It was enough to keep me up, but I didn't know if it was "severe" enough to go to the hospital. I finally decided to call the doctor and he said I should go in. At the time I didn't put two and two together, but looking back I realize now that those were contractions and they were coming every 3 or 4 minutes.

John and I got in the car and headed to the hospital. The pain was greatly worsening and the contractions were getting closer together. We pulled into the parking lot and headed to the Labor & Delivery entrance. The lights seemed off and the second automatic door would not open. John got back in the car and we drove to the main entrance. We hadn't exactly gotten around to touring the hospital at this point in the pregnancy. We figured we could at least get a wheelchair and get me over to the right department as it's not a very big hospital. When we got to the main entrance I felt something "give." Sure enough as I stepped out of the car I felt the amniotic fluid drip down my leg. Not only that, but the sign said that the main entrance was closed after 9 pm and we were to use the L&D entrance. Before I had stepped out of the car, I had told John to go park and meet me in the lobby. So there I was with fluid dripping down my legs and I knew I needed to start walking to the car. On my way toward John I felt a hard contraction and the baby came. Definitely was not planning on having the baby standing there in the parking lot. I made it back to the car (he wasn't far) and John helped me in so that we could drive back to the L&D entrance. Thankfully there was a plastic grocery bag in the backseat for me to sit on.

John helped me out of the car at the L&D entrance and got me into a wheelchair. He got me into the building (apparently, we had to manually open the second automatic door—who knew). I started wheeling myself toward the nurse's station while John went to park the car. I told the nurse that I was 12 weeks along and was having a miscarriage. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I could not stop crying—shaking and crying. Thankfully, Dr. Perry had called and they were expecting me. They wheeled me into my room and we met John in the hallway so he followed. They helped me into the restroom and asked if I wanted to see the baby. I think I told them no. It was very humbling to have two grown women take off my blood stained sweatpants and clean me off while shielding my eyes from the lifeless baby that was caught in my underwear. The next few moments are pretty blurry, for that I am thankful. I know that the afterbirth came while I was sitting on the toilet and I was mostly cleaned up before I was helped into a hospital gown and up into bed. The nurse put in an order for pain medication at 3:00. The next two hours I was still having painful contractions every 2 or 3 minutes and I would pass more clots ranging from dime-sized to over golf ball-sized.

Because of the sequence of events, I signed all of the consents and paperwork and all that AFTER most of the initial care had been given. I about passed out when the nurse administered my IV (same thing happened when they started my IV with Emerson, too). I'm just not good with needles and things of that nature. 5:00 am rolled around and I still didn't get any medication for the pain. A little while later she did bring me some, but by this time the worst contractions were over. The burning sensation of the medicine going through my IV actually hurt worse than the contractions I was having at that time. After that dosage, I didn’t accept any more of the pain killers. John and I tried to get some sleep. I woke up again at 8:30 or so and called Mom and Teri and gave them an update. Shortly after that Dr. Perry and my nurse stopped in to say that it looks like my body naturally expelled everything and they asked if I was hungry. I immediately responded, "I'm starving!" as I hadn't eaten anything since 4:30 the night before. Thankfully, they were going to allow me to eat breakfast.

John called the kitchen and ordered breakfast for me and it was delivered shortly thereafter. Dr. Perry had stated that he wanted an ultrasound done to verify that there wasn't anything left within my uterus. Around 10 or so they brought a wheelchair to take me to the ultrasound room. It was hard to look away from the empty screen which showed that my baby was no longer in my womb. At least this time I was able to have John by my side. Unfortunately I had to have another "internal" ultrasound, but John saw that I was not exaggerating when I told him how big it was. It was very comforting to have him right by my side holding my hand.

Again, we had to wait quite a while to get the results of the radiology report. We were assured that the ultrasound was just precautionary and we would be able to go home early afternoon. At noon John ordered lunch for me. Not knowing how much longer we had to wait for the report and all that, John ran home to get the computer and a book for me—anything to occupy myself besides watching TV. He also had Mom follow him back to the hospital with Emerson. It was great being able to see them. After John left, the nurse came in to inform me that I wouldn't be allowed to eat the lunch we had ordered. There was still "product" left in my uterus and they would need to perform a D&C. Basically the doctor would need to use instruments to go in and scrape out any tissue or anything left inside. This way my body would be able to heal as soon as possible and there would be less bleeding and that sort of thing when I left the hospital. The kitchen also brought up the lunch we had ordered. So there I was, alone in the room with the surprisingly delicious smell of a lunch that I couldn't eat.

At that point I decided to call Teri and update her with the fact that I would need a D&C. It has been a blessing to be able to talk with her about this as she has gone through five miscarriages. One of the things I had been struggling with is almost feeling guilty for NOT falling into some sort of a horrible depression. She said to praise God for the grace to make it through the situation and to praise Him for keeping me out of a depressed state. That's not to say that I haven't been grieving for the loss of our Jordan, but life goes on and I do still have an 8-month-old little girl and my husband to care for.

John, Mom, and Emerson made it to the hospital and I was so delighted to be able to hold my little girl. (It's going to be really hard to NOT really baby and coddle her in the next few months). In order to get ready for the D&C they had to discharge me from the maternity ward and admit me to the operating room. They transferred me at 2:30, but apparently they were really behind in the OR so we waited for at least 2.5 hours before I even met with the doctor or the anesthesiologist. There definitely wasn't any comfortable seating for John and my back was getting sore from lying in bed all day.

I was able to sleep for at least one of those hours while I was waiting. Finally, they came back to get me. It started to hit me when I was speaking with the anesthesiologist what was about to happen. At that point I was thankful that my body took care of most of the miscarriage itself and that I didn't have to think about them scraping the fetus away from the uterine wall. They were just removing the little leftover layers of tissue and things that hadn't come out with everything else. I knew I could handle that.

I woke up from general anesthesia at 6:45 pm. I was confused at first as to where I was, but I quickly figured out it was the recovery area. My nurse was busy with a different patient and when she finally realized I had come to she brought me a couple warm blankets and some crackers and a can of soda. I just kind of laid there and looked around while I waited for the nurse to finish my charts and all that. I was still cold so she brought me another blanket (making a total of four), even then I was cold. At 8:15 pm I finally got to see my husband. I was relieved to see him and I was relieved to have everything out of my body.

Random observation: The labor I endured with Jordan was actually more painful physically than the labor I endured with Emerson (thank you, mr. epidural).

Monday, September 1, 2008

First post.

This is a completely new arena for me. My goal is to simply speak frankly about what's going on in our lives so that I have somewhat of a record for the (divine) randomness of life--especially those things which I would hope to never forget.