About Me

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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turning my eyes upon Jesus...

I should be 12 weeks pregnant today.  But I'm not.

Last night I had a miscarriage.

And honestly I'm not sure how to speak of the whole situation.  I'm not as sad as I expected to be but I think that is because I dealt with the sadness and the depression two weeks ago when we first found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat and had quit growing at 8 wks, 1 dy.  And I think that I can easily say that my current peace over the situation is due to Jesus' work in my life the last two weeks.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  And I can say with confidence that good has already come from this unwanted & unwelcomed situation in my life. 

In  early Sept. we found out we were expecting.  We were excited but I was wary to get too excited or tell anyone.  I went in to the clinic.  Because of some pregnancy test confusion and elevated Hcg levels, the nurse ordered a ultrasound to confirm my due date.  I went in somber not wanting to get too excited almost as if expecting something to be wrong.

But there wasn't.  The ultrasound showed a perfectly healthy little fetus that dated right on at 7 wks, 3 days.  I came home happy & relieved.  A few days later (at 8 wks) I told my family the happy news.

Now that I had visual confirmation that there really was a baby and that it was healthy & fine, I began to get excited about the new little life that was to join our family in May.  I bought some new maternity jeans and began to reschedule my future to include pregnancy, birth & nursing.    Russ & I talked about making this our last kid and how we each felt about that.

On October 14th I had my first OB appointment.  It was pleasant with all the usual niceitys.  Usually in my midwife's routine she'll check for the heartbeat as one of the first things but I had a student this day instead and she said that she liked to save that for last, so after a really long appointment she tries to find a heartbeat and can't.  She gets my midwife and she can't find a heartbeat either.  They leave me and go see if they can get me in for an ultrasound right away just to make sure things are fine.  I waited for a long time...Russ is home with the kids and I'm beginning to think he'll be wondering about me.  But I couldn't call him because my cell phone wasn't in my purse.  Emotionally at this point I'm doing okay.  I knew there was a chance that there was a problem but I assumed that it was just a fluke that they couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler since it was still fairly early and that the ultrasound would just ease my mind.

When I finally got in with the ultrasound tech and the picture was on the screen, I knew right away that the news wasn't good.  Having just had an ultrasound two weeks earlier I knew what a heartbeat should look like and I didn't see one.  After a minute the tech explained the baby was only measuring at 8 wks, 1 d. and there was no heartbeat.  She said, "I'm sorry." and asked if anyone was with me or if I wanted to call anyone.  I declined and followed someone back down to a room to meet with my midwife.

I was pretty numb.  I sat there while she talked to me about how this was sad and how it is normal.  She talked to me about how it wasn't my fault, how people would say dumb things, and about how my husband may not deal with it in the same timing as me.  She talked to me about my options...waiting to let miscarriage happen naturally or scheduling a d&c.  I chose the former.   I fought back tears...just hoping to make it out before crying.  She scheduled me to come back in a week and told me I could call her anytime. 

I cried a little on my short drive home.  I found Russ downstairs.  He casually asked me how it went.  "Not good." was my reply.  As I fell into his arms I explained what had happened.  It was just surreal.  I decided to call my mom before the reality really sank in.  I asked her to tell everyone else.  I couldn't bear to do that.

The next day was Saturday.  I pretty much spent the day lying around, watching tv.  Television was the only thing I could do to keep myself from dwelling on the bad news that my baby was dead.  Russ gave me food and I put it in my mouth.  If he hadn't brought me food, I'm sure I wouldn't have eaten anything.  I was in a depression.  I was scheduled to take engagement picture that evening for a couple I had never met.  When the time came, I forced myself out of bed and to that session.  It was a tough one.  I was so distracted at first, I felt like I was not even there and I was wishing I had cancelled.  By the end of it, I was doing much better and was glad that I went. 

My parents had attended a healing conference on Saturday and felt it was important that they come down on Sunday and pray over me and the baby.  I was grateful for this and had really wanted that but was also nervous because I am not comfortable being emotionally vulnerable in front of people (even my own family) and I knew that I nearly always break down when I am being prayed over and with this being an exceptionally emotional situation anyway, I was just plain anxious about it.  My whole family (brother, sister & their spouses and my parents) decided to come and intercede for this wanted child.  Before they arrived I took a walk to listen to worship music & talk to God.  I could feel hope welling up in me and yet I was broken inside.

That afternoon with my family was fantastic.  We talked about the importance of praying and coming against the enemy.  We talked about having a faith in the God of miracles.  My parents shared passages of scripture with us (some of which my mom had read to me earlier that morning as well)  that they felt God had led them to.  And then we all came together and many prayed over me and it was a powerful unifying family experience.  Afterward, we all went out for pizza and I had a measure of peace that I hadn't had before that.

The next week is impossible to explain in a few words.  I had a renewed fervor for the Lord.  I tried to soak up as much as I could.  I watched a ton of sermons on tv, I read my bible a lot, and I listened to worship music in between.  Every lesson God brought me to seemed to build on the one before.  I was led to hope and then I was led to faith and I began to believe that Jesus would heal my unborn child.  I had (have) no doubt that he could (can) for he is a God that can raise the dead to life and that week, I began to believe he would.   I had faith.  This post gives more insight into where my heart was at this time.

Friday, October 21st was my visit to the ob.  I was nervous and excited because I expected to be presented with evidence that my baby was alive but I knew that it would be my responsibility to ask.  I was allowed to have another ultrasound and it showed...no change.

I was disappointed but not discouraged.  My walk with the Lord was growing enormously and I certainly wasn't going to let this set me back.  Jesus kept leading me and I began to see how I was still putting some of the faith in my own self...even in my own "faith" as if that would "earn" me a miracle.  I came to a place of saying to the Lord, "I know that You can give me a miracle and I'm still going to believe for one.  But if your answer turns out to be 'no' I will trust in your wisdom and sovereignty and accept that.  No matter what, I am going to walk with you one day at a time."  This week, the most prominent word from God has been to not dwell on the past or worry about the future but to just trust in Him moment by moment.  I spent the week in that state a mind and hoping that a miracle would be in my future but realizing that even if it wasn't I would be okay.

Thursday evening I had the very first hint of miscarriage.  In that moment I dealt with my sadness and disappointment.  For a half hour I let myself play with ideas of injustice and betrayal but then quickly spoke of God's goodness, sovereignty, & wisdom as I worshiped Him by singing, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" and "Because He Lives"

Friday, my mom offered to watch the girls for the weekend so I got them packed up and sent them off to 'Meanma & Papa's" house with my sister & brother-in-law.  I was scheduled for two photo shoots on Saturday but knowing miscarriage was imminent and not knowing when or how it would play out I went ahead and cancelled everything for the weekend.

Russ & I spent most of Saturday wandering around Home Depot and working on our home improvement projects.  I pulled nails out of the side of our house and bagged up some old insulation.  I had some cramping all day but nothing too serious.  By evening the cramps were definitly intensifying.  By 8 pm I was pretty uncomfortable and decided to take a bath.  Just as I was finishing up and preparing to get out, I began to miscarry.

I'll leave out the details but things got very real up in here.  But I was completely calm and at peace through the whole experience and am blessed with a wonderful husband who was a great help to me as well.

Today I woke up feeling normal again.  I cannot say that I am happy but I can say I am at peace.  I know that there are going to many sad moments in the coming months when we reach days that should have been milestones for this baby and when there are reminders of what should have been. But right now...there is a peace.  I know that my baby is resting with Jesus in the heavenly places.  I know that this experience has brought me to a renewed relationship & reliance on God that I have no wish to relinquish.  And now that I have a firm 'no' from Him in regard to this miracle and I know that there must be a reason for it beyond my understanding, I can now move forward to the next step in my life and in my walk with Him.

It is not easy to lose a child, even one you have never held.  But today as I release this unknown child into His eternal care, I refuse to dwell on what might have been but instead I will choose to rejoice in how this child's short existence affected my soul in such a positive way.

Until we meet in heaven...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stepping out of the Boat

I recently read the passage in Matthew 14 about when Jesus walked on the water.  He sent his disciples ahead of him in the boat while he went up on the mountain to pray.  By the time he's finished, the boat was a "considerable distance" from shore because of the wind.  No big deal...Jesus just walks on out to them.

Meanwhile, back in the boat, the disciples look out and see this figure coming toward them over the water and freak out...thinking its a ghost!  Jesus reassures them, "Hey, it's me.  You don't need to be afraid."  Now here is where the story gets really interesting, in my opinion.   Peter (wonderful, impulsive Peter) says, "If it's you, then tell me to come."  (I don't see how Jesus telling him to come proves it's him.  Seems to me just the kind of thing a ghost would want you to do...jump in rough waters in the middle of the night and drown!...but I digress.)  Anyway, so Jesus invites Peter to come and the passage says, "Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus."  (vs.29)  Wow!  But it didn't take long and Peter remembered that this was craziness!  "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord save me!" (vs.30)  As soon as he looked around (took his eyes off Jesus) and let his mind evaluate his situation, he gave his faith over to fear and began to sink.  Bummer.  Jesus immediately catches Peter and says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (vs.31)

This is the part of the story that bothered me.  Jesus seems so critical of Peter.  I look at this story and think..."Hey, at least Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat!  He even took several steps!  It seems to me his faith is admirable."  It just bothered me that Jesus seemed to focus on his moment of doubt rather than his moment of faith.  Especially considering how all the others just stood in the boat and watched.

I pondered a while and asked for some insight into this.  One of the answers I got was how Jesus is not interested in the comparison game.  My faith walk is not a contest between me and others.  We each have our own road to walk and our own unique tests of faith and mine is not going to look the same as someone else's.  Peter's is not going to be the same as John's.  We cannot let another person's successes or failures taint our view of our own growth.  In that moment, it was Peter who was stepping out in faith and therefore it was Peter who needed the Lord's words.  Jesus needed Peter to see that his doubt was misplaced.  In faith, Peter had miraculously walked on water!   Jesus was with him...but Peter let his mind trick his emotions and he let his emotions steal his faith.  He didn't have to sink at all!  But when he did...as we (I) so often do/will Jesus was right there to catch him and speak to him in truth.  :)

Another thing the Spirit showed me is this...When Jesus & Peter made it back to the boat and got on, Jesus' peace immediately came (no wind) and those on the boat who witnessed this whole thing all  "worshiped him" (vs.33)  It is a blessing to see a miracle from a distance and will lead to change and worship in those on the sidelines watching Jesus work around them. Even those who stayed on the boat were blessed by what had happened.   How much better should it be for Peter!  Not only did Peter get to witness a miracle of Jesus,  he also got to participate in the miracle, even if just for a moment!

I dare say that I am tired of just being a boat believer.  I want to be more like Peter.  I would rather step out of the boat in faith and walk with Jesus on the water for a moment and then sink...than to never step out of the boat at all!

And maybe...the next time Jesus invites me to step out in faith, I'll be able to make it a little farther before Jesus has to catch me and remind me not to doubt.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking forward in faith to an "unknown" known future

This week has been one of the most life-changing weeks of my 31 years.  Jesus has reached out to me and has taken me into His loving arms and has called me to a new future.  He has been systematically renewing my mind and giving me His eyes of faith as I look beyond my natural circumstances.  He walked me through distress to a place of love. And from love to hope.  And from hope to faith!  He has been watering my soul to receive a miracle.

I have learned to not let the world dictate my future but to look only to Jesus for the truth of my future.  I have learned that opening my life and allowing myself to be vulnerable to my family of believers is a blessing and not a curse.  I have learned that it is okay to hope.  In my adult life, I have allowed myself to believe that to hope is to risk looking a fool. But this week, Christ has taught me that to have hope is to build a foundation for faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.." (Hebrews 11:1)  Plus, God delights in using "the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." (1 Corinthians 1:27)  and as David proclaimed, "I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." (2 Samuel 6:22) for the sake of an uncompromising faith in Christ's goodness!

I have learned this week that God is "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." (Romans 4:17) and that this is what it means to step out in faith.  To the Almighty, there is no "future tense".  My future is not "unknown" to Christ and He does not care what the world "knows" or presents as evidence because He see things as they are meant to be and calls them as such and He only requires that we trust Him for the Truth and not the world.  For example, in the story of Jairus' daughter, Jesus is on his way with Jairus to visit her when a person meets them and tells them not to bother any more because the girl had died. (assuming it was too late for Jesus to help.)  But Jesus is not shaken and when He gets there and sees all the people mourning He says to them, "'Stop wailing,'...'She is not dead but asleep'  They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.  But he took her by the hand and said, "Child get up!"  Her spirit returned and at once she stood up." (Luke 8:52-56)    In this passage Jesus both "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were."  He told the mourners "She is not dead." when, in fact, she was... temporarily.  Since Jesus knows the future, from His perspective the girl was as good as alive.  The current situation...all the natural evidence...it was all completely irrelevant to Jesus.  And I have learned that this is what it means to step out in faith.  It means that we can speak a truth that is outside the realm of the present circumstances.  Faith is being "certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)   And I have learned this week that if I truly believe that Jesus is all the things the Bible says He is then I must step out the way He asks me to and just trust in Him and in His goodness and in His power, and in His love.

He has reminded me this week that He is capable of the impossible.  A God of miracles!  "What is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)  He has reminded me that He is willing and all we need to do is ask. (Mark 1:41) and (Luke 18:1-8).  He has reminded me that "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) and that he is a thief that "comes only to steal and kill and destroy;" but that Christ has come that I "may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

I think that although I gave my life to Christ as a child and in spite of the fact that I have attended so many wonderful Bible-based Christian churches my whole adult life, I have not given myself fully to the grace of God.  I have believed that I have an obligation to live a certain way in order to be deserving of God's blessings and therefore, it is hard to get past my failures to have faith that Christ will do for me what I know He can.  But Romans 4 makes it clear that blessings come only through faith and not by the law.  Believing that I had to do something in order to access God's miracles took the power from my faith.  This week, through Christ's unfailing faith and my new understanding of grace, I have a renewed spirit!  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)

This week of spiritual revival has come to me because of a specific circumstance in my life.  Tomorrow is the day in which my faith is tested before the world.  Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.  I am standing in confidence in "him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," (Ephesians 3:20)  and I am believing for a miracle.    Pray for me as I walk this walk of faith into my "unknown" known future!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Acacia's birthday

I haven't been on here much lately.  Life can get a bit overwhelming at times and keeping up my blog is not my top priority.  In all the craziness I completely missed posting about my sweet little Acacia celebrating her 2nd birthday.  I did post a few of the portraits I did of her on my photography blog HERE but I wanted to make sure a bit of her day was documented so even though it is three weeks late I'm gonna go ahead and post it now.

Acacia is our lover, always the first to dole out the hugs and lingers in the embrace.  She freely expresses her love for us through her words as well.  And she uses her smile & eye contact to make total strangers fall in love with her as well.

She is our happiest child.  Her smile is quick and easy.  She is not one to let things get her down for long.  She can be super stubborn & persistent when she wants to be.  But as a rule she is easy going and content.

She loves to color and has used nearly everything in our house as a canvas at one point or another over the last year.

Here are a few photos from her special day.

Five Question Friday: 10/14/2011

It's Five Question Friday over at My Little Life and I'm joining in...

1. Do you prefer your ice cream in a bowl or in a cone?
As a general rule I prefer to eat my ice cream out of a bowl but I absolutely love the taste of an ice cream soaked cone.  I guess I prefer the bowl because I am a slow eater and I can be more leisurely in my eating and don't feel rushed to eat.  But I am always willing to finish off that last couple bites of cone that my kids can't quite seem to finish.  :)

2. What three things do you love the smell of?

I love the smell of lilacs in the spring;  I love the smell of chlorine in my towels; and  I love the smell of freshly cut watermelon.  Only three?  pshhh...  
I also love the smell of new baby skin,  the smell of a warm summer rain (Those are fairly rare in Western Nebraska.), and the smell of men's cologne. 
Random thought, speaking of...

When I was in college my campus ministry leader once said that "Girls go by sense of smell and feelings."  I thought that was great and never forgot it!

Oh yeah...And I love the smell of new books.  :)

3. Giftcards or no? (In regards to gift giving...)
Heck, yeah!  I think they are great gifts to both give and receive.  It's more personal than cash as the giver can get creative and personal as to what the gift card is for but the receiver has so much more freedom as to when & how they spend it.  Unless you really go out on a limb and get a gift card for some place crazy, the person using it is most certainly going to be able to get get out of it and generally like what they get. You don't have to worry if it's the right size, if they have it already, or if they are going to like it at all.  That cannot be said for other gifts.  They can be a total crapshoot sometimes!  As the person receiving gifts, I would consider it a perfect Christmas if all I got were books & gift cards.  :)

4. What sports did you play in high school if any and do you still play them?
I played volleyball.  I went to a small high school where if you wanted to be in a sport, you were on the team.  I started playing volleyball in 8th grade and stuck with it all the way through high school.  I am 4'11 so needless to say, I wasn't a blocker.  Another girl in my class was a much better setter than me so...I wasn't that either.  I was considered a "back row specialist."  That meant that I got subbed in for a blocker when they got to the back row and subbed back out when it was time for me to move up.  I played mostly JV but I got to suit up for Varsity as a senior, though I spent most of my time on the bench "encouraging the other players".   ;)
In case you enjoy seeing old photos of me from my younger days, here's my junior volleyball picture-Fall of 1996.

5. Were you in band in high school? What instrument did you play?
No.  I was not in band.  I never learned to play an instrument unless you count the two songs I was taught to play on a recorder in 4th grade.  
However, I was in choir as an alto which I enjoyed very much.  I couldn't read music but I was great at hearing a note and being able to match it.  That served me well when I was near someone who knew our part well.  ha!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011