On My Knees

My floors were gross and in desperate need of cleaning. I passed on using the steam mop and chose to go the old fashioned route. Out came the bucket and rags as I got on my knees. My intention was to clean JUST the floors. However, being on my knees allowed me to see other areas that also needed to be cleaned…my walls, the legs of the table and chairs, the baseboards and the cabinets. Needless to say, I was on my knees a lot longer than intended, but the results were worth it.

Isn’t that how it is when we get on our knees in prayer? Admittedly, I have times when I just want to blow off some steam in prayer and get on with my daily agenda, but being in the presence of God brings all the “dirty” stuff to the surface. As I commune with Him in sincere prayer, He shows me areas where I have such things as unforgiveness, jealously, bitterness, and pride—areas that need some serious cleansing.

It is not enough to just get on my knees for a moment, but I must be willing to stay there longer than intended sometimes. I must enter into His presence with thanksgiving and be willing to be like my three year old, sometimes stuck on repeat, saying the same thing over and over again. “Thank you Lord for this…” “Thank you Lord for that…” “And for this and for that…” I must offer true praise, acknowledging who He is and what He has done for me. I have to get comfortable with crying out to God, telling Him all, withholding nothing. But it doesn’t stop at me sharing, I must be willing to have a dialogue and learn when it’s His turn to speak to me during prayer. I must be willing to stay on my knees as opposed to running away when He doesn’t answer the way I desire.
To get really ‘clean,’ I cannot rely on a quick “I’m just praying because this is what a Christian is supposed to do” kinda prayer. My life would be no cleaner than my kitchen, showing a surface cleaning. No, prayer must be a priority. After all, He is coming back for a church without “spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.”

Yes, it takes time but the results are a positively transformed life and greater connection with God and like the satisfaction I gained from my housekeeping duties, it is well worth it!

Faith’s story part 3

Read part 1 and part 2 of Faith’s story if you haven’t done so already.

After 14 days on bed rest, I began to have contractions. I called my husband late that night letting him know it was show time. They gave me a shot to stop the contractions. It worked for a little while. However by the next morning the contractions increased and there was no denying that our baby girl was ready to enter the world. They quickly rushed me to the labor and delivery room. The nurses ran down the hall as they pushed my hospital bed with my husband right behind them. It was like a scene from a movie. They didnt want to take any chances considering all the unknown factors. I was given a shot to prevent bleeding on the baby’s brain because she was going to be 10 weeks premature. The shot made me sick to my stomach. I was dizzy, had a pounding headache and felt disoriented. After waiting a while, the contractions slowed down again. They however decided to keep me in labor and delivery because everything was so unpredictable.

Tyrone went home to take care of some things hoping that we had bought more time. I was famished, I begged to eat something because I had not eaten from the night before when all the action began. I was placed on a liquid diet, and let me tell you jello and flavored ice never tasted so good. Later that evening the contractions started again. Tyrone was called again, and this time we knew that it was actually going to happen. In addition to my doctor, nurse, and husband my room was filled with staff from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) getting the incubator ready. It was such a surreal moment. My husband and I tried to be “normal” and carry on conversations between contractions but we both knew that our current predicament was everything but normal. In a few hours we would know if God had answered the way we desired concerning Faith. I believe the anticipation surrounding Faith’s health distracted me from the pain I was feeling with the contractions. All along I was praying that all would be well.

The NICU doctor preparing for Faith's arrival in my delivery room.
The NICU doctor preparing for Faith’s arrival in my delivery room.

The contractions became more intense and closer together and after two pushes on May 14th at 10:29pm, Faith Serenity Jones made her debut into the world. Tyrone did not cut her umbilical cord like he had done for our other 5 children. Neither of us got to hold her or see what she looked liked. She was immediately rushed to the NICU. So after 30 weeks of uncertainty, numerous visits to different doctors, 15 days on bed rest, I had no tiny feet or sweet cheeks to kiss. No baby to nurse. I had given birth but no crying baby in my arms to prove it. I felt absolutely numb and empty. No words can truly express what I was feeling.

This remained empty after Faith's birth  because she was not with me in my room.  She was in the NICU.  No words to fully express that feeling.
This remained empty after Faith’s birth because she was not with me in my room. She was in the NICU. No words to fully express that feeling.

My husband and I sat in that room and waited for over two hours with so many unanswered questions about our baby girl. What did she look like? Was she struggling for life? Were all the possible diagnosis true? We tried to carry on normal conversation but we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I sent a text out to all those praying with us and waiting to hear news, and the only news I could share was her name. No weight or height, no pictures attached, just that she was here. It was as if time stopped for me.

After a very long wait, we received news that we could go down to the NICU to see baby Faith. I was very happy to see Faith, but it was also kind of a scary sight. She was literally skin and bone, she was so small ( weighing only 2p 6 oz 15 inches long). She had so many cords over her tiny body and a tube over her mouth for oxygen. Her facial features weren’t very noticeable because of all the equipment on her face. But I needed someone, anyone to answer the nagging questions, was my baby ok, did she have any heart defects, was their bleeding on her brain, did she have a chromosomal abnormality?

Tired but very thankful parents meeting Faith for the first time.
Tired but very thankful parents meeting Faith for the first time.

We were told that Faith had a tiny hole in her heart but it was expected to close on its own. As the days went on, more test were done. No bleeding on her brain, no chromosomal abnormality, no heart defect. Praise God, other than her low birth weight Faith was fine. Faith was healed!

She however had to remain in the NICU for 1 month to grow. That proved to be another adventure. The hospital was 30 minutes from our home and we struggled with maintaining some sense of normalcy with the other five children at home, while trying to go and see Faith. The children always looked forward to visiting their baby sister in the NICU but we were all ready for her to come home. It was a very tiring season but we thank God for his grace. After a month, we were given the news we had been praying for, our baby girl could come home!

As Faith grew and got stronger we were able to hold her.
As Faith grew and got stronger we were able to hold her.

 

Faith and big brother Isaiah,  another NICU graduate.
Faith and big brother Isaiah, another NICU graduate.

 

Naomi's first time holding Faith.  She was beyond thrilled!
Naomi’s first time holding Faith. She was beyond thrilled!

So here we are, a little over a year later and we have celebrated Faith’s 1st birthday.  She is petite and healthy.  For this we are thankful, God is indeed faithful!

Faith on her 1st Birthday!
Faith on her 1st Birthday!
Faith posing by her birthday backdrop created by Naomi.
Faith posing by her birthday backdrop created by Naomi.

Faith’s Story Part 2

If you havent done so already, you may want to read part 1 of Faith’s story.

All five children had a dentist appointment. The plan was for me to take them to the dentist and then go and pick Tyrone up from work and head to Costco (the highlight of my day). It was a very long dentist visit and as I was sitting in the waiting room for the last child to finish her cleaning, I knew something was wrong. Right there in the dentist office my amniotic sac broke and began to leak, how about that for an adventure? I remained calm, left the dentist office with all five children in tow. I went to pick Tyrone up from work and as he was entering the van, he could hear me speaking on the phone with my doctor. She instructed me to go to the hospital right away so that I could be examined. Believe it or not, I was trying to see if we could make the trip to Costco before going to the hospital. My very wise husband decided against it.

Tyrone let me out at the hospital so I could go and get examined and he went to park the van. By the time he made it in with all five kids, I had been examined. I kindly asked the nurse to tell him what she had just shared with me. She looked at my husband and informed him that my water did break and I had to be admitted to the hospital and would remain UNTIL I DELIVERED THE BABY. I really wish I had a camera at that moment to capture the look on both of our faces. WHAT?!!! NO!!!!! We have five children. I have things to do. I have end of the year papers to sign and special programs to attend at the kids school. I have things at home to prepare before the baby arrives. I STILL HAVE TO GO TO COSTCO!

There was no negotiating, I had to remain in the hospital on bed rest. They were concerned about infections and they wanted the baby to stay in as long as possible considering I was only 28 weeks gestation. So the papers were signed, and there I was just like that on on bed rest. They gave me steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop quickly, the shot was more effective 48 hours after it was given. So another layer was added to the wait and see game. Not only did the baby remain in my womb for that initial 48 hours but she remained for a total of 15 days. This was a huge blessings because every extra day was beneficial.

The nurses in the hospital were absolutely amazing and did their best to make me feel comfortable. We received so much support,help, prayer, meals and words of encouragement from various individuals. We were certainly grateful for the help. Tyrone was doing double duty, his job and mine. However I must confess that it was extremely difficult for me to not be the one doing it all, after all I am THE wife and mother. Perhaps there was some pride mixed in there…who am I kidding? Yes! It was pride. I had no choice but to relinquish control because we desperately needed help.

People kept on asking me if I was bored and the answer was always no. I really missed being at home with my husband and children, that was the most difficult part. It was definitely a challenge being still. But the Lord really used this time to minister to me in some profound ways and he also opened the door for me to minister to some of the individuals that came to my room. For those that know me, I am rarely at a loss for words. This personality trait came in handy while on bed rest. I had lots of conversation with the nurses and different visitors.

For the 15 days that I was on bed rest, there was not a day that went by that I did not think about my baby’s health. What would be the outcome? As I was in that hospital room, I would lay hands on my womb and decree that the baby was well. But there were moments where fear crept in and whispered, “what if?” God told me to trust him and what I had learned is that putting my trust in God didn’t always mean the story would play out the way it was scripted in my mind. A greater level of trust required me to believe that no matter how the story ended, it was all going to be for my good.

So after 15 long days, on May 14, 2013 Our baby girl began to show signs that she was ready to enter the world. Click here part three to read what happened next.

Faith’s Story Part 1


                                                     Here I am 28 weeks gestation on my 35th birthday

Three days ago I celebrated my 36th birthday. It was a blessing and I was left with a heart of gratitude as I thought about this time last year. On April 29th, 2013 (the day after my 35th birthday) our world was turned upside down. I was 28 weeks pregnant with our 6th child. The pregnancy up to that point had been quite eventful.

I had a preliminary screening done for possible abnormalities when I was in my second trimester. The results of the screening indicated that the baby was at high risk for spina bifida and down syndrome. I had a follow up appointment with a level 2 ultrasound. While the ultrasound ruled out spina bifida there were still great concerns that the baby had some sort of chromosomal abnormality. There were three findings that were of concern to the doctor.

1. My placenta looked unhealthy, it was very thick. This was of concern because the baby’s growth could be hindered and it presented a greater possibility of having a premature or stillborn baby. From that point on they began to closely monitor the baby’s growth which meant more visits to the doctor.

2. The umbilical cord contained only two blood vessels, instead of the normal three. I learned that babies with single umbilical artery have an increased risk for birth defects, including heart, central nervous system and urinary-tract defects and chromosomal abnormalities.

3. The baby’s heart was in the middle of her chest as opposed to the left. The doctor was also concerned that there were holes in the baby’s heart. So in addition to my frequent trips to monitor the baby’s growth, I also had to see a pediatric cardiologist.

When I left the doctors office after hearing the news, I went to the bathroom and cried…sobbed. I felt that I had already met my quota for suffering while going through with Isaiah (baby #5). Wasn’t having your newborn baby stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and undergoing three major surgeries enough?  I cannot go through this again was my response to God. It was too painful. He allowed me to cry and vent and then he gently asked me if I truly believed he was in control. In that moment by his grace, I made the choice to trust God and receive the peace He was offering. Tyrone and I chose to stand in faith and had others praying with us for total healing of our baby girl. Walking by faith was a choice I had to make everyday.

On April 29th, 2013 at 28 weeks gestation, I was in for yet another surprise. Click here for part two of Faith’s story.

Reality

I have to face the reality that my body is perishing and not meant to last forever. Sure I can do things to improve my health and well being, and I am a strong advocate of doing so. However the experiences over the last week forced me reflect on a few sobering truths. I got hit hard with a nasty sickness. I had so much to accomplish on my to do list and while my mind was telling me to forge ahead, my body was screaming the opposite. I would love to tell you that I exercised wisdom and sat and rested but I can’t even begin to tell that lie. I fought like crazy to defy my reality. I was soooo frustrated. It so hard having an agenda and not being able to accomplish it. Ever been there?

I began to really think about the end. Not in a depressing way, but a lets really evaluate things here kind of way. We are each given an allotted amount of time here on earth and it’s so easy to have misguided focus. We act as if we are immortal and always assume we will have more time. We assume we will always be as strong as we were yesterday. We pursue our agenda without noticing that the clock is ticking and one day it is certain to stop. They say that there are two things that are certain, death and taxes. Hebrews 9:27 tells us of something else that’s certain after death…the judgement. When I stand before God, what will he think of how I used the time he gave me? What will he have to say concerning my priorities, did they line up with his? And my life, my heart, did it belong to him?

I am feeling better today but I have more of a resolve to build up my spirit, focus on God’s agenda because my end is one day closer. As I put him first, I don’t have to dread that day but I can look forward to it with great joy!

Forward

You are taking me to a place I’ve never been before
But I dont have to fear, I don’t have to fear
I. DONT. HAVE. TO. FEAR.
I must remind myself because the temptation is there
I can be confident because you have proven that you are on my side
As you lead Jesus, teach me to follow with a surrendered heart
Even when I don’t understand
Even when it means giving of myself beyond what I think is possible
Even when what you are telling me is contrary to what I want or what I think is best
Help me to have a joyful yes

 

There is absolutely no turning back for me
As I have put my hand to the plow, by your grace I refuse to look back
Look back to death
Look back to shame
Look back to pride
Look back to my agenda
Look back to people pleasing

 

You are taking me somewhere
I know
I don’t know how the pieces of the puzzle are going to come together
But I give you the pieces and trust you know how
I don’t know how you will word my mouth
But I will speak at your command
I hear what you are saying and if I think too hard, I become overwhelmed
Teach me not to reason but to rest
I keep my eyes on you as  you take me FORWARD!