Monday, February 22

El Roi, Jehovah Jireh

El Roi, God sees me. Jehovah Jireh, God is my provider.

These words, one of the names of God, were tossed around (in retrospect, almost casually) at college, every time some need was met - an anonymously paid school bill, a few dollars in the mail for laundry, a care package from home - "wow, man, Jehovah Jireh!" and I never thought of it as irreverent. It was a continual reminder of how God saw, and provided.

Looking back, it became so commonplace at that time of my life, I took for granted that God would provide. I mean, everyone knows college students have no money, and I suppose it could have been a strange type of entitlement, I'm not sure. All I do know is that I was trusting that everything would happen as God wanted it to.  And back then, when life was a little simpler, I expected God to show Himself and provide. I saw it readily, I praised Him often. Even for little things.

But then, we grew up (a little) and started adulting - bills to pay, budgets to balance, children to provide for, and jobs to work to bring in the money for these things. OF COURSE we understood that God is the one who provides the work, the money, the bonus jobs, but at the same time, it's really easy to start relying on yourself, to stop asking God for things.

You see the deep needs of others and pray instead for them, not wishing to "bother" with your "little" need. "I can do it, it's fine, we'll be fine." becomes an easy rut to settle into. And when you stop asking, sometimes you stop being grateful for those little things. Sometimes you become self-reliant. Sometimes you stop looking to see Him working in those same, simple ways. So a couple of months ago, I picked out one thing to pray about. It was a legitimate need, something we had forgotten about the need for replacing, and we simply didn't have the extra in the budget. I wanted to pray specifically so that I could watch God work specifically.

And this weekend, we were humbled by our Jehovah Jireh. This item that I'd prayed about for a couple of months was very unexpectedly taken care of - a friend called and asked point blank if this exact thing was a need. He said he and his wife had been asking God to show them how they could bless others, and that God had laid it on his heart, very specifically, very clearly, just like that.

I didn't know HOW God was going to choose to provide, or if it would be obvious or just through extra hours, through trivet + board sales, or other random earnings. I assumed it would be through work and earnings, not through a gift. I hadn't told anyone I was praying about it except for Michael and my mom. I know she was praying too.

But God chose differently, and now we have freshly tasted, seen, and experienced God's knowledge of our needs. He is reminding us that He is not "generic" Jehovah Jireh, He is OUR Jehovah Jireh.  And it is so humbling - to be reminded that not only does God see, and know, and love, and care, but He can and does provide - however and through whomever He chooses.

I have been so encouraged and challenged through our friends' prayers and obedience that I now seek to pray this way. My prayer? God, show me how I can bless others. Show me who, what, and how. Show me specifically, because I want to see YOU. Being on the receiving end of the blessing just makes us want to give what we can to others. It's a beautiful and multifaceted gift we've been given. All because of God's amazing grace.

So much grace.

Friday, February 19

Resurrected (and a birth story)

Or at least the blog has come out of a coma.

This blog, like other aspects of our life, kind of came to a standstill in 2013. I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps the housing transition proved too much. Perhaps Facebook took too much of my time. Scratch that. DEFINITELY Facebook. It's so easy to sit and blurb a word here or there to update the family or vent or post a picture of my kids, but there's really no record that is journal-like there. It's like two years have passed without record. There are no gradual home improvement posts. There are no newsy updates. There are many things about these two years that I didn't record here, and I'm really sad about that.

And Amos, our fourth-born child, simply doesn't exist on this blog. There are no posts about the blessings and pains of pregnancy and childbirth at age 35, no quips about the looks and questions you get from friends and random strangers when they realize that you're carrying a fourth.

So now, when Amos is seven months, I sit down to log his birth story. Because if you don't take the time, it gets away from you.

The pregnancy went pretty well, I had lost about 40lbs following Trim Healthy Mama prior to becoming pregnant so that was great. I had to work REALLY hard not to continue to lose while I was pregnant, and I had a rougher pregnancy in general than I expected. It turns out that I was accidentally glutening myself the entire pregnancy with a magnesium supplement containing brewer's yeast. Which explains A LOT of the aches and pains and brain fog and headaches!! I also had a lot of anxiety this time around, and I'm fairly confident it was due to the early pregnancy losses we have suffered. I really had to make a conscious effort to keep my thoughts focused during the days. At night I would wake with awful panic attacks, unable to breathe. These are small things to some but it was a pretty rough time for me over all. I am thankful that I wasn't bedridden and that the baby was totally find during all of this!

We decided once again not to find out the baby's gender, and nicknamed the baby "Disco" because all throughout the pregnancy, he would move like CRAZY at night; it truly felt as if he was breaking it down in my belly. It was NUTS.

About 12 days before my due date, I thought *THIS IS IT* and buckled down for some serious contraction counting. The contractions came fast and furious until they were about a minute apart and lasting about a minute, however, around midnight they tapered off and stopped. Not cool. And then, this kind of thing continued for 17 days.

I do not wish prodromal labor on anyone. It's awful. The worst part was how it messed with my brain. I mean, I'm a mom of FOUR. I'd birthed two babies at home by this point, so shouldn't I be aware of what real labor is? What was my deal? Was I losing it? Combined with the night waking and panic attacks, it was not fun. The midwife and her entire crew were over several times. It was embarrassing. We tried several maneuvers and hundreds of trips up and down the stairway sideways. No progress.

The morning of July 3, 5 days past my due date, I woke up with contractions, no surprise. I wasn't overjoyed, I was TICKED OFF. I made an appointment with a chiropractor to try to get things lined up and I just assumed that today would be the same as any other day. I texted my midwife and said "well, more contractions today!" and told her how grumpy I was. The chiropractor appointment was at 11 and I went shopping for a bit after that. Then I went home and spent some time praying that I would be able to persevere and not be grumpy about it. (this had been my prayer for about 2 weeks...) Around 1, I thought it was maybe different, but probably not, so my parents came to get the kids because that's what we'd been doing when it got to be too much for me to handle!

Around 3, I called Kelly (my midwife) because I knew something was happening. She called her team and headed over. I was uncomfortable and just so happy that things were progressing, but trying not to get my hopes up too much.

Well, things got pretty intense between the time I called and the time she arrived. And I think I was probably in transition within the hour after she arrived. Then I started feeling faint every time I had a contraction. This happened with Cadence's birth also, but UNLIKE that birth, resting between contractions wasn't doing it for me. I had to lie down on my side, which helped with the near-blackout-experiences, but I ended up giving birth while side lying, which I don't recommend. :-)

HOWEVER, when Amos was born, I cannot even tell you how happy I was to be holding that baby who had tried so long to come. We still had no name, but he was here, he was gorgeous, I didn't have much blood loss at all and overall the birth itself went really well. It was a trial endured for a moment (although that moment seemed extremely long). And the sweet rush of new motherhood washed over me with it's old familiar euphoria.

Amos means "carried by God" and Tobiah, his middle name, means "God is Good" and HE IS GOOD. I learned so many things about my God and myself through this pregnancy and birth. His plan is best, and perfect. Our thoughts cannot begin to nail down who God is and what He does in us and in the world.

And our Amos? Oh, what a joy. He has been the happiest baby, snuggliest little man, and so well loved by his older siblings. His grin will not quit. Cadey will be five shortly after Amos' first birthday, and watching my older children love on and interact with the baby has been such a gift. So many gracious and unexpected blessings have visited our family this year, and Amos is one of them.

Hopefully, I can continue to journal more blessings in the days and weeks to come!