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‘Tis a Gift

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Here we are, the week after Thanksgiving and we’re already elbow-deep in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.  Fortunately for me, I have a week off.  So what does someone do with a week off when they haven’t had a week off in over a year?  Well, clean and organize of course!  In the time span since I last wrote a blog post, my parents have moved in with us, combining two households into one.  My job status has changed, not once, but twice (though I am still working at the same ministry).  And, last but certainly not least, wehave gone through a major home renovation.

Renovating the house was a grand pain to say the least!  There were days we wondered if we’d ever be able to move around the house without it being an obstacle course.  There were boxes everywhere…bathroom items in the kitchen and living room, kitchen items in the bedroom, and anything we could live without for a while was moved to the basement.  That’s where I spent my day today – the basement.  My goal for this week is to get a semblance of order back to the chaos that is our basement.

While the hubby was in the woods with our daughter this morning (it’s the first day of hunting season in Pennsylvania), I headed for the basement to tackle what we lovingly call the downstairs living room.  It has become a room that resembles the living quarters of a hoarder.  Boxes, unlabeled with items overflowing from them sit around the room in abundance.  They sit on the floor, on the furniture, on any available space there may be.  And then there’s the dust from the sanding of drywall (it all seemed to settle in the basement), wood shavings (they cut all their boards, trim, etc in the basement when it rained), and cobwebs since it’s been a neglected area for over a year.

As I walked in the room, I was overwhelmed.  Where to begin?  I realized quickly in order to lessen the clutter of the room, another area needed to be created to accept the organized boxes.  The first order of business was to move a bookcase we use to store our games, closer to the living room area.  With that moved and the games unpacked and loaded on the shelves, a space was now created where boxes could be moved.

Since Christmas is close by, I decided to organize all of our Christmas items first.  Now with two homes merging into one, there are enough decorations to decorate every room in the house (yeah, that’s not going to happen!).  I was disheartened to discover that when we put away the decorations last year, we did just that…put them away.  We didn’t take time to put them in the boxes they belonged.  Everything was just a jumbled mess.  By the end of my day, all the lights were together, ornaments together, snowmen were together, candles and garlands were in their respective containers.  I had a great sense of accomplishment!  And best of all, it was all moved out the living room and created a place to sit on the chair AND the sofa in the room!  PROGRESS!!!

I sank down on the couch, now free of clutter, dust and cobwebs and stretched out, enjoying it’s comfort and softness.  Christmas music was coming from the radio, and I believe I began to drift off to sleep.  I’m not sure if I was just day dreaming or actually dreaming, but I began to imagine the finished product that would be this room.  A room free of boxes, decorated and clean again.  A sanctuary where I could get away and just spend time in solitude.  (That’s my ultimate goal for this room!)  I thought about how different the room was starting to look without all the extra clutter.  What other clutter could I remove?

Thoughts of finances, pending bills, needed dental work and car repairs were clouding my thoughts.  Worry about whether my daughter would find the deer she shot this morning (it was a 6-8 point buck!) were floating around in my mind as well.  So many things cluttered my brain.  It was exhausting.  I closed my eyes once again and prayed a little prayer.  “Lord, remove the clutter and worry from my mind.”

It was then that God reminded me of Matthew 6:24-34 –  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (NIV)

I felt as though I had been given a gift.  “Yes, Lord, I know you’ll take care of me even at my weakest moments, even when life is so cluttered and I can’t see a clear path.  You are good!”

So, this first day of this week of vacation was a special one…yes, I spent the day working, but I was given a special gift and lesson today and something to remember as I go through the week.  Thanks for the gift, God!

❤ Miriam

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Snow Day With a Cup of Comfort

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What is it about a snowy day that brings out the cook in us?  I had the privelege of working from home today, and at lunch time, Katie says, “Mommy, I feel like soup for lunch.”  She picked out a can of Progresso and soon we were both enjoying a hot cup of soup. As the chicken flavored broth trickled down my throat and warmed me from the inside out, I felt happy that I had been able to stay home instead of going out in the freezing cold outdoors.

I still had a few hours to put in for the day after lunch, but my mind started thinking of cake, cookies, pies, creamy casseroles and warm sandwiches.  I couldn’t wait till it was time to make supper. It was going to be comfort food for sure!

Finally, my work day was done. I decided to check Facebook and see what everyone else was up to on this cold winter day. I saw post after post like these:

“Just put a pan of banana nut bread in the oven. Mmmmm, can’t wait!” – Or – “I’m bored, think I’ll make a batch of chocolate chip cookies!” – Or – “Nothing like a snow day to make some peanut butter fudge!” – Or – “Brownies fresh from the oven! Yes, please!”

After seeing all this, I decided the only decent thing I could do was to join them! Soon the smells of a peach pie were wafting from my kitchen.  I could hardly wait for supper!

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What would we have to eat? I decided to have one of our all time favorite comfort foods…tomato soup and grilled cheese.  As we sat around the table with our steaming cups of soup, eating our gooey, cheesey, warm sandwiches, we talked about our day. We contemplated when the snow would stop and how tomorrow might be. There was something comforting about being able to enjoy a warm delicious meal on a cold night and enjoy each other’s company.

After supper, I checked my email (I checked Facebook again too), and I saw that many others had the same idea for supper. There were many posts about comfort foods….lasagna, chicken enchiladas, and lots and lots of soup!

It’s too bad we wait for snow days to experience this kind of comfort. Oh, but wait!  We can have this kind of comfort every day! II Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (NIV) We CAN have comfort any time we want it! God will comfort us when ever we are in distress. In turn, He enables us to be able to comfort others. We can have and share comfort any time, whether it’s through a casserole of comfort food or a plate of cookies or words of encouragement or reassurance. God shows His presence through these moments.

I look forward to another snow day where we can just snuggle in and be comfortable with each other. Until then, I’ll find joy in God’s Word and read His words of comfort.

The phone just rang. There’s no school again tomorrow. Perhaps another snow day for me is closer than I think!

♥Miriam

Loving Despite Ourselves

It’s been ages since I’ve put up a blog post, but I got a little “divine” inspiration this week!

It was one of those days. You know those days when nothing seems to go right, you don’t feel good, and everyone seems grumpy? Yup, one of those days. To make things worse, I was having some of the worst back pain ever and could hardly get around. Fortunately, I was off work as was my hubby and daughter. Early on in the day, Dave made it clear to Katie that she was to help me that day because of the pain I was having. In the beginning, she was more than happy to get things for me, bring me an extra blanket, whatever it was I needed. By lunch time, her demeanor was beginning to change.

“Katie, I’m going to stretch out on the bed for a while. While I do, could you please pick up the things that are on the floor of your bedroom and straighten up? And…make sure you get all your dirty clothes in the hamper because we’re doing laundry this afternoon,” I requested.

“Do I have to?” she whined.

“Yes, you do.”

“Make me!” she snidely snapped.

Moments later, her daddy having heard the nastiness in her voice offered some “incentive,” and she was grudingly cleaning her room, muttering under her breath and throwing things around in her room.  Soon, her bedroom door went shut and I heard the sounds of Toby Mac being played on her CD player. I knew instantly that the cleaning of her room had ceased.

I got myself out of the bed, which was no small feat with the pain I had, and walked across the hall to her room. I opened the door and said, “What are you doing?”

“Get out!” she yelled. “Get out of my room!”

As I made a quick survey of the room, I saw that very little progress had been made on the condition of her room. There were piles of stuff everywhere I looked and I had no idea how she’d ever get in her bed to sleep that night with all the things she had stacked on there.  I was angry. Not only had she disobeyed me,  but she had also disobeyed her daddy and now was talking back with quite a bit of attitude to boot.

“Is this what you were asked to do?” I said.

“No, but I don’t want to do stuff for you anymore today. I’m bored and I want to do this now.”

Trying to keep my cool, I replied, “You’re not just doing this for me or for Daddy, but you’re doing it for yourself too. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot nicer to sleep and play in a cleaned up room?”

“I don’t care,” she shouted. “I like it this way!”

“You do?” I questioned. “You enjoy sleeping on books and Legos and dirty clothes?”

“Yes, I do!”

David, having heard this interaction, came back the hall and laid down the law. There would be no more music, no more playing, no more goofing off until the room is picked up.  He ushered me back to our room and helped me back in bed and went back over to talk to Katie. “I believe we had an agreement that you would do what your mother asked you to do today.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to do this!  She’s just being mean to me!”

“No she isn’t.  She loves you and wants the best for you and that’s one reason why she wants you to have a clean room. Mommy can’t clean it for you today, I’m taking care of laundry, dishes and cleaning up the living room and kitchen, and this is your room, so you must clean it yourself.”

“Fine!” she yelled, and proceeded to begin the process of cleaning her room.

Later, Katie came into the room and threw a piece of paper at me. It said, “Do you love me?”

What? I could hardly believe it! I was so upset! Of course, I loved her! How could she think otherwise? I was hurt, frustrated and all that hurt and frustration just seemed to intensify the pain.  I began to cry. Dave came into the room at that moment. “What’s wrong? Do you need more pain medication?”

“No,” I replied, “here.”  I handed him the note.

“I’m going to talk to her.”

“No, honey, don’t. It will just make things worse,” I sobbed.

Towards supper time, Katie had finished up rearranging her clutter (it was far from resolved) and cleared off her bed. I could see from my bed that progress had been made. “Katie?”

“What!” she yelled.

“Come here please.”

“What do you want now?” she snapped.

Disregarding her attitude, I asked, “It’s almost time for supper. If you could help me out of the bed, you and I could go to the kitchen and make supper together. I’ll let you cook.”

She smiled a little at this point. “What are we making?”

“Meatloaf.”

“Cool! And I can make it?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you what you need to do.”

“Just get out the recipe and I’ll follow it,” she said.

“I don’t have a recipe, Katie. I make it from memory, so I’ll have to tell you.”

“Fine,” she said the smile suddenly leaving her face.

She helped the best she could to help steady me as I crawled out of the bed and we went to the kitchen. I sat down at the table and started giving her directions. At several points of the process, I had her wash or rinse her hands at the sink. This seemed to just irritate her further. She got the meatloaf finished and put into the oven and I asked her if we could mix up a Betty Crocker potato mix to go with it. “Nah, you can do that. I’m done with this stuff. I need to go cool off. I’m mad at you.”

“Why are you mad at me now?” I questioned, still wondering and hurting from her written question earlier in the day.

“You wouldn’t let me do the meatloaf my way!”

I explained that when you cook, you have to follow the directions or it won’t turn out right. That explanation wasn’t good enough for her and she stomped off to her room. Soon sounds of Toby Mac were once again flowing out her door.

David walked into the kitchen and said, “Did she help you?”

“Yes, but only for a little bit,” I said.  I shared what had happened.

“I’ll go talk to her,” he said.

“No, this is our battle, David. I’ll deal with her later.”

Supper was delicious! We both gave Katie praise for the delicious meatloaf, but not a word of thanks came from her mouth.  She was sent to get her bath, again with much complaint, but she did go. When her bath was over, I asked her to go get her brush so that she could get her hair smoothed out and also to get ready for bed.  She stomped around and stomped around. “I can’t find my brush!” she screamed.

“It’s in my purse. You gave it to me to hold for you last night in the van and I told you I’d put it in my purse.”

She marched to the kitchen and immediately comes back. “It’s not in your coat!” she screamed.

“You didn’t listen to me!” I snapped back. “It…is…in…my…purse!”

She tramped back to the kitchen. She brings back my bag I carry to work and shoves it at me. “Find it yourself! It’s not in here!”

“I know it’s not in there,” I said, “because this isn’t my PURSE!”

“Aaaah!” She runs to the kitchen again. I’m hearing her grumble and grumble. Next thing I know, she’s walking back the hall brushing her hair.

“You found it I see!”

“Yeah, whatever…” she said.

I could hardly believe it. Here was my sweet 11-year-old acting quite like a moody teenager. And worst of all, she didn’t think I loved her. She was ready for bed and kissed and hugged her daddy, walked past me and back to her room. David was angry. “She needs to tell you goodnight!”

“I’ve got it,” I said and made my way to her room.

I went in and said, “Katie.”

“What!”

“You didn’t give me a goodnight hug and kiss.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, I’d like to have one.” I leaned down to hug and kiss her and she did not reciprocate. I was ready to break. I sat down on the end of her bed. “I got a note from you earlier today.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really have to ask if I love you?” She immediately began to cry, I believe because she knew the answer.

“Maybe.”

“Why do you think I don’t love you?”

“You were asking me to do stuff and you wouldn’t let me just play and goof off.”

“Katie, do you realize that I ask you do things because I love you?”

“What?”

“Yes, I love you! I ask you do things like clean your room and help with supper because I want you to grow up to be responsible and to know how to do things.  I’m not doing it to be mean. Do you understand that?” As I said this, I looked at her dresser where a photo frame was sitting with various pictures of our family in it. My picture was missing. “I see you removed me from your picture frame. Do you want me not to be part of this family?”

“No!” she sobbed. “I was just mad at you. I don’t want you to leave me ever! I’m sorry! I’ll put it back. I guess I was just having a bad day today.”

“Me too,” I said. ” I thought you didn’t love me anymore either.”

I reached out to her and she fell into my arms and hugged me and kissed me. I tucked her in and gave her one more kiss goodnight. “Thanks for talking to me, Mommy.”

“You’re welcome, I love you, goodnight!”

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I began to think over the events of the day as I laid down to sleep. I couldn’t help but think of how God has many days like this, days where His children totally disrespect Him and act as though they don’t love Him. Yet, he patiently waits for us to realize that He’s still there, He still loves us, and He’s willing to forgive us for our self-centeredness. God would do anything for us. This is made clear in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (NIV) What greater love could there be than giving up your own Son to cover our sins? That is true love.

So despite our humanity, despite our tendencies to think only of ourselves, despite our inability to fathom such a love as our Father has for us, He loves us anyway.  What a comforting thought.

As I drifted off to sleep, I thought of how I couldn’t wait to share that with Katie in the morning.

♥Miriam

The Not So Strange People of Walmart

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I had seen my doctor the day before and he changed my medications around yet another time and I needed to go pick up my new prescription. I had dropped Katie off at Bible school and Dave was fishing with a friend. I had some time to myself for a change, but instead, had to run errands and part of those errands was getting a prescription I didn’t want.

I was upset that I had to have another medication change. I’ve been dealing with uncontrolled hypertension for a while now, and have gone through countless medications in hopes that one will bring those numbers down. But time and time again, I hear those words from my doctor, “This medication isn’t doing the job, let’s try this.” I dread seeing him any more. I have a medicine cabinet filled with meds that I can’t use….money down the drain in my eyes.

As I drove to Walmart, I was thinking about all I had to do that day and about the fact that part of my day was disrupted again by my need for a new medication. “Wonder how much this one will cost, ” I thought. I pray a lot when I’m alone in my van and driving. (I do keep my eyes open, obviously!) I began to cry out to God and implore Him to help me and my doctor find something that would work to change my chronic issue. I found myself actually whining. I’m sure God wasn’t impressed with my prayer that day…it was mainly a lot of complaining.

Finally, Walmart was in view and I pulled into a parking space. When I went inside, they were out of the motorized carts I’ve come to depend upon to get through the store with my arthritis issues. I was feeling defeated. I was dreading hearing what the cashier would say my total was today.  And, on top of that, I’d have to walk all through Walmart on a day I was having some significant pain.

The pharmacy wasn’t busy so I got to be waited on quickly. “Did you know this medication costs $294?” the clerk said. The look on my face told her I didn’t. I didn’t have a choice though.  I paid my bill and started shopping for the remainder of the things I needed.

I needed to get a Father’s Day gift for David. Katie had given me specific instructions to get him a Duck Dynasty t-shirt with Uncle Si on it.  I went to the display where we had seen them before, only to discover the only size left was small. There would be no Uncle Si shirt for Dave. I had to find something else. This only added to my disappointment in the day.

Cards were picked over….I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that one! I was at a loss to know what to get for Dave. I had my mind set on the t-shirt and now it wasn’t an option. I looked at my list of things I needed to purchase, and decided to look for the other things instead.  As I shopped, I tried thinking of what I could get for Dave. The idea finally came that he had been wanting a small chainsaw. Certainly, Walmart would have an inexpensive one. No. No such luck. The only thing left in that department were weed eaters and he didn’t need one of those.

Feeling even more defeated, I went to the check out line. “Really, there’s only 3 lanes open and about 100 people to check out?” I thought. How could my day get any better? I was just about ready to cry at this point.

Then I heard it. Someone was humming. It wasn’t extremely loud, but it was loud enough that I could hear it. The tune sounded familiar. I moved toward the sound. It was coming from the cashier in lane 13. Despite the fact that I usually avoid lane 13 (call me superstitious) and it seemed to be the longest line, I got in line there anyway.

The cashier continued to hum. I was thinking really hard to figure out the tune. I knew the song, I was sure of it.

About a minute went by, and someone decided to open the lane beside us, about 4 people in front of me flocked to the new lane. I stayed where I was. I needed to figure out the song she was humming. “Change My Heart O God“! That’s what she was humming. I was intrigued!

Finally, it was my turn. She began to scan my items, still humming away at the tune. She looked at me and smiled, still humming. I smiled back, “Change My Heart O God.” I said.

“You know the song?” she said.

“Sure do! It’s a good one,” I replied.

“One of my favorites too!” she exclaimed. “Some people don’t like it when I hum, but I was made to praise the Lord and I want to do it all the time. He is good isn’t He?” she said.

“Yes, He is,” I answered. I felt a little guilty as I said it though. I had really not been very joyful that day up to that point. I whined and complained to God instead of thanking Him for all He was doing for me. I left one thing just ruin everything.  “Thanks for your song,” I said.

“My pleasure! Some days, it’s really hard to be joyful and courteous to some of the people that come in my line. But, I just pray that God will change my heart so I will treat those people the way God would want me to,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone I meet. I believe that’s what God put me on this earth to do…encourage others.”

“Well, you sure encouraged me today,” I said.

“Me too!” said the lady behind me. Up to this point, I was oblivious to who was in line with me. I turned and saw an haggard looking woman, probably in her 50’s with a tank top on, heavily tatooed and missing several teeth. (One of those people you see show up in the pictures entitled “People of Walmart.”) “God is great and takes care of all of us, even when we don’t deserve it,” the tatooed lady said.

“I’m so glad I got in this line today!” I exclaimed. “You both have made my day a little better! Thanks!”

“Any time!” said the cashier.

“Yup! It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other!” said the tatooed lady.

I left Walmart, feeling a bit better and a bit lighter because my burden had been lifted. I went to my van, crawled inside and quickly thanked God for all He had done for me and asked forgiveness for doubting that He was caring for me. My heart had been changed by my check out encounter, and because of two ladies who weren’t afraid to share their faith with others.

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The rest of the day went much better and I found an inexpensive chainsaw at Home Depot for Dave. He deemed it one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe these two women were put there just for me that day. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent two angels, one dressed as a Walmart cashier and one as one of the “strange” people of Walmart. Where ever they are, I hope they continue to share this love and encouragement with others. It meant so much to me!

♥Miriam

Happy Mother’s Day to Anyone but You

I know my title sounds a bit mean, but I’ll explain.

For many years, I looked forward to becoming a wife and mother. As a high school girl, we did silly stuff. Unfortunately, during my senior year, there was a high rate of teen pregnancy at my school. One day in business class, someone suggested we try to determine the sex of one of these girl’s babies by using the old needle on a thread method.  If you’re not familiar with this, you thread a needle and dangle it over the pregnant woman’s belly (or hand) and it will begin to move. If it goes in a circle, it’s supposed to be a girl. If it swings back and forth, a boy. I know it sounds nuts…even perhaps bordering on sorcery, but it was scarily accurate. We even decided to try it out on our teacher who was many years past child-bearing and it predicted that she had 3 children….2 girls and a boy….which strangely enough was correct! So, we in our silly teen minds decided that we would try it on everyone. We soon learned from the expert “needle reader” in our class, that if the needle changed directions at any time during the  “test” it meant twins. Imagine my surprise (and horror) to learn that I was to have 8 (yes, you read that right!), children…which included 2 sets of twins. I was thrilled! Wow! A houseful of kids! This would be a change since I was an only child….an only child that always wanted brothers and sisters. Now….I just had to find the right guy who could put up with 8 children. I began to think I should look for a Mormon, Catholic, or Mennonite guy. They all had big families!

How stupid of me to put stock in this! When we all parted from highschool, most of my friends (and I) were convinced that I would be one of the first to get married. It was one of my biggest goals and dreams. I’m not sure why we even thought this, as I wasn’t allowed to date till I was 18 and I wouldn’t turn eighteen until 3 months after graduation. Sure, I had “boyfriends” in highschool, but we never officially dated. It wouldn’t be until I was 21 that I had my first real beau, and he wasn’t about to tolerate having 8 children. I’m not sure he’d even have wanted one child, as he was so wrapped up in himself that’s all he could think about…..but that’s another story!

Years went by, and one by one my friends were all getting married and starting to have children. I was starting to lose hope that I’d ever have these 8 children that I was “supposed” to have, yet alone even get married!

Finally, David entered my life! (That’s a story I’ll have to tell later!) We soon realized that we wanted to spend our lives together. We thought 2 or 3 children would be a good thing (dare I tell him I had the potential for 8? Nah, I was 30 years old by this point and a little wiser, I might add!) We married June 23, 2001, and shortly thereafter, I celebrated my 31st birthday. It was that birthday that my biological clock started to tick very loudly!!

In January of the following year, we decided we would start trying to have a baby. Almost immediately, I became pregnant! Wow! (Surely that needle test was accurate….I was “Fertile Myrtle!”) The pregnancy was far from easy. In the first trimester alone, I had 7 ultrasounds because it seemed like every week or so, I was having what they call a “threatened miscarraige.” There was a lot of bed rest during those early weeks. I developed sciatica only 5 weeks into the pregnancy, which some thought I was faking….trust me, I wasn’t. Came to find out later, because of how my uterus tilted (I know, too much info….) was probably the cause for this dilemma.

I got to my 31st week of pregnancy and it was birthday time again. Fortunately for me, every September at Red Lobster is “shrimp month” and they offer endless shrimp….mmmmmm, my favorite. So, to celebrate my birthday, we went to RL and I ordered the shrimp. BAD CHOICE! The next day, I was swollen and looking like the Michelin Man. My blood pressure was sky high and I was sent to the hospital. We blamed it on the shrimp dinner which was full of sodium, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as that. From the hospital I was sent home on blood pressure medication and strict bed rest. Ugh!

This began a series of weekly doctor’s appointments and having to be taken care of. There was so much to do yet to prepare, and there I was laying in bed! I am blessed to have such a wonderful family and church family. My church brought in meals. Dave and I never went hungry! One lady came and Fall house-cleaned my home (I’m not sure it’s been that clean since!). A group of guys from church came and helped Dave finish the baby’s room and get it all set up.

Almost 4 weeks after being put on bedrest, I went to my doctor’s appointment (which incidentally, was where I also worked) and after my appointment, the girls were going to give me a baby shower.  Dr. Brown came into the room and told me the words I knew I was going to hear. “You’re headed to the hospital. We need to induce. Your blood pressure is out of control despite what we’ve been doing. You have all the signs of pre-eclampsia.”

I had already figured this. In fact that morning, I made sure I got a bath (not a shower mind you, but a bath) and shaved my legs. That was stupid of me….being home alone, very pregnant, and stuck in a tub. I’m still amazed I ever pulled it off!

“You have 20 minutes for your baby shower and then you must go to the hospital,” said Dr. Brown.

I was wisked to the shower where I opened a stack of gifts in a whirlwind, had pictures taken with a cake I never got to eat, and was then escorted to my Mom’s car with gifts in tow and rushed to the hospital. We called Dave on the way and he immediately left work to come and be with me.

Long story short….48 hours later with a failed induction, pre-eclampsia that was turning into HELLP Syndrome, and a baby in distress, I ended up with an emergency c-section. Crying a pitiful little bird-like cry, into the world came a 5lb 6oz, Katie, fighting for her life. Less that 24 hours later, she was rushed to Hershey Medical Center and admitted to their NICU. Two weeks followed of sitting by her bassinet day and night, holding her every moment possible and pumping enough breast milk to feed a starving third-world country (because she wasn’t drinking it fast enough).

I was exhausted. This wasn’t how motherhood was to be! I was supposed to be home, holding my little plump bundle of joy while people came and oohed and aahed over her. Instead, I sat at the hospital, looking at a scrawny little infant that looked like something out of a “Feed the Children” campaign. I was depressed……very depressed, but I would admit that to no one. I didn’t want to appear weak.

Eventually, life improved and we got to all go home and start being a family. Katie made great progress, and by the time she was 2, you’d never know she had ever been a preemie.

We were ready to have more children. But, sadly that never happened. (That will be a post in itself someday….way too long to add to this!) After Katie turned 2 and I went through a few lost pregnancies and two failed adoptions, I began to hate Mother’s Day.  I felt as though everyone was mocking me. It was as though (in my mind) everyone was saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, but not to you! You aren’t good enough to be a mom. Look, you couldn’t even get the first pregnancy right.”

So, every year for a while, I’d sit at church and hear all those great things about being a mom and how children are a blessing and I’d cry. It hurt inside to think that I would be the mama to only one child….ever. What happened to the 2 or 3 we wanted to have? What happened to those 8 children I was supposed to have? I was inadequate.

Poor, Katie. What an awful mom she had! I loved her so much, but yet I couldn’t bring myself to be happy. I deeply regret that the first few years of her life, I wasn’t completely there for her. I was too busy being wrapped up in my self pity to see just how blessed I was. But I learned and I grew and now realize that God has given me such a special gift in this girl!!!

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Katie when she was around 6. Taken at Caledonia Park.

I still identify with Hannah from the bible. In I Samuel 1:27-28b are the key verses from Hannah’s story for me…”I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord.” Sometimes, God says no. I know He had good reasons for not letting us have more children than we did. But He did give us such a blessing in Katie! I only wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to realize that.

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Katie and I last year on the day she was baptised.

Katie has given her heart to the Lord, and I am so happy about that! She has much to learn, but I hope that I can guide her on that journey. I think too of my mom, who wanted more children as well, but only got me. I wonder if she too struggled with these things as she worked her way to maturity.

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My Mom!

Finally, I can hear those words, “Happy Mother’s Day” and be glad about it. It took a while, but it happened. I wish all the moms….even those without children who are moms in their hearts…a wonderful Mother’s Day!

♥Miriam