Tag Archive | Katie

Making the Connection

Tonight, Dave met our new neighbors.  I know this isn’t going to be easy for him.  He has lived in this house since he was about 8 years old and for most of his life, he’s had the same neighbor living next door.

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Remember Tim the “Toolman” Taylor and all his meetings with his neighbor, Wilson at the backyard fence?

They met in our back yard.  Nathan, our new neighbor, introduced himself to Dave, and they began to talk as they watched a pile of brush burning.

“What are the neighbors like around here?” Nathan asked.

Dave was honest.  He told him who would help him out if he needed help and who to avoid.  He shared about who would try to be your best buddy to the point they were a nuisance and also about those that you are lucky if you see their face once a year.

He stood out there in the yard talking to him and getting to know him for quite some time.  It was long enough for the fire to die down to just some glowing embers.

While he was meeting and getting to know the new neighbors, I was busily packing for retreats.  Yes, I said retreats.  I am “retreating” for the next 5 1/2 days.  First, Katie and I will be going to the Mother/Daughter retreat at Joy El Camps and Retreats.  As soon as I’m finished with that retreat and get Katie back home, I’ll be retreating again with my fellow staff members.  I’m looking forward to both retreats.

Katie and I have been going to the Mother/Daughter retreat ever since she was in 2nd grade.  We look forward every year to this time away together where we can be “girls” together.

Staff retreat is different.  We go as a group to another campground and usually have something that we’re working on together…a book, a topic, a plan for the coming year.  Though most of our day is spent working on these things, there are fun moments as well.  We always learn something about each other at these retreats!  Last year, we learned how competitive our Creative Marketing Specialist is, as well as our Director!  We also learned what kind of animal we were…a Lion, a Beaver, an Otter, or a Golden Retriever.  (You can check it out here: Smalley Trent Personality Test).  The year before, it was a game of “Things” that had us in stitches.  We learned “things you should never do on a bus” included: licking the windows, yelling fire, or letting Tanya drive.  We played late into the evening, getting to know one another’s personalities by the answers we gave.

No matter what the retreat, it’s a time to get away and to connect with others, a time to connect with God too.

I packed my bags for both retreats so I’ll be ready to drop one bag off and pick up another on Sunday afternoon.  As I finished, Dave came in the door.  “Met our new neighbors!” he said.

“Really, are they nice?” I asked.

“Yeah, Nathan and Christine seem really nice.  I think we’ll be glad they’re moving in next door. They have chickens!  Christine said she’ll bring you some eggs.”

“Cool! Fresh eggs!  I like her already!  Do they have children?” I wondered.

“Nope, not yet.  They’re quite a bit younger than us, but they seem to have a lot of the same thoughts and ideals we do.  I’ll think we’ll get along just fine.”

Now I’m anxious to connect with the new neighbors too!

Making connections with others is good, but a time of retreat and refreshment is also good.  In Mark 6:31, we read, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus was talking to his disciples here and suggested they get away from the crowds and just have a time of rest.  However, the crowds followed and Jesus ends up performing the miracle of feeding the 5,000!  His “staff retreat” was interrupted, but I don’t think He minded.

Katie and I at last year's Mother/Daughter retreat.

Katie and I at last year’s Mother/Daughter retreat.

I feel pretty certain that I will not have to feed 5,000 people with two fish and five loves of bread at either one of my retreats!  But, I do feel pretty certain that I will connect with my daughter, connect with my cousin and her daughter who are joining us at this retreat, connect with other moms I haven’t seen since the last retreat, and then connect in new ways with my fellow co-workers.

We all need time away where we can disconnect from the ordinary and connect in another way.   I can hardly wait for tomorrow when my retreats begin!

♥Miriam

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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!”

Snow-Love-Wallpaper

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

Finding a Cure…A Terminal Case of Baby Envy, the Final Chapter

We were finally at peace with our decision not to have more children, either by our own efforts or through adoption. We were tired, hurt, depressed, and frustrated. It was time to let it go. We did take measures to insure that there would not be another pregnancy…Dave took care of that. Though it was a tough decision to make, we were glad that there were no more worries about ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. It was time to sit back and just enjoy our lives and our daughter, Katie.

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I learned that our “son”, Evan was still in his mother’s care and doing well. A former coworker discovered this as she used the same day care that Jenny did. She told me, “She kept his name. He’s still Evan Matthew.” I felt as though I had been given a gift. Though Jenny changed her mind, she didn’t change the name we had given him. She cared enough about us to keep his name. It took some time, but the bitterness I felt toward her began to fade. After all, any parent’s desire for their child is that they are happy, loved, and well-cared for. He had this, though not with us, and so how could I be angry?

Three years after Evan came into our lives, I had my yearly check up. My midwife recommended an ultrasound because I was (to make this as generic as possible) having “women’s issues.” To my surprise, the ultrasound came back showing a rather large ovarian cyst. I had no symptoms whatsoever. Surgery was warranted and it was decided that I would have a total abdominal hysterectomy. The cyst was too large to remove other than through an abdominal incision, and a hysterectomy would take care of those “women’s issues” once and for all.

Now it would be impossible for us to have children. That was okay. I was 40 years old by this time. However, those familiar pangs of want would surface each time I held a little one in my arms.

During this time period, my best friend, Becca became pregnant with her first child. In a way, I was jealous. But, that feeling faded quickly when I felt the excitement she was feeling as the due date came closer and closer. Finally, Annamarie was here. We were one of the first ones, other than her family, that she called. Annamarie was a such a precious bundle of joy! I was so happy that my best friend could experience the joy of motherhood!

Becca had shared with me long ago that she had a desire to adopt. Even with the arrival of Annamarie, this desire didn’t leave. So, not long after Annamarie arrived, she and Nathan began the process to adopt from overseas.

They hit many hurdles in their journey. One door would open only to have another one close in their face. In July of 2011, Becca and I met for breakfast. We were planning a couponing class at our church and wanted to finalize some of the preparations. We talked a bit about the adoption process. She was frustrated. I told her I’d pray.

By the end of July, things began to progress faster than we could keep up with things! It was almost time for our couponing class to take place and Becca and I were in contact on an almost daily basis. “We passed our home study!!!” she emailed me. This was a much-needed step to start the final adoption process. By the following Sunday, she had more news for me. She met me at the door at church with a paper in hand. “I could hardly wait till you got here this morning!” Wow, she was a little too excited about the coupon class flyer, I thought. I quickly realized that I was wrong as she turned the paper around. “Meet my son!!! We have a boy!!!”

We started jumping up and down, laughing and crying all at the same time. People thought we had lost it. But soon, everyone realized what the commotion was about and began rejoicing with us.

Just a few days later, I was sitting at my desk at work when an email came from Becca. “Please pray now!” She had an urgent request about the adoption and needed reassurance. I did what I knew I had to do. I went to the quietest place in the office (the bathroom) and prayed. I felt God was speaking to me in those moments. I felt He was telling me that everything was going to work out in a miraculous way. And somehow, I felt I was being healed. I could help Becca through her adoption, and in turn it was going to help me let go of mine.

The days went by so quickly. Email after email, phone call after phone call came, each one with a new prayer request. What was to take months to accomplish took mere days and soon Nathan and Becca were flying to Ethiopia to meet their son! Becca went knowing that they were most likely not going to come home with him on this trip unless a miracle occurred. I was still praying hard. I wanted so badly for Becca to be able to bring “Z” home this trip.

God listened! He answered!! And soon, they were on their way home! I was overjoyed and overwhelmed at how God had answered my prayers. I had never felt closer to Him and had never felt He had heard my prayers quite the way He did during this time. It was truly a humbling experience! So many things occurred during Nathan and Bec’s time in Ethiopia! It would take another blog to tell all that happened! (Actually, Becca does blog….so her story can be read!!)

I felt strongly that I had to do something special for my bestie, my sister, Becca. So, quickly, I wrote her a book that contained all those emails we had exchanged. I had even written down phone messages word for word and included them in the book. Seventy pages later, the book was finished and I had my gift for her.

They arrived home from Ethiopia and a couple of days later she called and asked us to come and meet “Z”! I quickly assembled the book I had written and placed it in a box for her. While David showered, I pulled down a box from my closet. There was something else that needed to go in with that book.

The van couldn’t go quick enough to get there! I nearly ran to Becca’s door! I wanted to see her so badly and hold this dear little child that was now her son. She met me at the door and we embraced and cried. Then she handed me her new son. I was overcome with emotion. He smiled and laughed as she said, “This is Aunt Miriam, Bid (his nickname)!” I wanted to hold him forever! He was truly an answer to prayer!

I wanted her to open my gift. I knew she was going to love it! Dave took “Z” and she and I sat down. She opened the gift and removed the book. Tears filled her eyes as she removed the other contents of the box. I had placed Evan’s little blue monkey and teddy bear in with the book. She knew instantly who’s they had been. “Oh, Mim, this means so much! You’ve given me something so precious! I was so worried about you as we went through this adoption, but I realize now that it has helped you heal, hasn’t it.”

“Yes, Bec, it has.”

She clutched the book and stuffed toys as we held each other and cried. I WAS healed. The pain was gone. It took the adoption of a little needy baby from Ethiopia to bring me out of my hurt and back into the loving arms of God.

Soon, I would be asked to share at work about pregnancy loss and how to approach these patients…sort of a do and don’t sort of approach. As I shared my struggles with my coworkers, some of which had never heard the story, there were many who cried. This was the beginning of the rest of my healing…being able to share with others so that they can learn and be encouraged.

And now, my story has been shared with all of you! Are there times when I wish we had more children? Oh, yes! But then I recall how God wants us to be content in whatever circumstances we’re in (Philippians 4:11). All I have to do is look at Katie and realize how blessed I really am.

So, I’ve been “cured” in a sense from my terminal case of baby envy. It’s only through God’s grace that He helped me through it and now helps me as I minister to others in similar circumstances. I believe He gave me this story for a reason, and I hope it has touched your heart.

♥Miriam

A Terminal Case of Baby Envy

In my last entry, I made mention of our struggle to have more children and that the story would be a post in itself. This is the post. I only hope that it will encourage others who have gone through the struggles of infertility as we have, and can give some sort of hope that God is in control of every situation, even when it seems He is far away.

As I shared before, Katie is our pride and joy. She’s our only daughter, our only child,  and we love her so very much! God gave us such a special gift in her!

Katie around age 8

Katie around age 8

When we decided it was time to have children, it all happened pretty easily. Though my pregnancy with Katie was difficult, the end result was a sweet little girl! It was when she was about a year and half old that our struggles began.

We decided it was time for Katie to have a brother or sister and began “trying” again for pregnancy. It didn’t happen so quickly this time. Month after month I’d pee on a stick just to see a negative result. When one of the doctors I worked for, Dr. Brown, realized that we were attempting pregnancy and not achieving it, she asked if she could intervene. I was, after all, considered “advanced maternal age” at this point since I was around 34 years old. She told me that the sooner we worked on achieving pregnancy at this age, the better chance we would have. We went through some testing and decided that it was an ovulation problem (sorry if this is getting too personal for some of you….you can always stop reading if you’re uncomfortable!). This began a regimen of daily temperature charting and careful documentation of symptoms and cycles. Now instead of peeing on a stick to see if pregnancy had been achieved, it was peeing on a stick to see if ovulation was occurring. Clomid therapy was added to help “boost” ovulation.  Each month that pregnancy did not occur, the dose of Clomid was increased. We thought that pregnancy would never come.

Finally, those familiar symptoms of nausea and fatigue began, and sure enough, this time the test was positive! Woohoo! Pregnancy #2 had been achieved! I was happy to report a positive test to Dr. Brown. She suggested we monitor the pregnancy closely by drawing blood levels to make sure things were progressing as they should. The levels were not rising as fast as they should (they should double every 48 hours) and when we finally reached the magical number where we should be able to see a heartbeat via ultrasound, no heartbeat could be seen. Not even a baby could be seen.  We continued with blood work and finally, the number doubled like it should for a few days. But then it dropped. A few more ultrasounds later, Dr. Brown told me news I didn’t want to hear. “This isn’t a good pregnancy. We can’t find a fetus anywhere, and I’m afraid you have an ectopic pregnancy.”

Now, an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t always occur in the fallopian tubes, as was my case. When an ectopic pregnancy occurs, immediate action needs to take place to ensure the health of the mother. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy can mean death to the mother. Being that  a pregnancy couldn’t be seen, Dr. Brown suggested we treat the pregnancy with Methotrexate. This is a chemotherapy medication, and in pregnancy, will find the pregnancy (where ever it was) and “dissolve” it. I was not happy at all with this option, but it was really our only option. I spoke with my pastor. I was reassured that this was the “right” thing to do. His sister had almost died from an ectopic pregnancy and he convinced us that for Katie’s sake, I should proceed. Dave and I agreed, even though deep down, I felt it was wrong. I felt I wasn’t giving this child a chance. What if the tests were wrong? Dave was worried and wanted us to take care of things as soon as possible and so we proceeded.

I was sent to the emergency room, as this was not a medication that was kept at the office. The emergency room staff was clueless as to how to give this medication. I knew how it was given and proceeded to talk the nurse through the steps of giving the injection and the disposal of the “radioactive” syringe.  The ER didn’t handle things well. I was given a bed in the hallway, because I was after all, just there for a shot. I refused to get the shot until I was moved to a room as this injection goes into your hip. (Not something I wanted to have done in plain sight for all to see.) I also wanted some place where I could collect myself and cry as I received the treatment that would take care of a failed pregnancy. The nurses I had were clueless as to what to say, yet alone what to do. I was sent home without any instructions (though I knew what was going to happen) and no kind words were given.

I was devastated. Since Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug and I was given a rather high dose of it, I experienced the nausea and fatigue that came with receiving chemo. This lasted for a couple of days. Those days were spent alone with Katie at home. I spent all that time crying. Katie wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on. She just knew I was sad. This all occurred over our wedding anniversary that year. It was one anniversary that we didn’t really want to celebrate.

To make sure the Methotrexate was doing what it was supposed to do, I had to have weekly blood work to make sure my hormonal levels were going back down to zero. Once at zero, we knew that everything would be resolved. So, from June until September, I went every week to 2 weeks for these labs. Each one was ordered “STAT” so that we would get the results back the same day. I remember one trip to the lab. I was escorted to a small waiting area right outside the “drawing” area. I overheard one lab tech say to the other, “Here’s a stat lab. How “stat” can this be? It was given to her last week and she just now shows up for the lab. Great! Now we have to call a courier to come get this just because she was too lazy to come last week.”

I lost it. I went off on the lab tech. I know she was talking about my lab slip. Dr. Brown would give me a new lab slip each week for the following week. “Before you call me lazy, and before you jump to conclusions about why I came to have my blood drawn today instead of last week, perhaps you should look at the diagnosis on the slip and the fact that I have been here every week at this time for this same lab. It’s hard enough to have to go through getting these labs drawn every week for a pregnancy that you know is over, yet alone having to hear how I’m inconviencing you.”

The lab tech was speechless. She apologized. She drew my blood as tears poured down my face and dripped into my lap. She had no clue. She had no idea the pain I was feeling or how depressed I was.  Later, when I was back at work, the phone rang and it was the lab tech. “You taught me a lesson today. I am so sorry for saying what I did. From now on, I’ll not jump to conclusions about why a patient is there. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Apology accepted.

From June until September 10 (my birthday) I had these labs drawn. Finally, on my birthday, the level was zero. Over all those months, I continued to have pregnancy symptoms for a pregnancy that “didn’t exist”. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be pregnant again.

This was the beginning of my terminal case of baby envy.

This post is to be continued………

♥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

A Joyful Noise

Psalm 100:1 – “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”

How do you make a joyful noise? Do you sing? Do you play an instrument? What is the noise you make that is joyful to the Lord?

I find the giggle from a baby makes me smile…that’s joyful. The chirping of birds outside on a sunny day….that’s joyful. The splashing of a trickling stream or a roaring waterfall….another joyful noise.

Personally, I love to make a joyful noise to the Lord with my voice. I love to sing (and those of you who follow this blog know that!) and most of all, I love to sing praises to God. I also enjoy playing the piano. Though I’m not at all an expert at it, I do spend a lot of time expressing myself through my piano music as well. To me, it’s a joyful noise.

Tonight, I got to enjoy hearing a joyful noise from my daughter! She performed in her first musical instrument concert….a recorder concert. I fully expected to go and have my ears assaulted. After all, how good could a fourth grade ensemble of recorder players sound? I fully expected to hear the occasional squeak from misplaced fingers on the holes or a note played out of rhythm, but I didn’t notice much of that this evening.

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These kids were having fun up there! They didn’t care if it was perfect. They didn’t care if they missed an occasional note. All they cared about was if their parents were watching them from the audience and seeing them applaud at the end of each song.

I couldn’t help but think about what God thinks when we attempt to make a joyful noise to Him. He doesn’t care if we’re off-key; he doesn’t care if we forget the words and just hum the tune. All He cares about is the fact that we are trying to show our love to Him by praising His name.

God loves joyful noises. I know this is true. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us so many beautiful things to hear!

When was the last time you made a “joyful noise?” There’s no better time than the present!

♥Miriam

A Prince of a Dad and His Princess

I thought it was time to get an entry on this blog! I can’t believe how many days have passed since I’ve done a post!! Life gets busy and time flies….you all know those cliche’s.

This weekend, I had the privledge to be part of Joy El’s Father/Daughter Connection. (No, I wasn’t a participant….I don’t meet the age requirements for the retreat!) I got to help as a staff member. What a delight to see these daddies and daughters interact with each other!

The theme of the weekend was “A Prince of Dad and His Princess”. The royal theme was carried out all weekend long. Dads and daughters alike were issued sparkly foil crowns to wear. Some dads were really into it and wore their crown all weekend long (my hubby did)! I was glad that my husband and daughter were able to be a part of this special time together this weekend. They couldn’t go last year due to Dave being head coach for Katie’s softball team.  This year was different and they were both excited to be able to come.

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their "royal" status quite well!

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their “royal” status quite well!

The very first evening as the speaker spoke and gave his testimony, the dads had his full attention. During the course of the weekend, I never saw this change. He had them interested in hearing what he had to say about this all-important relationship. That first evening, Prince Scott (the speaker) asked his princess wife (Fran) up to the stage to share her testimony with the girls. Soon, everyone was dismissed for some free time before bed. I went to run the camp store. As a Development Coordinator for the camp, part of my job is to interact with our guests and donors as much as possible, so I was chatting with each one who came into the store. One dad and his daughter came in, and I asked the little girl how she was liking the retreat so far. She smiled at me and said, “I like it a lot.”

Her daddy said, “Tell Miss Miriam the special thing you did tonight.”

She looked at me and grinned, the smile lighting up her face, and very shyly she said, “I asked Jesus into my heart tonight!”

Her dad explained that after the evening session, she asked him if they could talk and she shared that she wanted to ask Jesus to be her Savior. What an honor this princely dad had to lead his princess to the Lord!

Of course, being the emotional person that I am (I get that honestly from my prince of a dad), I immediately got tears in my eyes as I thought just how special that moment was and how neither of them will ever forget it. (I’m getting all teary just writing about it again!)

The weekend wasn’t all about speakers and learning sessions, there was a great amount of fun involved too! The dads and their daughters got to ride go karts, canoe, archery, play games, mini golf, and my husband’s favorite….gaga ball. Now gaga ball is just that….”gaga”. It’s crazy! It’s like a mix of dodge ball, volley ball and foursquare all rolled into one. Everyone is “gaga” for gaga ball.

Dave the "king" of gaga ball!

Dave the “king” of gaga ball!

The pic of Dave playing gaga ball is courtesy of my boss who also attended with his two princesses.

Saturday evening was the highlight and culmination of my purpose in being here for the weekend….the Royal Banquet. What a delightful evening! The “princes” picked up their “princesses” at their cabins, gave them a flower and escorted them to the Royal Banquet where they enjoyed a lovely candlelight dinner. The food was awesome and I had the privledge of being the one to decorate and plan the flow of the evening. I greeted each prince and princess as they entered the Royal Dining Hall and they were escorted to their tables. I truly think each dad appreciated the ambience of the evening and the time spent to make it special for them. I sort of felt like Cinderella at the ball….I didn’t want the evening to end. 🙂

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

This weekend wasn’t just about having fun. It was about building the father/daughter relationship. It was about giving them time to connect and bond away from the hustle and bustle of the world. It was about giving the opportunity for them to share their hopes and dreams. It was about the chance to work on issues in their relationship. It was also, and most importantly, about these men and young ladies being able to connect with God.

I really think that happened this weekend. Seeds have been planted, relationships strengthened, love has grown deeper.

Our theme verse for the weekend was I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” No one will be able to leave here this weekend not knowing that they can be royalty in the kingdom of God. He is our King and we are His princes and princesses. I know that one little girl came out of darkness this weekend…I can’t wait to hear how many more did the same!

I’m so glad that Dave and Katie got to be a part of this. I’m so thankful for my “prince” of a husband who has proved to be the best dad a girl could ever hope for. I’m thankful too, that my dad has been a “prince” as well throughout my life. He has given me a godly example to follow.  God bless all His princes and princesses of this world! Can’t wait to get my royal crown one day in heaven….and I’m sure it will be much more wonderful than a simple paper crown. It will be so wonderful that none of us will be able to comprehend it’s glory!

♥Miriam