Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Harvest

Yesterday we had the privilege of hearing from our missionaries to Papua New Guinea. It's always good to hear of what God is doing in other parts of the world.

As our friend was speaking, he shared a statement that really struck me. He said,

"It's not fair that so many people get to hear the gospel twice when there are many who haven't even heard it once."

Wow. How true. Of course, it often takes more than one time of hearing the gospel for it to sink in and have an impact. Some people hear the gospel when they are not yet ready to receive it and therefore need to hear it again.

But he's right in that there are many who have not yet heard! In Papua New Guinea there are hunderds of tribes that are unreached. Most are in remote areas accessible only by helicopter. And these people, when finally reached and told about Jesus, are CHANGED! It doesn't take them two, six or fifty times of hearing the gospel before it touches their hearts. It only takes one time. Oh, that our hearts would be so tender!

ESV Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

I know that our mission field is here in Evansville. But where is yours? Are you telling others of the good news? Whether they hear it for the first time or the hundred and first, it is never a work in vain!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What's In A Name?

Josh and I choose baby names based on meaning. We like to pray for our children using their names as a basis for those prayers. And we are happy to give our children strong names with meanings they can strive to live up to.

Our firstborn is David Elijah.

David was chosen because it was Josh's Dad's name. We had known since college what our first son would be named. However, the meaning of David and Elijah together is excellent. David means "Beloved" and Elijah means "The Lord is God".

When we pray for David, we pray that he would know that he is the Lord's Beloved and that as such he would teach others (the Church is called God's Beloved Bride) that the Lord is God. We pray that David would embrace that truth and know it for himself as well.

Our second son is Zachary Isaac.

Zachary means "Whom God remembers" and Isaac means "Laughter". This fits Zack so well since he takes such joy in life. We like to put this phrase together: "Whom God remembers in laughter".

But when we pray for Zack, we pray that God would use Zack's loving and fun nature to bring others to Christ. We pray that Zack would indeed know that God remembers him, loves him and saves him.

Our daughter is Abigail Natalia.

Abigail means "Father's Joy" and Natalia means "Child of Christmas". We do know that Abby is her earthly father's joy, but also her Heavenly Father's joy.

When we pray, we ask that she would always bring joy to her Father's heart through her purity and love of Him. We pray that she would remember the One who was born on Christmas and the reason why He came.

Our third son is Gabriel Joseph.

Gabriel means "Man of God" and Joseph means "God multiplies". This one is pretty awesome! A man of God whom God multiplies!

Our prayers for Gabe are pretty obvious. We pray that he would indeed be a man of God. And that God would multiply. Not just through Gabe's children, but also that those who come in contact with Gabe would be so struck by seeing God shine through Gabe that they would also be drawn to Christ. We pray for the church to be multiplied through Gabe.

And our newest arrival is Jesse Hosea.

Jesse means "Gift" and Hosea means "Salvation".

First of all, we do see Jesse as a gift. You can read about how God clearly ordained for him to be in our family by reading here. But beyond that, we pray that Jesse would personally know the gift of salvation. And that he would be willing and able to bring the good news of that gift to others.

A name is important. In the Bible, people were given names that had specific meaning and that correlated to who God had created those people to be. When we pray for our children using their names, we are trusting that God will raise them up to be living examples of the meaning of their names.

What do our kids think? They love knowing that we put careful thought into naming them and they love hearing us pray for them using their names. It's special to know that you were named with a purpose and have something valiant to strive for.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jesse's Birth Part III

I have been asked to write Jesse's birth story. I'm glad to do so in the hopes that it encourages other women out there to think outside the box a bit when it comes to pregnancy and labor and children.

Jesse's Birth Part 1
Jesse's Birth Part II

{Warning: this blog entry shares candidly about the birth process. Don't read it if that makes you nervous.}

My water broke at 12:30am on Jesse's due date. (I've delivered three of my five babies on their due dates! Isn't that odd?!) I tried to get some sleep knowing that I had a marathon ahead of me. But really, who can sleep well when they know their baby is on the way? An hour later my contractions started. I had been having contractions for WEEKS. Sometimes they were really intense. I can't say these were any worse than what I'd already experienced in pre-labor, but at least I knew they were for real. Around 8am the contractions had gotten to about 8 minutes apart and were lasting close to a minute. I called our midwife, Leah, knowing she had a 45 minute drive and that the tub would arrive with her. We then sent the kids over to my parents house so they wouldn't be traumatized by the experience. After all, we want to have grandchildren some day!

At 9am Leah and her two assistants arrived at our doorstep. They set up the tub and made sure everything was ready for the birth. At which time, my contractions completely stopped. Josh and I tried so many things to get them going again, but we just couldn't seem to get regular, hard contractions to surface. We walked around the block (several times), I trudged my heavy body up and down flights of stairs again and again. I tried resting. I tried rocking. I tried the birthing ball. I ate lunch. Nothing was working.

Around 2pm, we were frustrated and also somewhat concerned since my water had broken 14 hours before. I really had no desire to go to the hospital, but knew that if this continued for a full 24 hours, a hospital birth was likely going to be our only option. While walking the block, Leah had given me some herbs to try. First, she gave me blue cohosh. It was just 3 tiny pills that I dissolved under my tongue. We tried a couple rounds of that, but it didn't advance labor. But THEN, she suggested we try two other things. First, she gave me some black cohosh pills and she instructed Josh to try some nipple stimulation. I don't know if it was one or the other or both, but something sure worked. Within just a few minutes (literally about 10 minutes!) I was in transition. I went from zero contractions to "this baby is coming NOW" contractions. (Which I am so thankful for, because there was talk of me drinking some castor oil. Blech!)

Since the tub was already set up and ready in our room, Josh headed downstairs to get Leah and we promplty got me into the tub. The warm water felt heavenly - for about a minute before my contractions began again. It seemed I could barely catch my breath between them, but then again, that's how it's supposed to be. I tried several positions: sitting, squatting, hands and knees. I was most comfortable squatting near the edge of the tub holding onto Leah's arms as she steadied me so I could lean back. But with each contraction the most important thing was for Josh's hand to be pressing on my back. I've had back labor twice before and got to experience it once again with Jesse.

I can say that although I pushed for longer than I typically do, everything felt more natural. I wasn't flat on my back with people holding up my legs, yelling at me to push. Instead, I had the midwives gently encouraging me, telling me that I was doing things just right. When the pain was overwhelming, they assured me that the end was in sight and that I would be able to get through it. Josh was lovingly providing counterpressure for my back and no one fussed when I wanted to move about. Thankfully, Josh thought to close the bedroom windows so our neighbors wouldn't freak out when they heard my loud moans and groans. (I've heard of people having silent births, but I just don't know how you do that when you're going without meds!)

At the very end, I got onto my hands and knees in the tub. My legs were cramping from squatting and I needed a new position. I could tell that Jesse was ready to arrive, so I pushed continuously - even after the contraction ended. There really wasn't any time between pushing out his head and the rest of him. He just came all at once! Josh was able to help catch him and I was able to hold him immediately. He didn't cry immediately, but there was no fear. His color was good and he was not tangled in the cord. I think the water birth was actually easier on him. He came out very relaxed! Once I had held Jesse for a couple of minutes, the midwives and Josh helped me (while I was still holding slippery little Jesse) out of the tub and onto the bed. I was able to nurse him immediately as they helped Josh cut the cord and I delivered the placenta. I had no tearing and much less bleeding than normal.

Josh then took Jesse and washed him off. The midwives checked him over thoroughly. They cleaned the room, gave us care instructions and helped get some food and drink into me. And then they were gone. The kids came over with Nana and Grandpa just 3 hours after Jesse was born. You couldn't tell that I had just given birth in that room!

And once everyone left, Josh and I were able to care for our sweet little one on our own. No nurses coming and going throughout the night, no loud beeping machines, no bright lights. Just a quiet household where two parents were getting to know their newest child.

I have to say that without a husband willing to really be there for his wife, a homebirth wouldn't be a wonderful thing. Josh was incredible during that first week. (He's incredible all the time, but I was amazed with his patience and care after Jesse's birth.) He set up a cot in our room so that he was right there if I needed him and so that Jesse and I could share the bed. For the first 24 hours, he was required to be at my side any time I needed to get out of bed. He changed the icky meconium diapers and brought me food and drink any time I was hungry or thirsty. He did the laundry, washed the dishes, kept the house clean, fielded phone calls and visitors and never once complained. Without him at my side, I wouldn't have considered this birth a success.

Our sweet boy was born at 4:14pm. He was healthy, alert and quiet. Would I say that 16 hours of labor was worth it? You bet! How about laboring with no meds? Absolutely. It was difficult, but in retrospect, I can most definitely say that this has been the most positive birth experience for me. I've had an epidural, I've labored for more than 24 hours, I've had back labor, labor with no meds, an emergency C-section, a VBAC and now a home birth. Out of all of those, this was hands down the best.

And look at the sweet little man I now have to show for it!

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jesse's Birth Part II

I have been asked to write Jesse's birth story. I'm glad to do so in the hopes that it encourages other women out there to think outside the box a bit when it comes to pregnancy and labor and children.

In part 1 of Jesse's story I told you how we had come to the place where we were even willing to consider expanding our family and how God had blessed us with little Jesse on the way.

So, what happened next? Well, we decided to try something new.

Our cousin recently had a homebirth and raved about the experience. I was intrigued by her enthusiasm about birthing at home. I had already delivered four children in the hospital and had never once considered a home birth. I knew that some women chose to give birth at home, but in my mind it was something archaic and mainly still practiced by the Amish. But as I read about Amy's experience (which you can read about here), I felt a real desire for something better than what I had experienced in the past.

Josh and I talked a lot and did a lot of research on home births. We found that it's not archaic, can be a wonderful experience, is in some ways safer than a hospital birth, and can be tailored to your preferences. Hmm. Sounded good. Beyond that, we found out that for a couple with no maternity insurance (like us) it's a whole lot cheaper than a hospital birth. Like a quarter of the cost!

We did some online checking and some asking around and found a midwife to interview. Although her office was 45 minutes away, we left our initial meeting impressed with her calm nature and her desire for us to be as well informed as possible.

I'm sure all midwives are different, but let me tell you one thing we loved about Leah. Instead of seeing a doctor who really only spends 5-10 minutes with you at each vist, Leah spent 1 to 1 1/2 HOURS with us at each visit! We talked about everything. I learned things that would have been so helpful in my previous pregnancies. I learned how to eat well. Specifically why to eat certain foods and not others. My visits with her, while much more personal, were much less invasive. I didn't have any internal exams (which could have been done if necessary, but since they weren't we didn't bother), but I still had all the tests done that I wanted. I was still able to get my rhogam shot done, I had the glucose test, had my iron levels checked frequently, had urine tests (which I learned how to read on my own), group B strep test, etc.

All in all, I ended up with the healthiest pregnancy I've ever had. I credit that to the education I received from Leah. She took the time to tell me why things were good or bad and what I could do to feel my best. I chose to follow her advice and was thrilled with the results. I gained just over 20 pounds total. I've had a faster and easier recovery than with any other birth. And I had many less aches and pains throughout my pregnancy.

Enough about the pregnancy, I know most of you are wondering about the birth. How was it to give birth at home? In a word ... natural.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jesse's Birth Story Part 1

I have been asked to write Jesse's birth story. I'm glad to do so in the hopes that it encourages other women out there to think outside the box a bit when it comes to pregnancy and labor and children.

Jesse's birth story really begins over a year before his conception. God had already blessed us with four healthy, intelligent, lively children. And we felt that God had blessed us enough. I don't say that to be flippant, but I know many of you feel the same way. Josh and I were not willing to take drastic measures (surgery) to maintain our family size, but we were certainly taking measures not to have more children!

And then, God began working on our hearts. At first, I began to feel a little restless. I had a longing that I couldn't explain to have another child. I say I couldn't explain it because in many ways I felt ovewhelmed with the four we already had. We had recently begun homeschooling and I had an overflowing plate of "to-do" items each day. I didn't think it was physically possible for me to add in another thing as time consuming and energy expending as having another child.

We dismissed my longings as something that all women must feel at times and figured it would go away eventually.

Then Josh went to Kenya.

He came home full of wonder at the things he had seen and experienced. One day as we were discussing his trip, he told me that while visiting the slums in Nairobi he had come to realize just how very rich we are. We live in a country filled with opportunity. Josh has a steady job that pays him well and that he enjoys. We have a house that doesn't leak and is warm in winter and cool in summer. We never lack for food or clothing. Our kids have toys and are clean.

As we discussed these things he came to the conclusion that if God has blessed us with so much, why should we limit the number of children we have? We have much to offer another child. And we have the great privilege of raising our children to know their Creator. Is that to be seen as a burden or a blessing?

So now Josh was on board. But I was not. I had worked hard at surpressing my longings and had very strongly convinced myself that another child was not the way to go! Again, we were at a stand still.

We let the matter rest for awhile. Occasionally it came up as we talked, but for the most part we both continued to flip flop on our feelings about the subject. When I flipped, he flopped and vice versa. It seemed we'd never be on the same page.

Until last fall.

I went away for a few days to the True Woman conference. While there, I felt God tugging once again at my heart, telling me that he had more for our family. I asked my sister-in-law to pray about it with me - and specifically to pray that God would individually bring me and Josh to the same decision so that we would know it was God's will.

Funny thing about prayer: it works.

I really didn't expect that Josh and I would agree any time soon. But when I came home from that conference I learned that God had already been at work in Josh's heart. Before I even had a chance to tell about the things I had learned at the conference, Josh sat me down and told me that he really felt that God wanted us to expand our family.

Honestly, you might think that I would have jumped up and down at this revelation, but in reality I was quite nervous. I had spent several months preaching to myself about how inconvenient another child would be.

With trepidation and prayer, we agreed to let God do as he wanted with our family. If he chose to give us another child, we would count ourselves blessed. And if he chose to maintain our family size at six, we would count ourselves blessed.

Wouldn't you know that in just the first month of opening ourselves up to God's will (read: not using birth control), Jesse was conceived! Now, we're not a couple that typically has trouble getting pregnant, but we're not as young as we used to be and this was quite a bit quicker than usual. It was as if God was immediately confirming his will to us. And now I can say on the flipside of all of this that I believe he was rewarding us for following in his will - even if we were slow to respond.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strong Enough for Today

I heard this song this morning and it was hugely encouraging to me.

Today we started school. And I'm teaching four out five kids this year. With an infant. Yikes!

Beyond that most fall activities are starting this week. And the combination of soccer, gymnastics, homeschooling, newborn care, sleep deprivation and doctor appointments has me slightly overwhelmed.

Thankfully, just as this song states, I don't have to be strong enough. My strength comes a bottomless source.

II Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

A promise perfect for this day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blessings to Knock Your Socks Off!

Did you know that God ALWAYS provides?

I have a tendency to forget this truth. I've seen Him provide for our family time and again, yet somehow I'm often surprised when He comes through and gives us what we need or want.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

In fact, that's where the name of this blog comes from. Our 4 year old son memorized this verse, but instead of "glorious riches" said "glory itches". You'd think that with my blog named after a verse that talks about God's provision, I might expect it and rely upon it a bit more.

Just yesterday though, something happened that has amazed me once again. Our neighbors brought over some baby socks.

This may seem rather ordinary. The neighbor's daughters were cleaning out their rooms and had used baby socks (baby BOY socks) for their dolls. They no longer needed the socks but instead of tossing them they delivered 36 pairs of baby socks to our door.

Big deal, right? Well, yeah, kinda!

You see, when Jesse was born, I dressed him for the first time and realized that I had never remembered to purchase little baby socks for him. But since we were still experiencing summer weather, I figured we'd just get around to it sometime in the future.

Yesterday the weather turned cool. And Jesse had no socks. Until our neighbors knocked on the door. God met a need that I had barely recognized and definitely hadn't had time to think or pray about. But because He cares for my little guy, He provided socks just in the nick of time. That's how great my God is.

Need more examples? I've got 'em!

We gave away all of our baby stuff (except our crib, pack 'n' play, and cradle) because we thought we were done having kids. Obviously, God challenged us on that and along came Jesse.

Incredibly, God has provided ALL that we need for this baby. I can only think of three things that we purchased: our changing table pad/cover, burp cloths and a nursing cover-up. Although the nursing cover was a 2 for 1 deal, so I got one of them free! Sure, I bought one or two outfits, but those weren't necessary. Here's all the stuff that was provided for us through other's generosity (and I'm sure I won't get everything listed!).

- a baby swing
- a car seat
- two bouncy seats
- clothes through the first year at least
- 1290 diapers through size 4!!
- over 1000 wipes
- a diaper bag
- monitors
- a high chair
- hats, socks, booties, baby mitts
- lotion, shampoos, towels, etc.
- winter outerwear
- bedding
- a baby bathtub
- an electric breast pump
- a glider rocker and foot stool
- toys
- 2 weeks of meals
- a Baby Bjorn carrier
- extra birth and after birth supplies
- maternity clothes
- an exersaucer
And all other accoutrements that go along with a new baby.

So, I ask myself. Why do I doubt? Why do I worry?

I have never gone without. My children have never lacked for food or clothing or shelter. We have more than we need. And so often God even provides for our wants.

Indeed, God's riches are beyond measure! And He takes great delight in raining down - no, sometimes pouring out - His blessings.

I will choose to see those blessings and give the credit where it is due. I will praise the Lord.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

She's Baaack!

I'm finally back from my long hiatus! It wasn't a hiatus taken by choice. My computer died. I mean, really died. It wouldn't even turn on. We tried going to the Geek Squad and the price they wanted to charge for fixing it was over $500! Instead, we sent it to Dell and although we did have a minimal charge, much was covered under warranty.

The other day, my computer finally arrived back in the mail. Glory be! It's amazing how quickly you come to rely on technology. It's also amazing how much you store on your computer. I had backed up my memory about 6 months ago, but didn't even think to back up my emails. All of my contacts and emails were gone for two months. Thankfully I now have those back since they didn't have to erase my hard drive. Lesson learned, though. I'll be backing up EVERYTHING in the future.

The other reason I've been remiss in blogging is because ...


If ever a good reason existed, this is it!

On August 20th our fifth child entered the world and captured our hearts. Jesse Hosea is a mello, cuddly little guy who looks just like our other three boys.

Here's David:

And Zack:

And Gabe:

And here's a few of Jesse:

Suffice it to say, I think he's perfect.

I look forward to sharing Jesse's birth story with you. Along with the meaning of his name. But I'll save that for another time.