Preparing the Way…

Oh how I neglect, how I put-off, how I procrastinate for another day….and another…and another.  Forgive me, I am no professional blogger.   I can’t keep up.   The desires of my heart and my to-do list keep my head spinning out of reality most days.  But God reined me back into reality today; hit me with something I desperately needed to be reminded of.  What is important?

Doing God’s will…being a godly wife and mom…working diligently in my mission field (my kids)…reading God’s word and actually applying it…being healthy…being a good steward of finances and time…being a carrier of the light of Jesus…being accountable.

HMMMM….

And why am I not whole-heartedly doing any of those?  Ok, yes, I am hard on myself, a naturally critical person (especially directed at myself).  But still, if that is what I value most in my life, my heart forgot to send the memo to any other part of my body and has yet to truly enforce the issues.

In BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) this year we are studying the book of Matthew (yes, BSF is way cool, check it out if you have never tried it).  And this past week we studied John the Baptist and how he boldly prepared the way for Jesus.  **CONVICTING PART*** How am I preparing the way for Jesus?  Am I giving Him the best, or just good, or even mediocre?  Do I put-off what He puts on my heart to do, no matter how unimportant it might seem?

If someone really important, someone I held in high regard were coming over to visit me, wouldn’t I want everything to be looking ‘the best’?  The best food, the cleanest house, the most obedient children, I would work hard for everything to be as close to perfection as possible.  Yet, is that what I am doing every day in preparation to see Jesus?  Am I diligently preparing my children to see Jesus, or am I more concerned with how they make me look as a mom, their academic success or whether or not they are good athletes?  Do I care more about the way people see me on the outside than the way Jesus knows me on the inside?

Do I give Jesus my best?  Because I hold no one in higher regard than Him, yet He lives within my unclean heart, and sees my rotten attitude, and knows my stinky sins over and over again.  And I continue on in mediocrity, justifying my life as it is, because I am ‘busy’, or I am tired, or I have a lot of kids, or if I had this or that I would be different.

So…going back to what is important in my life, which is where my best needs to start…every day…not neglected…not put-off for another day or another season.   It’s not perfection; it’s giving my best, by focusing on the prize of Heaven, doing my part to make the outward path a little smoother, and the inward dwelling of my heart a little cleaner.

Dearest Jesus-

Thank You for loving me in spite of my ugliness.  You deserve only the best from me Lord.  Help me to continually strive on with joy in my heart.  I thank You for those You have entrusted to me on this path of life, especially my children.  I pray I can speak boldly of You with love.  If there is anything good in me Lord, it is You.  Thank You for the work You do in me.

A

Bailey Dean Bowers

Born July 23, 2013 at 8:49pm, 4 lb 13oz

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She is still super tiny, not even 6lbs yet, but she is doing great.  We do have to use a heart monitor on her for awhile until she remembers that she needs to breath at all times, esp when she sleeps.  But we haven’t had too many episodes and should be done with that soon. 

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She was born at 34 weeks but she met all the marks of a typical newborn and was able to be released from NICU within a couple of days.  She stayed in special care for a few extra days until we could get a home heart monitor for her.  At 6 weeks she is doing great.  Sleeps a lot, much to the frustration of her siblings…and gets tons of love and kisses, even if she is sleeping.

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Here is a picture with her daddy so you can see just how tiny she was (is).  She was the same size as his forearm.

6 weeks

It is so hard to believe it has been 6 weeks since that crazy Tuesday night.  Wow, we have been through some serious recovery.  I want to thank everyone for covering us in prayer, for the meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, babysitting, gifts, kind words and caring hearts.  The pathology report came back clear with the kanser only being found in the cervix, so we will not need to do any further treatments, just follow-up exams every 3 months.  So a big fat WOO-HOO for that!

Before the surgery I asked both my oncologist and OB if it would really take a whole 6 weeks to recover.   I thought since I was semi-young, in good physical shape, eating totally healthy that I could knock off a few weeks and be running around playing with my kiddos by now…or at least be able to keep up with them.  Nope!  Totally not the case.  It hurts, I hurt. 

We have came so far from being in the hospital, so I am not complaining (well, only to my husband).  I won’t go into great detail, but there are so many things that doctors fail to warn you about that are part of recovery…and not that we really want to mentally climb that mountain before we physically climb it.  But knowing a little more of the ‘what might happen to you’ would have helped knock some of my ego down and not get my expectations up.  (Just so ya know…if you ever have to have a robotic lymph node dissection…it involves a ton of swelling, and all that lymph fluid has to come out somehow, and it is very painful, and it could mess with your nerves…disclaimer: I am no doc, so it might not happen this way for you)

In my little mind I thought I would be done with needing to rest or done with struggling to bend down or get up…I thought it would all be back to normal life…as normal as life is with a newborn.  I had no idea that my kids could walk faster than I, especially my 4 yr old.  Now I know how they feel when I am speed-racing through life and they are running to keep up.  It’s a good reminder to slow down and wait for the important things in life.

God is definitely teaching me huge lessons: on patience, not being anxious, being humble and asking for help, overlooking the mess, being content with where I am and quit looking to where I think I wanna (or “should”) be, having joy in the moments…no matter what those moments might look like. 

Dear Father-

Thank You for saving me!  Thank You for giving me life, Your life and new life.  Oh how I yearn to do life Your way, not my ugly fast-paced get it done style.  I see that You are slowing me down in the moments to teach me to live more and love deeper.  Thank You for my children…for teaching me through each one of them.  I pray that I would see the frustrations and trials of my life as Your teaching hand bringing me closer to Your kind of life.  Forgive me when I grumble through my days and waste opportunities to show love and grace.  I love you.

A

My Soul Still Remembers…

Quick update…yes, we are alive and recovering well.  It is painful and I would like to skip this part and go straight to feeling ‘normal’ (if I remember what that is).  But it is a process and we will get there and we will look back remembering the time when…

But for now, let’s REWIND…

So before the whole baby/surgery thing happened, I decided that I needed to read the book of lamentations…because that’s what I felt like doing…lamenting.  And I did quite often, flat complain how I didn’t want to go through this.

After reading the first two chapters of lamentations, I discovered its just a lot of yucky stuff.  Basically, it goes on and on and on about the affliction of God’s people because of their own bad choices.  And then chapter 3 begins with the author’s own feelings of affliction and the sense of God’s abandonment.  It goes on for 19 verses, lamenting about the current situation Jeremiah finds himself in…and none of it sounds pleasing.  If you have ever found yourself in a situation or situations that just kept getting worse and there seemed to be no relief in sight…it would kind of be like what Jeremiah is writing about.  And that’s what I was feeling like, not quite the hardships of that time, just a small mountain I knew I had to climb, but I just didn’t want to even look at that mountain, let alone begin the climb.  I would rather sit and sulk at the bottom and cry out my ‘woe is me’ to anyone listening.

And then there is verse 20…

My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

So beautiful…My Soul Still Remembers.  Yes, Lord, I remember.  In the midst of the chaos, fear, anxiety, questions, pain, grief, stress, and sin…I stop…I remember, YOU, and Your goodness and mercy and peace…it all sinks within me… and I can recall it to my mind…and there is my HOPE.  Wherever I am, whatever I may be going through or headed towards…My Soul Still Remembers…and therefore I have HOPE.

My pains and frustrations, fears and doubts, bad choices…they don’t define me…It is when I stop and remember and let Your great wisdom/peace/mercy/comfort shower me, soak into me and recall to mind and choose Your HOPE.

Father,

You are so generous in all Your ways.  My great comforter and protector.  You know what I need long before I even get there.  Help me to stop and recall Your ways, to allow the wisdom and love You have given me to sink within my soul so that my life would be a constant ray of Your HOPE.  I love You.

Lamentations 3: 20-27

20 My soul still remembers And sinks within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.

Update on the last 12 hours

Hello all! This is Chelsea, Amanda’s sister, updating everyone on the happenings of the last 12 hours.

I wonder sometimes if God finds it humorous when we try to make our own plans, decide our own fates, and tell God when or how things will happen. Well last night we all got a glimpse of what happens when God takes over our “plans.”

Amanda went into labor last night and headed to the hospital with all of the kids in tow. In a panic, my parents gathered their brains and headed straight up to take the kids. I think everyone was nervous except the kids who were so excited that today was the day they got a new brother or sister, they couldn’t care less that it was 3 days earlier than what we all “planned”. I got to the hospital around 7pm, after they had been there maybe an hour. When I first saw Amanda you could visually see the labor pains she was in and it seemed to be happening so fast. We all kept our composure but there were so many questions floating around the waiting room that sometimes we let the kids be our joy as they couldn’t contain themselves with excitement. At about 8:30pm she went into surgery and Josh came out to the waiting room as the doctors decided to put Amanda under anesthesia even for the c-section. We all were getting quite anxious at around 9:50pm when there was no word on the baby yet. After Josh did some exploring we found out that the baby went straight to the NICU. They casually just mentioned to him that SHE was doing great so far. Josh quietly said, “she?” and they followed up with, “you didn’t know it was a girl?” 

It was established that Clayton got to tell everyone so Clayton runs down the hall screaming “it’s a girl, it’s a girl”, everyone in the waiting room was shocked, except for Danner, who has said all along it was going to be a girl. Josh went into the NICU to see her for the first time and the nurses printed off pictures for us to see. Josh identified her as Bowers immediately by her stubbornness as she was already trying to pull the tubes away from her. After the grandparents took their turn seeing her Clayton just stared at the nurses desk at the NICU. I don’t know if it was because it was late or Clayton’s face looked so pathetic trying to get a glimpse of his sister that they allowed all 4 siblings in there to see her for the first time. After the aunts took their turn we learned that Amanda was out of surgery and was now recovering in her room. I’ll let Amanda go into more detail about the surgery but as far as we know it went awesome. They got what they needed and there were no surprises. It would be a hard road to recovery but we all know Amanda, and that will be a walk in the park.  She is one of the few people I know that sets up challenges for herself that seem impossible to accomplish, just so she can see how far she can stretch herself. For Amanda, this is just one more challenge for her to win, and she will!

So our beautiful miracle girl has arrived, fighting her way into this world at 4lbs 13oz and 18 inches long. She is tiny but absolutely beautiful, there is no other word to describe her. Amanda is recovering, anxious to see her daughter, and fighting back the best way she knows how, through prayer.

As her sister, I can’t thank everyone enough for their prayers, happy thoughts, and love that surrounds this family. They are truly a family after God’s own heart and a blessing in the lives of everyone they touch!

 

Prayer

So here is a list of things we are praying for:

1. That the baby would be perfectly healthy and need very minimal time in NICU if any at all and would be healthy and strong enough to be released from the hospital at the same time as myself.

2. This surgery would be shockingly smooth and easy with no complications.

3. That nursing would be as simple as it has been with my other babies.  That my milk production would be maintained and we could find the right combination of safe hormones.

4. That my oncologist would be able to do the surgery and her baby would wait to arrive (she is due Aug 4th).

5. That the rest of the kiddos would be relaxed and flexible with all of the transitioning between family and friends’ houses.

6. That God’s Glory would be evident in all this.

Child-like faith

The nurse called today with the MRI results from Monday. Her report was pretty much the same as last time…cervix is enlarged, but the kanser is still contained within the cervix. So that’s good, I guess. We will proceed with the delivery/surgery on the 26th.

My son asks me almost every day if the kanser is gone yet. I have held him off by saying God was healing me and we would see how far the healing was after this MRI. So of course the first question he asks me after the MRI was his usual… Is it gone yet? Today, I told him it was still there, but the surgery would take care of it. He just said maybe God was waiting and they wouldn’t find any kanser during the surgery. I agreed. And it was that simple. Child-like faith…if it were only that simple.

My daughter, on the other hand, comes to me every day with the baby count down. She tells me how many more days until the baby is born with such great enthusiasm. If only I shared the same spunk and simple joy for that day. I pretend. Yes, I am totally excited to meet our new little one…that’s the best part. It’s just that so many other complicated things come with that day, it’s hard not to dread each day closer.

Child-like faith…Child-like joy, how so often us adults ruin it. We add worry, fear, doubt, past experiences, sorrow, self-righteousness, independence, and so many other ugly things to our spiritual lives, they just don’t look very joyful or trusting. No wonder Christ-followers don’t look that much different from world-followers. Its ugly and sad. However, within the storms of life, we are reminded of our Guide and Guardian. The One who leads us to quiet waters and covers us with His wings. In our hearts we know He is there, calling us out of our selfish pits and into His peace. I know Him…His hand is not shortened to save. I know He loves me and cares for me…even if my faith is just that of an adult.

Dearest Father, forgive me for my shaky faith. Thank You for children who remind us of how simple a life following You really is. I pray that my life would be a reflection of joy and faith because of You. Thank You for healing me and restoring my life to You daily. I love You.