Birth Story- Ellias Patrick

E  had a cold this week. While cuddling him, I thought about all the moments I wanted to remember from his first days. I know, there’s already many, in the last nineteen months, I’ve lost because of busyness and distractedness, but it prompted me to want to make an effort to preserve the sweetness of motherhood and beauty of life. 

The most glorious memory to date has been his birth. On Monday, June 22, 2015, my life changed forever. While E was growing in my tummy, I would think about things he would do and ways he would bring joy into my world, but when I studied him outside of the womb for the first time, I knew these thoughts wouldn’t even match the reality of his impact on me— and our entire family. {photo below is the first time I actually got to admire him on the outside.}

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I went into labor at 2 AM after taking a clary sage oil bath before bed. I labored until 5 AM before I woke my husband and that was after calling my mom to see if she thought I was really in labor. My sweet husband helped get things ready for the ride to the hospital, called his mom to help with our daughter, and timed my contractions for an hour. While at home, my water broke shortly after my mucous plug fell out (somebody should have told me what that experience would be like). We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 AM. It is worth noting that my parents beat us to the hospital.

I labored naturally until 11 AM and then made the decision to receive an epidural. While laboring naturally, I preferred to labor in the bathroom at the hospital while holding the handicap bar. My sister read scripture and affirmations to me to help me stay focused. The decision to get an epidural came after I could no longer walk around or get into the tub as I couldn’t keep the heart monitor on because of sweat… They asked me to lay in the bed as that was the only way we could monitor the baby and the pain became unbearable once on my back.

I moved to another room to get the epidural and still had little progression. My midwife brought me a peanut ball (genius invention) to labor with and had me roll over from side to side. Each time I rolled, little man’s heart rate would drop and I’d have to go back to my back. This went on for hours and they made a decision to start a pitocin drip to try and get him to progress. This dropped his heart rate some more and because of the time spent laboring, I had to stop the pitocin and also get an amniotic transfusion.

Around 7:00 PM, my midwife came in and explained that something was causing his heart rate to drop each time we tried to progress delivery and she was recommending a cesarean. Until this point, I had been relatively calm, rolling with the punches, and taking each adjustment to my birth plan as it came. But, when she said cesarean, I burst into tears. Once I calmed down, I felt fortunate, because I knew the physician that was going to deliver as we had followed him early in pregnancy. I was quickly rolled to the operating room and my husband scrubbed and stood at my head along with the anesthesiologist. The physician came in the room said, “charge my phone” and a couple minutes later at 7:49 PM our sweet Ellias Patrick was in the room, 21 inches long and weighing 7 lbs 14 oz . I remember looking at my husband and asking “is that our baby?”. Jason, my husband, showed me the baby and went to the nursery with him. He had a red bump on his forehead because he was trying to drop in the birthing canal, but his umbilical cord was in the way (the need for a cesarean).The anesthesiologist stayed with me and rubbed my head until I was back together and birthing shakes were under control (a side effect of the epidural). {photo below is the first image I remember of my sweet boy}.

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The nurses rolled me back to my room and I was finally able to cuddle. In that moment, all of the pain, anxiety, and uncertainty from the last several hours faded away. From that moment forward, I have been in complete awe of the whole experience. Not only because the Lord richly blessed me with a perfect baby boy, but also because he gifted me with an incredible support system. My husband, parents, mother-in law, sister and brother-in law, helped me greatly by comforting me, caring for my oldest, and keeping me in a positive frame of mind. My medical team- nurses, midwife, and ultimately physicians, helped make sure E was protected and healthy during this the entire ordeal. For all of these things, I am grateful and humbled.

 

{Dangerous Prayer} 2014 in Review.

Almost a year ago, I prayed the most dangerous prayer of my life. The fruits of this prayer have been manifesting ever since. You see, my prayer took place while I was cleaning my house. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I recall asking the Lord to fill my rooms and fill them for his glory.

It started in January of 2014. I had recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Business Administration and my husband and I decided to celebrate the accomplishment by taking a trip to Haiti. I’ve been to Haiti several times and am in love with the culture and the people.

When we went, we told our Pastor that we had plans to start a family when we returned. He and his wife prayed over us before we left. I felt confident we could conceive quickly because I had done everything the right way. I had it all under control. We’d been saving for medical expenses for a year, had the OK from the OBGYN, had stable jobs, and degrees. This was the farthest thing from the truth; the Lord immediately took control orchestrated a plan far superior then anything I could have crafted on my own.

After our trip, my heart longed to help our friend, long-time interpreter, John Robert get to America to attend college. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d wake up at night, I’d Google scholarships, I started networking with people and making connections, I felt certain I was the friend that was supposed to help him. J encouraged me to get a game plan together for fundraising and then educate myself on the potential risks of bringing an international to school in America. I went full-steam ahead and completed the necessary paperwork to get John Robert to America.

In April, over Easter, I was blessed with a trip to Haiti. It was on the other side of the island and not where my friends were, but I knew I had to get John Robert to me. I had the paperwork he needed to get to the States, and I wanted to surprise him. I bused him to the mission along with two friends, and gave him the paper he needed to get a Visa appointment. If all went well, he would be coming to the USA for college in the fall. At this point, John Robert, my friends, family, and I launched a fundraising campaign to pay for his education.

During this time, Jason and I were still trying for a family and every period came and went with disappointment. I was consumed with fundraising for John Robert and trying to chart my ovulation, and didn’t realize at the time, but this was the first response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

In May, Jason and I received a call from our family and social worker in Pennsylvania. They asked if we would be interested in fostering to adopt one of our distant relatives. As a ten year old, they explained it would be hard, but that we were the only hope for making sure she didn’t age out of the system (older kids are not usually adopted). We didn’t hesitate with our response. We love our family and didn’t want to lose our cousin to strangers, so we asked what we could do. We were encouraged to get certified in KY to be foster parents. Again, I was awake at night, I googled, made phone calls, and we went full steam ahead. We started foster parenting classes in the state of Kentucky and committed to eleven weeks of grueling work.

We were able to have two transitional visits with our cousin (little mama) over the summer. This helped her see where she would live and helped us make sure we felt confident in our decision. Each visit went well and we decided to continue pushing forward with the process. We completed our parenting classes in August.

By this time, Jason and I had still been unsuccessful at conception, but had our friend John Robert in America, enrolled in school, and on campus. We also had little mama’s room ready and our family, friends, and co-workers had thrown us showers, so her closet and toy chest was chalked full in anticipation of her arrival. This was the second response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

We decided to plan a vacation in the fall and take a trip with our friends to Destin, FL. At this point, we had stopped “trying”. I threw the ovulation kits away; I stopped charting, and just focused my efforts on helping John Robert adjust to life in America and stayed in prayer for little mama. We were told she would likely arrive around Thanksgiving because the state didn’t like transitioning kids during the school year. I kept praying for her and felt confident that she would be here before the Holidays. I wanted her to adjust to normal life in KY as soon as possible. So, a week before we left for Destin, we got the call. Little mama and her social worker would meet us at the Lexington airport on September 30. This cut our vacation short, but we didn’t care. We were excited to start our lives as parents and to help her know love.

When little mama moved in, she immediately started asking about siblings. She has a big sister, but wanted to be a big sister. This stung a bit, since we had been trying for months, but we assured her that when the time was right, we would give her a sibling. We brushed this off and focused our efforts on her and John Robert.

In October, I was late. I had previously thrown away all my tests, and kits, so I didn’t think much about the possibility of being pregnant right away. But when my period still didn’t come, I asked our research nurse at work for a test. I holed myself up in the bathroom at work and took the test in the middle of the day. The line was faint, but it was positive. One of my docs caught me coming out of the bathroom and asked why I was so white. I shoved the test towards him and he laughed and said, “you need to go upstairs and get blood drawn”.

In my head, this was a joke. I had too much going on. Sure, we had tried to conceive for months, but it was a fruitless endeavor. The Lord had already blessed me with little mama and John Robert. I had to focus my efforts on them and not be distracted by the “what ifs” of a baby. The blood came back after two hours (we ran it STAT. I was a mess) and it was positive. I was pregnant.

When I came home from work that night, I waited until little mama got in the shower and handed J the urine test and the lab work. I immediately walked away. He was confused until I said the words, “I’m pregnant”. In typical J fashion, he said, “you are always on pinterest and reading blogs… is this is the best you could do?” He wanted some fancy announcement, but all the energy I could muster was used to hand him the results. This was officially the third response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord had filled my rooms.

We waited to tell John Robert until he visited in November. His immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. And then we waited a bit longer to tell little mama by giving her a shirt that said “big sister”. Her immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. It took days for these responses to sink in and for me to understand the magnitude of what God had done in ten short months. He positioned me to surrender my plans and to believe that his words were true. When my husband and I poured our lives out and gave it away, the Lord filled it back up. He filled my rooms. He answered the cries of my heart. He made a family out of his fabric and wrote a story that only he was capable. I learned to surrender my ideas and focus on the plan God has for our family. By being open to His timeline, His goals, and His will, my family flourished, my prayers were answered, and all the rooms in my home are filled (the last room due to be filled in June 2015!). God is good.

 

 

 

 

{Lessons from Haiti} Waiting on God

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Haiti has taught me a lot about waiting on the Lord. Haitians have a saying, “nap tann bondye” which means “we wait on God”. My friend, John Robert, said to me recently, “we always hope for our better day and wait for it to come.” At first this comment seemed insignificant but then as I kept chewing on the words, it caused me to do some research.

Psalm 130:5-6

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Like the sunrise, I wait with anticipation, expectation, and confident hope that the desires of my heart will take place. I wait expectantly for the Lord to answer my human needs just as the sun brings warmth to the day.

I have become so consumed with wanting things now that I lack the understanding and acceptance of the fact that waiting on the Lord involves a passage of time just as it does when waiting for the sun to rise.

When I fail to acknowledge the Lord and trust in his promises, I am overcome with anxiety and struggle by taking matters into my own hands. I fail every time. But in the moments of complete surrender, I wait like the watchmen because I know the Lord is reliable, more than the rising of the sun.

 

Inspiration/Reading/Source: https://bible.org/article/waiting-lord

Lords Legacy Life Ministries: Celebration Baptism

This weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of watching several of my dearest friends and sister get baptized.
My family ministry, Lord’s Legacy Life Ministries, hosted a Celebration Baptism event in order to provide individuals with mental and physical disabilities with the opportunity to be baptized. You see, many individuals with special needs are never offered water baptism because local churches do not have adaptive equipment and cannot submerge them safely.

(For more information about the event and extra tugs on your heart strings, please watch both of the videos!)

Several months prior to the event, the Lord set a burning desire into my mother’s heart. She believes every individual that chooses to serve Jesus has the right to a water baptism and wanted to help them outwardly express his or her commitment to our almighty God. Therefore, she purchased a lift to allow wheelchair bound individuals to safely be baptized in a traditional baptismal.  With the support of the ministries staff, client families and local church, the event went off without a hitch.

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We started with a brief introduction from my mom and sister, Dawn. Pastor Mark Keene gave a quick devotional and the administrative staff of Lord’s Legacy led praise and worship (they had NEVER practiced before yesterday. They are crazy talented!). Following worship, mom and Pastor Mark climbed in the baptismal and got down to business. I am 100% sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Dawn, my sister, was the first of be baptized. After all, the whole vision of our ministry came from our lives crossing paths and the Lord showing us his unfailing love and patience through her. 
Then dear Georgie, he brought his most prized possessions, Bert and Ernie to watch him be baptized. After he was baptized, he yelled, “I DID IT!” Everyone cheered. 


Next up was Mr. Bobby. He’s always the life of the party and really a cool dude. He walked into the baptismal with ease and came out with a fist pump! 

Following Dawn’s baptism, this was the most precious. This young lady (she’s 53 with the innocence of a five year old), Sabrina, who is also Dawn’s roommate and the keeper of my heart, was all smiles yesterday. She cried tears of joy for most of the day and then told me this morning it was the “best day of her life”. 
Miss Ashley used Saturday as an opportunity to rededicate her life and finally be water baptized. She squealed with delight after her baptism and praised God all afternoon.
The last gal to be baptized was Belinda. She came to the event via word of mouth. Her sister and case manager brought her from a town an hour away, to worship with people she had never met, all because she had the desire to be baptized. It was a true honor to get to serve her in such a beautiful way!
After all the baptisms, we hosted a beautiful reception and of course had cake…
Balloons were released in the honor of the participants and their families. 
Words cannot describe the joy I felt by simply having the chance to be a part of something so HUGE. The barriers of adversity were broken down and everyone worshipped in such a beautiful way; it was simply breathtaking. 
I am so proud of my mama and her obedient heart. I am amazed by her staff and the families of the individuals in which we serve. I am utterly astonished by the uninhibited and precious way these individuals serve our Lord. I pray that I never forget the way I felt and the beauty that I saw as Saturday will go down in history as one of the greatest days of my life.