Why My Daughters Won’t Buy Ties

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There was a story floating around Facebook a while back. Wait a while and I’m sure it will come back around, just like bell bottoms, leg warmers, and banana clips. If you are a hopeless romantic, it is a great story. A girl buys a tie and prays over it for seven years. In the mean time she meets a young man, gets engaged and presents it to her husband-to-be right before their wedding. As she walks down the aisle, she sees her groom sporting said tie (amazingly, it has the exact colors as her wedding colors). Please don’t get me wrong: it’s a sweet story. Who doesn’t like a sweet, romantic, sappy Hallmark ending? But let me explain a couple of reasons why my daughters will not be doing the same thing.

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First, growing up we are bombarded with stories where they live happily ever after. Cinderella? She is neglected and abused and yet she ends up marrying a prince. Snow White? She hides out with a bunch of dwarfs, eats a poisoned apple, falls into a deep sleep, is kissed by a prince, and lives happily ever after. Sleeping Beauty? See Snow White (minus the dwarfs and poisoned apple.) Rapunzel, the Little Mermaid, and don’t get me started on Hallmark movies. If you’ve never seen a romantic Hallmark movie, allow me to spoil it for you. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl have a falling out, boy and girl make up, boy and girl live happily ever after. (and for the record, I think I’ve seen every one ever produced. Except “The Christmas Shoes.” That one is dumb. And so is the sequel. Or so I hear.)

Yes, they are good, clean movies. But that is not real life. I don’t want to assume my daughters will get married. I don’t want my daughters thinking they will definitely marry. I don’t want them thinking every story has a Hallmark happy ending. What if they stay single? I don’t want them to think they are second rate because they are single. I know quite a few single women. Fabulous single women. Beautiful single women. Humanly speaking, I have no idea why some guy has not snatched them up. But my counsel and advice? It is hard enough being married to the right man. Imagine being married to the wrong man. (Thanks, Mrs. Dunbar!) A woman is not a reject because she is single. There is nothing wrong with her. (Most of the time. There is the occasional crazy cat lady.) Many of these ladies are content with where God has them, and they should be. Being single is not inferior to being married. You just have to learn to be content.

I know some women who have been so desperate for a man they continue to lower their standards until they snag a man, any man. Sometimes standards and scruples are thrown out the window as long as a man notices them. I know women who have married for money. I know women who have married for security. I remember a student sitting in my studio crying because she was about to graduate from college and was still single. I explained to her that if God wanted her married, He’d bring the right one along. If not, God had another plan for her. Not a plan B, not a worse plan, not a second rate plan, just a different plan. She was not a failure. She was only 22! She had all the time in the world. (and she did end up meeting and marrying a young man a few years after graduation.)

file-2We used to pray for my daughters’ husbands as we put them to bed at night, but then I had a change of heart. Praying that teaches my girls we expect them to marry. I don’t assume that anymore. I want God’s will for their lives above wanting them married.  I pray God brings them the right man IF He wants them married. If not, I pray they will be content being single and embracing all they can do that a married woman cannot. I think many times we, especially Christians, put so much pressure on young people to marry, they marry for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, that causes numerous issues and the divorce rate among Christian young couples is on the rise.

Another reason why I don’t care for this story is this: too many girls plan their wedding out before they are even engaged, many times before they are even seriously dating/courting someone. I have seen many times girls pick dates, dresses, flowers, colors, etc before there is even a ring on their finger. It seems as if the husband is just another thing on their checklist. “Okay, I have everything planned, so now I just need… oh, you’ll do. Check!” It makes me sad (okay, truth, it irritates me) when I hear some girl say,

“When we get married on May 31…”

“Really? Ooooh, can I see your ring?”

“Well, I don’t have a ring yet.”

I so badly want to say, if you ain’t got a ring, you ain’t got a thing, sweetheart. Another Hallmark movie faux pas: girls that have their weddings planned complete with idea boards/books since elementary school. Seasons, dates, dresses, etc. Life doesn’t always work out like that. Planning a wedding before an engagement seems so antiromantic. (Is that even a word?) “It’s about time you gave me the ring, I have everything planned.”  What happened to the element of surprise? Just wait. Let God bring you your husband in His time. You’ll have plenty of time to get things done.

20181123_125858So, if my daughters do grow up and remain single, please don’t greet them with questions like, “So when are you going to find a nice young man and settle down?” or “What’s wrong with you? You’re not married yet?” or “Have you met my great nephew Irving? He has a great personality.” My goal is to raise them to be godly young ladies. Smart ladies. Faithful ladies. Even independent ladies. If God sees fit to bring them a husband, great! If God sees fit to have them remain single, great! Their worth is not tied to whether or not they are married. Their worth is tied to whom they belong: Jesus Christ.

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You Say Independent Like its a Bad Thing…

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I admit. I am an independent woman. I can do most things by myself. I was raised by an ultra independent woman. I never saw being independent as being a bad thing. A few years ago, someone made this statement: “Oh, I KNOW just how independent you are.” They clearly did not mean it as a compliment. In fact, they find my independence offensive. This statement bothered me for quite some time. Am I not to be independent? Am I to be, as the world sees meekness, powerless or even brainless? I have many friends who are single and who are told, “you’re too independent to be married” or “you’d never submit to your husband you’re so independent.” Some are told, “It would take a very strong man to rein you in.” So I went to the Bible and started digging. Do you know what I found? Some extremely independent women!!!! Women who are heralded as being virtuous. So, let’s begin in no particular order.

The first woman who comes to mind doesn’t have a name, but she is clearly defined as a strong, independent woman. Proverbs 31 describes this woman as a hard worker, industrious, business minded, frugal, fearless, and an entrepreneur. She is compassionate, kind, and wise. She is not a slacker. Her husband is not threatened by her. Quite the opposite. His heart trusts in her and he praises her. He is known in the gates and is a respected man. Do you think he’d be held in high esteem if his wife was so independent he was emasculated? Her children rise up and call her blessed. They are not afraid of her. Verse 29 sums it all up by saying, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

Secondly, meet Abigail. In I Samuel 25 Abigail is described as “of good understanding and of a beautiful countenance.” (verse 3) We read that her husband was “churlish and evil in his doings.” His name is Nabal and Nabal means fool or senseless. Here is an abbreviated scenario. David, who was to be king, was in the area and sent servants to Nabal to ask for provisions. Nabal, being foolish, says “Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse?” (Even in the day before social media, I’m sure David’s encounter with Goliath got around.) Nabal harshly refuses and sends David’s messengers on their way. Long story short, David wants to right this wrong in blood, a servant of Nabal’s finds out, tells Abigail, and she springs to action. She gathers food and drink for David AND his men, rode out to meet David, and fell at his feet. She took the blame (verse 24-“upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be:”), intercedes and mediates on behalf of her husband and household, and convinces David to not shed blood. Nabal ends up dying either by stroke or heart attack and Abigail goes on to marry King David. This is not the work of a weak woman. This is a wise, strong, and independent woman.

In Judges 4 we find a woman named Jael. Allow me to set the scene.  Sisera was the captain of King Jabin’s Canaanite army. As they were being defeated by the Israelites, Sisera fled (real hero, huh?). He sought refuge at the property of a man named Heber, a man who had an alliance with King Jabin. Heber’s wife, Jael, was very accommodating. She welcomed him in, gave him some nice warm milk to drink (maybe some fresh cookies?), and covered him with a blanket. Once Sisera was lulled to sleep, Jael quietly and expertly drove a tent spike through his temple, fulfilling the prophecy that a woman would receive the honor of killing Sisera. In Judges 5, Barak and Deborah sang her praises. Literally.

Speaking of Deborah, she was Israel’s only female judge. Talk about your independent woman. Queen Esther entered into the presence of King Xerxes without being summoned. In the days of the Persians this would mean death, but she was determined and grace was extended. Jochebed defied the king’s orders and hid Moses. She eventually put him in the Nile, he was found by a princess, and Jochebed was able to nurse him and raise him for a few more years, and was paid to do it. Time does not permit me to expound on the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27), Rahab (Joshua 2), Jehosheba (II Kings 11), and many others.

So to you independent women: Good on ya! Don’t be embarrassed to be how God made you. There are obviously boundaries, but don’t pretend to be something you’re not. God used many independent women throughout the Bible. Don’t let someone try to put you down by saying you’re too independent. If you are living in accordance with God’s Word, you’re just fine.

 

 

Don’t Be That Wife: Part Dos

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One of my last posts was Don’t Be That Wife. This is the second installment. Sometimes we need to be reminded of some basics. First, the Bible doesn’t want us to be hateful, angry individuals. Anger is equated to foolishness (Proverbs 14:17, 29; Ecclesiastes 7:9). Our first priority is to be a godly woman. Married or single. Children or no children. God’s Word clearly outlines how we are to conduct ourselves. Secondly, if you are married, you are to be a godly wife. You are to mirror Christ through your marriage. Lastly, you are to be a godly mom. Our attitudes will greatly influence our families, both our spouses and our children.

In Titus 2, we read that the aged women are to teach the younger women. I have all girls. They have some wonderful examples to look to at our church. Godly women. Faithful women. Discerning women. But this verse also applies to me as a mother. I can pretend to be all that and a bag of chips at church and I can post all the right things on Facebook but do you know who really sees whether I am sober, discreet, chaste, and a keeper at home? My children. It is my responsibility to teach my daughters these principles. I can give lip service all I want, but my actions and my attitude will speak volumes. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “More is caught than is taught.”

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This man is amazing!

If I am constantly hateful to my husband, it shows my girls that I don’t truly love him (Titus 2:4), it shows them my disobedience (Titus 2:5), and it blasphemes the Word of God (Titus 2:5). My attitude toward my husband will greatly influence my children. My girls will more than likely pick up my habits and be hateful to their spouse, if they get married. They can overcome it and break the cycle, but it is a difficult journey. It can affect sons as well. They may be more likely to marry someone who will verbally abuse them, thinking that is normal.  Not only that, but my children will quite possibly treat their friends with the same disdain they observe day in and day out. Eventually, they will complain they don’t have many friends. Is it any wonder with attitudes such as theirs? I don’t think we realize how much our stinky attitudes are soaked up by our children. Even if you are pleasant as punch to your children, having an antagonistic relationship with their dad makes them more likely to resent you as they grow older, if they don’t grow up just like you. Even if they don’t grow up to resent you, biblically, your attitude is wrong. Just remember: What you do, your children will do in excess.

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Denver/Seattle Game

If my husband and I do have intense fellowship, which is not very often, apologies are not only made to each other, but to our children as well. My children need to see forgiveness, not harboring a grudge. My husband and I were raised 2 different ways. My parents fought to the death so to speak, and I don’t remember apologies ever being made. It eventually blew over. Guess what I brought into our marriage? An antagonistic spirit when things didn’t go my way. And I expected my husband to argue with me. My husband’s parents never argued in front of the children. The problem with that is my husband never saw conflict and resolution. So guess what he brought into our marriage? If you love one another, you NEVER argue. That’s not healthy either. We’ve had to work extremely hard to find the right balance. (We have, by the way.) I never want my children to live in fear of “Is today the day one of my parents leave?” and I never want to hear my child plead with me: “Please don’t fight with daddy anymore.” Your relationship with your husband will affect your children. (Anyone remember Jon and Kate Gosselin?  Were you really surprised when they split up? Did you ever watch some of the earlier episodes?)

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Bedlam, Baby!!

I’m going to be transparent here. You also need a healthy intimate relationship with your husband. Of the couples I know that have a nonexistent intimate relationship, there are issues. Do you know how it feels to go through weight ups and downs, fertility issues, weight ups and downs, miscarriage, traumatic birth, cancer, more weight ups and downs, and your husband still find you attractive?! Oh. My. Word. It’s amazing. You have to question his sanity sometimes, but man, is that true love or what? Hold hands, hug, let your husband kiss you. Kiss your husband. There is security in that for your children. (And it’s so much fun to gross our kids out when we kiss.) Our children will be bombarded with the world’s view of intimacy and marriage. Teach them what is right and godly by modeling it for them.

Ladies, your relationship with your husband is vital to the development of your children. (I’m not talking about an abusive situation here. That’s a different story.) Please, please, please understand what an effect you have. If you are a ministry family, your home life, church life, and social media life must be consistent, or your children will see the hypocrisy and want nothing to do with it. If you are a Christian family, your home life, church life, and social media life must be consistent, or your children will see the hypocrisy and want nothing to do with it. Do your best to model a godly marriage.

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Isn’t he handsome?!?!

Don’t be that wife.

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Have you ever considered how much power a wife and a mother wields? If she has a bad day, the whole house suffers. If momma is having a bad day, everyone knows it. We laugh at the signs at craft shows that say, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” but there is so much truth to this statement. Our attitudes set the tone of our homes, and the Bible speaks to this numerous times. God has given us clear instruction how to conduct ourselves as women, wives, and mothers. (I put them in that order on purpose.)In order to have a happy and successful marriage, we would be wise to read God’s Word and heed it.

Proverbs 14:1 reads, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” I picture this verse as a game of Jenga. You know, the game that starts out with all the wooden blocks stacked like a tower and one by one each player removes a block. As the game continues, the structure becomes unstable and eventually crashes to the table. At the end of the game, the pieces are put back together like nothing happened and the game starts all over again. My house is that Jenga tower. As I destroy my husband with my words, my “structure” becomes more unstable. But my family, my house, is not a game. It is real life, and I can’t place the blocks back like nothing happened. The words that are said can never be shoved back into my mouth. The words spoken and the tone with which I speak has already done the damage.

Twice the Bible tells us “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24) Can you imagine? It is better for my husband to sit on our roof than to hang out with me while I’m having a moment? And notice it says in a “wide house.”  I believe it means no matter how big the house, there is no place to hide. Proverbs 21:19 states, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Of course, this was written before modern camping conveniences. It is sad to me that any man would choose isolation in the rugged wilderness over the comforts of home because of a contentious woman. Also, don’t be a nag. Proverbs 27:15 tells us “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Now, I like a rainy day every now and then. But think about a continual dropping of water. That sound. Over and over. No relief in sight. No other sounds to listen to but drip. drip. drip. drip. blah. blah. blah. blah. nag. nag. nag. pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more…

These verses don’t specify a wife. They say “woman.” If you are single, these words still apply to you. First and foremost, we must desire to be a godly woman. We must desire to please the Lord in our actions and our demeanor. The Lord often links anger with foolishness. Proverbs 17:28a states, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise:” In other words, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” (Lincoln, Twain, no one really knows.) Later in Proverbs you find, “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.” (Proverbs 27:3) Picture being stuck in quicksand and someone comes and hands you a curling stone. A fool’s wrath is heavier than that.

The book of Genesis explains to us that Eve was made a help meet for Adam. The article adjective “a” indicates a noun. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, help is defined as “Aid, assistance, strength or means furnished towards promoting an object, or deliverance from difficulty or distress.” Also, as a verb help means “to assist; to succor; to lend means of deliverance.” Lastly, “to remedy; to change for the better.” My job as a wife is to help my husband. To assist him, to lend strength towards effecting a purpose. (In a Christian marriage, our purpose should be to glorify God in all we say or do.) The word meet here is an adjective. It means “fit; suitable; proper; qualified.” I should assist him in a proper way. I should desire to assist my husband and lend a means of deliverance from a hectic day or antagonistic workday. I want to create an environment where my husband WANTS to come home. Do you realize there are men around the world who cringe at the thought of going home to their wives on a daily basis? I don’t want to be known as the “old ball and chain.” “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4) “For three things the earth is disquieted, (made uneasy, restless, or disturbed) For an odious (hateful) woman when she is married;”. (Proverbs 30:21a, 23a-parenthesis mine)

I would like to encourage you, Don’t Be That Wife. Don’t be odious or hateful. Don’t be a nag. (Ever notice you can’t nag without getting hateful?) Don’t be constantly argumentative. That being said, I’m not advocating you to be a personal door mat. If you know me even just a smidgen, you know that I am a little outspoken. Okay, a lot outspoken. But, I try to defer to my husband when needed. I have respect for my husband, and he has respect for me. I want nothing more than for my husband to say that his heart, “doth safely trust” in me. (Proverbs 31:11)

 

 

 

It’s Prematurity Awareness Day!!

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I have blogged about Emma’s journey before, so I don’t really want to retell the whole story. We will never know just why Emma was born prematurely. The nurse at her birth thought it might have been an infection, but where that came from she didn’t know. My doctor said that is the blanket answer. Often it’s contributed to an infection, but the cause is really unknown. I do know this, God allowed it. For whatever reason, God chose us to go down this path.

Little Emma a day or two after she was born.

Little Emma a day or two after she was born. The pink cloth on the right side of the picture was her scent cloth. We slept with it and put it in her bed so she could get accustomed to us.

Any baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature. According to the March of Dimes, 1 out of 9 births is a premature birth. Micro preemies are babies born before week 32 (some stats say week 30). Chances of survival for a baby born at Emma’s gestation is 55%-70%. Just 10-15 years ago the chances of survival were much, much lower. Of babies born this early, only 30%-40% will develop normally without any major health issues or concerns. These babies are born purple. Their skin is transparent so you see the blood vessels underneath. Emma has a very high pain tolerance. I’m convinced it is because of all the poking and prodding she endured those first 89 days of life. I assumed all preemies were visited by their parents. Sadly, I learned that some preemies are already in state custody and NICU nurses are the only contact some of them have.

Eyes wide open

Eyes wide open

love those baby feet and teeny toes

love those baby feet and teeny toes

It is a scary thing to have a baby at 26 weeks and not know how things are going to go.  I remember one of the nurses warning us we would have a couple of good days and then a bad day. She was right. The first couple of days looked promising and then “Wham!” here came our bad day. That pattern continued for weeks. I’ll never forget the day the Nurse Practitioner, Gina, came in with the worse case scenarios. Possibilities included vision loss, hearing loss, developmental delays, neurological disorders, cerebral palsy, and the list went on. If I had no God in which to put my trust, that conversation would have been very bleak. I realized after that she was just doing her job. Unfortunately, they have to do that. But I appreciated the way she talked to us and explained things and let us ask questions. Gina became a sweet friend during our NICU stay. This is great considering how we first met. The day after I was released I went to Emma’s room. When I asked if I could just go on in she said yes and asked if I was Emma’s grandma. (If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that!!)  I remember one day she came in, sat down, and we just talked. Some of it was about Emma, some about our journey through infertility, part of the conversation was about her and her health journey, but always about how God is good. She always made time for us even after we graduated from the NICU.

Believe it or not, Emma was was almost 5 months old in this picture. She still probably only weighed around 8 lbs.

Believe it or not, Emma was was almost 5 months old in this picture. She still probably only weighed around 8 lbs. Photo by Krystal Inman Photography

I love our NICU nurses. They are fabulous. It still amazes me how these people can work 12 hour shifts on what I would consider a high stress level job. I never heard anyone complain. I never heard any of them gripe about another nurse. They answered our questions and were patient. We were there a lot so we had a lot of questions. They were very professional, but they were so personable. We had 24 access to our nurses. We could live in her room if we wanted. We could call any hour of the day or night and check on Emma. They always answered and were always happy to tell us how our baby was doing. Though we did have excellent doctors, Dr. Siddiqui being one of my favorites, it was the nurses who watched over Emma every day. They got to know her. Once she was able to cry, they learned she only cried when she was dirty. One of her nurses made Emma her first hair bow. They made a nameplate for her bed. They called her by name.

One of Emma's first bows. Thanks, Nurse Tiffany!

One of Emma’s first bows. Thanks, Nurse Tiffany!

Emma in her glass bed, just like Sleeping Beauty.

Emma in her glass bed, just like Sleeping Beauty.

Those nurses are my heroes. If I started to list them by name, I know I’d forget someone. But every single nurse that took care of our precious baby has a hand in the beauty she is today. Many of these nurses still keep in touch with us, and I always want Emma to know how these angels were used by God to accomplish a purpose.

Emma being silly playing in the dog's crate.

Emma being silly playing in the dog’s crate.

Our vivacious Emma will be 3 in January. It is often hard to believe that she went through all she went through. We have had the privilege of having awesome speech and physical therapists working with her to help her along.  We are almost caught up on every level, and I’m praying by the time we start kindergarten, she’ll be right on grade level. We have purchased a preemie baby doll to give Emma a point of reference when she gets older. (www.weebundles.com)  I want her to see just how tiny she was and what a miracle she has been.

This doll was made to be the exact length and weight as Emma when she was born.

This doll was made to be the exact length and weight as Emma when she was born.

If you know of a family that has a preemie, go visit them, even if you don’t get to see their precious blessing. The parents need a short break, a diversion. Take them a meal (we found out the hard way we weren’t supposed to eat in our room. Oops!) or get them a gift card to a restaurant close by. Take them a Starbucks card. We had one right across the street. Send them a fuel card. They will spend lots of time traveling to the hospital, even if they live in the same town. Above all, pray for them. Pray for the baby, the parents, the siblings if there are any, and especially the doctors and nurses. No matter what the medical community will tell them, God is sovereign. I am so thankful that through it all, God is in control, and especially grateful that God saw fit to bring Emma through.

Physical therapy time!

Physical therapy time!

Giving us last minute instructions before we graduate.

Giving us last minute instructions before we graduate.

Even the nurse manager kept tabs on little Emma.

Even the nurse manager kept tabs on little Emma.

We loved the entire medical staff.

We loved the entire medical staff.

One of the fabulous nurses at St. John Tulsa

One of the fabulous nurses at St. John Tulsa

Third time’s a charm.

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This is the story of baby #3. I will admit, Courtney’s story seems very average, very boring. It was a regular pregnancy, just like thousands of others each year. After she was born I remember one of my first doctors in Florida telling me: “I don’t think you’ll ever get pregnant, but even if you do, you’ll never be able to carry a baby full term.” To me she is still a miracle, as all babies are.

I have to be transparent here. When I found out I was pregnant a third time, just a year after Emma was born, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with joy at first. PLEASE don’t misunderstand me here. I was not angry I was pregnant. I was not in despair. I was nervous. I was scared. You have to remember, we spent 15 years on Infertility Road. 15. Quite a few of those years were spent in testings, medications, doctor appointments, disappointments, etc… And then, years after “giving up,” our first pregnancy happened. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Then Emma came along. What a journey that was (and still is to some degree.)  My biggest battles are in my mind. I don’t really struggle with outward vices, but I struggle sometimes keeping my thoughts captive. “I’m so old!” “What if this one ends in miscarriage?” “What if this one is a micro-preemie and things don’t go as well?” “What if…” “What if…” Once I settled in my mind and heart that God was in control, I knew we could face another miscarriage. My husband and I could face another micro-preemie. God had a plan, whatever it was. If Sarah and Abraham could have a baby at 90 and 100 respectively, I could certainly trust him when I was 41.

My first doctor appointment with Courtney’s pregnancy was a memorable one. My doctor’s new nurse was in the room with me doing all the preliminaries when she said, “I have to commend you.” I, looking confused, answered, “Why is that?” Her response was, “I just had to write down your age. Wow!” Haha! Geriatric pregnancy at its finest. My doctor did decide to take some extra precautions due to my history and age. He said the majority of his practice is spent trying to calm pregnant women down, but he was going to tell me just the opposite. “If anything doesn’t seem right, ANYTHING, you call immediately. Don’t wait. We don’t want to take any chances.” (He obviously knows me well. With all I’ve been through, I have to be dying before I call a doctor. I don’t usually freak out at the little things.) At week 22 I started taking a shot every week. It was supposed to help prolong the pregnancy. Normally it starts around week 24, but due to my history, the doctor started early. My doctor’s philosophy: “We want to do what we can humanly speaking, but God is in control.” So every Friday for fourteen weeks I went in to see Deidre. (Yes, one of the nurses has the same name, she just pronounces it wrong.)

My due date was December 5th, but my doctor had scheduled a c-section for December 2. (He told us if I went all the way to my due date she’d be at least a 9 lb baby)  He wanted to schedule it for the week of Thanksgiving, but the schedule at the hospital was full. I was not excited at the prospect of spending Thanksgiving Day in the hospital. Dr. Collins told me they had a real good Thanksgiving meal at the hospital, but that didn’t change my mind. Regardless, my hospital bags, as well as suitcases for the girls, were packed at week 25. I kept switching out outfits for Courtney. Once we passed week 32, I took out the preemie outfit and put in the newborn. When we found out about week 37 that she could possibly be a 9 lb + baby, I took out the newborn clothes and packed 0-3 months. I figured it wasn’t too early to start the whole I-don’t-know-what-to-wear routine. She is a girl after all.

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Her she is right after she was born. All 8.5 pounds of her. The nurses added her bow. She was such a chunky little thing.

Tuesday, November 26 was our Thanksgiving service at church. After church we went home, got the girls in bed, and went downstairs to watch TV while I finished working on Courtney’s stocking. Knowing my husband had the day off the next day and we had no plans, we figured we could stay up late watching a movie. If I remember right, we went to bed just after 1 am. At 3 am, two short hours after going to bed, my water broke and off we went. We called MeMaw (the girls have an adopted gramma here in town) and told her we were on our way. We dropped off the girls (who never went back to sleep), went to the hospital, and waited. My husband is the greatest because he fed me ice chips every time I had a contraction. I swear it made it better. It was probably all in my mind, but hey, whatever works. I love modern medicine and was able to get an epidural at 5 pm.  I’ll skip the unnecessary details, but sweet Courtney Elizabeth was born via c-section at 10:33 pm, Wednesday, November 27. (They made a room for me even though they were supposed to be full that week). She weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds 8.5 ounces. (Remember, my only other live birth was under 2 pounds. 8 1/2 pounds is huge!) There is no denying she belongs to me. She is the spitting image of her momma!

Ready to go home! Look at those boots! My friend Kari made them. I have the matching hat, but it covered up all that hair.

Ready to go home! Look at those grey crocheted boots! My friend Kari made them. I have the matching hat, but it covered up all that hair.

As you have probably figured out, we spent Thanksgiving at the hospital. I did have the hospital lunch, or at least part of it. We had some sweet friends bring up some meals, so we had home cooking after all. Courtney’s birthday will fall on Thanksgiving Day every 5 years I think. This year is one of those years. On the advice of a friend who finds herself in the same position, Courtney will not have pumpkin pie as her birthday cake.

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Courtney with Dr. Collins

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Courtney’s first Sunday at church. Black dress with white polka dots, white sweater, and a black and white striped bow that’s bigger than her head.

At her 9 month check up, her pediatrician made the comment, “She is too easy. That’s not fair.” Then she laughed and added, “But after all you’ve been through, I’d say you’ve paid your dues.” Courtney is now 11 months old and just over 22 pounds. (Lydia didn’t even weigh that much when we brought her home at 14 months.) She is right on target for everything. I have to remind myself that she is not a genius. When she started crawling I thought, “Oh wow! This is so early.” When she started pulling up on furniture I thought, “She is so advanced!” When she first said “Mama” I just knew she was the smartest kid ever. Not really. I just have to remind myself that Lydia was 14 months when we brought her home. We know nothing of when she started doing everything. Emma was developmentally delayed, so she was at least 4 months behind on everything. Courtney is not a genius. Not that we know of right now. She is developing right on schedule. She is a perfectly normal baby and I am one perfectly blessed mommy.

I never dreamed all those years ago when we first got our diagnosis of PCOS that we would be where we are today, but I am so thankful: thankful for God’s blessings, thankful for God’s timing, and thankful God is ultimately in control. I have no idea why God has directed our paths in this way, but I know I wouldn’t change anything. I have three beautiful blessings that I wouldn’t trade for the world, even if I will be drawing social security by the time the last one graduates from high school.

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My 3 beauties all pretty in pink.

 

Home Sweet Home

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Last Wednesday I met my radiation oncologist at the hospital and swallowed my little radioactive pill. My husband dropped me off at our church’s missions house and I spent 2 1/2 days in seclusion. 52 hours, 9 movies (I think), 2 mini-series, 1 church project, 8 Classical Conversations/home school projects, and 1 case of bottled water later, my sweet family picked me up. Hugs and kisses all around! It’s good to be home. I missed my couch, my chair, my bed, my girlies, my husband, my sudoku puzzle book (I forgot to take it with me), and not necessarily in that order. I did, however, get to spend over 3 uninterrupted hours on the phone. (My girls can ignore me ALL day until my phone rings. They think it is their “now is the time to ask mom lots of questions” alarm.)

My family had decided we would celebrate my recovery and return to the general population. I thought we were just going to dinner. We headed downtown to eat at Hideaway Pizza. After being seated, one of the managers came over with a balloon bouquet and my favorite gift bag (thanks, Huntington Fine Jewelers). My hubby had already dropped off the balloons earlier in the day and had packed the gift bag in the diaper bag. He’s sneaky that way. Our waiter came to the table and said, “Wow! Are we celebrating a birthday?” My hubby explained I just finished my treatment for cancer and we were celebrating. Our waiter was so kind and seemed genuinely excited for the news as he offered his congratulations. Lydia, my oldest, enjoyed explaining the significance of the pink, purple, and teal balloons. I did not realize that those are the colors for thyroid cancer. (I know, I know, there is a color for everything. But it is less annoying when those colors become personal.) That also explains why I was presented with pink, purple, and teal beads for my Pandora bracelet. Such a sweet gesture on the part of my family. Not only to buy me a gift, but to put that much thought into it.

We ordered our meal and just enjoyed being together as a family. I have very funny girlies and, oh, how I had missed them! I was filled in on all that I had missed: Emma’s new words, Lydia’s art camp, and how they passed the time with daddy.  Lydia also informed me that they had a fun evening planned, complete with DJ’s Southern Snow (our favorite snocones) and a trip for the girls to the splash pad. I was all in. Toward the end of our meal, our waiter walked up to our table and had some news. “The party that left a few minutes ago, table 75? They overheard what you were celebrating and they paid for your meal.” Unknown to us, they had written a note to their waitress to get our check so they could pay for it! What a blessing! I really wish I knew who they were so we could thank them, but yet, that’s probably exactly why we didn’t find out until they left. I think the greatest satisfaction comes from doing a good deed and not getting public recognition for it.

Yesterday, I had a full body scan and scan of my neck. My oncologist called yesterday afternoon and said everything looked good and he would see me in 6 months. It’s good to know the cancer hadn’t spread and everything is going as it should. I am one blessed woman and God has been good to me. I recently had someone tell me, “You have missed out on so much because of the choices you have made.” And maybe I have missed out on some things, but they pale in comparison to what I would have missed had I not made those choices.

I close with words that have been playing in my brain all week.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

“Be Still, My Soul”

Author: Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752, cento
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1855
Titled: “Stille, mein Wille”
Composer: Jean Sibelius, b. 1865, arr.
Tune: “Finlandia”