Saturday, July 18, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hope In The Dark

There is HOPE. Oh yes there is. There is always HOPE. It's when we feel HOPE less that everything starts to fall apart. Yet, we do not grieve as those without a HOPE. If we are in Christ, we have all things and it is He who gives us the hope to continue moving forward in this life. 

You see, the last time I wore this shirt, I was in an abortion clinic. If anyone knows me and who I truly am, you would know that this was one of my biggest nightmares ever to endure. I am a very vocal believer that life begins at conception and I have a passion to be a voice for the voiceless and the unborn children on this earth. 

Just a little over one week ago, my husband and I, discovered the heart breaking news that the son we were greatly expecting to arrive in November had indeed died in my womb at 14 weeks. We found out just one day shy of being 17 weeks pregnant. My midwife could not find our Dylan River's  heart beat. She rushed us to the ultrasound room where we saw our son on the screen with no movement at all. Devastated doesn't even really describe the feelings we felt but that is the closest word I can use. Even now, there are actually no words to describe the pain we still feel over the loss of him, the precious child we never got to meet. 

In the midst of the storm, we had to make some very fast decisions because my midwife said, "You don't have a lot of time to decide when to do the DNC." The DNC is when the doctor removes the baby from the mother's body. Again, no words to describe what I felt when she said that. She said, "Your body will start to recognize that this is not a healthy pregnancy and you don't want to put yourself in jeopardy with an emergency situation." 

The complicated situation we were in was we were too far along to do a DNC at a hospital but we were too early to do a delivery at a hospital. Our only choices were to go to one of the only two doctors in the city who happen to be abortion doctors in an abortion clinic. Our hearts ached even more. 

My heart was so full of questions, and the main one was "Why Lord?" "Why?" I still don't have answers but I have come to the realization that I don't need an answer. I know my God and I know that He is always good. I did feel the Holy Spirit tell me though when we had to go to the clinic: "This is one of the darkest places. I turn all things around for My good. These women, these doctors, these babies need my HOPE and my LIGHT in this hour." So, I decided to wear my HOPE shirt. Even in the pain and loss, I felt compelled. I felt I may not be able to share with my words, but perhaps they would see this one word and maybe, just maybe something would change. 

Jesus didn't have to speak words to shift the atmosphere. Just His very Presence changed everything. We believe that we are carriers of His Presence so what if? What if? I wish I could tell you everything that happened that day and all that we saw in that dark place. No, I'm not thinking of sharing the bad stories, but instead the many testimonies of Jesus we encountered by our very presence being in that place and time. I don't just think, but I KNOW Dylan's life had purpose. I KNOW God didn't cause something bad to happen to him. I KNOW that God turned around what the enemy wanted to use for bad, instead, for HIS glory. He turned it around for good. 

The abortion doctor accidentally walked in on me when we were getting our last ultrasound to double check on Dylan's heart beat. He never would have seen my shirt, had he not walked in because the next time he saw me, I was in a hospital gown about to be knocked out. The ultrasound technician said, "He never walks in here. I'm sorry. I don't know why he did that." Yet, I knew there are no accidents in God. There are no "coincidences" in the One who knows all things. It wasn't just a shirt I was wearing. That word: HOPE meant a lot of things. It may have meant a lot of things to the woman about to make a decision to take her baby's life and a decision she would regret the rest of her life. It may have meant a lot of things to the counselor we had talked to before our procedure took place. 

One woman, came into the clinic and looked at me. She paused as if she were uncertain. She looked afraid. When I looked up at her, she was looking at my shirt. The guy with her was asking her, "Are you ok?" My friends, Jesus is real. He will take us through the darkest places because there are those who need His light desperately. We are not without it if we are in Christ. We overflow with it. It pours out through us even when we don't feel it. 

I will close with this last story. As the doctor was putting me out to do the procedure, I said, "We lost our son. He was a person. He had a name, Dylan River." He told me, "Dylan River? You should save that name for another one." I said, "There is only one Dylan River and he can never be replaced. He is with Jesus now." I said so many other things as it was my last chance to talk about Jesus. 

I don't know what fully happened that day, but I know Dylan's short life had a purpose and I pray for those people's souls in that clinic who have become numb to what they are actually doing. I pray that, one day, they will realize what they have done. I am confident that if and when they turn to Jesus, He will forgive them and wash away everything they have done. They will be made a new as my Dylan has been made a new in Heaven right now. 

Thank you Jesus for everything you have given us no matter how much time we have. We praise you in the joys, we praise you in the pain, we praise you in the loss, and we praise you in the gain. Why? Because You are the Hope in the dark and because You, oh Lord, are worthy of it all. Amen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In The Background, But Not Silent


I actually have a moment to write and think. Thank you Jesus, because it's one of those days that if I don't get this out, I feel like I could explode. It's burning in my bones. Ya know? Thoughts. Our thoughts. I don't have a lot of time to talk about my thoughts in this season. I don't have a whole lot of time to actually write my thoughts in the moment, but when that moment comes, oh joy! Indeed, that moment has arrived.

To me, life is like a full circle of different seasons. You have Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Sometimes in that order, sometimes not. Sometimes Winter seems a lot longer than Spring. Sometimes, Spring just keeps on going and those seasons are great. The Fall comes along and a harvest comes. Summer is a time for sunshine and watermelon!

Some are easier than others. Yet, in each new season, we think we "got it." Then we are humbled and actually see that...well, we don't "got it." Ya know what I mean? It's a good thing we don't know our way because we actually learn to rely on Jesus all the more in that place. This is a season, to be honest with you, where I feel I am in the background and that is okay. I actually don't really like being in the front. That's not a false humility statement, but it's actually where I truly feel more comfortable.

I have never really enjoyed being in the spot light, which is why the Lord has often placed me there for some crazy reason. He has taught me many things in that place of leadership, because that place carries a lot of influence. I am not in the "front" so to speak, and well...I wish I were at times. Not for my glory, not for attention, but to feel a part, to feel involved in what everyone else is doing. Though, feeling like I don't have much influence in this place now as a mom, I know that is not the case. I have powerful influence with my son even if I don't see how some days. I also may feel in the background in the rest of the world, but I am definitely not silent. I am right where I am supposed to be, but don't think my heart doesn't get tested in this place.

Sometimes, things rise up in me like the need to prove myself. I have even heard the question in different times of my life involving people working with me, "What are we doing with you?" Wow! Don't think that my flesh didn't rise up and try to fight. It's that Irish fighter in me that comes out every now and then in anger or frustration. You have that? You know, your OLD flesh? It's pretty ugly. However, these thoughts have come to me, like "The audacity! Do they know who I am?!!" Humility is a gift from God and when we humble ourselves, we see that we don't have to prove ourselves to anyone because we have already been approved by Him. That old Irish fighter has been crucified with Christ.

Andrew and I were in a conversation with good friends the other day and I wasn't really able to participate in the conversation because of a quite busy little boy who I actually love to death! However, it bothered me. I wanted to be in the middle and hear everything that was being shared. I was as involved as I could be. I mean, I only have one child too. It's not like I have 4 or 5 little ones running around. I can't imagine the mothers who are running after more than one but who want to be involved somewhere else especially with their spouse. The tension is real my friends. It. Is. Real.

It is real especially when you got married in your thirties and started a family in your mid thirties. You have experienced so much of life such as traveling around the world, doing things all by yourself, having a ton of alone time to write and create, learning other languages, recording albums, doing things with just you and your spouse, SLEEPING, etc. Having your own time. Then an amazing blessing of a child comes into your life and you learn to be even more selfless. God increases your capacity as your family grows from one to two to three to 8! Again,

You learn to be more selfless but you still have thoughts. You still have a spirit, emotions, opinions, wisdom! You actually grow in wisdom in those struggles! So, here I am. I am here in the background and it may seem like I am not really around, but I am not silent. I am NOT silent. It may be a crazy new place that I am learning to place my foot in each moment, but I am NOT silent. To all of you mothers working the hardest job on the planet: (I am convinced it is) this may be a Spring time for you or even a Winter. Whatever the season you find yourself, remember it is just a season. There can be joy in any moment. Nothing holds you back. You have thoughts! You are NOT silent.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Through The Storm...

Last night, we had a crazy storm and I could barely sleep. Yes, I am drinking this cortado today like there's nobody's business in one of my favorite coffee shops. I need the caffeine today, but I was thinking early this morning as my son awakened every hour since 2:00 a.m. because of the craziness, that life is kind of like that. As I have written before with each season, you know there will be an end and a new one will begin. I was remembering that about 6 months ago, we ourselves were in quite a storm.

Sure, we have been through the financial storms, the relational tension storms, and the "not knowing what to do with our lives" storms, but this particular stormy season was unfamiliar to me. Andrew had been through a life threatening storm 6 years previously all on his own. Around 2008, he was diagnosed as having lymphoma and this was actually right when we met, but I was not with him during that time. He was, of course healed by Jesus. Yet, he was unfamiliar with this kind of storm as a husband and father-to- be with his wife and baby on the way.

My husband has written his side of this story a few months ago, but I felt it was important that I shared my side of it as well. Here we were, 9 months pregnant and due to have the c-section in one week to be exact. We wanted to have one last hurrah of a date day and go see a movie. However, I noticed Andrew losing his balance and even not being able to drive with the best perspective. He had fallen on a boat trip a few days before so we kept thinking maybe he was having concussion symptoms.

In my mind, it had reached a culminating point and I knew we needed to make a decision. My husband was a little stubborn about my insistency on going to get checked out and he didn't want to go. I know now that he felt something was wrong but didn't want to face a similar storm again. He was actually incredibly angry at the whole situation, but we didn't know what was going on yet, so I begged him to go to the doctor so we could at least know.

On this particular date day, we were on our way to see a movie but when I went to the bathroom, I sneakily called our dear friend who is also a homeopathic doctor. After I shared with her what was going on with Andrew's symptoms, she told me with urgency that we need to go the ER. If she was saying that, I knew we needed to heed her advice. When I came out of the bathroom, Andrew told me he tried to call the same friend I had just spoken to! We got a refund on our tickets and finally went to the ER.

Now, once we got there, I was trembling at the possibilities we were facing. "Does he have lymphoma again?" "Why God?" "Why now?" So many questions rummaged through my brain, but at the same time I was trying to be strong. It's kind of hard as a 9 month pregnant woman to keep your hormones in check. Yet, even in the midst, I could feel the Father's arms around us. I knew we were covered but we were still pretty scared of what we were going to find out.

Once we got back to the room and the cat scan was done on his brain, the doctor came running in with urgency saying to my husband, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but we need to get you admitted into the hospital right away. You have two significant lesions in your brain and swelling..." and the rest was a fog for me. I had a sense that what the doctor was saying was going to happen but still nothing prepares you for hearing something life threatening like that. Once the ER doctor left the room, we embraced each other like we've never embraced before and cried together.

Thinking about that moment again, brings tears to my eyes even now. We felt so weak and scared but, at the same time, felt the Presence of our Father so strongly. I have NEVER felt Him as strongly as I did in that moment. In the midst of all the possibilities and scenarios, I didn't feel alone. I could feel all of Heaven paying attention to our "crisis." I could feel all of Heaven cheering us on and saying we were going to make it through this storm. I had a deep sense in my spirit that this was not over. When my head and carnal feelings didn't get in the way, I knew Andrew was going to be healed again. It was just a matter of time.

Therefore, he got admitted into the hospital and one doctor on his case became two, which became three, and the list goes on. All of a sudden, we had most of the hospital doctors on his case. They would say, "You will be here just one day" and then it would become two, three, and finally a week of sleeping away from my husband. I remember the first night being away from him and knowing he was in the hospital going through uncertainty and fear as much as I was. All I could do was hold my pregnant belly, pray to God, and cry myself to sleep. Fortunately, I had people staying with me and my mom came down as well. We felt so much love and support from our family and community. It felt like the whole world was cheering us on as well. It definitely encouraged us but, again, we knew this was our journey with the Lord. We could only rely on Him. We could only follow His voice.

They sent him home to prepare for the birth of our son. For a few days, I felt there was peace. I felt like maybe the storm was over. I got admitted into the same hospital a few days after he got discharged and we lived on the maternity floor for a week during my recovery. We had our beautiful son and everything seemed like it was all going to be okay and it was okay, but the storm was not over yet. The day finally came when we could take our son home with us. We were so overjoyed but when we arrived, Andrew wasn't feeling well.

Long story short of it was, after a phone call to his doctor, Andrew was admitted back into the hospital again with a blood clot in his lungs. The day our beautiful Liam arrived, it was like the storm came back. It felt like the delivery week of Liam Valor was the eye of the hurricane. It seemed calm but it was not gone. We had to go through it the whole way. Why? Because God always finishes what He starts. I don't believe God caused Andrew's lesions in his brain because we believe that God doesn't cause sickness to His children, but the journey with us becoming stronger children in the Father's love was not over yet.

So here we were, separated as a family. I remember doing FaceTime with Andrew so he could watch Liam's first bath take place. I was so sad. Even though, in my spirit, I knew it was going to be okay, I didn't understand why it had to be this way. I asked the Father: "Why doesn't Andrew get to be with our son in these first moments of life?" These special moments. These critical moments. We had my mother's amazing love and support, Andrew's family, sister, mother, brothers, father, my father, my family, my wonderful sisters in the Lord and forever aunts to Liam. We felt overwhelmed with love, yet all I wanted was my husband to be home. Even through it, I felt a strength from God that I didn't even know I had. This circumstance only revealed what had been there the whole time, His Presence, His strength.

People were amazed at how well I was doing, being a drama queen many times in my life. Yet, my heart ached. I was still grieved in my heart, but the resilience to keep going was still there. Looking at my son in the morning and the peace that was on his life reminded me that I too was like my son. I too was a like a baby in the arms of my Father and my only option was to trust Him.

Some day, we will write a book about this story. There is so much to say. There is so much to write. It took a few more weeks of my husband being in the hospital and the journey lasted longer than I thought but not as long as others have walked. We were grateful because Andrew wrote 23 songs in his hospital rooms (admitted into many different floors and rooms). He shared the gospel with every doctor, every nurse, every helper in his way. Not one person was excluded from hearing about the goodness of God and the light shined brighter in that hospital because my husband was there. He and his trusty guitar and his powerful voice that shattered the darkness. No darkness could reside. This is what it felt like. The scary story became a miracle story of God's healing each day that passed.

The end of the storm was that these brilliant doctors were left baffled and only able to call him, "the miracle man." We, however, knew it was Jesus. We knew it was our Father who alone can heal. The last results of his MRI were that these, once huge lesions in his brain, were "only a wisp" the doctor said. Every person that we interacted with during that time was ordained to come across our path because they were supposed to see the goodness of God. This is what we know. Every person matters that we come across whether we are in the darkest time of our lives or the most peaceful. God writes the story and He is making it beautiful with every moment.

The enemy tries to destroy but like I've been saying to my husband on this journey, "The only thing the enemy can do is set a stage for God's glory to be revealed." And that's what happened. God's glory was revealed and it continues to be revealed in every person, and in every situation if we will look from His eyes and His perspective. If you have read this far, congratulations. I know this is a long story, but man, what a mighty God we have! We get the privilege of being in relationship with a strong God and the King of all Kings. We get to be His children and walk in His abundance. We get the privilege of being still and knowing He is God.

I am writing this story again to not only remind you, but myself of His goodness because we will never be without trials on this earth. We will always have storms among us, but we must remember His goodness and His faithfulness. It's easy to forget even when you go through something as intensely as we did.

We are facing another different kind of storm again even now, but I feel our family is stronger this time than ever before. Our marriage and relationship is stronger than before and we are unified more than I ever thought we would be. We are going to make it, because this is His promise to us. He will never abandon us and He will never forsake us. We hold onto these truths and pass them down because they will last through eternity. Our spirit knows it and we have experienced it.

I pray if you have read this far, you are encouraged and that you find the goodness of God in EVERY circumstance of your journey and history with Him. It is there. It is right in front of you.

My love finally made it home. This was the day Liam's Daddy returned.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things Don't Always Go As Planned...

Sitting here at a coffee shop again with not much inspiration. We just got back from California and although it was 100 degrees during the day, the cool mornings and evenings were heavenly. As we took our family walks, and experienced new places, I found a little inspiration. I really need a change of scenery sometimes to get my head and heart motivated to write.

I guess I am still in vacation mode because being back to hot, humid, busy, city life, I can't seem to get any inspiration today. However, I have had a blog in mind for a few weeks now but haven't had the words to put on "paper" yet. I now have some time to gather my thoughts yet again, a habit my husband is trying to encourage in me. He allows me some "me" time once a week so I can at least have an opportunity to write. Perhaps something good will come from it in the future whether it be a blog, a song, a poem, a letter to God, whatever comes. As a mother now, this is vital to my life. As a worshipper, and as a creative person, I have to have an opportunity to let it out. Whatever IT is in my heart.

So, we plan on this every week but here I sit with not much to write! Things just don't always go as planned. Ya know? However, here goes...

I remember when I first got pregnant, Andrew and I got the Supernatural Birth book and talked to all of our friends about water births and chiropractic care and pretty much everything you need to know about having a natural labor and delivery. As someone who wishes I had the guts to be a full on hippie (I have to shave and still highlight my hair), I was all about the natural ways as much as I could do.

However, I felt empowered and encouraged! It was good information for those desiring to attempt it. Once we hit the third trimester, I realized that Liam was breached and we weren't too concerned because my midwife said it was very common for the baby to turn. She did encourage me to do certain exercises to help him move so I did those things along with chiropractic adjustments as well. We did everything we knew to do. I even heard from someone, "Even if he doesn't turn, you can try to deliver him breached. I know women who have done it."

Yeesh! I heard sooooo much advice. In times like that, you can only rely on what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Once we got into week 38, chances weren't looking too good for him to turn. Now, I know the Lord could have turned him for sure if He wanted to. I mean we are pretty familiar with the power of God. Yet, This is what the Lord told me and I know He told me: "Liam is not going to turn. You need to schedule a C-section." This was in the midst of EVERYONE praying for him to turn and even people having visions of him turning. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of the prophetic word and I myself walk in the prophetic. Yet, in times where there are many voices, you have to learn how to silence the voices and listen to only One and that is the Holy Spirit. This is why it is important learning how to hear the voice of the Lord for YOURSELF.

Community is great and the Body is necessary, but you have to learn how to walk with the Lord all on your own. Listening to His voice over the voice of leaders, prophetic words, and friends is VERY important. We as the Body need to encourage people to hear the voice of the Lord for themselves. If we aren't doing that, then we are not an empowering Church.

Andrew, my amazing husband, felt like the Lord told him, "Liam is not going to turn because he represents an immovable generation of children I am raising up." They will not be moved by the tide of the world, but by the voice of the Lord. Wow. Yes we were both in agreement with this word and knew it was for our family. So, with that in mind, we scheduled it. Indeed, we heard a few comments from concerned friends and family whom we absolutely love but knew what the Lord told us. Once we knew it was the Lord we were immovable with our decision.

Now, during this season, Andrew ended up having to go to the ER and from there was admitted into the hospital a week before the scheduled C-section and in the same hospital for that matter! That is a whole other blog post, but for now we will just keep it to the C-section. After a week of my husband being in the hospital, they let him go home to get prepared for the birth of our son. We gave ourselves a weekend and scheduled the birth for a Monday, April 7th, 2014. This day was an amazing day. It wasn't what I had originally planned but it was BETTER.

We not only had my midwife there, but the OB, and another midwife in the same office was there to support us. They had such a heart for us and knew our story. Andrew was diagnosed by a lot of different doctors a week before as having two huge lesions in his brain and they didn't know what it was yet. Once my doctors and midwives heard about this, they were all so full of love and compassion that they all wanted to support us so they all came. I felt so loved that day. In addition, we had many of our friends and family who were there at the hospital ready to welcome us after the surgery was over.

Was it scary? Absolutely. I had a little meltdown right before as we were listening to worship music. A song Melissa Helser was singing just broke me. I felt so alone in that moment, but yet the Lord brought me back with His Presence. In times like that, the only One you really need is Jesus. I needed my husband by my side and the anesthesiologist was there as well talking me through the whole process, but I needed Jesus. They put a huge needle in my spine and numbed everything from the waist down and then I laid down on that surgical table with all those bright lights and got ready to have my life changed. In 6 minutes my son made his grand arrival. Craziest thing in the world and most incredible. It was still a miracle.

My blood pressure dropped pretty low at one point and all I kept hearing the anesthesiologist say was, "Okay, your blood pressure is dropping, so we are bringing it back up. You are going to feel better in just a minute." I literally felt like I was going to die, but I didn't. I was beyond grateful that God let me experience that moment. It taught me something in God. It taught me all the more to rely on His voice to guide me. When all the other voices fade away and when your husband can't even be in the surgical room for a few minutes and all you have is the Presence of Jesus in your most vulnerable state, you draw closer.

You have no other choice but to draw near to God. So... thankful? Yes I am. After 6 minutes at 12:01 p.m. in the afternoon, my son was born. It was one of the greatest days of our lives and I don't regret one moment. I didn't grieve that I didn't have a natural birth, but I rejoiced that I had a healthy boy and he was perfect. We became so much closer to the Lord on that journey. So yes, things don't always go as planned but God makes things better than your plans. God makes things better than what all the voices tell you that you should do. Why? Because His voice matters most. It's all about YOUR journey in God. YOUR history, not someone else's.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding Jesus In Motherhood

Laundry, cooking, cleaning, cleaning again, play time with my favorite little boy in the world, spit up, poopy diapers, laughs, cries, teething, fussing, joy, nap time, need coffee again for the 4th time, overwhelmed, "I can do this," "I can't do this," need to talk to an adult, need Jesus, need the Word, conversation with husband without being interrupted, date night need, connect with husband, change onesies, change onesies again, wake up, chance for a shower during nap time, maybe I can dry my hair, this is fun, this is hard, I love my friends, I feel alone, this is a good day, this is a rough day, 3:00 am feeding, why won't you sleep through the night, you slept through the night, need Jesus, talking to Jesus all day, need adult conversation instead of baby talk, listen to a teaching, get in the Word, keep baby entertained while doing a chore, one step at a time, remember to breathe, remember to eat, smoothie, what did I eat today, I used to write, I used to sing, today I'm going to sing, today I'm going to worship, am I still considered a worshipper?

Hello friends,

Welcome to my thoughts in the past 5 months. I finally have a chance to really gather my thoughts. Yep, they are a little crazy. I'm sure some of you can relate. Maybe all of you can relate in different ways. I've got Jason Upton playing in the background at a coffee shop in town and I REALLY needed this. My amazing husband gave me a chance to, not just run an errand without a baby being attached to me, but sit down. I get to sit down, drink a cup of coffee, write, and meditate on Jesus. Who is He to me in this season? He never changes. He stays the same. My life has felt overwhelming so much so that I feel I've lost myself in a way, yet He still remains.

I feel Him all day. I feel Him every moment, but wish I could get lost in His Presence for just 5 minutes without having something else to "do." Laundry can wait, but yet, I put Him on hold time and time again. Not today. Not right now. I'm searching for a way to find Jesus in this life of motherhood where sometimes you feel so overwhelmed that you can't even see straight. How can I be thankful? How can I find Him in this place? I have a beautiful baby boy and a beautiful life. My husband was healed twice from brain tumors and we no longer have to live in a hospital like we did for 5 weeks of our life a few months ago. I have so much to be grateful for.

Are we still processing what happened? Am I? I feel that this is the case. Perhaps, a sick husband in the hospital, having a baby, and moving houses has caused some stress? Yes, I still walk with Jesus and yes we still say yes to Him everyday. Even when it's hard. Yes, we reach out. Maybe not to everyone, but we do reach out. Relationships have changed. The season of our church has changed. People don't fully understand nor do we, but that's ok. He remains. He knows what is going on. This season will also change some day but doesn't Jesus offer life in any circumstance? We can find life in any situation. This is my quest. Not to do church, not to do more programs, not to be on stage leading more worship sets, not to do Bible studies, not counseling, not medication, but finding Jesus in this place. He's here. I just have to look with different eyes. Spiritual eyes. This I do know to be true: I will find Him.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Liam Valor, Our Greatest Song

Alrighty, I have another minute to post. Just want to share a picture of my beautiful son, Liam Valor. He makes our world a much happier place! On April 7, 2014, our lives were forever changed. Today, he is almost 4 months old and just wanted to share with you our little blessing! It has been great being a mommy and I've had some of the most amazing and challenging moments of my life. Even in the challenges, I wouldn't trade mommy life for the world. Many blessings!