Monthly Archives

January 2008

Audrey, Bring the Rain, Flying, Ireland


Well, I haven’t heard anything from the doctors yet.  For someone who is known by her lack of patience, this silence has actually settled in quite nicely.  It allows me to drift into the world of possibility without the inconvenient confrontation of what may not be good news.  It allows me to remember who God is, and to revel in this moment a little while longer. I am at peace.

Right now, I am sitting on the couch while Todd goes to the airport to pick up his best friend, Dan.  Todd has all of the girls with him (including Kate, who is wearing her pink Target flower boots, pajama pants, and a padded infant swimsuit. People, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried…). Audrey and I are just chatting about life (pretty one sided at this moment, but she makes herself known when she wants to contribute:)) and enjoying the gift of a quiet house. We are starting to prepare for our trip to Disney, which has reminded me of a prayer request…
I hate flying.
I mean, I really hate flying.  I am somewhat of a preacher, not because I try to evangelize my seat-mates, but rather, because I scream out the name of Jesus.  Loudly, and without much care for people staring at me.  I have also been known to grab the hand of the person next to me with little regard to the fact that he is a) sleeping b) a stranger or c) trying to pry my sweaty hands off of his hands while his wife visually annihilates me. Honest to goodness, this is not a lie.  The irony is that I have married a singer, who travels for a living and wants to pursue his pilot’s license.  Good times.
About a year ago, we were able to travel to Northern Ireland for the third time.  Todd’s group was invited to sing, and on paper that sounded really exciting.  I love Northern Ireland and I couldn’t wait to reconnect with the people we had met and to photograph the country again. If you haven’t ever been, I hope you get the chance.  It is truly God’s country.
As it turns out, you have to fly to get there.  This was a kink in my perfect vacation plan, but the end seemed to justify the means, so I agreed.  A few days before we were planning to leave, my stomach started hurting and my mind started to wander.  I began to think that this whole adventure thing was not such a hot idea.
The day of the flight, I was a wreck.  On the car ride to the airport, I was talking to my daughter Abby and I said, “So honey, has God told you anything about today?”
“Yeah.”  Thumb back in mouth. Casual, like she hadn’t just dropped a bomb.
My heart stopped.  He talks to them in ways He doesn’t always talk to me, and I had a feeling this was one of them.
“What did He say, Abby?”  I stared at her eyes, desperate to know if it involved fire or falling planes.
“He said He’s going to show you a rainbow, mommy.”
That didn’t really answer my question, but okay.  I turned back to the road and noticed that storm clouds were forming.  Remember when I told you about my reaction to flying? Well, that’s on a clear day.  On a day like this one, all bets are off.  
There was no way around it, people were going to get squeezed.
I almost didn’t get on the plane.  There are so many details that make this story more interesting, but I am a pretty slow typist and I’m sure you have somewhere other than this webpage to be, so let me summarize.  Stick with me, I promise there is a point to all this:)
There was an announcement made about “inclement” weather in Newark.  Somewhere between 6B and the ladies room, I decided to hate the word “inclement.”
Fast forward about 45 minutes.  I am crying so hysterically that the pilot personally comes out to talk to me (no, I’m not kidding).  He pulls out his little charty-thing and starts explaining why we might do loops in midair and crash in a cornfield (I am paraphrasing), and then tells me that he has a family at home and that it is his intention to get home to them.
Well, that’s helpful.  As long as you aren’t planning to be on the cover of the New York Times tomorrow….and as long as I’m not in the last row.  It’s creepy back there and the backs of people’s heads don’t help reassure me when that glaring seat belt light comes on, accompanied by the ding of death.
He also told me that this was the last flight to Newark that night.  Last chance to Northern Ireland for 2 days.  I boarded the plane (in my head, every passenger applauded my sheer fearlessness at this point, but I don’t actually recall anything but people staring at me like an arm was growing out of my head).  I made my way to the (you guessed it!) VERY last row on the entire plane.  PEERRRFEEEECCCTTTTT……

This flight was followed by another that was just as lovely.  As we descended into Belfast , the plane jumped around enough to spill drinks and rattle trays, and I shot a dirty look in the direction a five year old with the audacity to laugh like we were on a kiddy roller coaster and not a hurling, bucking air-bronco.  In the midst of my panic,  I was mesmerized by how green it was.  I had forgotten the way Ireland looks from the air…just like a postcard.
When we landed, I was actually tempted to kiss the tarmac.  
Norman picked us up at the airport and we began our trip through the countryside.  This is a sidebar, but MAN are their cars small.  As we navigated the windy roads, up and down, left and right, the jet-lag started to catch up with me.  As I drifted off to sleep, I heard Norman telling stories about the political uprising in Northern Ireland.
“Many people have lost their lives…such horrible warfare…”
I struggled to see the green hillside through my heavy eyelids as he continued.
“It is just such a struggle…such devastation…”
I met his eyes in the rear-view mirror and suddenly, a question I hadn’t really even composed in my mind escaped my mouth.  
“Norman, how is the grass so green here?”  It came out sounding like a I was a third grader in science class, but God used it to teach me a life-long lesson.
“Oh, that’s easy, love.  We get a lot of rain here!”  Everyone smiled and I finally closed my eyes.
The following day, our children got so sick that we had to call a doctor to the hotel room. He was about 70 years old, and came complete with a black leather bag full of medical gear from the middle ages, bifocals, and the thickest, most gorgeous accent you have ever heard.  He gave us some “tablets” for what were now near 105 degree fevers, and he left while we discussed the fact that we had fallen into a lost episode of “Little House on the Prairie.”  We all thanked God as their fevers broke a few hours later, and we settled into sleep, all huddled in the same bed, looped around each other like threads in a quilt.
In the middle of the night, I heard the voice of God.
It was one of the very few times that I felt like He was audibly speaking to me.  I sat up straight in my bed.
Thoughts rushed through my mind like a slideshow at a speed I could not control.  I was reminded of the pilot’s voice, the thermometer that read in celsius, the storm clouds, the political wars…all of it, like a movie, and then just a few words.
It takes a lot of rain to make grass this green.”
I started crying like a child.  In a foreign country, in the middle of the night, in the midst of facing my greatest fears, God taught me a lesson about life that has (I promised to tell you!) inspired the name of this blog.  
In the span of a few minutes, I committed to God that I would stop praying for sunshine and start welcoming whatever made the soil rich.
And so, a year later, here I sit.  Many of you have asked how I am so strong.  The answer is that I am not strong, but my God is, and He is in battle for me.  My end of the deal is held up by praising the One who has chosen me to walk this.  And I do.
As for my little Prophetess, Abby? Her words drifted back to me as I cried that night, and they bring tears to me now.  

He will show you a rainbow.

It occurred to me that He had chosen this metaphor before, long ago, with a man named Noah, and He has, for generations, made good on that promise. 
As I recall, Noah wasn’t afraid of a little rain either…
Please praise Him with me in this moment.  Praise Him for being the same God who inspired Noah to hope and to build.  Praise Him for loving us enough to grow a garden with our lives, no matter how much it hurts. 
All my love and gratitude,  

Audrey, miracle, pregnancy

Little Miracles…

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I would have considered today’s events to be miraculous, I probably would have said no.  I feel differently now, and for that I am grateful. We had our first ultrasound since I have started writing this blog, so this was the first time we have seen Audrey in 2 1/2 weeks.  It appears that God has been busy….

Our technician’s name is Patti.  I say “is” because we have pretty much given her no choice but to stay with us during the coming weeks. We know that she was handpicked by the Lord to walk with us, and we have no intention of letting her off the hook:) We just adore her. Patti works with Dr. Fortunato, and was with us the day that we had the confirmation ultrasound at Centennial Hospital.  Today, she spent two hours with us.  She would not give up until she had seen everything she thought she could see.  In any situation, this would have been considered amazing, but even more so considering the circumstances.  The fact of the matter is that she sees our baby as a child worthy of the time.  As a mother, I could not ask for more.  Patti told me not to write about her, and said that she was “just doing her job.”  It appears that we disagree about exactly what qualifications are required to make a difference in someone’s life.  She may have been doing a job, but it wasn’t one that you get by earning a degree.  It was one of compassion and of dedication, and we are forever grateful for 12o minutes of looking at our sweet baby with a near stranger who loved her with us.  Thank you, Patti, may God return this blessing  to you tenfold during your days…
Because of her relentless work, we were able to see glimpses of our Father’s Hands at work. Dr. Fortunato will be reviewing my pictures in the morning, so I will wait to comment on details…when we have a better handle on what to ask for in prayer, I will update the blog again. For today, we rejoice in what we feel are miracles.  Although we have no reason to believe that the outcome of her life will be different at this point, she is already defying what we have seen as reality.  Here are the highlights…
Firstly, we have never seen a bladder.  It was our assumption that she did not have one. 
She does.
We had never seen her stomach.  
We did today.
We had never really been sure if she had four chambers in her heart. 
She does.
And remember those “non-functioning, polycystic kidneys?” 
Well, it looks like our God decided to heal one of them.  
Medically possibly? I’m not sure.  And that in itself is enough to leave us speechless.
There were also some things that we hadn’t seen before today that brought up more questions, but they are small questions compared to big answers.
Todd said tonight that he had never seen me so happy.  I tend to agree.  I can’t remember ever looking at an ultrasound and thanking God for a stomach or a bladder.  I don’t particularly remember even seeing the six healthy kidneys that I have created before today.  The truth is that I have taken a lot for granted.  I’m not going to say that I won’t ever do that again, but it certainly won’t come as naturally.  If you had been a fly on the wall in our car on the way home, you would not have thought we were carrying a tragedy.  You would have laughed with us in joyful awe, as I hope you are now.  As far as how God decides to paint the rest of her life?  We don’t know that yet.  What we do know is that He is in our midst, and the glory of this moment belongs to Him.  We are not afraid to pray the unimaginable and I beg you to join us.
I hope to know (and write) more very soon.  I could not stand to go to bed tonight without sharing this with you all.  Know that we are peaceful and resting where we are, holding onto hope.  
We are not praying because we believe that God will heal our Audrey.  We don’t know that He will.
We are praising Him because He can.  

We celebrated my nephew’s 11th birthday tonight and we laughed and cried over burgers and miracles.  All the kids took home balloons from the restaurant, and Kate became particularly connected to hers.  When I say “connected,” what I mean is “screaming bloody murder when anyone touched, approached, or looked at her balloon.”
After all the candles were blown out and the house was quiet, Todd called me into Kate’s room, where she was (finally) sleeping.  She was clearly in dreamland, but in her left hand, she was gripping the balloon string as the object of her affection floated unassumingly over her head.  That is so Kate, I thought.  After I laughed for a minute, it occurred to me that she was doing exactly what we are.

Against all odds, she was refusing to let go.
Thank you for reading, for loving us, and for praying.  
With much gratitude and joy,
Audrey, Family

I Thee Wed…

Hello all.  I feel like I should apologize for being absent for a few days…life has been chaotic, and I have missed my time with you.  It is good therapy.  I am sitting on my bed, freshly clean from the shower while the Food Network reminds me of how slowly I chop and how I do not know how to eyeball ingredients at all. Daily I am reminded that I am a measurer. The whole “dash” and “pinch” thing stresses me out. I need teaspoons and red and white plaid cookbooks.  This quality, as you may have surmised, extends to pretty much every part of my life, and has always been one of the things that I like the least about myself.

When we first heard about Audrey, the doctors explained that in the state of Tennessee, you may “terminate” up to 21 weeks.  I turned 21 weeks today, which is ironic because today I also celebrated a very special anniversary.  Seven years ago today I became a Christian. I sat in my car in a dark parking lot and I did the most amazing thing…no plan, no map, no real promises of what the rest was going to be.  Surrender…hmmm…not my strong point…..What great mercy He gave me in that moment.  What confidence in the absence of proof. 
I planned to celebrate today by going on a date with God.  I love to do this…I just sit in a coffee shop and listen to Him while I sip away the world.  A word to the wise, if someone asks you who you are waiting for, don’t say Jesus.  And also, don’t tell them that He will be picking up the tab.  It doesn’t really fly.  Anyway, I was working on a project all day and the time just got away from me, but I will do it soon, and I will let you know if anything good happens (it always does).
Currently, the Lord is requesting the 3-6 a.m. slot for our quiet time. Usually it begins with me sitting straight up in bed, eyes wide open, trying to adjust to the darkness in more ways than one.  I have talked to Him about possibly beginning our time a few hours later, with the sound of classical music and birds singing, but so far He is sticking to His guns.  A few nights ago, I had it out with Him.  I feel like I understand a bit of what Jacob felt when He wrestled with God, and I also feel like I know what it feels like to refuse to release Him until He has blessed you.  
For some reason I started thinking of my mothering and my children’s behavior in a very philosophical and meaningful way (this was after about an hour of staring at the wall and sulking, in case you are thinking that I jump right into Genesis when I pray.  I actually Job it up for a good long while, so don’t be too impressed).
As a mother, I want my children to obey me.  In fact, unless I am gabbing on the phone or a new issue of Real Simple has just shown up, I pretty much demand it.  But I get so sick of hearing myself repeating:
“Did you mean to say Yes Ma’am?”  
“Tell her you’re sorry you stabbed her with the wand.”
“Ladies don’t eat with their hands behind their backs like they were just served in a trough.” 
“Say thank you. Say you’re welcome.  Say you love your burnt dinner.  Say yes.  Say no.  Say you can hear me!”
It doesn’t have the same effect as it does when they just do it, unprompted, for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do at that moment.  Several months ago, I walked to Abby and Ellie’s room after I heard Abby take a tumble.  With my hand on the door, I was struck in mid-motion as Ellie began to pray.  She asked the Lord to heal Abby, to help her not to hurt, and to be with her.  It was the prayer of a 4 year old who knew nothing but love for her sister, and a little bit of what it was to trust in the Great Physician.  Once again, in the event that you are tempted to visualize what our home is like on a moment to moment basis, you should know that after the bunny photos were taken, Abby gave “birth” to a pink Care Bear and a small (completely unfamiliar) dog, which was followed by a ten minute long screaming chase around the couch as they lovely ladies had an old-fashioned custody battle.  
So, around 4:30 a.m., in the stillness of the night, God whispered to me, and I heard something that changed the way I am processing this situation.  It occurred to me that while obedience is a great outcome, it is often tainted by the feeling as a parent that when you have forced it, you are ultimately responsible for it, and not the child.  I don’t think it is any different with God.  In that moment, I had an image of God that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
He has bound His own hands in order that He might be glorified through His people
Do I think He wants me to suffer? No.  Do I wonder if He has turned His back on me? He never would.  Do I wish it was different? Yes.  Do I think He could heal her and just call it a day?  I absolutely do.   Do I want Him to be glorified more than I want to change things?  Truthfully, the answer is “I think I do, but Lord this hurts.” 
I cannot go on without thanking you for standing in the gap.  I get emails every day from people I don’t know, people I may never meet, people who don’t really have a good reason in their busy lives to bother.  I read every word over and over and I marvel at the hearts behind them, the fact that the words really do minister to me.  
Our gracious God has chosen Audrey’s life to be what it is because He knew that all of us, behind what we thought was the closed door of a quiet bedroom, would seek the Great Physician.  Thank you for being faithful to this, and for praying for the strength for me to do the same. I weep at the thought of how He is weaving this story together, and how much I love my little girls.  All four of them.
And so today I celebrate my days with Him.  All seven years and counting. And I thank Him for January 17th, a day where more than once, He has inspired me to choose life.
Thank you Lord. Here’s to Your glory, for better or for worse…
Audrey, Audrey Bunny

Explaining the boo-boo’s

It is Monday night, a week after we found out about Audrey, and I am sitting with Kate while she falls asleep.  Actually I am sitting with her while she talks about circles and Santa Claus while touching her toe to the floor and eying me tauntingly, quickly whipping it back on the bed when I peek over my laptop. It is her night to sleep with the bunny and she is taking her responsibility seriously.  She read her a few stories and then tucked her in by her side.

This afternoon I had a chiropractic appointment with a new chiropractor that many of my friends had referred me to.  He is amazing, and approaches the art of wellness as a Christian, which is amazing because he really does not know the “belief status” of any of his clients.  He prayed over me as he worked, and to be honest, I felt much, much better when I left.  He is insightful and kind, and he reminded me in a very hard moment who it is that we are both serving.  It was really special and life-giving to me. 
I decided to get my nails done after that because it felt like normalcy.  Others who have been through a crisis might understand this feeling…we long for the quilt of daily life to be wrapped around us as we shiver in this new, unknown place.  I listened to the women speak to each other and reveled in the fact that none of them knew my story and I could just listen and “be.” Well, God had a different plan.  My regular lady was busy, so another sweet woman started for her.  She had a very thick Vietnamese accent and because she was wearing a little paper mask, I didn’t have the benefit of lip-reading.  She told me how much she loved my wedding ring and asked how long I had been married.  Normal conversation for two people who don’t know each other and don’t really share a language.
“Six and a half years.” Polite smile…
“Any children?”
I felt my heart stop.  I wasn’t going to lie to her, despite the fact that I can barely explain the situation to my best English speaking friends.  I asked the Lord for guidance, for strength, for words.
“I have three daughters and am pregnant with my fourth.  She is very sick and will not live.”
Her fingers slowed and she looked up at me, to confirm that the look in my eyes matched what she thought she had heard.  It did.
She took her mask down and told me how sorry she was.  Her sincerity almost brought me to tears.  Then she started to tell me about her babies. I didn’t understand more than approximately every fifth word, but I got the gist of it because I am a mommy, and we don’t always need to talk to feel for each other.  Basically she had a scare in her pregnancy and thought there may be a problem with the baby, but it turned out she was fine.  The absolute highlight of the story was when I asked about her labor.
“So, how was the delivery?”
“Pretty good.  Fast.  I was five cinnamon very fast.”  (Cue sound of needle scratching off record)
“What was that?” She removed her mask for the full effect. 
“Oh yes! I went from five cinnamon to ten cinnamon in one hour! So fast!” 
 I bit my cheek so hard I almost drew blood.
There are these moments like this daily, where God gives me laughter.  He knows that my heart needs the medicine.  I snickered  the whole way home, and at the same time, I marveled at how two women with virtually nothing in common could share a few meaningful moments. It was unexpectedly beautiful.
(Update on Kate’s bedtime status….she just put Audrey-bunny in time-out for talking back. When she decided the punishment had fit the crime, she sat her up and is now teaching her how to sit criss-cross-applesauce….the bunny is acting wildly non-compliant due to the fact that she is, in fact, stuffed.)
This evening we had a really special time with the girls that I want to share with you all.  We put the bunny on a chair and we told them all about her boo-boo’s.  Each of the girls put a band-aid on her heart, and I answered the questions that they had about the baby….hence the raising of hands that you will see below.  They are really amazing kids.  So thoughtful and connected.  What a joy to watch them care for this little toy with all the love of a real sister.  I don’t know how much of this they really understand.  I pray for wisdom daily on meeting them where they are, not too little and not too much.  I would love you to join me in this prayer.
I have included some pictures of this evening so that you could feel like you were there.  As a matter of fact, I feel that many of you are with me all the time.  I had cried tears of gratitude over your partnerships.  Please don’t ever feel for a moment that your offerings on our behalf are in vain; they are part of our momentary existence.  May the God of peace hold you tonight as He is holding us.

p.s…..I can’t seem to post all of the pictures…not sure what the problem is…I will try tomorrow.
p.p.s……Kate is asleep:)