Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Battle

I wrote this before we got the news of Asa's heart condition. It stemmed from feeling so torn between wanting to enjoy God and spend time there, but feeling such a pull and a draw to worldly pastimes and pleasure. I recognize that most worldly pastimes (depending on what they are) are not inherently bad, but when I feel their pull more strongly than the pull of the Holy Spirit, those pastimes do become damaging to my soul. When we lost Ezra, all my heart wanted to focus on were things of eternal value, but as the pain has become a less stinging, I find myself drifting back far to easily to desires of the world more than the things of eternal value. The struggle between these two desires feels like a battle, and so I felt inspired to write about it.

The Battle

There is a battle that goes on in my heart.

Waging war against joy.

I fight for my peace, and He fights alongside me. He holds all of the power in His hands.

I will be a victor. I am a victor.

I stray from Him, and wander off toward a rose colored world that beckons me to come and enjoy it's pleasures.

The rosy place is filled with enchanting music that, for a moment, makes me forget about the battle.

Feelings of happiness are instant and ever within my grasp.

From this place, I strain to see Him. I can see him, still fighting, in the distance.

My life goes on for minutes, then hours, then days, as I allow the loves that surround me here to aid in forgetting about Him and the battle that He is fighting for me at this very minute.

These loves bring me happiness, but only for a fleeting moment. A split second in the span of eternity.

I notice how cold this new place is, and the music grows to haunt me. There is no place for me to lay my head and rest. There is no place that I feel safe.

I long for Him, but my mind has forgotten how to remember Him in the light of the rosy hue that surrounds me in this world. It is a fog that seeps into my mind and blurs my vision.

Then I remember, He promised He would never stop fighting for me.

He promised that He would always come after me.

He told me that I was His love and His bride.

He is coming for me.

As these thoughts sink into my heart, the rosy haze begins to lift.

I can see Him.

And He shines as clearly as a crisp blue stream in the sunshine.

He scoops me up into His warmth.

And I relax into His arms, soft and deep.

I realize how small I am there.

Just like a child being held by her father.

Just like a little lamb being carried by her shepherd.

As the noises from the rosy place grow faint, the sound of His heart grows stronger.

I focus my mind on the rhythm of His heartbeat, and I take a deep breath, resting deeply in His love.








Monday, November 18, 2013

Mercies

The shock continues to come in waves.

It seeps slowly into my body and then rocks me to the core at the most unexpected times.

The peace comes and goes, and I can't seem to hang on to it.

Reality ebbs and flows, and I feel as if I am viewing my life from the outside looking in.

Again. The life of our child is being seriously threatened by a rare condition again.

The world continues to turn. Full of happy, care free people, and here I sit. Weeping, with my heart in my hands willing it to keep beating. Facing a road laced with fear and pain, again.

Sometimes it feels as if a stiff wind constantly blows a chill into my bones, because it is so rare to feel at rest.

Every morning I wake up and face this nightmare anew.

Could we really be facing the loss of a child again?

There is a chance that we could be, and a chance is enough.

But every morning his mercies are new. I know they are there, but I can barely feel them. I know they exist, but I can't see them.

Pour them on me now God. Wash me with mercy and wash me with peace. Wash away my pain and anxiety with your great, unsearchable love. Reveal to me the things that I do not know. Give me the strength that I do not have.

Let me embrace every little move that my sweet baby makes with joy, as I could before this great trial of my faith. Let me love feeling his kicks with all of my heart. Allow me to cherish every single second of his life in my womb. Let me have a love for him with no boundaries, and no hesitation that it might produce more pain. Let me love recklessly, without fear.

Take away my fear, even though reality makes it seem so reasonable. Remove me from the land of "what if" and place me back in your kingdom, where peace rules and reigns my heart. Let your truths move in so that fear has no place, and it must leave. Let hope blossom in my heart, without hesitation. Let me lean on you in trusting dependance that you will complete me with your perfect peace.

Will you do these things for me father? My strength is dwindling down to practically nothing, and I need to be lifted by strong hands.

Let me believe in your goodness. Help me believe that you have more than just trials for me in this time. Help me believe that you have blessings too. A life that brings joy. An answered prayer that breathes life back into my heart.

I can feel you beckoning me from this sea of sorrow and into your streams of living water.

I can hear you call me by name, telling me that I am yours. Both precious and dearly loved.

Go before me, and make my path smooth.

Turn the darkness into light.

Turn my mourning into dancing.

Though I know he is yours, please God, give me my baby.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The past two months and a prayer request

It appears that it has been almost two months since I last wrote a blog post. It's good to be back, but I have to say that the break was very healthy. Since this blog has mostly been a place where I share about my grief, I think i needed some separation from that with this new pregnancy. I have had to choose to keep my mind in a very positive place as I anticipate the birth of this new baby.
I am pleased to share that a good portion of those two months were very full of joy and what I would venture to call "normal." Our growing baby has brought us so much joy! More than we could have ever anticipated! We found out the gender and and we are so thankful that God chose to bless us with another boy! Some people have asked if that will be hard, and it is the complete opposite. We prayed for a boy. For me, Levi not getting the chance to have a brother close in age would have been another thing to grieve. And I find a sweetness at the thought of this new baby filling the clothes that we had bought for Ezra. We would have, of course, been thankful and crazy in love with a sweet little girl if that is how God chose to bless us, but we are so thankful that God chose to give us another boy. Plus, it's super fun to have three boys in a row!


So here he is;



Asa Sweat
He is currently at 25 weeks gestation and this sweet 3D sonogram picture was taken at 24 weeks.

Isn't he adorable? I love him!



We have not decided on a middle name for him yet, but we have some pretty good ideas. When we decided we liked the name Asa, it was only months after Ezra was born. We did not know what it meant, but I had already decided in my head that it went very well with Levi and Ezra, so it was at the top of my list. When we went to look up the meaning of the name, it took my breath away. Asa, in it's hebrew origin, means "healer." I felt like God had given me a special gift in that moment. So when we found out that our baby is a boy, there was really no contest. He is Asa. 

He is such a joy! Every sonogram we fall more in love with him as we watch him twist and turn. Every kick and every wiggle makes me smile. Levi gives him kisses at night and he loves to come sit next to my belly and "cuddle" with him. We were blessed to be able to borrow a fetal heart monitor from friend, and we love to close our eyes and listen to the rapid rhythm of his heartbeat. He is included in our family every day, just as Ezra is. We love him. It is astounding to us how much healing and joy he has brought us already.  

And now, if you don't already know our current situation, prepare yourself. I am about to drop a bomb (At least that's how it felt to us). We found out earlier this week that our sweet little Asa has a heart defect. It's called transposition. What this means is that two of his heart vessels are "hooked up" in reverse. Essentially, his heart will not be getting enough oxygen rich blood to survive on his own without surgery. From what we understand, this surgery is easily performed and they have done it quite often. If his only condition is transposition, then the outlook for his survival is excellent.

The hard part about today is that we are technically still waiting for the official diagnosis. We will be going to a specialty hospital called Children's Mercy tomorrow at 8am, where they will be looking more in depth at Asa's heart to make sure that there are not any further complications. We will meet with three different teams of doctors, and we will be there the entire morning. They will perform a few scans and a sonogram, and I hope that when we leave there tomorrow we will know exactly what we are dealing with.



I could really use your prayers right now, because I can not seem to shake the fear that there will be more problems, or that when they take a closer look they will find that Asa's condition is not compatible with life. When you have received such painfully bad news as often as I have this year, it is easy for the worst case scenario to become the most possible scenario in your mind.

I still feel shocked. Mostly shocked that the Lord would have us go through something as scary as this with an already anxiety-prone pregnancy. We have now lost any sense of normalcy in this pregnancy. We now have two logical and real reasons to fear for the life of our baby. I almost feel like saying "God, would you please go pick on someone your own size?"

It feels like lightening striking twice. As we sat in the hospital parking lot, having just received the news, there was one thought left ringing in my ears: I have only had one out of three successful and healthy pregnancies. I have had moments where all I can do is repeat one simple prayer over and over. "God, please let us keep our baby." Sometimes nothing else soothes but repeatedly begging God for the life of our child.

We had been praying for a pregnancy without any complications, and this is God saying no. I have realized that I accepted this "no" from God much more quickly than I have in the past. When I got my first negative pregnancy test after losing Ezra, I was not really on speaking terms with God for days. He has gradually, with each "no," released the tight clench of my fist, turning it little by little into an open hand. One that is ready to give and receive.


During the sonogram that told us whether or not Asa had this condition, I waited with my hands literally held open. Actually, it was just one hand. The other was hand was squeezing Steven's. As the doctor told us that Asa does, indeed, have the heart condition, I kept my hands open in hopes that God would accept my physical act of surrender, though my heart and head were screaming that it couldn't be true.


I feel hurt. I feel shocked. I feel confused. I feel disappointed that God has more intense challenge for us so soon after losing Ezra. And I have felt anger as well. But I know how to deal with that now.


The number one thing that helps me get through times where God had taken something away from us is to focus on what he has given us. Number one: He has saved my soul from eternal damnation and he has loved me unconditionally in a way I could never deserve. And not only that, but he calls me his child and has given me the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. That is worth more than I can ever know with my tiny, earthly mind. Number two: I have my perfect little Levi. Now more than ever, his perfect health is a miracle. And I can hold him and kiss him and cuddle him. I can hear him say "I love you mommy", and I can see the excitement in his eyes when he runs to give me a hug. Number three: I have my wonderful husband, who loves me, cares for me and cherishes me. He loves me with the love of Christ and teaches me about God's grace everyday. I do not deserve him, and I am so thankful that somehow he loves me so deeply. And number four; I have three beautiful sons, and though they may not all be here with me, no one can take that away from me. They are each precious, and I know them. They have all spent many months in my womb, connected to me and hearing my voice. There are so many more things I could list off here, but those are the most precious.


So I ask for your prayers. This will be a long and hard three months until Asa is born, and after he is born
, this becomes terrifying. But when, Lord willing, the surgery is over and has gone successfully, we will hold our sweet Asa in our arms and kiss him and cuddle him so close. This trial will have ended and joy will abound. 


Would you please pray specifically for us in these ways;

- Pray that Asa survives this and that God blesses us with the joy of his life for the rest of our days on earth.

- Pray that he could be the best case scenario transposition baby and that his problems will be a very simple and easy fix, and that he could go on to live a normal and healthy life.

- Pray that God keeps me from going into labor early. They have stressed to us that it is very important for Asa to stay in my womb as long as possible. That will also ease my stress level. 

- Pray that God protects Asa and I during labor from another abruption like we had with Ezra. 

- Pray that God gives me the strength to keep moving forward toward life. The temptation to give up and stay in bed all day wallowing in my sorrow is something that I have fought everyday since we got this news.  I especially need those prayers in the morning.

- Pray for Levi, that he continues to get all the love and attention that he needs while we are often distracted with this struggle.

- Pray that God would protect our hearts against bitterness and that through this trial we may grow to trust him and love him even more. 

I know this is a very long list of prayer requests and a lot to ask of others, but as I sit here, my heart about to burst from pain and struggle and anticipation of what could happen tomorrow, the idea of sharing our story and specific prayer requests brought me peace.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Asa and pray for him. Thank you for walking alongside us whether it is in thought or prayer.

Love and blessings to you all,

Emma