Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giving your finances to God part II

Almost exactly one month ago I wrote this post about God and finances. We were on the tail end of a great few weeks where God had been coming through for us in very obvious ways. And it all looked like prosperity with more money in our pockets. In the last 4 weeks we seem to have entered into a new season financially-one of brokenness. In no particular order here is what has occurred in the last 4 weeks since that post I wrote:

-Nathan's car is still broke. We know for sure its not the battery (which we hoped bc it would be cheapest to replace) which leads us to believe its an electrical issue. It is in the shop as we speak and we are waiting to get an estimate.

-My tooth broke. A random side effect of pregnancy for me is that my teeth just break off. Out of pocket we had to pay $1000 to fix it. This came two weeks after just paying off the bill from my dental work last May, which was to fix the original broke tooth from pregnancy #1 three years ago.

-Our garage door stopped working. We can still manually open and close so we are kicking that down the road because its not urgent right now.(although being 8 months pregnant and getting out in the cold to open and close garage is starting to feel urgent!)

-Our stove broke. Cost $500 for new one. Then cost $200 for plumber to come out and re-install a gas line to get it up to code so the stove could be safely installed.

-My phone broke. It still works for everything EXCEPT calling! Taking it in this weekend.

-Last night on the way to take the phone in our furnace stopped working. Cost $350 for a repair man to come out on a Friday night and replace the motor.

So yeah, we are feeling a little worn down from the past 4 weeks. I wanted to write this and put the actual costs of things in here because I want to be real. We proclaim that we trust God with our money. But that doesn't always look like things never happening or us having a ton of money for savings. In fact it often looks like what the last 4 weeks have-things happening and us having to be detached from our money, our plans of how we would like to spend it. In prayer God has been telling Nathan over these last weeks "Do not be afraid to use what I have given you." While that sounds nice, in reality its been painful. We have watched as Nathan's long awaited for "extra" paycheck in the month of October went to pay these bills. We had been planning on putting that paycheck in savings. Now we are watching what little we have in savings go down, down, down as we pay off the rest of the bills. Not to mention my inward panic of the holidays coming up and a new baby being here (diapers!) in just 8 weeks.

But when things like these happen I'm always remind that my money is not my own. Its simply on loan from God and we are entrusted with it to be good stewards. We make an intentional point to always make sure money is our servant, not the other way around. And I must say-its been a great servant these last 4 weeks. Everything has gotten fixed in a timely manner. I've been able to see God working through the men and women who have come to our rescue and fixed all our broken things. More importantly we have not lost our peace. God is still in control even though it may not feel like it. I don't like having to spend money on these things, but that's life. Jesus said "In the world you will have trouble, fear not I have overcome the world." I'm learning that following Christ does not mean bad things won't happen but that He will be there when they do and He will give you His peace.

Right now I'm going to continue to trust God even though that scares me to see our savings go so low. And maybe you are thinking "well at least you have savings! We would be out of luck if these things happened." My answer-God would still come through. Yes, we have savings, but its not a lot. It certainly isn't the "6 months of living expenses" set aside for a rainy day that the world tells you to have. We don't have college funds set aside for our kids. We mostly live week to week, month to month on a strict budget and then we watch God show up. I firmly believe that if you want Him to show up in your finances then you have to give Him room to show up. I could take control of things myself, go back to work in an attempt to bring in more money. But God isn't calling us to that. He is calling me to stay home and raise my children. By being obedient in that I give Him room to show up since we only have one income.

Throughout these weeks I've been encouraged in a few ways. First I have seen God providing for two of my close friends. They live by giving all their finances over to God. The first friend had a check from an anonymous person show up this week. The money will cover all her extra monthly expenses that had piled up. It literally just SHOWED UP thanks to someone else in the Body of Christ who felt moved to give her money (see-it didn't come from her savings!). I have another friend who is diligently trying to buy a house. Her and her husband have lived in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment for the entire 3 years of their marriage. They also have two small children and have had to make sacrifices in their living situation in order for her to stay home. This week they found another government program that will help them put money towards a down payment on a house (not coming form savings!) Hearing their news and knowing that God is helping them encouraged me.

One last thing that encouraged me-God sent us bread. Last week Nathan came home from work with two loaves of our favorite kind of bread-the expensive kind that we only buy when its on sale. He said someone brought it to work and didn't want it so he took it home. And I cried. Because it was a small gesture but I felt God saying "see, I'm even giving you your daily bread. Don't worry!" And He is and He does and He will continue to. Day by day is how we are called to live and day by day God will come through.

I want to end by continuing to encourage others who are struggling financially. I want to show you that we get it. Its real for us too. Each month when I do our budget on paper I'm not sure how its all going to come together, but each month it does. Give God room to work, to show up. We had a season where He was giving us things and now we are in a season when He is asking us to give away our money, possibly even use up all of our savings. We will continue to do what He ask because in the end, Jesus is what we are living for. Praying for those out there with financial burdens. May you feel the peace of God even in the midst of financial difficulties.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The trickiest trimester

Well we are here-the 3rd trimester. I'm feeling the extra weight both literally and emotionally. Most women start getting excited by this point. For me I just start getting crazy. The anxiety ramps up and the appointments are often. The hardest part for me during this time is the decision making. One of the things that goes first when grief hits is my ability to make decisions. Since doctors never found a reason why Caleb died, they mostly put it on our shoulders as to how we proceed with each pregnancy. Decisions about when to start non-stress tests, bio-physical profiles and then the big one-when to induce-run though my head. I feel exhausted just thinking about the decisions knowing each one could be the wrong one for this particular baby.

Another hard part with this trimester is how visibility pregnant I am. Complete strangers everywhere we go want to talk about my pregnancy. That has the potential to bring up a lot and it takes a lot out of me to be invested in each conversation. I'm just not a normal pregnant person so it feels hard and awkward to be asked normal questions that I can't answer. 

So with all of these things swirling around we've really started pulling back from all unnecessary things. We decided not to go to Nate's work Christmas party. Any social functions for myself will most likely be put off until after baby. We're just trying to store up what little energy we have in order to make it through the next few weeks. It's defiantly a season of "no" which makes me sad because there are so many fun things this time of year, but I know its for the best. My anxiety go up, up and up when I'm in crowds and can't feel the baby moving. Its best to just stay home and rest up!

I'm also trying to surround myself with a good support network of fellow bereaved moms. They seem to understand how hard right now is without me having to explain. I'm also back to seeing my counselor once every two weeks. It will probably be once a week toward the end. And last but not least I'm forcing myself to buy one item of comfort food each week at the grocery store. I did feel guilty about that for a while but like my counselor explained " you can either lean on food for this short period of time and use it to calm you and comfort you or you could have more anxiety and need to take medication." So comfort food is working right now and we'll stick with it. 

The beautiful thing about this pregnancy, just so you don't think its all doom and gloom, has been God's healing throughout it. This past weekend a friend asked me if Abigail's pregnancy had been healing. I responded without having to think- "no!" Holding a live baby in my arms was so healing, but her actually pregnancy was way worse than Caleb's. So much worry, stress, and emotions. This pregnancy has in many ways begun to heal me from the trauma of Abigail's pregnancy, if that makes any sense. 

Carrying another boy has brought with it an array of emotions that I have had to work through. At first I resented that but once I leaned into it I saw how God wanted to use it to heal my heart even more. I still don't have words to explain it but I do know I'm in awe of how God can keep His promises. There were so many times that I begged for healing after Caleb died and it never came. But now, 3, almost 4 years later, its coming. Certain things that I had forgotten about God is bringing to the surface and redeeming them. It gives me more zeal to help couples continue to be open to life after loss. I meet so many people who, because of loss, decide to sterilize themselves or their partners out of fear of another loss. I think constantly about the conscious choice we made to try to get pregnant this time. If we had remained in fear and just stayed comfortable with our one live kid, we would have missed out on so much the Lord wanted to do. 

One last thing that has been overwhelming as a sign of God's faithfulness and love has been the name of this baby. We have chosen to name him Judah Thomas. In the old testament this is the verse that describes what the name Judah means:

"And once again she conceived and bore a son. "This time," she said, "I will give grateful praise to the Lord", and therefore she named him Judah." 

The name Judah literally means praise and thanksgiving. I heard a sermon once on "how to get through hard times." In it the speaker mentioned that in ancient Israel whenever the twelve tribes would go up to fight a battle they would send the tribe of Judah first. He said they did this because of the meaning behind Judah's name-praise and thanksgiving-and that through praise and thanksgiving of God was the only way to overcome hard times. I remember thinking if we ever have another boy I want to name him Judah. 

His name of praise and thanksgiving has been my anchor this pregnancy. Whenever the fears, doubts, and struggles come I just keep thinking "praise and thanksgiving." As we get to know this baby more God continues to reveal more about this him. Another thing is that in the old testament Judah was the 4th son and should not have gotten the birthright. But things happened and long story short-he did receive the birthright and eventually Christ came through his line. Our Judah should not receive the benefits of a first born son, but he will. Caleb should be passing on the family name but it will be Judah who passes it on.  Its amazing to see a name be chosen and then God continue to affirm that name. We went with Thomas because of doubting Thomas the apostle and my love for him. You can read about that more here. My hope and prayer for Judah Thomas is that his doubts will always lead him to encounter the Risen Christ, just like St. Thomas. 

So while this third trimester is trying, its not without grace. Please pray with us and for us as we wait out these final 9 weeks until his delivery. St. Jude and St. Thomas-pray for us!

29 weeks!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My admiration for the Medical Profession

This week has been a crazy ride of ups and downs. On Halloween my tooth broke off and I spent two hours at the dentist office getting it fixed. I have this nice side effect of pregnancy that includes my teeth literally breaking off during pregnancy. Now I will have one crown in my mouth to remind me of Caleb's pregnancy and another for this new baby. 

Then today I spent an hour at my OB office hooked up to the Non Stress Test monitor because I was worried about Braxton Hicks Contractions. Everything was fine and we even got to do a sono and see baby's sweet face. 

All of this has gotten me thinking about how much my view the Medical Profession has changed over the past 3 years. When we were pregnant with Caleb we took the 13 week Bradley Birthing Classes. While these were helpful, looking back I feel like they also cast an undertone of this view that "doctors are out to get you." Add that to the many documentaries, such as The Business of Being Born, that we watched during that time and I can honestly say that I thought I knew better than the medical profession. I was informed! I had studied and read up on natural labor and childbirth and I was going to fight my hardest against any interventions. But then my baby died while still inside of me and I was so lost and so broken.

All of a sudden the medical professionals around me scooped me up and carried me through the hardest thing I'll ever do-deliver a stillborn baby. They took care of all my pain and were gentle with me, cried with me, and made a terrible situation a little less terrible. Over the last 3 years since Caleb's death I can honestly say that through the doctors, midwives, nurses, specialists, counselors, and dentists, I have slowly healed from the brokenness that became me after Caleb's death. I feel like I went from one extreme where I did not trust them to this other place where I don't trust myself at all or my intuition.

That's where I was today and this week-not trusting my body or my intuition about what is right or wrong. Its a very humbling, small place to be where you are scared and fragile and uncertain. Instead of trying to do things on my own or even just trying to "pray through it," I called up my dentist the minute my tooth broke and got right it. Today I could have spent all day worrying about the baby but instead I thought "Im not in this alone, just call the doctor and go in." And so I did and the weight they lifted from my shoulders is so real. I truly feel God speaking to me through the medical professionals around me. The way my dentist promised me that I would not feel any pain for the 2 hours he was drilling. The way the nurses and doctors at my OB office got me in right away and never once acted like I was being extreme. 

After Caleb died I begged for healing. I heard stories of people being healed instantly from physical ailments. I wanted that, I wanted instant healing. But it never came. It never came emotionaly, it never came physically. But instead the healing came through seeing my counselor, through visiting 3 different dentist to finally find one who believed me and fixed my problems, through my doctors and specialist who say over and over again "we are in this together, we will get this baby out alive." 

Today I am praising God for medical professionals and the healing they bring. Sure, God can and does heal people through miracles all the time. But in my life Ive seen much more healing come through someone else in the medical field. I have such a high admiration for these people who selflessly give over and over all in an effort to take people's pain away. Isn't that such a beautiful witness to the character of God? Feeling fortunate to live in America where the medical technology and services are exceptional. Thank you Jesus for the gift of medicine and for teaching me that I cannot do this on my own.

I love this girl!

How did my baby get so big? Loving every moment I get with this little girl!