As I've been writing this blog, one of my biggest challenges has been to find the right words to convey everything that we're going through. Over the past few weeks, I've written a lot about feeling "secure" and feeling "confident", but each time I wrote those words, I felt like they weren't quite exactly the words that I was looking for.
Then this morning the word, "assurance" popped into my head. And it was as if I found the right peg for the hole. "Assurance" that's what I've been feeling. I've been feeling assured by God that he's got everything in hand. God has given us assurance that one way or the other everything will work out for good. He's given us assurance that we are loved, cared for and enveloped in a thick cloud of prayer.
Assurance. Another one of those words that has taken on a new meaning for me in the past few weeks and a word that God has been telling me all day over and over again.
When I thought of the word "assurance" this morning, the song, "Blessed Assurance" immediately came to mind.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Another one of those songs I've song hundreds of time in my lifetime. In fact, it's one of my dad's favorite hymns, so a song I'm quite familiar with. But as I look over and ponder the lyrics, they match my heart perfectly.
The lyrics to this song were written by Fanny J. Crosby, a blind hymn writer. Fanny was no stranger to suffering, yet she was able to pen such beautiful lyrics that are so true. Truly, having Jesus in our lives gives us a true foretaste of Heaven. And today, I really felt like God continued to bring this word, "assurance" to me over and over again.
It was my last day of filming today for this year, and after recording, I stopped by my Godmother's office to say hi. As I was there, she showed me a devotional that she was writing about God's sovereignty and control. In it, she encouraged her readers to "rest assured" that God's got everything under control. "Rest" meaning to cease activity, stop and be still. "Assured" meaning to have confidence and security. There was that word, "assured" again. As we were talking, in the next room the men of Heavenly Melody were practicing a song in Chinese. At first, I kind of tuned out what they were doing, but as they continued to practice, my ears started to pick up the familiar melody. It wasn't long before I realized they were singing, "BLESSED ASSURANCE!" I mean, OK. Some of you might say that it's just a coincidence. But I truly believe God was speaking to me and trying to encouraging me. I mean, there are literally hundreds of songs that these guys could have been practicing. But they were singing the very song that God reminded me of this morning, while I was reading something that my Godmother had written about being "rest assured". Now I don't know about you but when I hear the same message over and over again within a short period of time from different sources, I pay attention! I recognize that God is saying something.
And the message for today is "assurance!" Assurance that God is GOD. Assurance that he is in control. Assurance that he knows more about Alicia than we or any doctor possibly could ever know. Assurance that he loves Alicia more than we ever could, and assurance that he's got plans for her, plans to prosper her and not harm her, plans to give her a hope and a future.
Just for fun, I just looked up the meaning of the word assurance it means "a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise." A promise!! When I read that word, I laughed out loud. Do you know what the Biblical Hebrew meaning of Alicia is? OATH of God. An OATH, a PROMISE! Assurance.
This whole time my daughter has been the embodiment of God's assurance. This whole experience has been one of learning to lean on his assurance, his promises, trusting that he is a God who keeps his word. And don't forget Charis - God's grace.
My sense, as I write this, is that Alicia is going to be a living, breathing reminder of God's promise of grace. His promise to be with us and to carry us through all of life's circumstances.
This word of assurance couldn't have arrived on a better day. Today was a harder day for Linda, I'll let her tell you more about it in her own words when she's up to it. But in a nutshell, I had to come up to Taipei again for recording, leaving her to visit Alicia and to face the doctors and the ICU alone.
Alicia is doing pretty well, at least in our eyes, but I guess Linda had a couple of hard conversations with the doctors today about Alicia's condition.
As Linda was recounting her evening conversation with the doctor, the family protector in me started rearing up for a fight. Ugh, it made me so mad. I know doctors need to be realistic, but really do they have to be so grim?!
The evening doctor started telling Linda that Alicia wasn't doing very well, and that she's still really small and weak. And babies that are this small are prone to infection and can easily catch viruses and get sick. And while, yes that's all true. How does this help us? And then she started to talk about how compared to a full-term baby Alicia is this and that. Well, you know what Miss NICU Doctor? She's NOT A FULL-TERM baby! So of course, Alicia is NOT going to have what a FULL-TERM baby has! You know what would help? Tell me how she's doing compared to other premies! That would help. Apples to apples, doctor! Apples to apples! Telling me how she compares to a full-term baby doesn't help me to know how she's doing, because she's not full term! I'm sorry to all my doctor friends out there, reading this. I bet you some of you really want to stand up and defend the doctor. And I'm sure that there is a perfectly logical reason for her to say and do all these things. But it really upset Linda and I just hate seeing my girl upset. But also, honestly, I want to know how Alicia is doing for a kid in her circumstance. And we realize that of course, she's not OK and her condition is not optimal, I mean, hello, if she were OK, she wouldn't be in the NICU! But can you tell me, in terms of her age, her condition, how's she doing? Sigh. OK. I'll get off my soap box now.
Onto the prayer requests.
First the praises:
1. Linda says Alicia is looking better and better. Not so old-lady like. =) haha. I look forward to seeing her again tomorrow and seeing how my little girl has morphed in the past day.
2. Alicia continues to feed well! It seems like every couple of hours, when I talk to Linda, they're feeding her more and more. Just a few days ago, when they first started feeding her, they were only giving her 0.5 cc to help her body get used to digesting. Two days later they upped the intake to 1.0 cc. Then the next day 1.5 cc. Then this morning it was 2.0 cc and by this evening Alicia was up to 3.0 cc! You go, girl! She's eating so well. We pray that she continues to take in more and more milk so she can get the antibodies she needs and also start packing on some fat. She's way too skinny.
3. She's pooping on her own now! And also her poop is green, which I guess is healthy. I was talking to a friend today and I was saying how it's odd that poop and other bodily excrement don't really gross me out anymore. OK. I should amend that, poop and other bodily excrement from people I love don't really gross me out. I mean, whatever. I get poop on my hand, I wash it, eh? Guess it's easy for me to say, not having to have to change a diaper yet. haha.
And now the prayer requests:
4. Alicia continues to have problems with her breathing. She was doing well for awhile, but now she's just really not taking in enough oxygen. Her lungs are quite small, and also she's getting a lot of mucus in there that makes breathing all that more difficult. Pray that her lungs would strengthen and that God would clear out any unnecessary mucus in her lungs. Also, pray that God would develop the part of her brain that would remind her to breathe, so that she wouldn't have episodes where she stops breathing. Not good for her.
5. Pray protection over her body from infections and diseases. As I said earlier, her immune system is still pretty weak, so she is very susceptible to virus and bacteria.
6. Pray for her physiological development. Pray that she would develop well both physically and psychologically.
7. Nurses say that Alicia has been pretty lethargic the past couple of days. She hasn't been the active Alicia from days of yore. My theory? She's hungry. Of course, I'm no doctor, so don't take my word for it. But I think now that her digestive system has been kicked into gear, I think she needs more milk. They don't want to give her too much at once for fear that her body can't handle it. But I think she's just not getting enough calories. I mean, think about when you're really hungry. How much energy do you have? My guess is you're pretty lethargic in those circumstances too. So brings back to the whole, pray that she'll eat more and be able to handle the milk and thrive on it.
Thanks friends, for following so faithfully and journeying with us.