Being that we've hit such an important milestone as Alicia's one month birthday, I felt that today deserved two posts instead of one.
Ever since Linda got pregnant last December, God's been speaking something to me again and again. Actually it started earlier than that.
Some of you know that Alicia is actually Linda and my second child. Linda was pregnant back at the end of 2009. Unfortunately, we lost that kid 8 weeks into the pregnancy because of miscarriage. Needless to say, the journey to parenthood has not been easy for Linda and I.
Early on during Linda's pregnancy with Alicia, we had another scare. One day, after work, I noticed that I had gotten several missed calls from Linda. I called her right back sensing that something might be wrong. When Linda picked up the phone, she had her, "I'm really scared, but trying to remain calm voice." Apparantly, she had started to bleed fresh blood, reminiscent of the time when she miscarried. She told me that she was on the way to the doctors and would stop by the office to pick me up.
On the way to the doctors, we sat in silence in the cab, holding hands and just praying and pleading with the Lord to save our baby. I really wanted to talk to Linda and comfort her, but I had no words. When we got to the doctor's clinic, we sat and waited while the doctor prepared. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity we were escorted into the examining room. Linda got onto the examination chair, and the doctor began to do a sonogram. He moved the probe around trying to find the baby's heartbeat, and at first there was nothing. Then there it was, the little blip on the screan. The baby's tiny beating heart. I had never been more happy to see anything in my life. Our baby was alive! And from what the doctor could tell, it wasn't in any sort of distress. His guess was that the bleeding was coming from elsewhere in Linda's body and not the baby, the gestational sac or the placenta. But as a safety measure, he gave Linda some pregesterone (an anti-abortion horomone) and put her on a week of bedrest.
After the week of bedrest, things stabilized somewhat, but we still had moments where we worried for the viability of our pregnancy. But in the end they turned out to be nothing to worry about. That is until the day before Alicia's birthday, when we faced our biggest test of faith yet.
And you know what God kept speaking to me through it all? "Don't worry." Sounds so trite and pat. The life of my child hangs in the balance, and I'm not supposed to worry?
Today, as I was e-mailing a friend of mine, God reminded me of something Jesus said while he was here on Earth. These words are recorded in the book of Matthew and the book of Luke. Jesus said, "Do not worry about your life ... Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
I've heard these words often, but today, I began to realize that these words not only applied to my own life, but also to the life of my child. Can anyone of us by worrying add a single hour to our children's lives? The answer sadly, and maybe even frustratingly, is no. We can't. Worrying does not add to our lives. In fact, worrying, it seems, takes life away from us. It zaps our strength and paralyzes us. It steals our joy and our peace. It's a terrible thing.
But what is the root of worry? I think fear. We fear for our children’s safety. We fear for their welfare. We fear losing them. We fear having to face permanent life altering disabilities. We fear that we may never hear them laugh. We fear we may never hold them in our arms. We fear that they might get hurt. We fear that they might get sick. We fear...you fill in the blank. And believe you me, friend, I understand this fear. And as much as I want to be strong and pretend like fear never affects me, it does. So many times when I tell Linda not to worry, I’m telling myself too. So often as I'm reasoning with her and giving her all the logical reasons why we shouldn’t worry, why we shouldn’t be afraid, I’m trying to convince myself too.
The truth of the matter is though, that our children are not our own! Our children were created by our Heavenly Father for a purpose. That purpose might be here on Earth or maybe they have a greater purpose that can be served better by going straight to heaven, whatever it might be, they are our Daddy God’s children. And it’s for his kingdom and his purposes that they have been created. Those of us who are blessed enough to be parents, well, I like how a close family friend of ours put it, we are merely foster parents. God has given us the privilege to raise these children, but we must trust that he knows what’s best for them, and that he has the best in mind for them.
We love our kids and provide for them in the best way that we can. For the pregnant mommies out there, that means, eating right, resting, exercising, and taking care of you. For those who have living and breathing kids out and about them, that means loving them, teaching them, being patient, making sure their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met. But beyond that, what can we do? By worrying, will we give them one more hour of life or will we only end up driving them along with ourselves crazy?
So what’s the solution? Trust and surrender. We trust that each of these children are gifts from God. They are his creation, and as many of you have reminded us, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. He’s the one that chose to create them. He will finish his work in his way. We must trust that he knows what he’s doing. And I’m talking to myself here too. Trust is the hardest thing, but so important if we are going to be living the kind of impactful life that I know many of us desire to live.
But beyond trust, we also must surrender - give up control. I'm realizing there is really only so much that we as parents can do. We must surrender, and let go. Give these children over the care of our Heavenly Father. So hard to do. Surrendering often feels like free-falling and losing all control, but there is a great freedom in that. Also, as my lovely wife reminded me of yesterday, each time we feel out of control, it's God's invitation for us to come to him and talk to him about it. It's his invitation for us to ask him for help. And it's a chance for us to know him more deeply.
It's a hard thing, isn't it? Asking for help? We are taught from a young age that we need to be independant and take care of ourselves. But with God, we don't need to act like we have it all together. He knows our limits and he invites us to come to him with our limitations and watch him work.
So we trust and surrender. We give Alicia over to our Lord, her Heavenly Father, the creator and author of her life. We trust in his plans for her.
Just a side note, a friend of mine recently sent an e-mail with a reminder that I thought was really poignant. The e-mail said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the resolve to do the will of God in spite of your fear.” Or another version which states, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Whichever version you like, the idea is the same, having courage doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid, but you choose to focus on something bigger, and you choose to do something in spite of your fear. And It makes sense, doesn't it? If something isn’t scary, then you don’t really need courage to face it or do it, do you? Courage only becomes courage in the face of fear.
So we march forward with courage and we face tomorrow, knowing that our Heavenly Father has got our backs. And also, he’s got the best plan for Alicia, we believe that wholeheartedly.
Quick update on Alicia, as I mentioned in my previous post, she’s now a full one month old - huge milestone in the life of a preemie. If she’s made it this far, the prognosis for survival and living a fantastic life is great! =) Also, Alicia had her eye exam yesterday, and more great news! The eye doctor said that everything looks normal! She does have a minor case of ROP (for those of you who want to know what ROP is, I’ll let you look it up, I won’t go into it here). But it’s only Stage 1 ROP which is the mildest form of this condition. And for 90% of kiddos with Stage 1 ROP, it goes away on its own without any sort of damage to their eyesight. So we are so completely relieved. Praise the Lord for the great news, and thank you all for praying. Please do continue to pray that things would continue to progress smoothly for her eyes and all of her other organs, muscles and senses.
She’s also continuing to fill out and gain weight. She’s up to 666 grams today, gaining 12 grams from yesterday’s 654. More, Lord, more!
She’s been struggling a bit with her breathing, especially after she eats. We had a bit of a scare this morning during our visit. She in essence passed out, and doctors and nurses had to work on her for a few minutes to get her breathing and oxygen levels back up again. Her heart rate dropped significantly too. Not fun. But thankfully, the doctor was able to help her to get back on track. We pray that she’ll just continue to get better and better in that area.
No news yet on the brain damage, but we’ll keep following up on that and let you know if there are any further developments.
Keep walking friends. And please, please, do keep in touch with us. Write us e-mails, text us, call us, whatever. We want to hear from you, and I’d love to chat. If I can’t pick up, or don’t want to talk, I won’t answer. =0) Other than that, please do let us know what’s going on with you. As much as we value our own time and our own space, I do believe it’s very important for us to remain in community.