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Friday, July 10, 2009

11 years ago

In our early marriage, Shawn and I did not expect to have children. After many years with a fertility specialist, we were convinced adoption would be our only alternative. However, we did not factor in a miracle-working God. After our church prayed for us, I became pregnant with James. After his delivery, I began making plans for a second child. We knew how challenging it had been to have the first baby, and we did not know if we would be able to conceive again.

When James was six months old, I began again to see a fertility specialist, in hopes of having another child. I expected it to be many years.... after all it had taken so long the first time. By the time I had gone in for a consult, an exam, and a treatment plan, James was 10 months old. I was feeling a bit queasy in the evenings and so took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Before I could ever begin treatment with the fertility specialist, we were expecting another child. We felt incredibly blessed that God would grant us favor, not once, but twice.

This pregnancy was different from the first. After all, I was taking care of a baby inside of me and a baby outside as well. But I napped when James napped, and laid on the couch and watched movies with James during the puking months. After 16 weeks, I felt super. I returned to working out and enjoyed every minute of the baby growing inside.

We had no money, and I was seeing a doctor at the county hospital. The medical care was good, but the location in downtown Fort Worth was not safe. Especially not for a woman alone. It was on one of these visits that I survived my only attempted mugging. I was walking from the clinic back over to the nearby McDonalds where Shawn had taken James for a milkshake. A man approached me with a knife and said, "Give me all your money." I laughed hysterically at him. (this may not be wise, but I couldn't help it.) You see, I was wearing an almost sheer sundress due to the 100 degree temperature, I had no purse, I was not wearing any jewelry, not even a wedding ring because I was so swollen. And to qualify for free medical care, you had to be REALLY, REALLY poor. What was I going to give him? Without thinking, I said, "Do you know how poor you have to be to go to the doctor here? I don't even have a purse. I'm not wearing any jewelry. What money do you think I have?" The man looked at me in shock. I guess it had never occurred to him that it was foolish to mug people at the county hospital. He put the knife away, crossed the street, and kept right on walking. Late in my pregnancy we got insurance, and I was able to swap over to a "real" doctor in a safe location.

It was the hottest summer ever. We had 30 days of 100+ degree heat before July 1. I was enormously pregnant. Our air conditioning was ineffective, so I took icy cold showers several times a day and tried to find cool places to hang out. Every morning I would get up with James, sit under the shade tree and swing him in the cool breeze. If Shawn was at school and did not need the car, then I would load James up and go to McDonalds or the mall or somewhere with air.

Because James had been such a large baby, weighing in over 9 pounds, my doctor decided to deliver Grace a little early. July 10 I went to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to start my induction. It went well, Grace was born around lunch. She was an easy delivery. In fact Shawn just almost got to catch her. The labor nurse told me to push once. When I did, the baby crowned. The labor nurse left the room to find the doctor while Shawn is left standing there looking at the baby's head. The doctor ran in, threw on a glove, and caught the baby. I took some Demerol at the very end of the labor and it kicked in about time Grace was born. I had a bad reaction to the drug, hallucinating and fading in and out of reality. I regret that I remember very little of Grace's first day of life.

Today on her birthday, I am thankful for my daughter. She is strong and decisive. She works hard, and attempts big things. She looks her fears head on, and conquers them. It has not always been easy to parent her, but I am so proud of the woman she is becoming. I am praying hard for her as she has hit puberty early. Praying that God will guard her heart as she becomes interested in boys. Praying that her emotions will be stable. Praying that she will learn to seek God in all things with all of her heart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Abigail - a great woman

This morning I read an intriguing story in 1 Samuel 25. It's a griping story of protection, betrayal, loyalty, and revenge. It's too long to discuss all the details here. You'll have to grab your own Bible or google it later.

I was interested in the woman in the story. (naturally) Abigail is described as "beautiful and intelligent." It is her misfortune to be married to extraordinarily wealthy Nabal, whom the Bible describes as, "surly, mean, drunk, and foolish." I feel for her. It must have sucked to have landed in that (I presume) arranged marriage.

Nabal gravely insults David, and puts his entire household at risk. Abigail wisely brokers peace with David and keeps her household from being slaughtered. Nabal has a heart attack and dies. Abigail rides off on her donkey to become David's wife.

Here's what I found interesting... Abigail was faithful and obedient and wise in the situation in which God placed her. She took action when needed, bravely riding into David's camp to broker peace, risking her life to save her household. I do not fully understand all the intricacies of what took place: the hospitality refused, the peace brokered, and the freedom Abigail received. But I like that a woman saved the day and rode off into the sunset with a future king.

That's it... nothing deep, just a cool story for you to check out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Arkansas paradise

No, my Texas friends that's not an oxymoron. Shawn is from an exquisitely beautiful part of Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountains. Here's some trivia for you: the Ouachita Mountains are the only mountains in the U.S. that run east and west rather than north and south.

We drove up to Shawn's parents Sunday night. We needed to pick up Grace who spent a week with the grandparents. Shawn's brother from California also stopped in. He scheduled a couple of days layover on his way back from a business trip in Florida.

It was so awesome to spend some time hanging out with him. I feel so smart when he talks about his job in brain research and I understand what he's saying. Which is true more than half the time! We took him up to the airport in Little Rock this morning. It was a short visit, but better than nothing.

After lunch we headed back South to Albert Pike. This is a camping/recreation area on the Little Missouri River - not far from where Shawn grew up. Of all the places we have ever camped and hiked this remains one of my favorites.

When we first married, Shawn decided to introduce me to the joys of camping. On spring break we loaded up a bunch of stuff, and headed out to Albert Pike. We just lived about 15 or 20 minutes from this beautiful location. Unfortunately, a cold front came through while we were camping. I was skinny and cold-natured back then. I'm pretty sure I put on every item of clothing we had with us while I huddled by the fire. It was my first time to have food cooked over a campfire, and my first experience sleeping in a tent, and I was hooked. Camping is still one of my favorite things to do. Never boring!

Over the last 16 years the facilities have improved greatly. Real bathrooms and showers instead of outhouses. Paved roadways and designated swimming areas. But the park is still stunning in the raw beauty of God's creation.

It was awesome to take my children back to this place with so many great memories. Shawn and I camped there many times, hiked alone and with our youth group, and often swam in the river back in the early years of our marriage. It was cool to go back and be reminded of good times.

I also loved sitting at memaw's kitchen table just visiting. (well, the eating was pretty amazing too). While we were there several extended family members came by. I don't know how to explain the beauty of the experience. Memaw's house is small, the kitchen crowded, crazily chaotic with grandkids and adults all vying for attention. But it's one of my favorite places on the planet. A constant in our crazy life. Warm. That's my best adjective for memaw's kitchen.

The trip lasted less than 48 hours, but I feel like a new woman. Thank you, God, for this family that embraced me as their own 17 years ago. They have taught me so much about life and love and laughter. I am blessed indeed.