Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2017 Update

I had a ton of fun pictures to share but I'm having technical difficulties so the next post will have those included. ;) Here we go. It's been nearly 6 months since I have written anything and actually posted it. I have several blog posts that are sitting in my draft folder but something has always held me back from hitting the "publish" button. It has been a very eventful season for us and there have been some very challenging moments for me personally. I believe my last post was about how we had just experienced our 4th miscarriage shortly after landing here in Okinawa. We quickly entered the whirlwind of setting up our 1st overseas home, sending our 1st child off to Kindergarten, learning how to drive on the other side of the road, figuring out where God would have us serve on our base, Stephen getting plugged into his new command, and slowing moving from the "what an awesome vacation" state of mind to the "oh, I actually am going to live here for a long time" state of awareness. :)We stayed busy keeping up with kid events and formal functions as we approached the Ball season and holiday festivities. Towards the end of November, I found out that I was pregnant again! This is always very exciting news for us even if it was the 8th time that a white stick revealed the magical "two blue lines". Each time we are filled with hope and joy of another life and soul to come. It was November 30th, the night of yet another Military Ball, when I started having definite signs of another miscarriage. :( Part of me did not want to go to the ball, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position, cry, and eat chocolate. The other part of me wanted the distraction and didn't want to fully accept that I was really having a 5th miscarriage. So I wore the dress (whatever one would fit), put on the heels, lathered on make up, took some motrin, and ended the night slow dancing to "Lady in Red" with my handsome Chaplain. The next morning, I went to the ER and they put me in the isolation room where I did in fact feel very isolated and alone. After 4 hours of being examined, having blood drawn, and the Doc rather coldly "confirming" my pregnancy as ended, I cried...and cried. The poor Corpsman didn't know what to do with my blubbering sobs so he sent in a female nurse. She, ironically, was very pregnant and had so much empathy for me. She asked me if she could get me anything and I told her, "no, but thank you." She replied, "I also give free hugs if you need one!" I did need one even if it was from a complete stranger. It was as if God used her to provide me with some comfort right then. It's hard to be away from family but walking through a tragedy or two really emphasizes that feeling of being quite alone. After having several miscarriages, you get an idea of what to expect when going to the ER. I packed a lunch, books, my Bible, and journal. The amazing thing was that the very first verse I looked at while sitting on the hospital bed was from Psalms 42:11, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Hebrews 4:12 says, "...the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." Ain't that the truth?! God knew I was suffering, he knew I was broken, and His word spoke clearly to my heart. "Hope in God, Julie." I didn't understand why God would allow these losses, I was grieving in a very real way, and as a believer in Jesus Christ I had but one saving grace from slipping into a dark place. Hope. Through tears, I praised God for his unfailing love and that even in the foggiest of seasons He has promised to never leave or forsake me. From the time I was a young child, I've watched God faithfully provide, protect, and heal within my family. As I began my own relationship with God as a young teen, I continued to see Him work miracles on my behalf. When the way ahead has seemed impossible or unclear, God has always been there to comfort me and slowly reveal the light at the end of the tunnel. Many times, that light of truth has come by way of wonderful family, friends, and counselors who have taken my hand and carried me with their faith while mine was lacking. I have especially appreciated these people during my present season of life as we found out on January 1st that we are pregnant...again! lol! I didn't know if I could bare another loss but Stephen and I both felt that there was more room and love to be shared within our home. God gave us courage and blessed us with our 9th little bun in the oven. To say that I have been a little anxious and concerned about this pregnancy would be a huge understatement! I have been holding off on sharing the news as I really wanted to make sure this little one made it out of the 1st trimester. I am now 16 weeks, praise God! This pregnancy has been the easiest in getting progesterone and the "high risk" care that I have needed. I am blessed with a fantastic and caring doctor! A couple weeks ago, I got to see the little munchkin's legs squirming, arms flopping, and head bobbing around. :) Hearing the baby's heartbeat is like someone rubbing the tension out of my shoulders. It's SO relieving and reassuring to me. I am so thankful for this baby and can't wait to meet him or her. The first trimester has pretty much been the WORST experience, EVER. I have been so sick, vomiting, nauseous, and tired. all. the. time. My poor family had to fend for themselves a lot of times as the medicine I took to keep my food down would as a side effect make me super drowsy. A drowsy and pregnant mom + 3 active kiddos= disaster. I felt like such a failure at life. We had just started homeschooling, Tierzah, and it was going well until the sickness was in full effect. It was so hard to gather motivation to commit the time to reading to the kids, spending quality time, and working through tough issues, when all I wanted to do was throw up or fall asleep. I felt like I was constantly complaining to anyone who I came in contact with about how I felt that day. My own voice was annoying to me! My sweet husband, patient mother, and a mentor friend all gently reminded me that this season would pass and also "that it was for this child I had prayed." ;) I really am quite embarrassed and humbled by the way this time of being sick has so easily toppled me over. I like my schedule, clean(ish) house, healthy menu plans, work outs, quality time with hubby and children, and coveted quiet time with Jesus in the early morning. But there were days (weeks) were I didn't even open my planner, there were dishes in my sink and no dinner plan to speak of, laundry was 6 loads deep stuffed in our hall closet, all I wanted to eat was hot Cheetos (haven't touched those suckers since 6th grade! dang cravings) and spicy Ramen, the children maybe got a solid 2 hours of intentional time with me teaching them and then Adventures in Odyssey and my neighbor's trampoline helped with the rest, and worst of all, my sweet early morning quiet time was replaced with me religiously waking up to vomit my guts out and beg to God for help. I know this stuff is probably what 90% of all mother's experience and I'm just the one over here complaining about it. ;) On my wall is written out, "Do everything without arguing and complaining." It's been up there for a few months because I haven't quite got the hang of it yet. lol I feel like I wasn't a very good steward of this season of "suffering" and I didn't quite have the attitude of gratefulness this pregnancy so far. Maybe I was struggling with some depression, fear, anxiety, or just plain feeling "pregnant"...either way, now that I am on the other side of the tunnel, I wish I would have clung closer to Christ through it all. This is where I want to thank my husband, family members, and friends who have gone out of their way to send encouraging messages of hope and truth to me when I desperately needed it. I love you guys and I know that you love me has family, friend, and sister in Christ. I don't know where I'd be without this worldwide community that God has blessed me with. I like to pride myself in being self-sufficient and not needing anyone emotionally and physically. Haha! I know that is foolishness and being completely out of control has reminded me of just how much I need God, and how he uses the hands and feet of YOU all to take good care of me! I know this has been a heavy post so far and maybe that's why I have put off saying anything on the World Wide Web until now. This is the stuff that doesn't quite make it to my Facebook status update. However, this has also been real life and I think it's encouraging to know that not everything is as the filters portray it to be. Sometimes life hurts, it's messy, incomprehensible, and not #awesome. But as Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." The best is yet to come! I'm praying for us that we encourage one another to keep our eyes focused above especially when we feel blinded by our unique struggles. Thank you for keeping us in your prayer and hopefully by September 14th we will have a 4th little griffindor to add to the family! :)