Sunday, July 30, 2006

Here's to Hoping

My Feingold buddies have been following this pregnancy closely and were convinced that yesterday was going to see the birth of Nathan. They announced, they prayed it and they waited for it to happen. So, since yesterday was supposed to *my* day I did a lot of nonsense - walked around to a bunch of stores w/the girls getting birthday presents for our two August birthdays and buying Breyer's (buy one get one free at Superfresh - yahoo!!). I also got myself an eggplant and ate it for supper w/tomato sauce and mozz cheese - yum! That seemed to work. I sufficiently tired myself out, came home and camped out in my chair and let the contractions begin!

Those continued for a few hours and then they stopped so Ben and I walked down to the neighbor's pool on the other side of the neighborhood and took a swim/made a whirlpool. I decided I needed more walking so we took the long way home. About halfway home I got a cramp in my side so bad I couldn't walk anymore and we sat on some tree stumps in someone's yard - we must have been a sight since it was dark by then! I mustered up some more energy and we made it to the next street where we sat in the gutter and I text messaged dh to say please come pick me up!! I waited for my knight in a shining silver Saturn to pick me up but after a few minutes and no response, we decided to try the last leg home. Slowly but surely we made it home. I was BEAT!! We went to sleep and I had contractions all night. Now I'm up sitting in my most comfortable chair and still having contractions which are getting quite a bit stronger...We shall see...Of course, Sunday mornings here are always packed since we are supposed to be at church by 8:30 and usually stay there until 1 or 1:30 (such is the life of a clergy family! lol). So Nathan will have picked the most inopportune time of the week to arrive - figures! By the way, the Bradley way of breathing through these puppies is working much better than all the other labors I've ever had!! I just may make it through this one without the epidural - I hope so!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Pregnant Pause

Well, just everybody wants to know...when is this baby coming?! And, hey, I'm right up there with them. It just seems I can't convince little Nathan to pack his bags and head south for anything. As of Monday, I was 2 cm dilated, 60% effaced and little guy was still a free floater which means....ABSOLUTELY NOTHING apparently on your 5th go round. I could go from there to delivery in a matter of minutes, hours or weeks and no amount of convincing is going to change his and God's birth schedule.

So I am just praying for the grace to make it through the day every day and praising Him for 8 wonderful children who have learned to go with the flow and pick up the pieces of our lives as I drop them. JT and Ben have become the perfect helpers - they now get breakfast for everyone and come up with a morning play plan before I'm even thinking of getting out of bed. I mostly spend time daydreaming about a bonified *dark*haired child and managing all the random sensations flowing through my body at any given time. Today those happen to be minor contractions and major back pain in addition to Nathan's attempts to scrape off the lining of my uterus with his knees and fingernails.

The most amusing part of this has to be the vivid dreams. Yesterday I layed down for a nap and dreamt that I was napping on Mom's sofa. I awoke to realize that Nathan's head was crowning in spite of a distinct lack of contractions. I desperately tried to get my husband's attention but he just wasn't understanding me and all I could think was, "I'm going to deliver this baby right here and I'm going to get Mom's couch all bloody." At that point I woke up for real and realized it wasn't a crowning head, but a marvelous wedgie causing that sensation....

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ben's Calling

At the farm where we do therapeutic riding they are trying to inseminate several of the horses. They do the insemination and then at 16 days they do a sonogram to see if it has "taken". Well, our children were blessed to view one of these sonograms - it was sooo neat to see that little pony zygote on the computer screen - esp when they've been so aware of my own pregnancy this time around. The only thing is that the vet did the sonogram internally and she was up to her armpit in horse bottom getting the wand in there....Well, while everyone else was transfixed on that computer screen, Ben was busy watching the vet. He looked at me and said, "Mom, promise me one thing - just this one thing.." "What's that Ben?" "Promise me I will never be called to do*that*!" I just thought that was so sweet that he was really open to whatever the Lord's calling may be on his life but he could see that there would be some internal struggles if the call went in a particular direction....I'm so glad that our children are learning to see growing up as growing into their call from God.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Why We're Letting God Plan our Family

This issue recently came up on the Large Families Homeschooling e-group to which I belong. One member of the group is earnestly seeking the answers to NFP (Natural Family Planning) vs Quiverful thinking (allowing God complete control over the wife's womb and fertility w/no intervention) for her own life. I know we have many friends and family who have learned to just bite their tongues and shake their heads at us when we announce a new pregnancy or another adoption and so I thought that perhaps my responses to the member of that group on this topic would be an edifying addition to my blog. I gave two responses and I am posting both of them here.

Here is part of the first response:

I think part of why my children like to expand the family is that with adoption they have a bit of a say in the matter too. Of course we only adopt the ones we feel genuinely called by God to adopt but they have put in their orders w/Him. JT was feeling rather outnumbered as the only black child in the family and then we adopted an African sister. He still has his order in for a slightly older, dark-skinned brother who likes to play soccer (I'm not sure God's going to honor that one but he's welcome to dream..). They find it fun to kick around the possibilities and often look at the adoption photo-listings with me. But they are just as thrilled when I get pregnant. I don't know if the boys will still be enthusiastic shouldI ever be able to conceive a girl again but as long as I'm popping out brothers, they are thrilled and the girls just seem to like to be big sisters to anybody who comes along.

Our fertility is in God's hands which is an interesting place to be considering I'm about to give birth to number 9 and I'm only 35. I have at least 10 more fertile years I would think before things slow down significantly. That could add up to a lot more little bodies in the family! I really struggled with that, however, after John Michael was born. His was a really hard pregnancy with lots of pre-term labor signs, bedrest and worry. Shortly after he was born, I confessed to the other clergy wives at our annual retreat that I really needed prayer in that area. We had turned our fertility over to the Lord but I was really hoping and praying that God would give us a bit of a break for a while as I didn't know how I would cope. Well, what I didn't know then is that I was probably already pregnant with David who was born two weeks before John Michael's first birthday! He was also my easiest pregnancy ever *and* in between there God provided us with a full-time live-in nanny. God heard my prayers and answered them in ways I never would have thought. I wanted a break and He gave me an easy pregnancy and fulltime help. I just needed to trust Him to know the plan!

And here is the follow-up response:

I have always had funky cycles and when I was in college they became extremely painful and problematic. I went on the pill then to even out the cycles and my moods - not to use as BC. That said, I was still very emotionally unstable when I first got married and stayed on the pill for about another 2 years. I went off the pill and we decided to try to conceive and took NFP classes. We basically failed the class b/c my cycles were literally off the charts and all my NFP "signs" were completely whacked (like perfectly wonderful stringy mucous for weeks on end and temperatures so erratic there was no making sense out of them?!). The nurse who taught the class threw up her hands and said we must be doing it all wrong - unfortunately her incredibly insensitive response came from absolutely *no* training in dealing w/women w/irregular cycles.

After that and still no baby we went to a fertility clinic. We were told that both of us had issues which would preclude us from ever being able to conceive. In retrospect, I blame the pill on those "issues". As soon as we got that news, we decided to adopt instead. A month after we placed JT, we found out I was 6 weeks pregnant w/Ben - a MIRACLE! Since it took us so many years to conceive Ben, we just stopped worrying about it and put it in God's hands. In the meantime, we adopted a couple more children. Then came Betsy, born 4 years after Ben. That was a doable time span -why worry (except that we were in the middle of an adoption from Hong Kong at the time)? Obviously God's clock was going to go nice and slowly for us on this conception thing. So we continued to leave it up to the Lord. Well, John Michael was born 2 years after Betsy -the gap was getting closer and, as I said, that was a miserable pregnancy. That was the one that really made us stop and think about this Leaving It Up To The Lord thing. Our hearts were convicted but we just didn't know if we could handle it if they came any closer and that's when I really started to cry out to the Lord over it and He responded as I told you in my testimony.

There are so many issues surrounding this with us. I now believe that artificial BC is unacceptable for Christian couples. I am sorry if that statement offends but I have btdt and the physical and spiritual pain it caused me and my dh (not to mention the abortifacient effects) are not fruits of a godly thing... I know and understand NFP and see its value for Christian couples. For us, it just can't work because my body just does not work the way it should. So my dh and I are caught between a rock and a hard place -do we completely surrender this to the Lord or do we use BC because the alternative (NFP) doesn't work for us? Well, if you don't believe BC is a viable option for Christians then we were left with a pretty clear answer there...

We also happen to be a clergy family - my dh is a priest who has been teaching on Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body - a very deep,challenging and convicting reflection on God's plan for marriage. It does allow for NFP, in fact actively endorses it as the best, most godly way to go. Since it doesn't work for us, we've had to adjust our thinking.

All the clergy in our church are on board with this teaching and havebeen working together to teach it from the pulpit, therefore our personal lives have been closely scrutinized by our congregation - we really need to put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. Of the 4 clergy couples - one is beyond childbearing years, one couple is using NFP and two of us are choosing to allow God to completely control our wombs. For the other couple this has been a particularly hard walk. It has meant carrying and birthing miscarried babies at home so that they could bury the bodies properly and be a witness to the fact that these are all lives planned by God and not a pile of tissue to be disposed of by hospital personnel. I see the strength in their witness and how can we *not* go the hard road that, yes, we feel God is calling us to walk in?! The couple who is using NFP are currently the houseparents of a home for unwed pregnant girls - a wonderfully dynamic and necessary ministry. They have 2 young children and having another, will make it very difficult to carry out this ministry. They, also, I believe are following God's call for their lives.

So, I guess my response is a mixed bag. I do not believe Christian couples are called to use artificial BC - it definitely dampens the spirit of a marriage and, I believe, goes against a biblical ideal for man and wife. So the choice becomes one of no intervention at all or NFP. Either, I think are acceptable but I don't think either one is *our* choice. I think as husbands and wives we need to earnestly seek after the Lord's plan for our marriages and our families. We can't just make assumptions - but really need to communicate w/our spouses and with the Lord. It can be a hard road to follow the former but, when called to it, the Lord will provide for all our needs.

In some marriages, it may be virtually impossible for a wife to get that conversation out of her husband and so her job then becomes to submit to his wishes and pray for his heart to be open to the conversation. There are many, many women on this list who have demonstrated that beautifully and now have wonderful testimonies about such things as vasectomy reversals, hearts opened to adoption and several homemade blessings who would never be walking this earth w/o God's grace poured out.

I don't know the answers for you in particular, but I do know that calvary was a hard road, that the cup poured out was not the easy thing for our Lord to do. He doesn't ask us to do the easy thing, he asks us, "Can you drink from this cup?" If we look at the cup as death and crucifixion, the answer may be no, but if we look atthe cup as resurrection, the answer will always be Yes, Lord!! I can only offer my testimony which I've tried to make one of saying yes to Jesus in spite of whatever discomfort it causes me.

The baby I am about to birth was conceived during our year in exile after a devastating housefire, after which our live-in nanny left us and I had to pick up the pieces of our home life by myself (dh is not only a priest and a father of many but has to hold down a full-time secular job as well). God has provided more abundantly, over-filling, blessedly in the past year then ever before in our lives.My friend loves to quote a scripture (and I'm sorry, I wish I knew the reference - I'll have to ask her) about how in our obedience GodCOMMANDS a blessing. It's not just His heart, that we are blessed for our obedience, He makes sure it happens by COMMANDING it! Howc ool is that?!

Well, I don't know if I've answered your questions but I've certainlyhad my say

Live Jesus!

Mary K

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Way Cool Answer to Prayer

Several years ago, the wife of one of our bishops shared with the ladies of our church about their ministry in the Philippines. She spoke specifically about the children there and the terrible conditions. She talked about children abandoned in trash heaps and on the streets. The lucky ones were left in places where the parents were sure they would be found and taken to an orphanage. She talked about a difficult political situation and severe poverty which are the source of such atrocities against the children. I came home from that retreat weekend and talked to my children about what I had learned. The story struck a chord in Ben's heart and since then he has faithfully prayed for the children in the Philippines almost every night.

Well, yesterday we got to spend some time with our friends who have 4 children adopted from Korea and just received two Filipino children into their home for a summer adoption program. Hector and Joey will be joining their new family after a brief visit here, a return to the Philippines and then a permanent move back here sometime this Winter! Nobody planned it this way, they weren't exactly looking to adopt again and certainly not from the Philippines! God just spoke to our friends and they responded with joyful obedience. Since this is the family which took us in after the fire, I'm certain Ben's prayers for the children were prayed under their roof at some point. There are still many children in the Philippines in need of loving homes but don't we have an awesome God who hears the prayers of a child and responds in such a way?!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Long Silence

Well, I haven't posted here in quite some time, not out of a lack of anything to write about. It's been a long, hard month and I don't have any fun pictures to share or funny stories to relate. There have been several things keeping me from writing and I hope to get back on board this week. Here's the run-down of the past month or so:

WATER - We moved back home Memorial Day weekend and that Friday Fr. Joel took the 4 eldest boys camping as a well-deserved break from the hard work of moving boxes. I glanced down the basement steps on my way to bed at around midnight and saw about 2 inches of standing, muddy water filling the entire basement. What's a pregnant woman to do? I left a message for my husband, prayed a long prayer and went to bed. The water had receded by morning which left us with a layer of mud all over anything new we had just put down there (which happened to include the big boys' bedrooms). The next two weeks we went through monsoon season here and the water clean-up became a daily chore in the basement. Two pumps later and a few wheelbarrows full of dirt and we finally got it under control, just in time for the last week of heavy rains. There is now a major drainage diversion project on the top of the to-do list for the back yard.

SPIRITUAL TURMOIL - Somewhere in there we began to experience some turmoil in our church government. Fr. Joel's presence was required at several lengthy meetings which kept him from home for a period of a few weeks. The end result is that our bishop has resigned from the CEC and our church government is experiencing a period of adjustment and renewal. It has been a confusing time for our clergy, our congregations and for us personally and a lot of time and energy has been spent in the business of reconciling relationships and restoring joy and order to our parish life. We are finally at a point where we can begin to pick up where we left off in the most important business - that of being church to our town and our Neighbors.

PREGNANCY - Well, the final thing keeping me from my blog is the fact that I'm very pregnant and in the midst of all of the above at the same time. God has been so good to grant me a fairly easy and mobile pregnancy. I've been able to be on my hands and knees mopping up muddy floors, unpacking boxes, decorating bedrooms and just restoring our household to some semblance of order, in addition to the day to day tasks of raising up a small army to the glory of God.

I think we're finally stabilizing a bit here, just in time for the birth of Nathan Lee which should be occurring any time between right now and another 2 weeks from now. I just passed my 37 week mark and, as usual, Mr. Baby is measuring big. There have been some off and on contractions but nothing that feels like delivery is imminent. We'll be sure to keep you posted!

JT did get to have a week at River Valley Ranch as a real overnight camper. It was a tremendous experience for him and Heidi did a great job keeping him on his diet so his transition home was pretty smooth.

This past weekend we sent the children off in 4 different directions while Fr. Joel and I took a much-needed weekend away. It was fantastic! God was good to provide each of the children with the perfect situation and He was equally as good to provide Fr. Joel and me with exactly the right experience. We attended a Roman Catholic homeschool conference at the Baltimore Convention Center (I'll save the details for another posting) and got loads of time to spend alone together and to spend some very relaxed time with good friends as well.

It is well with my soul...and I'm glad to be back on the blog!