A Change of Plans

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February 22, 2020

Saturday was going to be a great day…I woke up early and excited to take maternity pictures and to later celebrate Aaron and I’s 6 year wedding anniversary. We had just left my grandmas to continue taking pictures at our church when the unthinkable happened.

In a flash of blue, a speeding car flew past a stop sign and plowed into our 2010 Prius, hitting my passenger side. At that moment I didn’t see the miracle, I knew only the horror of being in a serious accident, slamming my head into “something”, I honestly can’t remember what…and thinking to myself as the dread reached my inner being, “my baby!!”

I can’t really explain the feeling, or feelings that all overcame me in those moments. Aaron was alright and my mom and uncle who had happened to be driving behind us stopped and tried to help. An ambulance was called and I demanded to go with them, all I could think about was my baby.

I’ve never had an ambulance ride, nor have I ever stayed at a hospital. This was totally against my plans! My first hospital stay was supposed to be the day I gave birth to my baby! And yet, there I was on my anniversary stuck in labor and delivery under observation for several hours.

As time passed, I began to realize the miracles/blessings that took place…what satan meant for evil, God took and turned it into good (as only He can do). A “change of plans” became a “change in perspective” for Aaron and I both.

It turns out that Aaron and the other driver swerved just enough so that instead of hitting my passenger door, our front tire took most of the blow. Also, our airbags didn’t deploy (something that has happened to me twice before) which saved us from receiving more damage. My seatbelt didn’t tighten around my belly and even though I hit my head, surprisingly, a bad goose-egg was all that came of it.

As for our baby, he was completely unharmed…and our observation yielded only good results. I was able to see our baby on the ultrasound again. the last I saw him was at 21 weeks pregnant, today I am 26 weeks. He was active and punching (all day) probably due to my nerves, but otherwise, he wasn’t in distress.

They told me that if I had been farther along, the results could have been different. Right now, he still has room to move and is protected by all the amniotic fluid and space. With each passing week as he grows, that space gets smaller as well as his “protection.” As I was reassured by doctors and nurses that I was lucky…I knew deep down that “luck” had nothing to do with it.

God saved my life. Again.

So many reached out to us in this time, even the maternity ward nurses blessed us, one nurse, in particular, took a liking to me and I found myself happy to see her each hour during my baby’s heart monitor readings. Before the end of her shift, she sent us a little surprise…

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A cake and some pizza! On top of that our pastor and his wife brought us chipotle…many people helped us to celebrate our anniversary. satan’s “change of plans” couldn’t stop our celebration! Nor this new perspective of an even greater thankfulness and appreciation for all of God’s blessings and provisions.

Not long after, I was allowed to be discharged and sleep in my own bed! And Sunday, I saw the love of our church family through the live stream, while my amazing mother made us dinner in my kitchen. Aaron and I again had a celebratory feast!

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Today, I am no longer really stiff, the whiplash has faded away and the bruise on my head is healing nicely. Financially, things are working themselves out and we choose to trust God in this just as we trust Him with our lives. My follow-up appointment went great! And my doctor even said, “God was looking after you.” Amen.

Emotionally I still am healing but with each day I feel better and less traumatized by the ordeal. It really was the greatest scare of my life (and that’s coming from someone who has had to face a fear of this caliber before). It will always amaze me how quickly things can turn, how a beautiful day can come to a crashing halt in the blink of an eye. All the more reason to thank God for every moment, to pray for protection regardless of how well life is going for you, and to remember that there is an ever-present enemy that never sleeps, and is after the children of God, those born and unborn.

At the end of the day, I learned that I still trust Him. That despite my recent doubts and unanswered questions about healing, I still believe He is Healer and He is Good. I realized this when my first response after the accident was to pray…

God, I’m sorry. I no longer desire to have all the answers…the only truth I need know is your goodness and your will. Anything, any thought that goes against this truth is a lie from the enemy. My beliefs are not dependant on what I see in this reality, no, they go beyond that. That is what faith is all about. Thank you, God, for protecting me and my family, we are yours forever…amen.

 

Has the enemy ever tried to “change your plans?”

In what ways has God brought beauty from ashes in your life?

 

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Pregnancy: Ups and Downs

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“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

-Carl Sandburg

I’m 24 weeks into this pregnancy journey, and boy…has it been a journey! Sometimes it feels like I’m in the back of a speeding car, other times, it’s as though I’m stuck in an empty void of “waiting.” I want to meet our child and yet, once he’s here, everything will change forever. That’s a good thing! But also, a scary thing indeed.

“Am I good enough?”

I am grateful that this question hasn’t crossed my mind, but that is only because of my faith in God. Do you know that He created you to be the best mother for your child? All of His created families are a perfect match, no matter how imperfect some of our moments are, that doesn’t change His belief in you. If God believes in you, then you are more than qualified for the job.  😉👍

At 24 weeks labor and the thought of “motherhood” still seems so far away, but getting closer every day. My focus has been solely “one day at a time” since the symptoms alone can be overwhelming!

Heart palpitations, pelvic pressure (makes it easy to overeat), Braxton Hicks contractions, fatigue, muscle cramps, headaches, skin problems, stretch marks, and random mood swings!

Yes, those are enough to be getting along with, though the pesky nausea that so plagued the beginning of this journey is basically over, besides the oversensitive “gag-reflex” which makes brushing teeth a tricky business.

My only joy has been in planning the baby shower and feeling our baby move, kick, and punch on a more regular daily schedule. (Generally, he is awake in the morning and late evening though eating/drinking and bending can stir him to action also)

I’ve discovered that pregnancy doesn’t always come with that “glow” everyone talks about. I’m torn between loving the baby bump look and hating the skin problems such as stretch marks and random blotchiness that comes from the rapid expansion of your body. Sometimes I have that energy and joy that many said I would experience in my 2nd Trimester, and other times, I feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and flat out tired!

It is a rollercoaster of new experiences for first-time mothers and because every pregnancy is different it’s hard to not feel “alone” on this journey. Even with your trusted spouse at your side or other more seasoned mothers reaching out to you.

I fail quite often in pulling myself out of these moments but here is what I have learned so far, I hope these tips will be helpful to you as well. A pregnant mother’s mental health is just as important as her physical one!

  1. If you are feeling down, don’t withdraw or allow yourself to become angry. And don’t lay around!! You want to pick up your spirits real quick? Get out of the house and move around, whether that’s a brisk morning walk or just doing some chores around the house/yard. Moving seems to really work at erasing the depression and in fact, sitting around can be what’s causing you to feel down. It’s hard to get started, believe me, I know! But once you do I guarantee you will feel better.
  2. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Talk to people! Even if they can’t completely know what you are going through, talk to them anyway. Venting is a great stress reliever and being more vocal about what you are going through to your spouse or best friend will help them to understand you at least a little bit more. If you don’t have other pregnant women to talk to, go join a forum online or find a pregnancy group in your town/city. Maybe try pregnancy yoga, or take a class.
  3. Braxton Hick’s contractions a constant? First, be sure they are false contractions and not labor (an easy way to tell is labor is painful/regular/and gets worse with time). To help ease Braxton Hick’s, change positions, drink a lot of water, don’t overeat (that really sets them off for me), try to relax by doing something that takes your mind off of them like watching a movie or reading. If your baby is being particularly active or if you have to pee this can also cause a false contraction, just remain calm and reassured that these false contractions aren’t dangerous and are quite normal. What do these feel like? A tightening and releasing of the uterine muscles (you can actually feel them tighten with your hand).
  4. Heart palpitations! I have always had these off and on before pregnancy, now It seems they can be worsened due to my increased blood volume and the extra heart strain in general. Keep an eye on them, if they get worse or are followed by other symptoms call your doctor. Otherwise, try to eat right (don’t lay down right after eating), avoid caffeine at all costs! move around/change position. Drink a glass of cold water, and do some relaxing meditations to calm yourself (stress can trigger these). What do they feel like? heart flutters and an overall faster heartbeat.

Eating right, having a good sleep/exercise schedule, and a good support group will help you through this difficult time. But I can’t stress enough the importance of drawing close to God, the one who understands you fully and what you are going through. I find peace in leaning on Him, reading His word when I’m afraid, and listening to worship music to ease my worries and emotions. Pray and surrender it all to Him, the only one who holds you and your child in His arms. With Him, you can do anything!! (Philippians 4:13)

 

 

Rescuing Villains

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Do you know we are in the business of rescuing villains?

Truthfully speaking, we all fell when Adam and Eve ate the fruit and therefore, we are all guilty and equally worthy of death. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus didn’t die for the innocent, he died for the wicked. He died to cleanse away the dark stain upon our hearts. He died for those spitting and mocking him just as much as he died for the disciples who realized only afterward who Jesus really was and why he came.

We are villains who have been redeemed and now seek to redeem the rest of those still clinging to darkness. Still lost in the night. But surely there are those who are more worthy of death than us? Surely, we weren’t quite so dark in comparison to thieves and murderers?

First, this question doesn’t apply to our present state. As we accepted Jesus, a new creature replaced the old. An evil thing died and a pure thing was born in us. The Holy Spirit is God with us, and in us…He is the one perfecting us and convicting us daily so that we never awaken the old dead self again. That is why the phrase “I’m just a sinner”, or “I’m only human”, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As new creations, we are freed from the chains of sin and with the Holy Spirit within us, we are more than merely “humans.” At least in the context of our actions, there should be another power at work within us.

So today, if you truly believe and have been washed clean then yes, you are no longer guilty of such crimes nor comparable to those who are still very much lost and under penalty of death (by choice).

Second, my answer is that God never said one sin is greater than another except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. A crime that discredits the works of God and glorifies the works of the devil. It is a tactic satan was first guilty of in the garden when he called God a liar, a term that only applies to the devil, the “father of lies.” (John 8:44)

To God, any sin is an act of rebellion and treason against righteousness and justice, or in other words, every sin separates us from Him irreparably outside of grace. Therefore, if you have lied, even just once, you are a liar. If you have looked upon a woman lustfully, just once, you are an adulterer…the list goes on. Now, with this in mind, if you were never cleansed of your crimes, how great would the list be?

We proved ourselves villains, rotten to the core, in this….when God came to live among us in the flesh, we killed him. Surely, we weren’t friends of God.

It may sound harsh, considering there were those who didn’t swing the hammer, didn’t force the crown of thorns onto Jesus’s head, those who mourned and cried out for him to be saved. And yet, Jesus died for them too. In fact, he died for all the pagan people and those who had yet to be born, you and me.

He died for his mother, his brothers, his disciples…his people. He looked down from the cross at them all and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Standing before God is different than standing before the world’s judicial system. And both the Bible and society talk of earthly punishments varying based on the severity of the crime. I personally believe that although all unrepented sin leads to death (hell), the severity of one’s unrepented crimes will be punished accordingly in the afterlife.

Just as our rewards will differ in heaven, so will the level of punishment in hell as Jesus stated in Luke 12:47-48: “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes shall be beaten with few…”

If we can store up treasure in heaven, I’m sure the latter is also true. That we can store up for ourselves punishment…but at the end of the day, even the richest person in hell is still in hell, what difference does it really make? Hell, in essence, is “hell” not because of fire and brimstone…no, what makes it hell is the complete and utter absence of God’s presence. Something that even the most lost, poor, broken parts of the world are not without. Think of your loneliest moments, even there God was still watching you, waiting for you. No one knows what it would be like if God completely withdrew Himself and you were locked away far from ever feeling His warmth, light, joy, and hope ever again….that is hell.

Who would be there to save you? Who would be there to comfort you? All the protections you took for granted against the evil of the world and the works of the devil against your life, they would be removed and you would be vulnerable, stripped bare before a very angry and resentful satan and his demons for all eternity.

I don’t say this to frighten, in fact, I long only to make the point that all sin “earns” death (hell). And true repentance is available regardless of the crime one has committed. In my heart, this doesn’t seem fair…that is because I live in a world where mercy and grace must be equally earned. You’ve heard people say, “you have to earn it!” whether they are talking about trust, forgiveness, freedom, or the clothes on their backs…very few things in life are given freely.

Grace is a gift, and the only way we receive it is through repentance. So long as we have to free will to truly repent then we have the free will to truly receive all that Christ paid for on the cross. It defies “fairness”, which if we were held to that we would all be dead anyway, that would have been “fair.”

We, therefore can’t question who is worthy to receive a gift because that puts the giver in question. Do we really want to question God’s judgment?

And so the greatest story unfolds…the only story where the hero dies for the villain. The only story where God dies for mankind and restores them to Himself. The only story where the true villain “satan,” stands already defeated and all we must do, is take back what is ours, what Christ suffered to return to us. Our inheritance.