Thursday, September 11, 2014

Praying for a Miracle

Several years ago, I prayed for something.  I prayed fervently, prayed in a way that I’ve prayed for few things in my life.  I truly believed God would answer my prayers with a “yes.”  I claimed verses like Matthew 17:20: “…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I really believed that it was God’s will and I wanted to have faith that he would grant a miracle even when hope seemed lost.  Ultimately, God did not grant the miracle.  His answer was “no.”  And to be honest, I was kind of mad.
At the time a very wise woman said to me, “Haley, God gets to choose what seas he is going to part!” (a truth that has stuck with me even since).
On April 25 of this year, I got an early morning phone call from my sister.  She was 17.5 weeks pregnant with her first baby.  She was leaking fluid and heading to the ER.  After a few hours of confusion and tests, it was confirmed that it was amniotic fluid and she had a ruptured sac.  She was told that in all likelihood she was going to lose her baby.  She was told she could go the “conservative route” (strict bed rest with which she would probably still lose the baby) or an elective abortion.
Statistically speaking, she was told that after a rupture, 75% of women deliver within the first 48 hours and 99% deliver within two weeks.  99%!!!  Needless to say, they were not given hope.
Once again I prayed for a miracle, my whole family prayed, many of you reading this prayed.  For a four hour drive to Dallas, I begged for the life of my unborn nephew, Brayden Scott Coben, a little baby who already had an identity to us, a gender and a name.
But this time, I remembered that God got to choose what happened, what seas he was going to part, not me.  But, I still begged, knowing that he was capable, knowing that he works all things together for the good of those who love him, knowing that God loves Brayden more than me, more than his grandparents, even more than his parents.
One day at a time for six weeks, Whitney lay on strict bed rest at home.  Through the fear and the doubt, we prayed every day for this baby’s life knowing that there were no guarantees.  When Brayden was nearly 24 weeks (considered viable), she was checked into the hospital and she lay on bed rest for another four weeks until he was born on July 4th at 27.5 weeks!

Needless to say, Brayden has not had an easy start to his life and David and Whitney have not had an easy journey into parenthood.  They’ve already spent more than two months in the NICU and their journey is not over.  But there is no doubt that God has already done miraculous things and he knows the plans he has for this child.
Praying for Brayden and watching God do what only he can do has left me pondering many theological questions, questions I don’t have the answers to, and has left me in awe of our great God!
Never before have I been so reminded of how much we are like the Israelites wandering in the desert.  We see miracle after miracle after miracle of God’s provision yet at the first bump in the road, we still doubt.
Even now, Brayden has spent more than two months in the NICU and is still on a ventilator.  His life will not be free from tribulation (none of ours will!).  And despite all the wonders we’ve seen God do in this baby, we still doubt.

And maybe we don’t doubt that God CAN do it, but WILL he do it?  Because sometimes he doesn't.  Babies are lost.  Marriages fall apart.  People die.
When God grants a miracle, we are so quick to say, “God is so good!”  But, is he any less good when the answer is no?
I love the way Beth Moore puts it in her book, Believing God.
 “We’re scared half to death that He won’t come through for us, dignify us with a yes, and prove faithful.  Or that we’ll prove to be failures at having enough belief for Him to bless with a miracle.  If I’m convinced that God really loves me and has certain priorities for me that may take precedence at times, then I am ‘safe’ to walk by faith.  I am freed to know that my God is huge and my God is able and that if I don’t get what I asked, if I’ll cooperate, I’ll get something bigger………..Nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).  We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle.  If, in God’s sovereignty, He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we have not because we asked not (James 4:2) or that we have not because we believed not………Therefore, I am utterly convinced that any earnestly seeking child of God who receives a no from the Throne is for the sake of a greater yes, whether realized on earth or in heaven.”
I do not know why God chose to save Brayden.  But I will forever be grateful for the miracle he has granted to my family.  I am thankful that his purposes are not dependent on my faith or lack there of, but that his plans for us always prevail.  Brayden will always be a constant reminder of the enduring love and unceasing faithfulness of our God.
 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36

“The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 9:33

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Last of 2013's Family Funnies

Brought to you by these crazies

Grayson: "I'm smoking hot!"

(Daddy playing Minion Rush)
Grayson: "You can do it! You did it! I'm so proud of you Daddy!"

Brad: "Grayson, do you mind going to put your shoes up?"
Grayson: "Actually, I do mind."

(Camdyn dancing)
Me: "Camdyn, are you a little ham?"
Grayson: "No, she's a turkey!"

Brad: "Grayson, did you have a good time at your first Aggie football game?"
Grayson: "Yes!"
Brad: "Wasn't it cool seeing Lassie?"
Me: "Lassie?"
Brad: "I mean Reveille."

Grayson: "Daddy, look at the picture I drew at school."
Brad: "That's really cool buddy. Is that our family?"
Grayson: "Yeah."
Brad: "Are we wearing head phones or ear muffs?"
Grayson: "Head phones."
Brad: "Cool, what are we listening to?"
Grayson: "The Fox Song."

We are eating at FreeBirds and Camdyn was running around on the patio and out of no where, she turns to a complete stranger, sticks out her thumb and says:
"Gig 'Em Aggies!"
(Good to know the brain washing has paid off :)

Me: "Ok, no more crying, Mommy can't take it anymore!"
Grayson: "Daddy's not crying!"

Grayson: "Pizza Pizza and Lord of Lords."
Me: "Do you mean, 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords?'"

(We were going around the table saying what we are thankful for at Thanksgiving.)
Aunt Whitney: "Camdyn, what are you thankful for?"
Camdyn: "Jesus!"
Uncle David: "Well, I can't top that!"
(She's going to be our Sunday school kid! :)

(We were having a shrimp dish for dinner.)
Grayson: "This stinks!"
Brad: "Grayson, did you know that shrimp come from the ocean?"
Grayson: "Yeah, and the ocean stinks! And now my belly is going to stink!"

Brad: "Camdyn, you're my little princess!"
Camdyn: "I not a princess, I Camdyn!"

(We were having lunch with Grayson at school.)
Me: "So, what have you learned today so far?"
Grayson: "Mommy, we don't learn before lunch!"

(After Brad passed gas multiple times in the car)
Grayson: "Daddy, can you please stop stinking?!"

Me: "Grayson, do you remember what the name 'Jesus' means?"
Grayson: "God to the rescue!"
Me: "Well, 'God saves,' but close enough! :)

Brad: "Camdyn, can you say bye-bye to baby Jack?"
Camdyn: "Bye Bye Jacket!"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You are Two!

My gorgeous are two years old today! I can't believe it!

Before your big brother came along, I dreamed of a house full of girls. But, God had different plans for our family and your brothers have captured my heart in ways I never could have imagined. But, no doubt, that desire for a daughter never went away. After a year and a half of trying to get pregnant with you, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by God's faithfulness when I heard those words, "It's a girl!" I felt like he had wrapped up the best birthday present ever and handed it to me with a big, beautiful, perfect, pink bow! You were so worth the wait! And although your Daddy probably reacted similarly to the idea of having a baby girl as I did to the idea of having a baby boy, you certainly have him wrapped around your little finger now. You just light up every day when he walks in the door and he treasures your sweet hugs and kisses, although you don't give them too freely (Miss Independent).

You are a joy in our home! You have so much personality, more than what we know what to do with sometimes :) You love to read books, do puzzles, sing songs and play with your big brother! You have amazed us with your God-given abilities (he knows we certainly had nothing to do with it). You sing complete songs after hearing them only a few times. You love to sing the ABC's, Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had a Little Lamb. You shocked us when you started counting at 19 months and knew all your shapes and colors before your second birthday. I guess we should have known when you said your first sentence at 12 months.

You adore your big brother and can certainly hold your own or at least scream at the top of your lungs when he's being a punk :) You are so sweet with your baby brother and are so "helpful" to shove a pacifier in his mouth when he begins crying. You don't leave bows or shoes on, which is why you have your disheveled hair in your face at all times. And rarely are you looking at the camera in pictures because you are constantly moving. You are sweet, ornery and precious. I certainly don't think you'll get lost as the middle child. You are a mess, our mess, and we adore you!

I pray as you grow that you would know how loved you are by both God and us! I pray that he would give you a heart to know, love and follow him all the days of your life. I pray that you would always know that you are beautiful because you are fearfully and wonderfully made by him. I pray that you grow up to have a spirit of gentleness and humility which serves as your underlying strength beneath the crazy, outgoing personality I expect you will have (if two is an indication of things to come.) I pray most of all that you love Jesus more than anything in this whole world!

Camdyn McLaine, you are a gift from God and we are so thankful for you!(Matt. 7:11)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Family Funnies

Grayson: "I'm dead of thirsty."
Mommy: "You mean, you're dying of thirst?"
Grayson: "Oh yeah."

Grayson: "Mommy, I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to salad."

(Grayson sees me give money to a homeless person)
Grayson: "Mommy, you can give away dollars and pennies. But, don't give away my quarters, those are for games."

Grayson: "Mommy, what do you think they're building right there?"
Mommy: "I have no idea."
Grayson: "I bet it's going to be a tabernacle."

Grayson: "I'm so very nauseous and crampy."
(Can you tell he had been hanging out with a pregnant lady?)

Mommy & Daddy (on the phone after Colby was born): "Guess what buddy? You have a little brother!"
Grayson: "I thought that's what it was going to be!"
Mommy & Daddy: "His name is Colby Beckham Smith."
Grayson: "No! His name is Colby Nugget Smith!"
Mommy & Daddy: "You can call him nugget if you want."
Grayson: "Can Colby AND Camdyn sleep in my room? I have three beds!"

Grayson: "What is that?"
Mommy: "It's a breast pump."
Grayson: "It looks like a horn honker."

Grayson: "We have a boy, then a girl, then a boy, and then we're going to have another girl and another boy and another girl. And then we'll never leave the house." (No, we wouldn't.)

"Helping with laundry"

When Daddy and Mommy came home from the hospital and Colby had to stay in the NICU, Camdyn walked up to me very curiously and stared at my belly as if to say, "that was a lot bigger last time I saw you." She then lifted up my shirt, stared at my belly, shrugged her shoulders, kissed my belly and walked off, as if to say, "well, I don't see a baby so it must still be in there."

And then for two weeks after Colby came home, Camdyn woke up every morning, spotted Colby, and yelled, "BABY!!!" in excitement as if she had forgotten he was there the day before.

Camdyn: "I so funny!"

Camdyn: "I pretty!"
(No self esteem issues here)

Mommy: "Camdyn, can Mommy have a hug?"
Camdyn: "No, ma'am!"
(At least she's polite!)

Mommy: "Burp!"
Camdyn: "Bless you!"

Mommy: "Camdyn, you are one smart little cookie!"
Camdyn: "I want cookie!"

(Camdyn was helping Daddy and Mommy get ready one morning; we were all three looking in the bathroom mirror."
Mommy: "Camdyn, whose that pretty girl?"
Camdyn: "Daddy?"

(Daddy is changing Camdyn's diaper)
Camdyn: "Yuuucky....Stinky....Naaasty....Shew-Wee."

And this little one doesn't have any stories yet, but isn't he cute? :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Colby Beckham Smith

Born 5.29.2013, 8:38am
7 lbs, 7 oz
20.5 inches

"Children are a gift from the Lord..." Psalm 127:3

After being told by my doctor at 32 weeks that I was beginning to dilate and was told to "take it easy," we went ahead and decided that I would get steroid shots in case our baby made an early arrival to help the progression of lung development, a decision we are very thankful for. We prayed that the Lord would keep our sweet baby in my belly to full term, but trusted that he would see us through, even if it meant another NICU stay. After experiencing lots of back pain, without sleeping for a couple weeks and experiencing levels of discomfort I hadn't known in previous pregnancies, I went into labor at 34.5 weeks, on the morning of Wednesday, May 29.

My water broke at 6:50am (for having such spontaneous deliveries, turns out I'm actually quite predictable, as the timing was nearly exactly what happened with Grayson and Camdyn). Despite having friends and family on stand-by for weeks, the morning of, no one was answering their phones (Didn't they know I was in labor? :)) Ultimately, I ended up walking next door (yes, I walked) to our neighbors house while Brad packed to ask them to come stay with Grayson and Camdyn for all of ten minutes until our sweet friends, the Hollands, from our community group could get there to stay with them until Grandma and Aunt Whitney could get there from Dallas. It was truly a team effort of watching our older two as our neighbor, the Hollands and our friend Carrie all took shifts for the day (Thank you God for wonderful friends & neighbors!)

We got to the hospital and immediately I started feeling intense contractions (I felt nothing before that). They checked me and I was 5 cm dilated. I said, "Yes, I can get an epidural!" as I'd always been 8 cm at my first check with Grayson and Camdyn. Due to my history with fast labors, I was "somewhat" mentally prepared in case I had to do it naturally. But, since I was only 5 cm, I was hopeful that there would be enough time. As the contractions got even more intense and I began feeling the pressure, it became apparent pretty quick that it wasn't going to happen. In fact, my doctor and the anesthesiologist walked in when I was 9 and 3/4 cm dilated and they both looked at me with that sympathetic look of, "Sorry, honey, it's not going to happen." Since I thought the idea of taking a natural child birth class or reading some encyclopedia thick book after going through labor twice was pretty silly, I had asked my friend Liz to give me some scripture she memorized when she did it all-natural.

I began praying, "Strengthen my inner-most being with the power of your spirit," based on Ephesians 3:16 and reminding myself that "I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength," based on Philippians 4:13. Despite my silent reminders to myself, I was still screaming, "I can't do this!" over and over again :) It felt like the ultimate battle between the flesh and the spirit!

After the longest six minutes of my life pushing, our beautiful son was born at 8:28 AM at a whopping 7 lbs 7 oz, an hour and forty minutes after my water broke, 55 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. Although we didn't find out the sex of the baby this time, we were both so confident that it was going to be a boy, I don't think we were the least bit surprised when we saw that it was a boy.

After feeling the guilt of my water breaking that morning at the realization that I wasn't going to make it to term which would likely mean a NICU stay, that guilt immediately vanished when I heard 7 lbs, 7 oz. They immediately handed me our sweet boy. In fact, for a moment, we thought they might not even take him from us. But, as he began grunting, they knew he was under respiratory distress and wheeled him away to the NICU. It's a horrible feeling to have your baby taken away and be left with only the pain you feel after child birth. Thankfully, after an X-ray we found out that his respiratory distress was caused not because he was a preemie, but because there was fluid on his lungs due to my quick delivery, something he worked out within 24 hours after birth. We spent five LONG days in the NICU before we were able to take our boy home. Thankfully, he never had a single "preemie" issue, only normal newborn issues (jaundice, reflux).

There was lots of conversation about the possibility of my due date being a couple weeks off because of his size and the fact that his development tested more like a 38-week-er. In truth, no one will ever know for sure. While it's easy to try and analyze it all with science, we have been overwhelmed with the truth that God was preparing our little boy for an early arrival all along and he ordained every single tiny detail in advance! He is always faithful! It has been a sweet and precious reminder that he already has a perfect plan for this sweet baby's life!

Unfortunately once you go into the NICU, it seems you can never get out (but I'll save my doctor/hospital/NICU soap box for another time!) :) But, by the grace of God, we brought our little boy home Monday night (on a heart monitor which our pediatrician took us off of that Friday). He has already been a perfect and welcome blessing in our family! In many ways, it feels like he has been with us forever. He has a big brother and big sister who adore him and a Daddy and Mommy who look at him with awe in how the Lord has blessed us!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moments, Milestones and Miracles

This is me trying to cram what should be multiple blog posts into one big one.

To start off, here are some funny family moments from our kiddos who always keep us laughing!

(Camdyn is frustrating Grayson)
Grayson: "Someday, when you're not looking, I'm going to sell her!"

Grayson: "Come on truck. Let's get a move on. What's your problem?"
(He gets his road rage from his Daddy)

Brad: "Grayson, what should we name the baby?"
Grayson: "Let's name him nugget!" (In case you're not a Veggie Tale fan, that one comes from "Moe and the Big Exit")
Me: "That sounds like a great nickname for the baby."
Grayson: "Not a nickname, I want that to be the real name. Nugget Smith!"

Me: "Grayson, will you please bring me the trash from your bathroom?"
Grayson: "$10 Mommy"
(Another wonderful catch phrase he picked up from his Daddy)

Grayson: "Daddy, what do polar bears eat?" (as we're watching a documentary on polar bears)
Brad: "Well, they eat other animals made of meat."
Grayson: "Do they eat people?"
Brad: "They can."
Grayson: "I don't want a polar bear to eat me!"

(Grayson got a new tape measure and was measuring everything. He stretched it across Brad's rear end.)
Grayson: "Man, Daddy, your bottom is pretty big!"
(In case you've ever seen my husband, his bottom is pretty much non-existent which made it all the funnier)

Brad: "Let's get out of this joint!"
Grayson: "What's a joint?"
(If he was a little older, this conversation could have gone in a very different direction)

(A kid was getting pretty physical with Grayson on a bounce house recently. Because of a thousand conversations of "do not hit," Grayson was just trying to get away instead of defend himself. Brad was on his way to intervene when an older child got involved and helped Grayson up.)
Grayson: "Daddy, he was beating me up. That was the first time that ever happened before."

Grayson: "Grandma, are you old?"
Grandma: "I'm getting there."
Grayson: "Because if you're old, you can park in those special spots at the front." (pointing to the handicap spots)

Camdyn: "nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, Ba-Man" (running around the house with Grayson's Bat-Man action figure)
Can you tell she has a brother? Poor girl has no chance of being a girly girl!

Our little miracle achieved a major milestone recently: Graduating from Pre-School!

I should really begin the story of pre-school graduation with earlier in the day. After hearing from my doctor that things were progressing quicker than we'd like and the chances of an early delivery were likely, it had been an emotional roller coaster of a day as we contemplated how we might handle another stay in the NICU. As I'm holding back tears on the way to graduation...

Grayson: "Mommy, why are you crying?
Me: "Mommy is just scared this baby is going to be born too early and we're going to have to leave him or her at the hospital the way we had to leave you at the hospital. But, you know what, we need to just pray and trust God with this."
Grayson: "Mommy, maybe we can pray now?" (followed by the most precious prayer ever uttered for his little sibling to be)
Somewhere along the way my 5-year-old became smarter than me and I couldn't be more blessed!

I remember the music minister's wife at our church in College Station joking that she always got more out of the children's sermons than she did out of the real ones. And that's pretty much exactly what happened to me at pre-school graduation.

As our boy and his classmates sang song after song about God's love, I found tears pouring down my face as I listened to the lyrics of songs like, "Oh what a Miracle am I" and "Come to Worship," as the Lord reminded me of his faithfulness and of the Grace he poured out on us and used to mold us as parents through Grayson's birth and NICU stay. And that he was standing ready to pour out Grace on us over and over again no matter what trials and tribulations came our way.

Five years after his surprise birth, our boy, who we've always considered a miracle, continues to be a constant reminder of God's faithfulness in our family! I'm sure I'll be crying the same tears at his high-school graduation which my husband so kindly pointed out in the midst of my tears is only 13 years away!