Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Faith That Can Move Mountains

I pray that one day I would have a faith that can move mountains. To believe so much in what God is doing in our life - even in the good and bad, that there is no worry or doubt. 

Our faith was shaken a bit yesterday as I started to question what God was doing in our life. I questioned His will, His ways.

Yesterday I woke up not feeling great. I felt nauseous, I felt sick. I thought GREAT (that is a positive GREAT). I am feeling symptoms of being pregnant and that is exactly what I want - to know that my body is responding to a human growing inside of it. Symptoms are a gentle nudge I think, from God, reminding me of the miracle He has created. I hope for those nudges.

As noon rolled around, I started to feel crampy and then lo and behold, I started to spot. That was my first time, and some of my other symptoms, caused me to be very concerned. Okay, not concerned, but literally scared. The memories of old were all to fresh. I went on a walk, hoping the cramping would go away, but it didn't. I immediately walked into the house and called the doctor. Of course they were on lunch, so for the next half hour I just cried, read my Bible, and prayed. Tears of utter helplessness. Tears for this little one inside. That God would spare his/her life.

The nurse called back and asked more about my symptoms and I could tell by her voice that she was alarmed. Well, that doesn't help an already scared soul, so more tears. Of course I called Dan and he was on his way home from work (so thankful they are understanding). We were beside ourselves honestly. 

The nurse called back yet again, after she talked to the doctor about my symptoms and said they needed me to come in for an ultrasound soon. Part of me was at peace because I just wanted to know, but the other part of me was concerned that they were trying to get me in as early as they could. Talk about one scared momma.

Unfortunately the clinic I go to did not have openings until 7:30am the next day, but they said they could look at the hospital. I told them that for a peace of mind, I need to come in today. They completely understood and I was able to get in 50 minutes later. I told Dan to turn around and I would meet him in Willmar, pick him up, and head straight to the hospital.

I would love to say that we had a faith that could move mountains in all of this, but we didn't. We were both in shambles. Could this really be happening? Again? Through mumbled words, we told each other we just couldn't do it again. Yet later we both said that God is in control and that if He has taken this precious life to be with Him, that He would help us get through it. We prayed as we sat in the parking lot, that the ultrasound would have a healthy baby and that all of our worries would be carried away.

Thankfully it was really quiet at the hospital so we headed to registration right away and sat down for 30 seconds and the imager called us back. He starts off by saying that because I am only 7 weeks, that they might not see anything through the stomach because the baby is so small. Way to make us even more concerned, but at the same time, it was the right thing to tell us.

As the medical imager rolled the device on my stomach, I could see a black hole. I knew from past experience that that was a good sign (at least there was a placenta)! And almost immediately he said "I think there's the baby!" I lifted my head up ever so slightly to look into Dan's eyes. Our eyes welled up with tears. And then a few short moments later, he said there is the flickering heartbeat.


I couldn't contain the overwhelming sense of peace that ran through my entire body. The peace of God that said "My child, everything will be okay." For the next few minutes, I just had tears streaming, trying to keep as still as I could so the imager could get the best looks he could at this little miracle.

I kept apologizing that I was crying, but he said that life really is a miracle and that since this was our first one, it probably meant a lot. I timidly said that actually we had been in this position before, but in a different way, and we had seen an empty screen. So to see life is so overwhelming that all I could do was cry.

This little baby, who's parts are nowhere fully formed, but the heartbeat as strong as can be. That is what I want my faith to look like. My heart to be so in charge - a heart full of God, that it overtakes who I am. A heart that is so full of God's love and grace, that when people look at me, that is what they see. That is what I saw in our child yesterday.

We saw the heartbeat a few times as the imager said that we have a healthy baby thus far. Measuring right on (should be 1 centimeter big - Babester is 1.1) and the heartbeat should be between 80-180 and Babester's was 142. 

I wish I had a faith that could move mountains. I doubted what God was doing in our life. I cried out to Him why? We were so certain that THIS was what God wanted for us, but to have a scare like this?

As we walked back to the car, we couldn't contain ourselves. Tears just streamed. We prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and relief. And we realized, that this whole ordeal now blessed us with the gift of ultrasound pictures! Pictures we only ever dreamed of having one day. Pictures filled with so much life. Pictures that reminded us that GOD can move mountains.

So, why was I having the symptoms I did? The nurse practitioner called me about an hour later and said they were unsure, but to just take it easy the rest of the day, but that really I could continue on and just monitor how I was feeling. Various things could have caused my symptoms, but my body and the baby seem to be healthy and they were not alarmed. No abnormalities showed up. Typically you do not have an ultrasound at 7 weeks - they are usually between 10-12 weeks. But God had a different plan! A plan of reassurance.

What a blessing. What a gift. It was an extremely hard few hours yesterday as I could hear the sense of urgency on the nurse's part too when I called. But if all of that was so that we could receive the gift of an ultrasound picture and be reassured that yes, God HAS created life within, then it was all worth it. And that is what we are going to look at that situation as - a gift. A gentle reminder that God is in control and that serving God does require a faith that can move mountains, no matter what the situation. 

I told myself I wouldn't doubt as I did yesterday, yet our memories are still so fresh. But we serve a God who is so much more than our past and looks ahead to the blessings He will give us in the future. 

So today we rejoice in this little picture - a picture of perfection and beauty. A life knit together by the VERY HANDS OF GOD. A life nuzzled up in my womb, hopefully until March. We pray that God continues to keep this lil one and myself as healthy as can be - as healthy as He sees perfectly fit.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Final Glimpse of Our Mission Trip

Here are the last of the pictures of our mission trip to Lac Courte Oreilles!

On Thursday, we helped set up a large tent for a tent meeting for those who struggle with addictions. It was a gorgeous day that day and we met some wonderful people that morning!

One fun aspect of mission trips is the fact that you can have fun together - here is one painting crew!

After a lot of hard work of smoothing out the freshly poured concrete, the boys should be proud! This is the foundation for a warming house at The Shack

Wood burning stoves are quite common - so splitting and stacking wood is just part of a normal day!

Running a wood splitter was like second nature, as Dan and I did that for a whole week in Alaska 2 years ago!

Serving God may mean pulling weeds - we helped a lady clean up her yard and clear brush (so that she could see bears approaching her house - yes, this is true) and the joy it brought to her face, was priceless!

Seeing our youth group kids love on the children of Lac Courte Oreilles, brought such joy!

Dan playing with the kids on the playground

Trying to figure out how to make balloon animals - definitely an epic fail!

On Wednesday night we went to a demonstration pow-wow. How interesting to see what a pow-wow is really like!

On Friday night, our last night in Wisconsin, we headed over to nearby Hayward, where the Lumberjack World Championships were taking place. We met someone who happened upon free tickets and she generously offered them to us! We were all looking forward to it after spending a week in the woods and becoming semi-lumberjacks ourselves!

Nothing like dressing for the occasion!

The Hot Saw: WOW

I seriously don't understand how this is possible!

The 60 foot pole climb - watching them come down is breath-taking - literally

Talk about a calf muscle workout - logrolling!

Running across logs (aka women's boom run) - kind of want to give it a try

These women are so incredibly buff - women's underhand

I think this is the standing chop

The Springboard Chop - so these guys use an ax to create divets into the log and then stick a board into it and stand on it, and then cut another divet in. Insane.

The good ole 90 foot climb up a pole - at the top, the pole is swaying back and forth. 

It was a great way to end an eventful and blessed week. We all miss the trip incredibly and are learning how to live life with the changes God did in our hearts. We are spoiled by spending 24/7 with each other and now going our separate ways. But the joys of mission trips are the fact that we now have shared experiences. Dan and I are so blessed to have the opportunity to work with these kids and thank you to the parents for allowing us to be a part of their lives!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Take 2: Youth Group Mission Trip

Sharing all that God has done on a mission trip is hard to do, even in a few posts. God shows Himself in ways we never expected, but that is also why we try to not go into mission trips WITH expectations. We try to walk into them with open hearts and minds. One of the biggest themes we try to always teach the kids is to be flexible. This allows for changes, room for growth, and room for God to grow us. We had so many incredible opportunities at Lac Courte Oreilles, so being able to be a part of God's handiwork was humbling and encouraging for our faith.

Here are a few more pics of our eventful week!

On Monday and Wednesday afternoon, our kids joined the local Boy's and Girl's Club and went canoeing down the river! Many of them had interesting experiences - the main one being trying to stay upright, as many of the kids just wanted to flip. Sometimes it was inevitable, but the kids were champs! 


Dan taking a group of kids down

A little love can go a LONG ways!

On Tuesday night, Dan had the opportunity to share a word with the local Christians at The Shack. He wanted to share our story, as we feel God has given it to us for a reason. Even more so, we were blessed to hear other's stories on how God has worked in their lives!

One of our favorite nightly activities was playing volleyball "under the lights." Even though the bugs carried us away at times, the laughter, the fun, and the joking that went on, with a little competitiveness, was immeasurable!

One of the projects a group worked on was taking down a wigwam 

Canoeing on Wednesday afternoon

This was one of Dan's favorite moments on the trip - this brought him back to his days as a white water raft guide. He loved talking with the girls, teaching them about life, but most of all, just having fun. 

There are more pictures I want to share, so keep coming back!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Youth Group Mission Trip: Lac Courte Oreilles

Love God. Love people.

What blessings and beauty that can come out of that saying. That is what our week was about.
We made the 4-5 hour drive to near Hayward, Wisconsin, to the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. We all had never worked with the Native American population (also known as traditional), so for us all, this would be a new experience. 

Unity CRC (one of the churches our youth group is made up of), supports missionary Bob Dykstra, who we went to work with. What an example Bob set for us in heart and in ministry. Talk about a humble man who serves God for HIS (God's) glory and nothing else. We all learned much from Bob and learned all the more, how God is working in the lives of the people of Lac Courte Oreilles.

This will take a few posts to fully do this trip justice, but here is a start:

Our AMAZING youth group kids and leaders!

Throughout the week, we spent time doing various projects around The Shack, which is Bob's ministry, while also working in the community. The basketball court was extended and here are some guys filling in the cracks

Another project was staining a deck for Sheila, who lived close to the Shack. I give credit to the kids who pained spindle after spindle!

The shed that got a fresh coat of stain

Transporting cinder blocks for a new warming house that is soon to be going up at The Shack. The Shack is a safe place for Christians to gather, as the traditional thought of the Native Americans is very strong. Having support as Christians is something I personally take for granted, living in a predominantly Christian community. As we gathered on Tuesday with the local neighbors, it was evident how much that group meant to them!

Mary Jane, the dog that one day appeared at Bob's and since then, has never left! She LOVES chasing after balls you can see!

On our last day, we joined with the Hayward Wesleyan youth group and did a VBS for the local children. What fun the kids had!

One project we did was make cornhole boards and bags!

A face of beauty. Native children are so incredibly beautiful!

Basketball is a big sport out there, which we never complained about!

The kids, our youth group kids, and the Hayward youth group!

Of course one BIG event out on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation is the pow-wow. Unfortunately, we came the day after THE BIG area pow-wow, but on Wednesday we were able to see a demonstration pow-wow.

Digging out the hole for a new warming house, as Jane makes sure they are doing a good job

During the winter, the pipes froze, so the kids dug a hole so that the pipes could be insulated. It was HOT that day, so I give them credit!

There is so much more that I am excited to share with you about this trip! To get out into the middle of the country, amidst the woods, amidst a new culture, and amidst the beauty of God's creation. To be together as a youth group, all serving for the same purpose, was such a blessing. The kids were absolutely incredible, so flexible, and oh how we love them!

I have had a few people ask how it was going on a mission trip being pregnant, and leading up to it, I wasn't apprehensive at all. Then I realized our first full day there was supposed to be in the mid-90s. So I was given some words of wisdom to just take it easy that week. To rest. To listen to my body. These people couldn't have been more right! I definitely felt it at times, was a tad fatigued, and new I needed to take break, but overall, I felt GREAT!  

What FUN it was being pregnant on this trip! Our youth group kids have completely embraced the idea and made the idea of pregnant even MORE fun (if that was even possible). Our baby officially now has the name "Cletus" thanks to Dan! Our kids have ran with it. For example, when we were playing volleyball at night with the kids, we were evening out teams and the kids kept saying we had one more person on our team. And we kept saying no, we have 6, just like you! They reminded us that Cletus was playing too. So all week they decided that I was playing for 2, eating for 2, etc. It was such a blessing. It just made me smile from ear to ear. Conversations and laughs that I could only dream about in the past, that are now a reality. I do sometimes wonder what is going on in this little one's life because I feel I have grown already, but I am just going to claim that I'm bloated. Our kids think I am having twins (and yes, we would be thrilled), but for now, until we find out if we have more than one, Cletus is staying safe inside. What joy. What a blessing. 

Stay tuned for more pictures!