We've had a big week! First, Bryan held Asher for the first time and we got our first family picture! Then, today when I walked in...I noticed Asher was not on Cpap anymore! He has what's called a nasal canula which is a another step down in the oxygen assistance world. We are so blown away at how the Lord has blessed us in one week. During the hard days after surgery last week, I really prayed for some refreshment. Isaiah 49:10 says:
"They will not hunger or thirst, neither will mirage (mislead) or scorching wind or sun smite them, for He who has mercy on them will lead them, and by SPRINGS OF WATER He will guide them."
So, I read this at one of my lowest points last week, and just asked the Lord for something refreshing..a "spring of water" in what was beginning to feel like a vast, overwhelming, depressing desert. I had had a dream the night before that Asher couldn't breathe anymore and Bryan had come to tell me that it was just too hard for him, and he didn't make it. I can't explain to how vivid my sobs and the pain I felt were in the dream. I've never had a dream like that. I've never dreamed of losing my life or anyone else's. I've never really struggled with that type of fear. This is when I knew I was really operating in a state of extreme stress, worry, and anxiety. I took a walk that morning an just prayed the entire time. I felt weak, and defeated. And then while I was walking I felt God pushing me to "get up and get to work." He was nudging me to go up there to see Asher. Moments before that I didn't want to go up there because I was afraid of what I would see, or how bad it would be..and I just wanted to avoid getting more upset or afraid. And now, I was feeling He was saying "don't be afraid- get up there and pray and be faithful and trust Me." And that's what I did. And when I went up there, Asher's oxygen level had improved. My mom and I prayed with him, and I felt much more peace after being obedient to what God was telling me to do. Imagine that! This was last Friday, and by early Sunday morning Asher was back on the cpap, and now on Tuesday he's stepped down again by being on the nasal canula! Again, the roller coaster of the NICU. I was dreaming he died on Thursday night and then just 2 days later he made a MAJOR improvement. Gosh, this boy is going to give me gray hairs for SURE. :)
On the same theme of the "desert"...I was reading the book One Thousand Gifts and the author was talking about the Isrealites in the desert and how God nourished them with manna. She said the word manna literally means "what is it". So, she talks about how the Isrealites were choosing to let something that they didn't even know what it was, a mystery, nourish them and sustain them. And when they did eat it, they described it as honey on their lips. So, she talked about all the "mysteries" in her life that she had refused to "eat" or allow to nourish her. She was saying at some point in her life, she had not allowed herself to see or experience the good that came from the hard things. So, what are the mysteries in my life that I need to let nourish me? All the things that cause me to ask "why" or things that I can sometimes say "I don't know what this is" . Obviously all the hard things that have happened the last 2 years, but especially the extremely premature birth of my twins, and the death of one of them. It is not a complete mystery to me why this happened, but it definitely has elements of mystery in it in that I don't know all the answers or reasons why. So, I was reading this and feeling God say "eat the mystery, and let it nourish you". What does that look like? Well, here are some ways I/we've been nourished by accepting our story, and attempting to glorify God in it. We have been blessed by so many people in their messages, gifts, and service to us during this time. We've received many sweet, very thoughtful gifts with our sons names, or initials on them...just amazing gifts that have blessed us immensely. We've had delicious meals left on our doorstep..something as simple as eating a home cooked meal together at home is something we've been incredibly thankful for. It has nourished our souls to have people tells us with tears in their eyes that our story is changing them and people they know who've read our story, or are following it on Facebook. To have moms tell me my story and experience has changed how they mother their children or view their role as a mother. To have complete strangers tell us their relationship with Christ is different and changed because of what we are experiencing and sharing. To have sweet conversations with new friends about the hard realities of infertility and loss. If those things are not "honey" on our lips I don't know what would be. If those stories don't nourish our souls, and soothe the aches deep in our hearts, I don't know what else could. THAT is what God does through pain. He makes the ugly into the beautiful. Ashes to beauty. Those are powerful moments and in those moments Bryan and I look at each other and we don't say it, but we are thinking.. "Really? We had that affect on someone? Really?" By the grace of God alone is that possible! We are two really sinful, messed up people! ;)
Another book I read a little from recently is called When I Lay My Issac Down and in this book the author talks about how before Jesus dies, he compares himself to a wheat germ seed. The book talks about how the seed has to leave its familiar seed covering, be buried in dirt and in the dark, and then hope that new life will spring forth after that. Even lush life. The verse is John 12:24:
"Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
The author goes on to say "in the same way, we need to be willing to give up whatever is most familiar, comfortable, and precious and allow ourselves to sink in the darkness, and trust God will bring life out of what feels like death." I was forced to give up something comfortable and precious to me, a normal pregnancy and the life of my son, Titus, and I had to allow the darkness of that reality to be in and around me- to accept how dark and hard that was (and I will have to continue to do this), and then trust that God would bring life from it, and good things. The Lord has already brought good things from that darkness and that loss of what's normal and comfortable and precious. And I pray He continues to show Bryan and I more and more of His perfect purpose in all of it and that new "life" continues to come forth, and even lush life!! What great hope there is in thinking about that. That makes me so excited to see what God will do next. I need to come back to that Truth, and these words in the hard, discouraging moments!
This first video is our sweet boy with no mask or anything else covering his face! We haven't seen him a whole lot like this..where we can just truly take in all of his face and features..another blessing!! Just getting to LOOK at our son, and take in all the details of how God physically made him is a treat. And then, the second video is from last night when I caught him sucking on his paci like a big boy! The nurses have told us they really don't develop a sucking reflex until 34 weeks. He was 30 weeks yesterday! Another thing to be thankful for.