Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “motherhood”

The Saddest Day Ever…

It was 16 years ago today, October 16, 1996, that I received the saddest, most devastating news of my life.  I left my office that day en route to my first visit with my newly hired OBGYN and on my way out the door, my boss yelled out “don’t let them remove anything they shouldn’t.”   Those words would prove to be prophetic, unfortunately.  As I sat in my doctor’s office, the huge smile on my face was erased the minute she interrupted our conversation saying that she wanted to do an ultrasound in order to make sure my baby “had landed in the right place.”  I followed her to “that room” where after some probing (it seemed like forever), she gave me the grim news I somehow knew she would be delivering.  My pregnancy was an ectopic one and I would need to have it terminated as soon as possible…like right now…get to the hospital, I’ll meet you there.  Not exactly the “delivery” I had expected and had prayed for for so many years.  Seeing the look of desperation on my face she offered up some slim hope by saying she would send me across the hall for a second opinion, to a specialist who would do a dye test so that her findings could be confirmed or denied.  She left the room in order to contact the specialist and the hospital, leaving my husband and I reeling with this bit of information.  I was speechless and my husband was full of questions, one which I’ll never forget…”What’s the problem honey..can’t they just move it?”  Jan, the nurse walked in with the saddest face and the only thing I managed to say was “I left the bag of goodies in the dressing room” – (Just an hour before, I had giddily filled a bag with goodies from my doctor….”What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” lanolin oil, cocoa butter, etc.)  “You’ll be back for it, honey,” she said.  I gave the room one last sad look as I walked away on my way to further heartbreak.

Across the hall I was met with a doctor who almost seemed hopeful that the findings would be positive.  He administered the test and began calling his colleagues over saying my case was a textbook case.  Thanks Doc.  Really bad bedside manner….bad!!!  I dressed quietly trying to hide the tears as we made our way to the hospital.  I was prepped for surgery and I recall laying my hands on my tummy and thanking the Lord for the opportunity to hear the words I had always longed to hear…”Congratulations, your pregnant.”  The last thing I recall before the anesthesia kicked in were the words my boss spoke as I left the office earlier that day.

I woke up in recovery to news that my doctor was able to save my fallopian tube and that I would be spending the night (another first for me and not the hospital stay I had looked forward to).  To make a hideous matter even worse, I was given a bed in the maternity ward where I listened to mommies cooing and babies crying all night.  My nurse Lily mercifully made arrangements for me not to have a roommate.  Now, that would have sent me over the edge for sure.  She was a comfort to me that night and the Lord used her to offer healing words…”Next time you come back here you will leave with a baby.”  I responded, “From your lips to God’s ears.”  With that, she closed the door to keep the happy sounds out and I turned my back and cried myself to sleep.

My husband picked me up early the next day.  He had a busy day and I was happy to be alone.  I was stunned that life could go on for him, when life for me would never be normal.  Would it?  Would I ever climb out of this hole?  I crawled up the stairs to our bedroom screaming at God.  I was so mad at Him.  “What have I ever done to You, I cried…I’m a good girl…Why do You hate me so much?”  We had been married for 10 years and had been trying for that long to start a family.  We had undergone a battery of infertility tests and procedures five years earlier with no success and I had given up hope and purchased a dog.  Now here I was five years later certain that I’d never bear my own child only to have one dangled before my eyes like a carrot and for God to say SIKE !!!! to me was more than I could handle!!!  Note to the reader…I was sooooo not born again…talking crazy and acting crazier!!  I was tucked away in my bedroom being tormented as I saw report after report of everyone in Hollywood giving birth to babies…I tell you the Oprah show almost sent me running into the Boulevard when I heard an artist sing a song he had written for his firstborn son.  Oprah and her audience were in tears and I was on the floor in a fetal position.  I thank God for my husband who was patient as I cried every night; for my sister who knew the Lord intimately and interceded for me.  For my other family members who knew just to give me space…I thank God that He was merciful and as I healed physically and emotionally, I was unaware that I was being positioned to receive the greatest miracle of my life.

A week later (on October 23, 1996) I received a call from my doctor informing me that not only was one of the tests suspicious and I’d have to come in for a follow up, but that the “fetus” as she called it…baby to me…got stuck in the middle of my tube which told her there was blockage and the likelihood of a successful pregnancy was zero to none.  She ended the conversation by saying that I should see her friend, a fertility specialist…get pregnant and come back to her for a better outcome.  She sounded so confident…I slid down the wall and landed back on the floor in a heap of tears.

I have known sorrow…I’ve been well acquainted with pain….both physical and emotional, but none greater than on this day so many years ago.  The details are forever etched in my memory.  I have also known deep gratitude…such joy…amazing grace…such love from a God who healed my hurt and made me smile again and I am reminded of His faithfulness each day when I look into the eyes of my children…the ones He gave me the privilege of birthing (with no lab assistance…a real miracle) and raising.  At some point I will share the events leading up to the miracle births of our children.  Each character mentioned above was present for both miracles.  God is faithful and His word is true!

I’m praying for those women who, like me, walked away with empty arms…the ones longing to be called mommy…who turn down baby shower invitations because it hurts too much to see others celebrating what should be an event all women should celebrate if they choose to…those who forsake their friendships with women whom they were once close with, but with whom they now have nothing in common.  Praying that our God would show Himself strong on your behalf as He so graciously did for us.

Cardboard Angel (My Christmas Miracle)

It is true that the best way to receive comfort is to be a comfort; the best way to alleviate pressure is to assist in alleviating someone else’s pressure.  It’s simple truth that when you give, you receive…now you don’t give in order to receive because somehow you taint the process when that is your motive.  Last Sunday, we had a guest speaker at Church tell the story of her husband who “sent her home” as she put it.  He tricked her into going to her parents’ house and a few days later served her with divorce papers.  She told of her hurt and humiliation and how during her healing process people at church who had experienced similar hurt, would approach her asking for prayer.  She often wondered what she was doing praying for them when she herself needed prayer.  She would eventually start having meetings in order to share how the Lord was ministering to her through scriptures and in doing so she not only was healed from that hurt, but many others benefited from her experience.

Her story reminded me of the time several years ago, when I first came to Christ.  I was asked to participate in an outreach that provided gifts for children whose parents were incarcerated.  I was assigned the task of contacting the caregivers of the children assigned to our church in order to determine a want and a need for each child.  The idea was to write the request on a cardboard angel and have our church members take an angel and be an angel.

The last call I made was to a tired mother of six whose newborn was still hospitalized and due to come home around Christmas.  That child had no “wants” but he had a whole lot of needs.  I made a mental note to snatch that angel.  Days later, armed with the directions to the nearest Target, I set out to be that baby’s angel.  Time out for a bunny trail…

At this point, I had been married for 11 years and had been told by scores of physicians that I was not able to have children naturally, a fact cemented by an ectopic pregnancy just a few months prior.  We were believing God for a miracle.  End of bunny trail.

I had the best time going up and down those aisles imagining what a child that age would need.  I rolled up to the register and looked down at my cart and realized that I had gone way over the budget, but who would care…it was for a baby and surely his siblings wouldn’t notice that his gift box would be much larger than theirs…it was for a baby!  When it came time to wrap the gifts, I was corrected (big time) for having gone overboard and way over budget. I tried to explain why and ….did I say I was CORRECTED BIG TIME.  My face was red and I felt my lip doing that downward dance it does when I’m trying to suppress a cry.  I left hurt and discouraged and called my sister who was my first mentor in my walk.  She listened and asked me what my motives were.  I knew in my heart that I wasn’t trying to outdo anyone; wasn’t trying to break any rules; wasn’t trying to do anything except bless that mom and her baby…period.  She asked me if I felt peace with the situation and I did, so she encouraged me to drop it and she also encouraged me not to be offended at the correction.  I heeded her advice.

A few weeks later on Christmas eve, I had a very vivid dream and in it I was very pregnant.  I woke up on Christmas morning, remembering all of the details and wondering if it could be true.  I couldn’t shake the dream so a couple of days later, with trembling hands, I tore open a pregnancy test.  It would seem that around the time I was wrapping the gifts for a baby I would never meet, there was a secret growing in my womb.  (I can’t wait to one day share that testimony!!)

You see, when we put others’ needs before our own; when we go about doing good, God has this genius way of seeing to it that we not be forgotten in the process.

Discipline…to spank or not to spank! That is the question.

Recently I noticed a trending article on a newsfeed about that touchy subject (taboo for some)…spanking.  I took a quick, and I mean really quick, glance at it and read that spanking a child can lead to mental illness (wait, was that for the spanker or the spankee)…I suspect I should have opened up the article and read it in its entirety.  Discipline, as I refer to it, was and remains the most challenging part of parenting and it’s the most necessary, I believe.  I’ve often remarked that parenting didn’t happen to me, I happened to it, meaning stages didn’t creep up on me.  I anticipated “those years” and read up and prayed about my response and the answer for our family was discipline.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 (AMP)

The thought of disciplining my son, the one I had prayed for and believed for for so many years seemed absolutely foreign and unimaginable to me.  This sweet, adorable, high spirited, miracle child was what I called “busy” because I refused to label him “bad” or any other name he was called by my well meaning, but brutally honest friends.  By the time he was around 13 months old, I sensed the inevitable coming on.  God bless the angel who approached me at the check out line in the grocery store who had been witnessing my busy son being busy 🙂 and gently placed her hand on my tired shoulder and said, “He’s all boy, mom. Hang in there.”  What a cold glass of water that was for me.  I wanted to cry, then I wanted to go home with her (without my kids) and then I wanted to cry for feeling that way.  Instead, I simply exhaled.

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family notoriety said that by the time a child is 15 months old, their misbehavior can be regarded as willful disobedience since by then they are well aware of their actions and that disciplining can and should begin at that age.  Yes!!!  He said it and I believed it and began counting down the days until I could brandish “Rod” as we called him.  Back then it was “the spoon” and the sound of the spoon drawer being opened would send my son running for the hills.

As time went on, adding to our family a second child, my now 21 month old was “on fire” with busyness.  I had been “disciplining” him now for a few months, but I noticed with increasing frustration that the only one changing was me.  I was feeling irritated, then angry, then guilty, then sad with the whole parenting a toddler thing.  The turning point for me came at 3 a.m. one morning when I was awakened (after having just wrestled with my colicky infant) to find my son in the kitchen rearranging the fridge in order to find a juice box.  The memory of this still pains me but what a lesson it taught me.  As I walked into the kitchen all wide eyed and crazy he looked up and said “I’m thirsty.”  I spanked him.  I wasn’t training him!!!  I was frustrated, tired and he was going to pay for waking me up.  We both went back to bed crying that night.  I’m still hurt by the memory of it all.

The following morning I prepared his breakfast and as I placed it before him, I reached for his hands so that we could pray and he actually flinched.  Oh how that hurt me.  I was stunned and saddened that my son feared me.  Oh God, how can I get him to respect and honor me and not be scared of me?  Later that day, I went before the Lord with that question and He ministered to me.  He showed me first of all that each of my children was different and that one rule or way for both would not work; that I would have to be led by His Spirit with respect to how and when I should discipline the children. He showed me to never discipline when I was angry or frustrated.  Never use my hands to discipline (hands are for praying, praising, healing, loving). He showed me that in those times when I must discipline my son, that I must at some point explain why he was being disciplined and explain to him that I love him too much not to discipline him.  He showed me that spanking was not changing my son’s behavior.  It was changing our relationship, though.  He instructed me to find out what my son’s “currency” was and use that as a form of discipline and that I should reserve “Rod” for those non-negotiables….willful disobedience, disrespecting authority, lying, stealing.

When my son woke up from his nap, I took him in my arms and apologized for “hitting” him.  I told him that I was tired, sleepy and wrong and that I’d never do that again.  I did explain that certain behaviors would not be tolerated and that it was my responsibility as his parent to discipline him.  He probably didn’t understand everything I said, but he sure understood I meant business when I determined that videos were his currency.  I would hold them hostage, shelving them high enough so that he couldn’t reach them but close enough for him to see them.  Did Rod get put to sleep.  No chance.  Rod made many an appearance.

When Josh was around four, he and I witnessed a child having a full blown tantrum at Target.  This kid was swinging, screaming and carrying on in the candy aisle.  My instinct was to hustle my kid out of that line of fire, but instead we lingered as he watched and I “shopped.”  As it turned out, we were parked next to this family and as I was backing out of my space and Josh was looking out the window at them he said “That mommy must hate her child.”  I asked him why he would say that and his response was “She doesn’t discipline him.”   Those were his exact words…I promise!

My daughter had one tantrum, remarkably at Target.  She wanted to snack on some fishies I hadn’t paid for yet.  I explained that we pay first and then partake.  Oh, she just laid down in the center aisle and I did what any respectable mom would do.  I stepped right over her and left her there howling (I stayed close but she couldn’t see me:)  She promptly got up and scurried after me….and she didn’t get her fishies (even after we paid for them).  (Hold your tomatoes!!:)  Consequences…she learned about them quickly.

Years later, I paid it forward, becoming an angel to that woman whose child was having an F.I.T. at F.A.O. Schwartz before God and man.  She did the whole “going limp” deal and even dad couldn’t scoop her up.  He gave up and went down the escalator, leaving mom to deal with the situation.  This kid was screeching, mom was horrified and the crowd was gathering.  I felt so bad for mom.  I had to help, but what if she told me to back off?  I took a chance and crossed my fingers hoping that my advice wouldn’t blow up in my face…hey, it had worked for me!!  I approached her slowly and told her to step over her out of control daughter and leave…I would stay behind with her.  This woman was willing to trust a stranger, or perhaps she was just wanting to get out of dodge and she took my advice.  Sure enough her screaming meemie promptly picked her little self up and went charging after her mom…screaming of course.  I received a rousing applause from all of the satisfied customers and my ears were ringing for quite a while thereafter.

If I had to give advice about disciplining I’d say to choose your battles wisely and when you do, you better not lose!!  It takes discipline to effectively discipline your children.  I’ve been firm and consistent through the years and have found that the more consistent I was the less and less discipline was required.  We do a lot of talking and shelving around here and things appear to be pretty peaceful.  My kids are now 13 and 12 and I see no signs of mental illness…in any of us! hehehe

P.S. Happy Fourth of July!!!  Sure hope this blog does not create any fireworks!! 🙂

“He who spares his rod (of discipline) hates his son, but he who loves him diligently disciplines and punishes him early.” Proverbs 13:24 (AMP)

“Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not (indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and) set yourself to his ruin.” Proverbs 19:18 (AMP) 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

“Withhold not discipline from the child, for if you strike and punish him with the rod, he will not die.” Proverbs 23:13 

“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother to shame.
  Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:15 &17 (AMP)

“Children, obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you.  Honor your father and mother.  This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.  And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.  And now a word to you parents.  Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful.  Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and Godly advice.” Ephesians 6:1-4 (TLB)

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