Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Pregnancy”

Why Would God Allow That?

“Why would God allow that to happen?”  That to me is the most difficult question I’ve been asked as a Christian.  It’s easy to respond with the typical, “God’s ways are not our ways;” “God is sovereign;” “The mysteries belong to God;” or even “I have no idea, ask God” – each response acceptable but the day I fielded this question, I knew that any of those responses wouldn’t fly with this broken, young Christian woman struggling to find her way as a new believer.  I knew her continued relationship with the Lord hung precariously on whether I’d be able to offer some kind of clarity to something that had hurt her so deeply and threatened to drive a wedge between her and the Lord.

And so I sat in my kitchen with Elizabeth as she flat ironed my hair, chatting away.  The conversation soon turned serious as she grew comfortable enough to drop her guard, allowing me access to a situation which threatened to alter her perception of the love of God.  I began to pray as her story spilled out….

Elizabeth was a single mother struggling to make ends meet.  Her ex-husband was paying child support which she greatly relied on, although it was still barely enough to sustain her and their daughter.  He used child support as leverage in order to get his way at every turn.  He was due to pick his daughter up on a Friday and didn’t show up when he said he would so Elizabeth put her down for the night.  The phone rang at around 9:00p.m. or so and it was him saying he would be picking her up by 10:30.  Elizabeth explained that their daughter was already in bed and he could pick her up early the next day.  He grew belligerent and insisted that he be allowed to at least see her and after a shouting match, Elizabeth relented.  She hung up the phone angry that she had given in, and feeling uneasy about him coming over.  When he arrived his motives were made clear to Elizabeth when soon after he gained entrance, he began to interrogate her regarding her male friendships.  Their exchange became violent, first with a push, which escalated to a slap and further escalated with her being raped by him.  No, she didn’t press charges…she still relied on his support and he was her daughter’s father, but imagine the shock and then utter devastation to discover that as a result of that act of violence, she was pregnant again.  There was no way she could afford another child and the thought that this child was unwelcomed pierced her heart.  She considered abortion as an alternative but before doing so, she went to her church for counsel, where she received the most ungodly counsel imaginable.  She was told that since this child was not conceived in love, it would be okay for her to terminate the pregnancy.  She left that session as confused as ever; however as confused as she was, she just knew that advice was wrong.  Unfortunately, stress did what her conscience forbid and she miscarried that baby, which took care of her immediate “problem,” while leaving her hanging on the ledge where her faith and trust in God were concerned…and here I was at the end of her story handing her tissue, poised to field the most difficult question ever!  “If God loves me, why would He allow that to happen to me?”

While she was speaking, I was praying,  seeking and inquiring of the Lord how best to respond to his daughter.  I asked her simply if she at any time had a “feeling”– church folk call it an “unction,” that she should stick to her decision not to allow him to come over that night.  “Yes,” she said.  “Did it get stronger when he appeared at your door?”  She said that by the time he appeared at the door, she was downright scared to open it.  I explained to her that I believe that was the Lord speaking to her…warning her… through that “feeling” and through her fear to open the door.  She was pensive for a few minutes and truthfully, with every fiber within me, I believed I told her correctly, but  still held my breath waiting for her reaction.  She accepted that explanation.  I also showed her how on point she was to second guess the “advice” she was given by the church counselor and explained to her how God was speaking to her in that situation.  I encouraged her telling her that God loves her; He’s speaking all the time and though she may not have heeded his warning that one fateful night, she does hear from Him, as evidenced by her decision not to terminate her pregnancy.

God is always speaking and warning, but if we don’t have “ears to hear,” then He’s speaking to Himself.  Elizabeth floated in and out of my life just that quickly and I think of her often, hoping that she’s been able to strengthen her relationship with the Lord.  She is a trophy of His grace and I pray that she is lifting His name up and drawing other women, who like her have faced difficult times, have made difficult choices, but can say that God loved them enough to show them how to be slow to speak and quick to listen; how to be led by His Spirit; how to trust Him for all that is lacking; how to rely on Him, His strength, His wisdom, His power to sustain and maintain them.

“For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”  Psalm 117:2 NIV

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.

Stay Out of the Chocolate Factory

The best advice never taken was given by me to a mentee…”Stay Out of the Chocolate Factory.”

This morning I lingered in the book of Judges reading about brother Samson and his troubles.  His life began with the most promising words, “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson, and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.  And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him…”  God was going to use this man of promise to defeat his people’s enemies, but a funny thing happened on the way to his destiny…his flesh got in the way.  What in flames was Samson doing traipsing through a vineyard anyway?  Note to self…when entering the enemy’s camp, expect to encounter some enemies!!! DUH!  It seems as though instead of changing his atmosphere, the atmosphere changed him…getting caught up with the locals, eating, drinking, touching, playing house with everything and everyone that caused his demise.  What is this tendency that we have to hear what is right for us, to be given a roadmap loaded with blessings in exchange for obedience; to be empowered by His Spirit, only to end up living out Plan B, which usually works out for our good (God is merciful); however, it ain’t Plan A.

Once upon a time I encountered a college aged girl at Target…she was a checker and she was checking me out in more ways than one.   We chatted a bit and as I headed out the door, I heard the Holy Spirit instruct me to return, give her my phone number and offer to stay in touch.  She was so appreciative and even said she had prayed for a mentor like me and wished we could stay in touch.  That day marked the beginning of our Mr. Miyagi/Daniel-san relationship (reference to Karate Kid…one of my faves)!! 🙂

I poured in, she received and so it was with us as she became a fixture around our home.  She was moving right along making great life choices..doing well in school, working and serving in church.  At one point she “confessed” her guilt over getting a little intimate with her boyfriend when he was in town.  It happened again another time and this time the enemy worked her over, convincing her that hers was a sin too great for her to be serving in church.  She shared that intimacy was a weakness for her, but that she was fighting to maintain her virginity.  I once again counseled her and prayed her off of that ledge and after a time, she was serving in church again and life was back to normal.

That summer, she announced her intent to spend some time reconnecting with her dad back east (where her boyfriend lived).  She would be staying with her boyfriend and his mother.  (Insert sound of needle being scratched over a record here.)  “Not a good idea,” I said which was followed by an assurance that she had learned her lesson.  They had made a promise to each other to wait until they were married to consummate their union, blah, blah, blah.  Her mind was made up and there was no changing it.  She left with my advice ringing in her ears….

I said something like this…”Say you have a weakness for chocolate, let’s say a chocolate easter bunny…one of those giant ones.  You’ve been told that it’s not good for you and you really should stay away from it because the temptation would be too great to eat the whole thing and that could hurt!  You ignore that wisdom thinking you could control yourself and so you nibble at the ear and before you know it that ear is gone and that wasn’t so bad, so you fix your eyes on the second ear….before you know it, you’ve thrown caution to the wind and have scarfed Peter Rabbit down in one sitting.  My point is this…You cannot go near the chocolate factory…chocolate is your weakness so you need to stay away…in fact, you need to stay out of the chocolate factory altogether.”

She said okay, we hugged, she left and the next time I heard from her was via telephone (long distance) early one Sunday morning.  She called to say hi and to tell me about a message on forgiveness she had heard at church.  She said she had to call to forgive me for hurting her.  (insert crickets here) – She was offended at my chocolate factory analogy and was holding it against me.  When it was my turn to speak, I told her I stood by the analogy and challenged her to prove me wrong.

Two months later, I was at a bookstore and saw her seated on the floor reading.  I approached her and we embraced and her body temperature gave away her secret.  We chatted a moment and I walked away only to have her run after me to tell me one more thing that I already knew.  Her baby was due in April and she was no longer with her boyfriend.  As it turned out, there were things she discovered about him that had she known, would have altered her choices.  I changed the subject and told her I was so happy she chose to keep her baby and to prepare for a hard time, but the Lord would see her through. (She had no real support system.)  She said she recognized that things would be difficult but figured this was God’s will for her.  I had to tell her that choosing life is always God’s will, but the timing of it all was hers.  I left her that day feeling so bad for her and months later she came to mind again and I reached out once again.

That turned out to be a divine appointment since she needed the support.  I held her hand through the last weeks of her pregnancy and was blessed to be present  to hold her hand once again as she pushed that life into the world.  I was there during the early days and moved on once I was certain that she could remove the training wheels and ride on her own.

Five years later, she has moved back east to be closer to a larger support system which includes her son’s father.  They aren’t a family, but he is involved.  She’s a great mother and is on track for a successful life — as a single mother, for now but having great hopes for her future.  I’m certain that she wouldn’t have changed a thing about her journey thus far, as the love she feels for that boy has caused her to forget the difficult times she has endured…well, maybe she would have considered the timing of her choices..and maybe her choice of father and every other “maybe” she probably has to live with.

For the longest time, I thought that my mentoring days were over, until a whole new little crop sprung up around me.  I fought it for a while until the Holy Spirit encouraged me about choices…everyone has them and it’s up to them to receive the truth or not; it’s up to me to be prayed up and not offer my opinion…just the truth.

How many of us forego His way for our way and settle for Plan B when Plan A was His desire for us?  I’m grateful for His mercy, His kindness and His forgiveness when we do lose our way.  I’m grateful for lessons learned for the next time…and there will always be a next time!

I Know You

I know…

I know what it’s like to dream; to prepare; to envision; to want; to feel

I know… 

I know what it’s like to be told you can’t have something you’ve dreamed of; prepared for; envisioned…something you’ve wanted all of your life…something so seemingly simple for others to attain…so natural to everyone else, but me.  Why me!!!???

I know…

I know the feeling of despair, disconnection, despondency; that of sadness and shame; of loneliness of dis-repair…I’ve been there

I know…

I know what it’s like to deny, distract, run away, stay away, put away, hide away…go away

I know…

I know physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual longing, mental fogging…or is it mental flogging?…I know…

I know silence, I know the wilderness…been there, lived there, settled for a time there…

Like an old friend…always there, like my favorite chair…waiting there…

I know… 

I also know the sound of hope found in sunshine, in the words of a mentor, a letter from a stranger…the eyes of a friend…

the laughter of children..the peace found within

I know…

I know rewards come through patience; that joy comes in time; that yes follows maybe; that

no is never final…when you know the originator of time

I know…that dreams can come true…

I know…because

I Know You

One of the sweetest moments of my life!!
When I said yes…He touched my soul; renewed my love for Him and made my body whole…
When I said yes…I was brand new..and in His perfect time…He gave me you! ~~ Thank You God for saying YES!!!

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