Birth Story: Part 7 – Let Your Heart Take Courage!

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In 2011 Chris began to ask God to give us a business. I also began to pray that in the right time, God would give us another sweet baby! In October of 2011, we were able to purchase a Signarama shop that was only a few blocks from our home. Being business owners turned out to be harder than we had ever imagined; pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into a venture that just seemed to devour all of our money. God continued to encourage us with Ps 27, “Be strong and let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord.”

In July of 2012, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was blissfully happy for a week! Then morning sickness began, worse than I had ever had before. To understand just how I felt, you can read a previous post of mine, “God Needs Me?” Chris and I had both received our heart’s desire from the LORD, and we were both very discouraged about it, because it wasn’t the glorious reality we had expected. We were more than discouraged…rather; we were depressed and wanting to give up on everything. Yet God kept giving us the same message every place we turned.

“Let your hearts take Courage!”

We found out that this baby was a boy, our sixth boy! I knew that Courage was the prefect name for him! Every time I talked to my baby boy, I was reminded to take Courage!

I had been reading the book, “Supernatural Childbirth” which describes one woman’s journey of praying and speaking out scriptures and promises from God and then experiencing no pain in childbirth! I started praying the prayers over myself and my baby, over and over again. I had a few specific requests for God. Number one; I didn’t want my water to break before labor. That had happened the last four times and that had been quite enough to me. It would happen at night, and then I would be so nervous or excited about the impending labor that I couldn’t get any sleep. I wanted a good night sleep before this labor, I decided! Number two; I didn’t want any after-contractions. After my last labor, they had been so painful for two days, stripping me of the joy of new motherhood. Number three; I wanted a fast, easy, early, and pain-free home-birth. Not too much to ask.

Three weeks before my due date, I felt my water break. I was rather confused, because I really thought that God would honor my prayers and keep my waters intact. Still, I was excited to have Courage early, and I notified friends and family to pray. An entire day went by and no labor had started. Day two passed and I was beside myself with worry. I wanted an uncomplicated home birth, but I thought that now I would have to go to the hospital to be induced. Surely the midwife wouldn’t let me go much longer.

Mary, the midwife, arrived at my house that second day to see how I was doing. After a quick exam, she declared that my water had NOT broken after all! My cervix was completely closed, and I had no fluid leaking out. It was the outer bag that had broken, but the inner bag was still intact. I had no idea that there were two bags! Instantly my fear dissolved and I was at peace again. My water had not broken! I could safely stay pregnant for few more weeks!

I was actually happy to wait for labor to begin. Courage was sitting so low, at +1 station, as though at any moment he could just slip out! I was incredibly uncomfortable, but I was still at peace.
On March 8th, I felt a contraction while in bed and noticed that it was 1:11am. I would normally have Braxton-Hicks during the night, but they hardly ever woke me up. The rest of the night I slept very soundly, having dreams of contractions. Early in the morning, my four year old padded over to my side of the bed. I got up with him and snuggled in the first light of dawn. I kept feeling contractions, but they were so mild and irregular. I spent the morning doing all the regular chores, sitting on the birthing ball whenever I could. I was hesitant to tell anyone that I thought I was in labor, since my last announcement had been a false alarm.

Finally at 10am I called Chris and asked him to come home from work. I was feeling too distracted to take care of things at home by myself, but I still wasn’t convinced that I was in labor. Chris arrived home within minutes, and he found me rocking on the birthing ball and shivering under a few layers of clothes. I was not in any pain, but Chris immediately recognized the tell-tale signs that labor had arrived. He called the midwife, and Mary’s helper, Shirley showed up in no time flat. She was a plainly dressed, kind-faced woman who immediately started preparing warm compresses. When she told me that she had given birth to 12 children, I knew I was in good hands.

Mary arrived to our home around 11am, and she started getting set up in our bed room. She checked my cervix and informed me that I was 9-10 cm, all the way there!

“We just need to wait for you to feel the urge to push. The baby is at +2 station so it won’t take long for him to be born.”

Wow! I hadn’t even been sure that this was really labor, and Mary just told me that the baby would be born soon!

The contractions started to become uncomfortable and then downright painful. All my normal positions didn’t bring the expected relief. Mary could see that I was very tired and suggested that I try lying in the bed on my side.

“I just don’t think that position will be comfortable when I have a contraction,” I replied.

“I don’t think any position is going to be very comfortable at this point,” she said.

I agreed to try. I lay down on my side. Immediately, Shirley was packing pillows and warm compresses all around my heavy and burdened body which was now trembling. She would massage and apply pressure at just the right time in just the right place without ever being told.

I had never given birth like this, and I just couldn’t believe that it would work, without gravity to help. Mary assured me that the baby would come right out, but I just didn’t believe her. Yet I felt so tired that all I could do was lay there.

I thought, “This is going to take a while!”

Fear began to try to take hold of my mind. I prayed, “Jesus, you are going to have to give birth to this baby because I don’t think I can.”

He assured me that he would. I closed my eyes and imagined myself snuggled in the arms of Jesus.

“I might need to push.” I said.

“Great,” Mary said as she held up my top leg. After a few light pushes, I heard a loud SPLASH! SLAT! I opened my eyes to see that Mary and Chris were all wet. They were commenting on how the water had burst all over them, the bed, and splashed unto the floor.

“Is the baby out?” I asked.

“No, that was just your bag of waters. But he is right there!” Mary answered.

One more push and Courage slid out so easily onto the bed! Mary scooped him up, bundled him, and placed him in my arms. He settled peacefully in my embrace and promptly started sucking his fist. I was tired but completely and totally happy! Our Courage had arrived so quickly and easily, although not totally pain-free. But the biggest answer to prayer I would experience every moment for the next few days. I could enjoy my newborn without any after-contractions! It felt like a miracle to me, and God had honored my requests!

What had started as a very discouraging time in our lives had ended in a beautiful birth of a beautiful boy. The business that kept Chris busy at least 60 hours a week was still teetering on the verge of failure. Yet as we watched our Courage grow bigger and stronger, our courage and faith in God grew as well.

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Courage is wearing his Signarama shirt!

He never let us go without food, and He never stopped sustaining our business in amazing nd miraculous ways. Signarama is still growing and improving, making signs for the greater Harrisburg area. And we are still daily reminding ourselves of God’s good words.
Let Your Heart Take Courage!

My Adventurous Husband with the Crazy, Impossible Dreams Might Just Be Right

 

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My husband, Chris, is very different from me.  In fact, he is quite the opposite.  He is spontaneous and impatient, prone to making rash and risky decisions.  He is also very driven.  When he has a certain goal in mind, all else fades to the background as he plows through valleys and climbs over mountains to reach that goal.  When he gets an idea in his head, it seems like an obsession to me.  I am a steady and reliable creature of habit.  I like to dwell, remain, and stay in my comfort zone.  I feel no need to go trailblazing into unknown and possibly scary territory.  To change my course is like trying to alter the flow of a river.  I have found that trying to deter Chris from a goal is like trying to stop a freight train once it is barreling down the tracks.  It is much easier to jump aboard and enjoy the ride!

We faced our first major financial decision as newlyweds.  Our apartment had washer and dryer hookups, but we had no washer and dryer.  We would spend hours at the Laundromat.  Chris reasoned that if we could put our Laundromat money towards payments on our own washer and dryer, we would be much better off.  I agreed, but when I saw the large price tag, I was terrified.  We ended up in our car in the Sears parking discussing the pros and cons. The worry of making a bad decision brought me to tears.  We ended up buying the brand-new, super-capacity Kenmore beauties, despite my abiding nervousness.  Eighteen years, 6 moves, and eight children later, they are still washing 2-3 loads a day!  Chris was totally right!

In 2006 we were renting a nice house on Market St where I found my Little Piece of Heaven.  Sure, I wanted to move eventually, but I figured that God would bring that opportunity right to us at the proper time.  But Chris was obsessed.  He was unsatisfied with our living conditions and upset that our rent money was going into someone else’s pocket instead of building up equity for us.  He talked to realtors.  He got lists of homes sent to him every week on the internet.  He kept finding houses that he wanted me to look at. The available four bedroom homes priced around $100,000 were not at all what I would call attractive or comfortable!  I didn’t want to look at these homes, not to mention consider living in them.  But I did it, because Chris asked me to.  We even put offers on two of them.  They had been on the market for a long time.  We thought we could get a good deal, fix them up and then sell them for more…all in an effort to get closer to our real dream house.  Both houses were snatched up right before our offers came in.

Chris didn’t give up, however.  He talked to other realtors, looked at other houses, and kept viewing homes on the internet.  None of the homes interested me at all.  Basically, I had given up on owning a home.  One day Chris came across a picture of an older home, shrouded in dark awnings and overgrown shrubbery.  He set up a time to see it.  He walked in the front door, took one look at the high ceilings and beautiful woodwork and thought, “This is it!”

There was just one mountain of a problem.  It was more than twice what we could afford.  He set up a second time to view the house and wanted me to come along.  I so desperately wanted to refuse him, and I almost did.  I didn’t want to go see another ugly house.  I definitely didn’t want to go see a beautiful house, fall in love with it, and then have to face the reality that we could never afford it.  But I did it, because Chris asked me to.

The house was built in 1924 and was in a beautiful neighborhood with tree lined streets.  I toured the gorgeous home, loving every detail of it! I tried NOT to love it…but I couldn’t help it.  I took a paper containing the specs of the home that included a tiny black and white picture of the exterior.  In my mind, that dreary picture was a picture of my dream home.  I placed the paper on top of my filing cabinet.  Every time I passed by and caught a glimpse of that paper, I would pray that God would do a miracle and give us that house!  Every time we passed the exit on the highway that would take us to the house, longing would fill my heart that someday that exit would lead to my home!  Every night before bed, the children would pray and ask God to give them that house!  Chris’ obsession had become a family obsession!

The realtor went to the owners with a crazy idea.  Even though the house had only been on the market for two weeks, he urged them to consider a sellers agreement, where we would make payments to them directly and take over the mortgage in a few years. It seemed like an eternity before they responded…THAT THEY WOULD!  Amazing miracle number one! Yet our soaring spirits sank a bit as we heard the terms.  The monthly payment was way too much, and we had to come up with $10,000 upfront.  Chris countered with $300 less per month.  They accepted! Amazing miracle number two!

Time came to sign the paperwork, and we still had no money to put down. Chris continued to plow ahead, scaling that mountain and signing away!  I was terrified and thought back to the washer and dryer purchase so long ago.  How small that decision seemed compared to this one was!  I sat with the realtor, the paperwork, and a kitchen timer in front of me.  I was timing contractions that had been coming every twenty minutes for baby number six.  I was about to have a baby, and here I was, facing one of the biggest decisions of my life!  I wanted to call it all off, or have a conference like we did in our car in the Sears parking lot.  I wanted to cry my heart out and beg Chris to back out of the whole thing!

Quietly a peace descended upon me, and my emotions stilled.  My contractions stopped.  I saw the hand of God moving heaven and earth.  I saw that it was He who had put that obsession into my husband’s heart.  I signed the paperwork and believed that God would work out the rest.  Amazing miracle number three!

I didn’t have any more contractions for almost a week.  My grandmother joyfully offered to give us the money we needed and a bit more!  Amazing miracle number four! Chris’ mom flew in from Colorado in anticipation of the new baby’s arrival.  That night my water broke, but there were no contractions.  In the morning, we thought we would pass the hours by showing my mother-in-law our new home!  It was a hot and humid day in August. I walked around my home, and I began to get contractions.  They increased as I showed off my four large bedrooms and gigantic bathroom on the second floor.  They increased even more as I went down to view my spacious and clean basement with shelves and shelves of storage space.  Finally, we all gathered outside to return to our rental house.  I leaned on the truck with one intense contraction.  It was hard to escape the pain with heat emanating from the sun above and rising from the blacktop below.  I thought, “What have I done, coming here while in labor?  I need to get home!”

We arrived home in plenty of time to fill the baby pool in our bedroom and call the midwife.  Our little Cooper was born a few hours later, healthy and happy!  Some weeks after that, we began to move into our new home.

june 2014 229We are still in this home, paying the mortgage (our mortgage!) eight years later.  That is the real miracle!  We have weathered job losses, economic downturns, and debt reduction programs.  We were close to foreclosure during the hard times, yet we are still here!

Three years ago Chris became obsessed with another goal, to become a business owner.  He talked to a business broker and received emails about local businesses for sale.  He read books about entrepreneurs and conversed with friends who were business owners.

“Oh brother,” I thought. “Here we go again!”

He inquired about a Signarama shop just blocks from our house.  He went to visit with the owner and saw the shop.  He was convinced that this was it.  He wanted me to see it all and tell him what I thought.  I really didn’t want to!  But I did, because he asked me to.

When I saw the shop I thought, “This is definitely NOT it!”  A sign shop, full of vinyl to make signs?  How boring!  I never had any interest in being a business owner, nor ever thought about making signs.  Chris began the slow process of turning my course.

We talked with the regional VP of Signarama to learn more about the franchise.  What emotions surfaced when I thought about this proposition; spending all we had plus going into debt to acquire a business?  Terror!  Pure fear!  Fear of not having enough to pay our bills.  Fear of heading towards foreclosure again!  Fear of making a big whopper mess-up of a decision!  Quietly peace descended upon me, and I heard the voice of God.

“Do not fear making mistakes.  Mistakes aren’t as powerful as you think they are.  You see them as huge giants that can rob you of your destiny.  That is not true.  Your mistakes cannot negate my promises or my power or my faithfulness in your life.  I can cause all your mistakes to prosper and use them for good.  In fact, your mistakes are your servants.  Use them to learn about me, yourself, and your destiny.  Use them to draw near to me.  Do not fear making mistakes.  Make all decisions in confidence and faith.  I AM able to lead you and keep you in my perfect will.  I AM faithful!”

So we took the plunge into business ownership.  It has been harder than we had ever imagined.  Some of my fears have come to pass, but I realized that they weren’t so bad after all.  God is in control, and He is bringing us through this into the abundant prosperity that He has promised!  Chris is learning to slow down his freight train to prayerfully consider my wisdom.  I am learning that my adventurous husband with his crazy obsessions might just be tapping into the very heart of God!

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“The moment you are in is pregnant with possibility.  DON’T kill it with fear.” – Bill Johnson

            I won’t kill it with fear!  I will move forward with faith and confidence!

I WILL ENJOY THE RIDE!

           hershey park