This is a New Season!

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There is a new season that I believe God is leading us all into. He is whispering in our ears, He is wooing us with His love, He is drawing us to follow Him out of the desert.  The desert season was full of disappointment and wounds.  It was full of waiting and hope deferred.  Yet God was saying through one of His prophets (Sue Roby), “The Delay is in your favor.”  I tried to hold on to that thought, to continue to believe that all would work out for the good…but I let some of my faith slip away.

A few months ago another prophet (Tony Brazelton) came proclaiming, “The Delay is over!”  My spirit leapt when I heard it. Could it really be time?  The time I had been praying for?  Yet the fear of disappointment almost choked this new hope to death.

In September God gave me two scriptures to read, Isaiah 65 and Psalm 144.  These same scriptures had been a source of strength during the lowest point in our lives as a family.

Is 65 had been God’s way of announcing to me that I was pregnant, back in 2010.  Verse 9 says, “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.”

I was happy to be pregnant and to feel the presence of a fresh new spirit within me.  I didn’t even need to take a pregnancy test.  Yet also I was ashamed.  Ashamed that I was pregnant for the fourth time in 5 years.  Ashamed that we still lived in a two bedroom townhouse and had to go to the health clinic for lower income families in Colorado Springs.  Ashamed that we struggled to pay our bills and had to set up a nursery for our baby in our walk-in closet.

The baby girl was due in January.  Right before Christmas Chris was laid off from his job.  We didn’t know what we would do.  We tried to enjoy Christmas as the debts grew.  I had a difficult time with Ashlyn’s birth which I wrote about in Birth Story Part 3.  Yet when she was born I was filled with peace and bliss.  My perfect baby girl!  God was so good!

The very next day the doctor informed us (devoid of compassion) that something was definitely wrong with our baby, but they didn’t know what.  Then began the many tests and scans.  Problems were found in her lungs, diaphragm, and heart.  We didn’t know what was going on.  We asked our church to pray and the only word they had for us was that this was my fault, that I was being too prideful.  I asked God if they were right.

That is when God gave me Ps. 144.  I felt peace flood my soul as I read:

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.  Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

Amazingly Ashlyn was cleared and was released to go home after just two days, a perfectly healthy baby girl!

ashlynA perfect baby girl…until the results of the Chromosomal analysis came back.  A part of her 6th chromosome was missing but no one knew what that meant.  No one had ever seen this before.  We began this journey of parenting a special child, one who didn’t grow and develop like the other children.  One who had to wear a brace for a dislocated hip and a patch for strabismus in her eyes.  A child who needed physical therapy to learn to sit up and occupational therapy to learn to drink from a cup.

This is when Is. 65 became even more meaningful.  God had brought her forth and had told me that she was destined to take mountains.  She was not a mistake!

By April Chris still hadn’t found a full time job.  Our church kicked us out and shunned us.  Our mortgage and second mortgage were threatening to foreclose.  Our townhome association was threatening to take us to court.  Ps 144 didn’t appear to be true for us.

Yet God worked His miracles, one at a time.  He gave Chris a new job, sold our townhouse, brought us home to Pennsylvania, led us out of debt, and blessed Ashlyn with supernatural health.  More financial struggles, hardships with the children, and failed business ventures followed.  But we were home in the land of our inheritance.  We had friends, family, and a church that loved us!

When I started reading Is. 65 and Ps. 144 again this September, I was reminded of the encouragement I had received from them years ago.  Yet, I didn’t really want to delve into them, to relive the pain we had been through.  I kinda thought, “I know these verses inside and out.  I’ve been there and done that and I DON’T want to do it again.  Can’t I read something else?”

But I felt God saying, “Take another look.”

I discovered that these words, written thousands of years ago, were perfectly tailored for my life.  Not just my life back in 2010, but my life in 2017 and beyond.  I received revelations that I was not able to receive back then.  That our church in Colorado was not pleasing to God, but HE HAD BROUGHT US OUT OF IT to possess His Mountains.  Not because of anything we had done but because His faithfulness, He saved us from that situation and now we are taking mountains for His Kingdom.

Then I saw all the promises that God had for His servants (Is. 65, verse 13).  We will eat, drink, rejoice, and never be put to shame!  This has happened in our lives.

Then I read a verse that I had never noticed before, verse 16b.

“For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

If God can forget the past, why couldn’t I?  I felt Him saying to me, “I am bringing you into something new, something you haven’t seen before.  You don’t have to interpret current events through your past experiences.  You don’t have to look into the future through the lens of the past.  I am going to give you a new perspective.”

I had been gaining a different perspective, an aerial view like that of an eagle.  I didn’t want my thinking to be clouded by people’s opinions, ever changing circumstances, or the dark clouds of depression.  I wanted to be seated with Christ in heavenly places, to see things from his Eternal perspective.  God was telling me that I was meant to be an eagle.   I was trying to fly, but I really needed some help.

I asked God to let me see a real eagle, and He answered my prayer just weeks later on our family vacation up north.  See my previous articles, “A Hawk, A Vulture, and an Eagle Part 1 and Part 2.”  I felt elated!  I felt inspired!  I felt ready to fly!

Of course vacation has to end and normal life has to begin again.  Could I see an eagle during the course of my daily routine? Chances were no.

I have made a weekly trek to a farm for years now.  At first I never noticed the birds flying in the sky.  Not because they were not there, but because I was not looking.  After God started speaking to me about being an eagle, I began to search the skies.  I loved watching all the birds – the swallows, the robins, the wrens, the sparrows, and even the crows.  They looked so free.  Even better that those birds were the large birds that flew high above the rest.  I felt inspired by their flight…until I realized that they were vultures.

Months I spent searching the sky for eagles only to see vultures, buzzards, and more vultures!  Ahggggggg!  At the end of October I made this trip for the 20 zillionth time.  I saw a large bird swooping down over the highway.  Another vulture, I said to myself.  Still, when I got close enough I turned my eyes away from the highway and up to the sky just long enough to see…

A bald eagle!  I saw the brilliant white head and the powerful straight wings!  I was not expecting that at all!  An eagle in my own neck of the woods!  In the midst of my normal routine!

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This seemed very significant so I asked God if there was something He wanted to tell me.  Immediately I heard this verse on my Bible CD:

“‘The One who is coming will come.  He will not be late.  The person who is right with me will have life because of his faith.  But if he turns back with fear, I will not be please with him.’

But we are not those who turn back and are lost.  We are people who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 (ICB)

Fear has been my normal reaction to many things, so normal I hardly realize that I am choosing fear over faith.  But I am not one who turns back!  I am one who believes!  I will choose faith!

I heard God say to me, “I want you to be ready to see eagles where in the past only the vultures flew.”

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!