The week of Evangeline.

Tuesday, January 22nd, we went in for a prenatal check-up, two days before my due date, only to learn our baby did a complete turn and was now sitting in a breech presentation. We were surprised and not exactly happy. As soon as the doctor mentioned ‘external aversion’ my heart sank even further. We tried this with our 3rd child, our son, and it was painful and unsuccessful. He later turned on his own, and we avoided a C-section.

Then an amazing thing happened. Our doctor started to speak words of faith that he believed God would enable him to turn our baby. He prayed with us. Other people prayed for the procedure to work. And it did! I came home from the hospital determined to keep the baby in the proper presentation for birth.

Friday came around, and it was time for another prenatal check-up. Unbelievably, baby was now transverse, and I was post-due. The lovely Velcro brace I wore all week wasn’t enough to keep baby in position. Our doctor was not comfortable letting us go home with baby in an unstable position, and recommended doing the aversion again and then immediately inducing labor. This time the aversion wasn’t as bad, since he didn’t have as far to turn her. But he held tightly onto her head as he broke the membranes so she wouldn’t bounce around again!

I really laughed when the nurse (coincidentally named Hope) asked me what my birth plan was. I had one of these typed out with our firstborn, gung-ho and ready to do everything naturally and on my own terms. Whoever came up with the idea of a ‘birth-plan’ must not have experienced actual child-birth. It doesn’t often go as planned. Being induced has never been part of my plan, yet three out of five babies were. Childbirth is like anything else in life, its walking by faith. The one thing I did differently this time around was prepare myself by meditating on these passages of scripture the week of my due date. Then I had them ready for my ‘Coach’ to read them to me for strengthening and focus during labor. This was the best part of my labor and birth experience. God’s presence was very real to me that night.

The labor was long, hard, and lasted all night and into the next day. About 19 hours total. It was the most beautiful and exciting thing to finally hear the doctor say “it’s a…..girl!” Evangeline Noël was born on my birthday, January 26, at 11:57am. What a beautiful, sweet, and rewarding birthday gift. Her name means ‘bearer of good news’ which we found to be both appropriate and prophetic in the season our family is now walking into. Noël because I often called her my ‘peace child’ through this very tumultuous year of transition, change, and uncertainty. And here she is:

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Making Progress?

I recruited my husband’s (and oldest daughter’s) help making a “Graciousness Chart” and wow! Its like an architectural grid! No cutesy flowers and colors like I would’ve done. I love it. This 30-Day Challenge has already prompted discussions about privacy issues, how we speak to adults, how we treat our elders, manners at meal fellowships (church events), and gratefulness. The kids are motivated and excited.

As a parent is it so difficult sometimes to train our kids in the multitude of skills and character traits they need for a life serving the Lord. This 30-Day Challenge in Graciousness gives us much-needed focus and also a measurable goal, something that is often lacking in parenting!

How are you doing? What areas of manners, politeness, and graciousness have come up in your family?

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30-Day Challenge: Training Gracious Kids

I’ve noticed most of my time spent mediating between my kids is due to simple neglect in courtesy. Neglecting to say, “May I play with your …. (iron man, doll, bouncy ball, etc). Or a loud “MOVE!” instead of “Excuse me, please.” Sometimes its forgetting to knock on the bathroom door before entering, which always causes a great commotion. This one is especially important if we go to South Africa, as the bathroom doors there don’t have locks!

This neglect is failing to follow what Jesus called the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sounds simple enough! Now the difficult part is realizing much of the ‘tone’ of our house is due to me barking orders or commanding attention. I’m not always the most polite, sweet parent…I have to get their attention, after all! So the challenge for me is to learn a way of communication that still commands attention but is also polite and gracious. As parents, we are the model for our children, and our desire is to reflect Christ in every aspect of our parenting.

So we are embarking on our next 30-day Challenge. I’m making a stamp chart, and whenever I hear a please, thank-you, excuse me, may I, yes mom, or another gracious word, that child gets a stamp by their name. At the end of the 30 days, we’ll evaluate everyone’s progress and celebrate with a family fun night.

Who’s in on this with us???

What Unexpected Adventure Awaits?

I want to sit down with each of you, right now, with a cup of coffee or sweet tea or yerba mate or whatever it is you drink. Everyone have something in hand?

I have some news to share. I’d rather wait until we have the real cup of coffee, face-to-face, instead of virtual one, but we all know how fast news spreads around these days, and I want you to hear it from me first.

In April, God started to stir up a strong desire in my (and my husband’s) heart to ask him about returning to the mission field. We began a season of intense fasting and prayer, asking him what he has for us. This is not the first time we’ve done this, by the way. Several times before, we’ve asked God about going into missions and he’s said stay. So our hearts were prepared for for the same answer.

An interesting thing happened. The day after our fast ended, we recieved an invitation for a very desirable and well-suited position on the mission field, in Israel. Immediately, our hearts lept and wanted to say yes! But instead we asked for counsel and prayer from our spiritual leaders, and asked the Lord for a double-confirmation from his word.

The next week, another invitation came, for a similar position but in South Africa.

Then God spoke to Gert Isaiah 30:17-21. The double-confirmation we asked for, as this passage has special meaning to my husband. Our prayer partners came back and said ‘yes.’

I cannot convey to you the joy and release we felt at this point. We’ve been married for 11 years, and always assumed we would raise our family on the mission field. But God has led us on a different journey in the States, which has been filled with relationships and experiences I will treasure forever. It has been a privilege and joy to pastor a church, we have grown more through this experience than I thought possible. Our children have enjoyed the privildge of living in the abundance of the United States. I have been thoroughly equipped to mother and homeschool my children, thanks to co-ops and godly friends. My husband has found a vocation as a paramedic which he is passionate about. It will be an incredible asset on any mission field. God has been so gracious and good to us.

The hard part comes now, in telling our dear friends and family, that we are leaving. Much sadness and tears is to come as we let go and say goodbye. It never gets easier to say goodbye. The sacrifice is great, for those who stay and for those who go.

My comfort and solace is this, from the book of Hebrews: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he had prepared a city for them.

Our days on earth are numbered, but our days in heaven are not. If we share the fellowship of being called children of God, we will have all of eternity to be together in a far superior home. If we can live our lives with purpose, investing in eternity, it makes the sacrifice of saying goodbye worth it.

We do not have the final confirmation of where to go, although we are leaning heavily towards South Africa. We can be fruitful there, training and discipling new students and missionaries. And our children are African-American, right? It will be a blessing for them to experience the other part of their heritage and culture. Many of Gert’s family have not even met all of our children.

From the bottom of our hearts, we love you. I want to make the most of the time we have left in the States. We ask for your prayers as we make decisions, transition into a missions lifestyle, and begin an international move as a (soon-to-be) family of 7.

With love,

Molly

Guess What?

I have a little surprise. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to announce our pregnancy to you! Since we told the kids, the dental hygienist, swimming instructor, and cashier at the grocery store now know, and I figured you, my dear friends and family should know too (if my children haven’t already beat me to it)!

After a difficult loss in October, I was a little skeptical and unenthusiastic about getting pregnant again. April 30th would’ve been the perfect day to have a baby. But I understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are higher than ours. I can trust his plan is perfect.

I’m 12 weeks along, and the due date is January 24th…2 days before my birthday. Do you think I can get a carrot cake in the hospital? 😉

The best news for me is that my old OB/GYN is now practicing OB again! It was like visiting an old friend. She remembered my first two pregnancies, my husband, and the story of our lives. I am so thankful for a believing, female doctor.

I am gratefully not feeling well at all (meaning hormone levels are high), so if you see me hunched over looking pinched and tired its because the heat has sapped the last ounce of energy and motivation I have.

We are blessed to receive this child and can’t wait to meet him or her in January! Oh wait, with my track record it could be mid-February. Here’s to hoping for an earlier delivery.

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Retrieving

While tucking in my 3-year-old for her nap today, in-between tickles and kisses and drinks and stern ‘now you settle downs’ I’m certain I heard God speak to me. Only I couldn’t quiet the noise in my head and in the room long enough to really think on why he is speaking, and why he said what he did. Of all the things I pray about, dream about, and sometimes worry about, he chooses not to answer my questions or prayers but instead to sear a picture of his love in my mind. For me to retrieve later on.

Because as I look at G, and again was overwhelmed at how much I love this blond, blue-eyed little girl, I saw in her face my own image. I love her because she came from me, she grew within me, she looks like me, imitates my actions and speech, and I have invested my entire life into her. She is made in my image, in a sense.

When God looks at us, he sees his own image. After all, we are created in his image. He didn’t fashion us into a creative body of an animal, with stripes and wild colors and fur. We resemble our creator, we have his DNA, his features, his capacity for all things Spirit-inspired. He invested his most precious possession to us. He gave himself in the form of Christ, he sacrificed greatly, like we know many parents do.

Not to be confused with being equal to God. We cannot be. Yet we are made in his image. And his heart pounds wildly with love for us. He loves us! He loves to look at our faces. He knows our weaknesses, yet he loves us in spite of them.

While my husband is away for yet another 48 hrs, I have a strong sense that the Lord is here taking care of us. He sent someone our way to finally investigate the scurrying in our roof, and I’m thrilled to know the bats(!) will soon be evicted. Living smack in the middle of a gigantic, humid, oak forest we battle a new critter each year. Just like my 3-year-old delights us with spontaneous displays of affection, God chose to interrupt my ordinary life and thoughts today with a beautiful picture of his love. And just like any good father, took care of a practical need too.

What is a Daniel Fast?

As someone who enjoys eating, I first saw the Daniel Fast as sort of a cop-out. To me, the idea of a fast is to totally deny your flesh the pleasure and satisfaction of food and instead rely on the Word of God as daily ‘Bread.’ Eating anything just seemed a little too easy. But as I considered this fast, the more the Holy Spirit has been challenging me with my mindset. Our family is on a journey to better health, but I believe like anything, the implications are not just physical, they are spiritual too.

“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:2, 3

Simply put, a Daniel Fast is a biblically-based partial fast that includes a diet of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It abstains from meat, dairy, sweeter of any kind, yeast, and any beverage except water.

A year ago, my husband and I did a Daniel Fast but did not include whole grain. I’ve since learned why fruits and grains are allowed when the Bible says Daniel ate only vegetables and drank water. The early translations (including KJV) use the word pulse instead of vegetables. That word is rightly translated as “foods grown from seed.” Therefore, the Daniel Fast includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

If you are adept at reading between the lines, you will see this means…..no coffeeeee…….

If we are a bit grouchy, groggy, spacey, or otherwise seem impaired in the next few days, please excuse us and remind me the headaches will soon go away. I am not looking forward to caffeine withdrawals!

But I am eager to draw near to the Lord, seek his presence in our lives more, and to wean myself off unhealthy habits. As mothers, it is a great challenge to continue to run the race marked out for us.  There are no false pretenses with raising children. It is hard, dirty, sometimes unrewarding, overwhelming work. When my children argue with each other, are disobedient or whining, I feel like a complete failure. Just being honest here. But the Lord is near! He is ordaining moments to reach their hearts. To speak words of life, calling, purpose, and character into their spirits.

Our oldest daughters were baptized today. Their spiritual journey begins. I am anticipating the presence of God in their lives more and more, and I can’t wait to see how God will speak to them! I am asking God to change me, to renew my spirit, through this time of fasting.

We will be studying the life of Daniel during the next 3 weeks. This website has been especially helpful and encouraging with practical and spiritual application to the Daniel Fast (definitions taked from): http://daniel-fast.com/index.html

Also, this blog: http://danielfast.wordpress.com/