Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grungy Prayer

The Lord has really been pressing prayer on my heart lately.  To get down and dirty with Him.  Does that make any sense?  I keep singing the song in my head that goes, "I'm on my knees at Your feet.  I'm on my knees again".

When I was growing up, my brother and I would go into my parents room and kneel next to their bed to pray.  I remember hating to get on my knees.  Being "too tired" to sit up straight, my brother and I would spread ourselves across the bed with our knees barely touching the floor most nights.  But, we would kneel there with our dad every night and say our prayers.  I'm not sure when that ended...but I do remember in high school that I would have to go into my parents room while it was still dark out.  My dad would lay his hand on me and pray for me before I'd go to school.  Prayer played an important role in our house.

As adults, we pray.  We pray driving to work or while we're drinking our coffee or as we're falling asleep in bed at night.  When was the last time we got on our knees to pray?

Right now is a time where I find getting on my knees essential to my prayer time with God.  It's my act of helplessness, fully surrendering my heart to Christ.  God's promises through prayer is the only thing that has kept me strong through this time.  He continues to remind me to pray without ceasing.

(and as God would: I was studying for my Friday night bible study and Jon Courson's sermon on Revelation 8 is all about prayer and the power of prayer!  Come on.  You gotta praise God for that.)

Psalm 141:2  Let my prayers be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dodging Curve Balls

In my last post I stated that Jude and I were finally finding a routine and settling in.  Then came the curve ball.  I noticed blood in Jude's stool on Thursday July 5.  Thankfully, the next day was his 2 month appointment at which time I spoke to the pediatrician about it.  She told me that I might have to go on a very strict diet.  I had already eliminated the major dairy products like milk, ice cream and cheese because Jude was so fussy, gas and spitting up a lot.  I had been off of that type of dairy for a  month.  Little did I know, there is a lot that has milk hidden in it's ingredients.

The pediatrician asked me to bring in a poopy diaper the following Monday to test if there was still blood in it.  There was and I was put on a very strict diet of no whey, soy or milk.  I'm not sure if you're into reading labels but I thought I was over that phase of my life after the gestational diabetes.  Nope.  This type of label reading is even worse because milk and soy have a lot of different names.  I am thankful that there is a health food store right up the street that has alternatives for yogurt, ice cream and bread so that I don't have to starve all the time.

Unfortunately, we are still seeing blood in Jude's stool.  We are going on two weeks this Monday on the strict diet.  He is still having episodes of major spitting up.  And my small list of things to eat is getting smaller.  The upside is that my waist is too!  :)

Anyway, please keep myself and this little blessing in your prayers as we continue to eliminate foods that seem to really bother him.  I praise God that this is only a season in life as poor Jude's digestive system continues to mature.

We are doing great otherwise and Jude was amazing on our trip up to Pittsburgh for my little brother's wedding (my mom and I attribute it to the fact that I hardly ate anything and when I did it was extremely bland).  Here are some of my favorite shots:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Outside Looking In

My dear friend, Lauren, made this beautiful quilt for baby Jude.  I've finally become adjusted to motherhood where I can start to have time for myself and post this!  These past 7 weeks have been the biggest adjustment of my life and I am so thankful that Jude and I are finally finding a routine.  Anyway, isn't this quilt so adorable?  It fits Jude's personality so well.  THANK YOU, LAUREN!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Labor of Love

At 12:30am Thursday, May 3 I woke up James and told him it was time to go to the hospital.  I had been having contractions since 3pm Wednesday afternoon and they were progressively getting stronger throughout the evening.  They would vary from 6 minutes apart to 1 minute apart back and forth for hours.  I finally gave up on wondering whether or not I should go to the hospital and just made the decision to go.  My mom met us at the hospital and we all sat in a labor room as they set me up with monitors and got me settled in.  The contractions had slowed down and were getting further apart (8-10 minutes) so the nurse put me on a low dose of Pitocin to get the contractions back up and on a more consistent pattern.  I was 4cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital.  The nurse told me that since I was at 4cm, I could get my epidural at any time.  I wanted to hold off as long as possible.  At 7am, Dr Lerner came on duty and told me that I was 7cm dilated and broke my water, at which time I had started using breathing techniques to get through each contraction (thanks to the teamwork of my mom and husband, they did an amazing job of keeping me focused) and told the nurse that I was ready for the epidural.  They said it would take an hour to get it ready and took my blood to get things moving.  About 30 minutes later, the nurse told me that my blood work didn't pass and my platelets were too low to safely get the epidural.  They would take more blood and manually count the platelets to see how many were functioning and if it was too risky to get the epidural.  We waited 3 hours to hear back. Finally, the anesthesiologist came in and told me that he'd do the epidural although I could become paralyzed from the waist down (due to bruising of the spine and inflammation from low platelets).  He said, "if it were my daughter or wife, I'd tell them not to get it" so I, of course, had to say no.  No temporary pain relief is worth a lifetime of paralyzation!  I realized at that point that I was going to be doing this naturally and pressed forward.

It took another couple of hours to get from 7cm to 9cm.  Those were very intense contractions that required a lot of focus and knowing that it would eventually pass.  After reaching 9cm, there was still a little bit of cervix left preventing me from being able to push.  I had to start suppressing the pushes until Dr. Lerner came in and told me that I had finally reached 10cm at 1pm Thursday afternoon.  For three hours, I pushed.  The nurse and doctor both showed James and my mom the baby's head and the fact that there was dark hair on it!  At about 2pm, my nurse explained to me that the head was not passing the pubic bone.  She said that with the first push, the baby would rock forward then the second push would rock back and with the third push was supposed to push further forward and stay in that position.  My baby was going forward again but not staying in the position but would rather go back to the original position, basically just tetter-tottering around my pubic bone.  She told me that I need to push really hard past that area, we concentrated on doing that.  At 4pm, Dr. Lerner came in the room and stayed for each contraction.  After about 4 rounds of pushes, he hit me with the news.  He usually only allows women to push for two hours, especially without an epidural this should be plenty of time.  He allowed me to push longer in hopes that there would be progress but even with my "perfect pushes", we were getting nowhere.  I had to have a c-section and, because of my low platelets, it was determined that I be put on general anesthesia and be put under.

It's amazing throughout this entire experience how faithful God has been.  He protected me and my child through birth.  He allowed me to experience child labor and the difficulties that come with it, allowing me to see that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  Though the situation was not optimal, I still feel a sense of invigoration that I tried so hard and it was only through the strength of God that I was so calm and confident throughout the experience.  And, of course, I have the most precious blessing as a result!

Jude Ellis James Likeness was born May 3, 2012 at 4:47pm weighing 8lbs 11oz, 21.75 inches

(which was .25 of cone head, haha so he's really 21.5).  PS.  It took us until Saturday morning to agree on a name, due to the pushiness of the birth certificate people who told us we had to have a name by Saturday morning or else "Baby Boy" was going on the certificate.

More pictures of Jude on my friend's blog:  You Remind Me of Home

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our first DIY

I can't take any credit for this transformation.  My grandparents were kind enough to give us this three-drawer dresser which I thought we could just stick in the closet.  Unfortunately, there was absolutely no room so James had the idea to redo the dresser.  I did research and discovered that we first needed to prime it.  We went through the whole process of priming it, spray painting and eventually painting one layer with a paint roller.  James ripped off the fronts of the drawers, went to Home Depot and bought plywood (sandeply).  He had them cut the wood into three pieces at the store then was able to borrow some more tools from a guy at church to finish the job.  We bought the hardware at Home Depot too (probably would have been cheaper to get it from Ikea or something) and voila!  A brand new dresser!  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Nursery

We finally got the nursery done!  Well...almost.  As close as we are going to get before the baby comes.  I feel like there is something missing.  Probably the barn door.  Either way, here it is as ready as it will ever be!

Here is my original inspiration:

Here is our version of it: 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Call

Many things have happened over the past two weeks which prompted me to blog.  I suppose that's a good thing considering the last time I wrote an entry was over a month ago.

God has me in a new season of life.  Of course, there is the inevitable season of having the baby but He has shifted things so much that there are many changes on the horizon.  The first of which is, after several weeks of praying and patiently waiting, my baby brother is moving down here.  My entire family is overjoyed, for years now we have been disjointed and incomplete but now our whole family will be together again (with a new aunt/sister after the wedding in July!).  It has only been through the constant prayer and placing the situation in God's hands that Gregory got this job.  So many times, I found myself falling to my knees praying for the situation.  I hadn't gotten on my knees to pray in a very long time and it was refreshing and humbling to come back to that place.  Why don't I go there more often with God?

The other changes are on a more personal level but I have seen God's abundant faithfulness through it all.  The Lord has brought me to a place of utter surrender to Him.  Multiple conversations with the dearest people in my life have brought up God and I have been leaping on the opportunity to share His love.  Seeing God work in that has been mind-blowing.  He is changing hearts and moving in ways that I never even imagined.  I see His hand on the lives of my loved ones and it excites me that they see it too!

I have also been blessed to see prayers answered.  A friend of mine, Vanessa, and I try to meet every Saturday for breakfast, prayer and a time of fellowship.  Through that we have developed a great relationship in Christ and are able to ask for prayer from each other.  We have been praying for my friend's dad to come to Christ for several months.  One day he told her (out of the blue) that he wanted to come to church.  He went that Wednesday with her and hasn't stopped going since.  Every Wednesday and Sunday he is there with her.  He says that he finds peace when he is there and has a desire to learn more about God.  He's listening to sermons online.  He's praying.  He's seeking God!  Through the enormous amount of trials he is going through, he has discovered that the Lord is our peace and we can rest in Him.  It has been unbelievable to see God's work in him.

Although the week has been a trying one, I can't help but think God is leading me through something.  He's teaching me to surrender.  By talking to my loved ones about God, there is only so much that I can do and say.  Sure, I can point them to podcasts online or different verses in the bible or offer to pray with them but the ultimate change has to be in their hearts, the surrender in their hearts, the commitment to Christ in their hearts and in some ways that scares me!  I feel like, "Lord, there's really nothing else I can do?  I just have to sit back and let You do the rest?"  Vanessa also gave me a verse that I just keep praying over and over for my friends (Isaiah 55:11).  I have to surrender my loved ones to Him, trust that He is going to move and be confident in the promise that His word is sent forth to accomplish His work.  He's teaching me to let go and stop controlling.  :)

Speaking of, my two dear friends put on a baby shower for me this past weekend.  It was the most gorgeous day ever!  The food was to die for and the decorations were so much more than I could have ever imaged.  They were so cute.  I am so very blessed to have such loving friends.



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sweet Result

Last night was the final session of our book, Bridges on the Journey.  It is the bible study I am doing with my family.  These last few months of taking this journey closer to God with my family has been incredible.  I have learned so much about the beautiful hearts of the women in my family and their desire to know God more.  I am excited that they all want to continue growing in God with me!  

It was also my cousin's birthday two days ago.  One of her favorite things is Starbucks Birthday Cake Pops so I attempted to sort of duplicate those as a little celebration for her last night.  As you can see, I didn't even attempt to make them perfectly round as Starbucks has them.  I'm sure they tasted just as good.  If anyone has tips on how to get them perfectly round without the cake splitting in two and falling off, please enlighten me.  I had the worst time EVER attempting these for the Harry Potter Party (as you can see, they cracked).  I also made some mini cupcakes with buttercream icing.  I put various toppings on them such as cookies n' cream crumbles, marshmallows w/ chocolate sauce, fresh blueberries and strawberry preserve with a fresh strawberry on top (my favorite).  

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Week of Soups!

Normally, James hates eating soup for dinner.  He says it's not a real meal.  The only way I've gotten us to eat soup three times this week is because we are both fighting off a pretty nasty cold.  The first soup I made was my Authentic Pittsburgh-Style Italian Wedding Soup, I put the recipe up on The Lofty Cook.  I am so excited that I got to make this recipe, it tastes just like home.  If you've never been to Pittsburgh, you probably don't know that Wedding soup is sort of a staple soup at every restaurant.  It is almost always on the menu.  Unfortunately, down here it is not.  The only place that I have seen/had wedding soup is the Italian restaurant across the street from us called Dominic's and it is NOTHING like what I grew up with.  Anyway, after this cold came I decided I would finally try my hand at making the wedding soup I know and love.  The only problem is that Publix doesn't sell the right pasta!  So, the recipe has the closest thing to Acini di Pepe that I could find.

Tonight, I am making Jenn G's famous Tortellini Soup!!! James and I are both pretty excited about that because it's so delicious.

I am also going to be attempting the infamous cake pops for the second time in celebration of Savannah's birthday.  Let's hope my strategy pays off this time.