Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the aching heart

My dear friend Tami sent me a message today. It said simply, " My heart aches for Angeliyah today." In the moment that I read her words, my heart ached with her. It took a moment for the dull and laborious thud to return to normal in my chest. And as Tami thought about her little girl today, I thought about her little girl too... and since I was thinking about her little girl... I thought about my own little girl.
That's the way it works. Because Tami's journey has been so similar to my own, because many moms has, when they express grief to me, I can understand that grief too. Their story reminds me of my own... their loss and their tears ignite my own loss and my own tears. It intertwines our lives- sharing the connection of losing a child.
I have told you often about Faith. Details here and there about her, our journey, my grief, my thoughts, my heart, our God who has held us through all of this.
Today, let me tell you a little bit about Angeliyah.

Angeliyah Grace, was born at 29 weeks gestation. Her name means Ascending Angel. Her entire life, from conception to death, was shrouded in love. She has an older brother Raife, who loves her very much, and a younger sister Remi that she helped to pick out for Mom and Dad. She also has three siblings that are in heaven with her that never made it to their mom and dads arms. She had six fingers on her right hand... dainty feminine fingers that looked like they were made for her parents to hold. She lived for 32 minutes on earth. She was beautiful and perfect in every way except for the broken heart that was trying to beat in her chest. Her 32 minutes on earth, and the 29 weeks that she was in gestation, created a legacy of love that will continue for many years to come.
To see the beautiful slideshow that helps to tell Angeliyah's story, visit here:

Friday, October 02, 2009

God's Purpose is Forgiveness

I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week in regards to Forgiveness. It is something I have been struggling with a little bit in one of my relationships. I never thought I was the kind of person to hold a grudge, so I have absolultely learned a lot about myself through this experience.
I have learned that I can harbor resentment, quite easily, and that of the five apology languages,(http://www.amazon.com/Five-Languages-Apology-Experience-Relationships/dp/1881273792/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254493519&sr=8-1) (from The Five Apology Languages: How to experience Healing in all your relationships, by Gary Chapman) I really need to have someone accept responsibility or repent to move on. Becuase of this, I really latched on to a bible verse I read last week and I shared this in my conversation with my friend. It was in Luke 17:3-4, 3 “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him.4 Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
My conversation with my friend went something like this:
Me: I just need to call a truce. I should be a bigger person
Friend: Wait, What?
(explanation ensues, discussion about occurrence that is upsetting me, )
Me: " I am just still feeling angry. I don't want to be fickle or resentful. But if they would just acknowledge that they have upset me, I think I could move on. I think I am just a little too judgemental. I am going to pray for my heart to be yielding and not stern. The message version of Luke 17 talks about forgiving a friend that ASKS for forgiveness as many times as they ask it- but what about a friend that does not ask it.?"
Friend: Grace is good! I will pray too. I have thought through that. See, it says we will be forgiven when we forgive, I feel it is better to forgive without being asked. That way the heart is right."

This conversation gave me a lot more to think about. You see, in my heart, I really wanted to be able to hold a grudge until my friend came to me and asked forgiveness. I felt I had a right to be angry until this happened. As hard as it is for me to admit how calloused I was in this situation, I have to confess the truth. As I mentioned sometime last week, I am searching to know who God IS. I am trying to quit looking at myself and who I AM, and to find a better understanding and foundation of who GOD IS. I believe once I know who God is, then who I am will be found in that. I did a search on forgiveness and came across a wonderful study by Baylor University titled " God's Purpose is Forgiveness". The title of this study caught my eye and drew my attention. After all, I have heard that God's purposes are many things... but never simplified into this one statement. Jesus Christ was sent on a mission, which is summed up quite nicely in John 3:16. " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have ever lasting life." His mission was forgiveness for anyone that would believe in him.
In fact, Jesus was criticized by the pharisee for being forgiving of sins. In Luke 7:49 they said " Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!?!"
Isn't that a great statement of our society today? We are so unforgiving. It is hard to look past the ways we have been wronged. In marriages, friendships, families, experiences shopping, driving on the road. We feel fueled but what we think is a righteous anger- reacting strongly when we have been wronged. We sometimes criticize those that forgive too much, or allow others to hurt them. But maybe all this time I have gotten it wrong?
If God's purpose is forgiveness, shouldn't this be my purpose too?

If you pray for me this week, please pray this one thing: that my heart would be yielding and not stern, and that I could have a heart full of love and forgiveness for my friend without ever being asked for it.

Nehemiah: 9: 16-20 16 "But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands.17 They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them,18 even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, `This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They committed terrible blasphemies. 19 "But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night.20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

From 0 to 5

My baby became my little boy and now that little boy is turning into quite the big boy.
My firstborn, my only son, Ethan Brock Carlson, turned five just a few weeks ago.
I remember the day he came to us, a hot day in September in 2004.
I spent the previous day at the hospital, waiting for his cousin Paige to be born. I was worn out by the end of the day from a long wait in the waiting room and the annoying braxton hicks contractions that I was suffering from all afternoon. I collapsed into bed around seven pm.
I got up early that Thursday morning, September 16th, to go to my weekly check up at the doctor's office. I was not due until October 1st(or September 27th- we seemed to beebop between these two dates from appointment to appointment) and my doctor was on his annual visit to his home country, Iran. He had told me not to worry, just don't have the baby early, and he would be back to deliver our baby boy by my Due Date. This seemed like a logical and probable course becuase my cervix had not thinned at all at my last appointment with him and I was not dialated.
Things tend to be unpredictible for our family, and Ethan's arrival was no exception. When I arrived at the Doctors office, Treva, the nurse who had been assisting DR M. for years, took my vitals as usual. She took my blood pressure and frowned and had me lay on my left side a minute. When she took it a second time, she decided it was imperative to go to the labor and delivery unit at Memorial Hospital for monitoring. Cliff and I came to the Doctor's office in seperate vehicles becuase he had been on his way to work and we both took the 3 minute drive to the hospital and hurried inside. Once we were there, they checked me into labor and delivery and within about 1 hour had decided to go ahead and induce labor due to preeclampsia.
We called Cliff's parents and told them the news. After a long day and night of waiting to meet Paige Marie, Cliff's parents were exhausted and were caught a little off guard by the call. After we notified them we called several other friends and family members including Cliff's brother who thought it was a big joke. We assured him it was not, and prepared to meet our son. After a long day of waiting, our substitute physician, Dr B., decided to do a cesarean. I am fairly certain that my "Yes!!!" seemed a little too enthusastic when she asked if I wanted to pursue this option. Needless to say, I was extremely scared of the idea of childbirth, hadn't eaten or had a drink all day, and had a less than favorable ultrasound of Ethan in which he scored a 6 out of 10 on the scale. We waited through the evening for the surgery team to be free, and finally as my blood pressure began to rise even more, an emergency team was called in and they wheeled me down for surgery. Cliff claims that the time he waited for them to come out to get him while they prepped me was the longest wait of his life in which he spent every second ferverently praying.

Our son, Ethan Brock Carlson, was born at 9:50 PM, screaming on the way out. The Surgical Technican told us that Ethan was going to be a "Rock Star" with those lungs. He arrived with a mohawk of blond hair, weighing just 6 lbs( he is still a lightweight), with tired old man eyes( he still looks like an old man when he is sleeping), and with his future awaiting him.
Here is Ethan through the years:

In the Factory
Age: negative 3 months

Age: Zero years, a few hours

Age: 1 year

Age: 2 years

Age: 3 years

Age: 4 years

Age: 5 years