Thursday, June 28, 2007

God is busy, I have the proof!

There are so many things that have happened in my life that reflect God's involvement. Some of my nonbelieving family members and friends ask me often, "Why do you love God when seems all he has done is hurt you?" That breaks my heart. Shatters me. God hasn't hurt me! He has allowed hurt in my life to break me down and rebuild me to be the woman he wants me to be. I value that. I appreciate that. I know that I am a strong woman; but it is not of my own accord. My strength comes from the Holy Spirit living within me.

That question that I get asked has made me reflect a lot over the past years of my life. I want to be able to tell them exactly what God has done for me during these "turbulent" times. I am going to spend a moment reflecting on those things here. Most, if not all, of these incidences were written about in previous blogs, so if something is unclear and you have the patience, please reference those and feel free ask questions if you need/want to.

Lucky (dog): He was probably our first real "challenge" as far as medical issues are concerned. When we purchased him, we did a lot of research about what type of dog to get for our family. We settled upon a lab. When we were told his hip needed to be replaced, we were saddened...both for our dog and our pocketbook (Nope! It wasn't cheap!) Lucky is a very high energy dog. I always said the reason God put him in our life was to prepare us for a high energy child, which might hold some truth. However, the real reason I believe he put him our lives was to teach us love and compassion for the "disabled." It is funny how God uses the "little" things in life to prepare us for the big things. I seriously would have done anything for my dog and he is just an animal, could you imagine what I would do for a child??? Side note: when he had his hip replacement, I watched the entire surgery live. I couldn't let my baby (and he was my baby at the time) go in without me and the surgical center that did it allowed for people to watch by setting up a viewing station. Kind of weird, huh?

Infertility struggles: Many, many of my friends have experienced infertility issues. It seems way too common and very sad. The Designer and I waited 7 years to try to get pregnant. We wanted to be done with school and have a good start on life before bringing a little person into the world. Just like so many of our friends, it didn't happen without a lot of trying and various medical interventions. Lil Bug was born in our 8th year of marriage. Honestly, there were several (and I mean SEVERAL) occassions where we could have wound up pregnant earlier in our marriage (ok, truth be told...even before our marriage), but God was protecting us from that. He knew that Lil Bug would have needs that we personally wouldn't have been able to deal with as we have as older parents. I honestly think that God allowed us to experience infertility for that time period to be so thankful for ANY baby that we had and to realize the beauty of His creation. It isn't always easy and not everyone is made to be the parents of a little girl with Spina Bifida. I am so thankful he waited to bless our lives with her until we fnished graduate school and were prepared to move back to Michigan. Anything sooner could have changed/delayed so much in our lives.

Lil Bug 1: Oh there is so much to say here, but I will just touch on a few...first, we declined the medical testing that would have told us she had Spina Bifida. By God's grace alone, our OB "happened" to notice fluid on her brain at our 20 week ultrasound, which then lead to locating the hole in her spine. We could have never found out, had a vaginal delivery and caused an enormous amount of damage to her spine and head. God was watching over her and us.

Lil Bug 2: If Lil Bug had been born completely healthy, we may have missed so many of the little things with her. The doctor's painted a very grim picture of her existence. So grim, in fact, that we were offered an abortion about 9 times during a 3 week period. Disgusting, I know! Life was so much slower for us than my friends who had children her age. I noticed the tiniest little things. My friends didn't notice some of those same things in their children because they just expected them to happen. We celebrated (and still do) a LOT in our family. When she moved her toes a little for the first time (her feet and toes are basically paralyzed) we cried tears of joy. When she rolled over, we called everyone we know...ok, I know other moms probably do that too, but it was a HUGE victory for her and a celebration that lasted for weeks! When she took her first steps without the aid of her walker and/or crutches at 2 1/2 years of age, we cried out of happiness. Those little things were huge accomplishments for her and we cherished them more than I believe we would have otherwise. I also think that it taught me to value those same things in our next child. Not to let the hub-bub of life distract me.

Lil Bug 3: When she walks with a walker, she is easily distracted...she wants to stop and look at EVERY flower, every "new" thing, just every thing! It would be easy to be annoyed at this (and,sad to say, sometimes I do get annoyed) but it has slowed me down to really value and appreciate God's beauty. I have noticed flowers I never knew existed before. I literally have stopped more times to smell the flowers in the past couple of years than my entire life before Lil Bug. Now that, my friends, is something to be thankful for!

Lil Bug 3: My faith has grown tenfold since we learned about Lil Bug. Sometimes I need to be reminded, but for the most part, I have faith that God can and will heal her, provide financially for us, etc. At one point we were told that her brain damage was severe and she would probably suffer paralysis on her right side of her body and never be able to speak. I taught her sign language in case that happened, but I prayed that it wouldn't be necessary. I prayed that she would have mobility. I prayed for complete healing and no cognitive delays. Okay, we could debate whether or not God answered my prayers...some say yes, others may say no. I mean, she does still have significant brain damage according to her scans, but she is NOT paralyzed (she does favor one side just a touch more than the other) and she speaks at a four year olds level. She is not cognitively delayed at all...her only delays exist in the gross motor areas and those will eventually catch up too, just ask me!!! :)

Lil Bug 4: I learned how to pray. I mean really, really pray. I am so specific. I am so intentional. Before a lot of my prayers were generalized. Not specific. I touch Lil Bugs head and pray for her learning...He listens! He asnwers! He's awesome.

Lil Bug 5: We have had the priviledge of witnessing to some of Lil Bugs doctors. One in particular that comes to mind is her neurosurgeon. He is baffled by her progress. He is the one that broke the "bad" news that she would be severally cognitively delayed and not able to talk...when he sees her now he is baffled. One time I said this to him: "Dr. Foody, I mean no disrespect to you, your hard work and science as a whole, but God is the ultimate doctor. He hears my crys. He hears my prayers and he responds. Lil Bug is doing as well as she is despite what her brain scans show and He will continue to do great things for her. He hears my prayers and he answers me." Dr. Foody's response, "I have heard the prayer thing before and honestly, I don't get it, but it works for you and you are seeing results, so keep it up." A seed was planted, or maybe watered, I don't know...but either way, he has to admit that something bigger than science exists because his words were "Lil Bugs brain looks like scrambled eggs on her scans."

There are many, many more with regards to Lil Bug...I may write about them later.

The Designer: Before we moved to MI he flew here to interview for jobs. He was a licensed architect with many years experience. The market here in MI is tight, to say the least and there isn't a ton of new growth, so architects are not in high demand. He had something like 8 interviews in three days and we prayed hard that it would be clear which company he should work for. Although he had many companies interested in him, most of them didn't have the work to support his employment there. He only had 1 firm offer...and that is the company he felt he wanted the offer from the most. The funny thing is, it was a horrible job, but even so many great things came from it anyway. God lined it all up for us. First, the job was only 1 1/2 miles from our house, so The Designer came home on his lunch many, many days when Lil Bug was first born, which helped a lot. Also, their insurance package was amazing and during the two years he worked there, Lil Bug was in the hospital a LOT...the insurance covered everything. We didn't even have to pay a penny for the insurance. God knew that the job wouldn't be great, but the benefits would be exactly what we needed. He took care of us. He also lead The Designer to his new job, once he knew Lil Bug wasn't going to be in the hospital as much and we didn't need that specific insurance. The Designer now loves his job.

Adoption: This one is interesting because it is still being written. Although it hurt extremely bad when we did not actually become the parents to either of our previous matched babies, I know there is a reason for that. The baby that God has chosen for us will arrive in His timing. Because I have identified so many ways God has worked in our past experiences, I know for a fact that He is still working in our lives. I can't wait to see how this one turns out.

When I was at my darkest hour I was angry at God for a brief time. I couldn't understand why God allowed many of the difficulties He had...but now I praise God for them. I read Job every now and again. I actually see our challenges as an honor. How, you ask? Well, this is my way of looking at it...I know that God does not make bad things happen, but he allows them. I think that when someone is faithful to and favored by God you automatically become a target for Satan. That scares me a bit, but with God by my side, who can be against me? Anyway, I sort of imagine a conversation something like this between God & Satan:

Satan: I know that The Professor will turn on you. Just let me hurt her, she will become angry with you.

God: No, my child will not turn her back on me. She loves me.

Satan: Please, allow me to show you that she will.

God: Ok, Satan, go ahead and try, because I know the heart of my child. I know she loves me and worships me. I know that she will pass any test you send her way.

And so it goes...Satan tests me, I score higher and higher the more tests that come my way and God is pleased with me.

(by now you are probably thinking I am a little pyscho, right?)

If I weren't this strong in my faith, I honestly don't think we would be attacked. Satan does mess with those that are far from God. Usually he focuses on attacking those that are closest. I consider it an honor that Satan see's me as a threat!

God never gives you more than you can handle. I know this. I breathe this. I believe this. I live this. And, I must admit, it is the most reassuring thing I have ever known in my life...I can handle all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Dear God:
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me and my family. Thank you for allowing me to be a witness for your kingdom. I am a willing vessel. I will obey your desires and do as you command, even if it is hard. I trust that you will carry me when I cannot walk and hold my hand when I can. I love you God. Thank you for loving me back! Amen


BlessedWithDaughters said...

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

I love what you wrote, Angie, because what you wrote here is living proof of these verses...suffering eventually can result in hope in the life of a Believer. Your trials have produced optimism and the joy of the Lord in you, when in so many others, those same trials would have (and some might think it "should" have...) produced just the opposite. Great testimony, and probably my favorite post you've done so far!


Anita said...

You have a beautiful life with much evidence of the Lord's blessings and His faithfulness. You are an overcomer!

LeeJo said...

Wow, I'll have to read that again, so many good nuggets.

SJ said...

Thank you so much for sharing what God has done for you :) Isn't it amazing to look back and see how He worked everything for good?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Angie! As an earlier poster so aptly put it, there are so many nuggets of goodness in your post. The Holy Spirit surely poured His magic into your pen.

I'm Roman Catholic, am from the sub-continent with a wife and three children and have experienced the Almighty's care and protection, especially during times of trial.

As you so nicely put it in your narration about the conversation between God and the Devil, each test is a way of getting stronger.

Yours in Our Lord,