Friday, March 30, 2012

Asher



Asher
Hebrew - Fortunate, Happy, Blessed

Asher Nathan Ledford was born at 1:00am on March 30th, 2012. He weighed 7lbs 0oz and was 19in long, despite being 11 days past his "due" date.

Those are the facts.

This is his story.

In the Spring of 2011, Bonnie and Gabe were facing life-changing events. We were considering whether God was calling us out of career and comfort, into a life of sacrifice and service. As we prayed over this call, we considered another change that had been running through our minds for several years. Should we have a third child?

We decided to let God decide that. In several books of the Bible, we see that God opens and closes the womb in His own timing and for His purposes. We posed the question to God, and stopped birth control.

Bonnie was pregnant so quickly, she actually believed she had a bladder infection as Asher was implanting in the uterine wall. She felt ill, and had some pain, but it didn't even occur to us that she was already pregnant. God is so good, and the measures she took to cure the "infection" had no effect on embryonic Asher. God has a plan for his life.

Prior to being pregnant, Bonnie had been battling an extremely painful condition called "Eosinophilic Esophagitis," which I think is best described as canker sores on her esophagus. Very little is known about this condition, least of all a cure. Once she became pregnant, the medicines Bonnie was taking to control the pain and possibly cure the condition were in question. Again, God is good. We ran out of one prescription, had no health care coverage for the "good stuff," and still found something that worked, while not harmful to Asher. We continue to cry out to God for healing, believing that He is certainly capable, but weakly wondering if He's willing.

There were all the rollercoaster emotions of pregnancy, yet through it all, we knew we were leaning on God's grace, and operating within His will, so we had peace.

When Bonnie's "due" date rolled around, there was no indication from Asher that he intended to leave the womb. We think a 40-week gestation period is unnecessarily arbitrary, and even the 41-week induction rule is needlessly interfering. However, arbitrary or not, it's hard to ignore the day on your calendar that's been outlined in red for 9 months. Time suddenly slowed, and I think about 3 years passed while we waited...but, God is good, and we trust Him.



Bonnie riding out a contraction like a champ, 10:42pm


Labor
(Those with weaker constitutions are dismissed. Go have some popcorn, your wife can tell you the story and spare the details. Also, the verb tense gets twitchy below, so backseat blog editors are also dismissed ;-))

Ten days overdue, and Asher began to worry our midwife. She would need to begin initiating Operation Eviction if he loafed around any longer. While we questioned "are we still trusting God if we induce today," Bonnie took her midwife's advice and swallowed some castor oil (you know, the stuff that WWI aircraft used in their radial engines), but not until the kids were in bed, the babysitters were on their way, and the car was warmed up. Yeah, we used this stuff before...

Castor oil at 7:30pm, out of the house at 8:15. By 9:30, Bonnie was in mild labor, and her body wasn't showing the typical signs of getting ready for birth: 2cm dilated, cervix aft. To our midwife, this meant we would be there a while. We knew better. 10:00pm, 5.5cm, real labor begins (contractions at this point were effective, but not too intense). 12:35am...here we go. Bonnie gets verbal, and wants to labor in the tub. Bonnie's verbosity is a signal to Gabe to get ready, because he knows his girl.

At this point, the midwife was in the other room, working on her computer. She was listening to Bonnie, but not knowing her previous labors, was still expecting to have to break her water and labor a few hours more.

At 12:50am, we get the midwife's attention. She is concerned about delivering [a large, overdue chubby child] in the tub, so Bonnie is half-dragged to the bed, where she labors for one more contraction on her hands and knees. The midwife requests that she lie on her back so she can be "checked." Bonnie refuses (another signal to Gabe), so Gabe does his own checking. There's Asher's head. One more push, and there's Asher. Done. Instant relief. No issues. And Gabe got to catch.

1:00am. Tadaa!

We were home again by 4am. It was surreal, almost like we had gone shopping for a new pet. Okay, one of us worked really really hard for that pet, and it was the middle of the night, so kind of a weird time to go pet shopping, but you get the picture.
What a trooper!

God is good.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

41 weeks



Waiting....patience....perseverance.....these things don't normally come easily to me. Being born an American with our notorious "can do" attitude and love for instant gratification plus my own Type A personality do not equal patience. It's easy to get caught up in the culture around us and take pride in how much we've accomplished in a day, how quickly we've solved a problem, etc. When I was an RN working in the hospital this was especially true. Labor and Delivery wards are notoriously fast-paced, and I loved it. Birth on speed. Inductions, pitocin, epidurals, emergencies narrowly avoided and the doctor and I came out heroes. Not the mothers. Certainly not the divine Inventor of the whole process.

Strangely enough, the adrenaline high of turning Labor&Delivery into another ER (which I also enjoyed for a time) was not the most satisfying work I've found in my nursing career. What I carry with me as the best moments from that career are not my part in daring rescues of moms and babies from disaster. (Truthfully, my part in those situations was only by the grace God gave me and them, not anything in my own talents or skills.)

What were truly divine moments were the births. The babies who came unexpectedly and slid out into my own hands. The pure magic of their life becoming separate from that of their mother's in perfect harmony and watching them take their first breath. The simplicity of it, and me standing in awe of a process I had simply witnessed and could never have improved on.

Now I sit at 41 weeks and 2 days of my own third pregnancy, or "9 days overdue" if you like. I'm impatient. My family is impatient. My kids are impatient. Well, except for the one yet to be born . :-) He's happily kicking and rolling around, waiting for his moment. In the U.S., it has become pretty standard practice to induce labor at 41 weeks for everyone(not so in other industrialized nations, but that is another topic. I highly recommend "Born in the USA" by Marsden Wagner, MD for voluminious research on why normal birth should be left alone :-) ). I've heard more than one doctor say "nothing good happens after 41 weeks". My previous two kids were induced at 41 weeks; Sam in the hospital, Ciara by castor oil since the midwives I delivered with in Tucson were bound by the doctors' 41 week rule. Both came out pretty quickly, by 6 PM on the day of their inductions. Neither looked "overdue" or at any risk in labor. So why, this time around, am I insane enough to want to wait? My midwife would be glad to accomodate me with natural methods to get labor going, but I can safely stay in her care until 42 weeks(what the research actually shows, not the 41 week "rule"), so there's no rush as long as we're both healthy. And we are.

So, "am I insane not to get induced???" :-) Here's the Scripture my Bible "randomly" fell open to this morning:

Isaiah 66:9

New King James Version (NKJV)
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord.“Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.

I love the Lord's sense of humor :-) But seriously, who allowed me to conceive this baby? Who has given me an amazingly healthy pregnancy? Do I have any cause to doubt Him or the process He created for my son to be born in His perfect timing just because American obstetricians get nervous after 41 weeks? Or because I and everyone else are getting impatient? If "fatigue of pregnancy" isn't a valid medical reason for labor induction at 39 or 40 weeks (which I don't personally believe it is), then is it at 41 weeks in a healthy pregnancy? For me, this time, it's not. 

At least for a couple more days. :-)

Some great verses on patience, which I AM thankful for this opportunity to cultivate:

James 1:2-4

New King James Version (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Isaiah 40:31

New King James Version (NKJV)
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

I know I am not the only one out there today who the Lord is asking to wait patiently. I think of my friends who are waiting to conceive a child, or have waited for years to see that promise finally fulfilled :-) I think of others, waiting for the child God has put on their heart to adopt, yet not even having a referral or a name yet. I think of those patiently waiting to see if God will give them a husband or wife or if their gift will be singleness. 

All I can say is what He keeps saying to me. "Trust me. I have not forgotten you. There is a purpose for all of this".

One of my favorite worship songs from our church home back in Tucson: "Everlasting God" by Chris Tomlin


Romans 5:3-5

New King James Version (NKJV)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Check back soon for baby news :-) Be Blessed!
Bonnie



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Obedience


Sam & Gabe after the AWANA Gran Prix, 3/24/2012


“I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.”

“At least if I expect everything to go wrong, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.”

Does this sound like you? I know I’ve spoken this way for at least 17 years.  I wasn’t always so negative. My own memory may be incorrect (my brother will tell you it is), but I remember being more of a dreamer as a child. I don’t recall having many negative thoughts. Of course, life was easy back then.

After I left home, things became more difficult, and I spent several years developing my negativity. Almost half my life I’ve been virtually paralyzed because I almost dared not dream, knowing that I’d just have to come back down to earth. I became a detail-oriented perfectionist, so I couldn’t start anything without seeing all the possible failures. A number of disappointments led me to create a defense mechanism: if I started off disappointed, at least I wouldn’t be let down by failure.

This is why Bonnie knew that last summer’s rapid revelation-decision-action process was from God; there was no way I could have overcome my “realism” to make such a huge life change on my own. 

What has changed? I finally made Jesus the Lord of my life. I use the term “Lord” in reference to “whom I chose to obey.”

Face it, we all obey somebody. Most of us obey only ourselves, but we have no idea how to run our own lives because we’re corrupted by our past and completely ignorant of our future. Others follow a teacher, a leader, or a religion. The problem is, those teachers and leaders are also corrupted by their pasts, and ignorant of their futures; and religions are founded by leaders and teachers, and added to or altered by other leaders and teachers.

There’s only One who’s got it all figured out. I’m going to be submitted to someone - either my own imperfect ego, or someone else’s - or I’m going to be submitted to The One. 

-Gabe 3/25/2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Broken

 

Psalm 51:7-9

New International Version (NIV)
 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.

Sometimes I wonder if people read this blog and think what I used to think about people in ministry and/or missions. Things like "Oh, they must think they're better than the rest of us...super-Christians...holier-than-thou...wonder what they're trying to atone for?". Why else would we go off and make such a radical life change? Either we want to prove we're better or we're trying to do penance for the life we've lived up until now. Or both.

Honestly, I doubt most readers think that, because you're all nicer people than me! But I'll admit I did. Every time God would gently nudge me into service of some kind, I found it easier to criticize the failings of the people serving in whatever ministry I was trying to avoid than to simply obey. 

What I didn't realize is just how much I was missing.

I'm discovering that service is a gift from God for me even more than for the people He calls me to serve. It humbles you, breaks you open in ways you never expected, and calls on you to minister to others from the very places in your history you hoped never to have to reveal. You know, the skeleton hidden deepest in your closet. The character failing you hoped no one would ever know about. What He's showing me is how He doesn't just use us to minister and serve out of our strengths, i.e. "so and so has a real gift for children's ministry, teaching, leadership, organization" etc., but out of our weaknesses. It's the only way He gets the glory and not us.

So if you have ever felt those little nudgings of the Holy Spirit to step into ministry or service but feel completely inadequate to the call, may I say JUST DO IT ANYWAY! Gabe and I are only here out of our own brokenness. I feel no gift for teaching 2 year olds or homeschooling my own kids, but I am learning a lot about myself and my own selfishness and need for patience in the process!  And every time I am humbled to be allowed to minister to a sister in crisis, it is my own story of shame and redemption that He calls me to share. Never my spiritual superiority. As if I had any.

I think it works like this: the more the Lord reveals to us our total inadequacy and need for a Savior, the less tightly we find ourselves holding on to control of what we think we are called to or too limited to attempt. God specializes in using our limitations for His glory. We just need to be broken and available to Him. It is the only way to show His love to a broken world.

Thoughts from the Apostle Paul on just how this world got so broken and God's plan for fixing it:

 

Romans 5:12, 15-17

 

New Living Translation(NLT)

 12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned......
15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. 

Basically, once the first man sinned, it became encoded in our DNA and the world was broken. It had to be atoned for by death. God is holy and perfect and just, so He couldn't have sin in His presence. Yet He loved us so much that even though we sinned and broke His perfect creation, He sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, to atone for that sin. So while not everything that was broken in His creation has been restored, the thing most precious to Him can be; our relationship with Him. We can come to Him in our brokenness and He makes us whole again by His grace. Not by anything we can do, but from His perfect love for us.  Can you  think of any better way to find peace? 

Romans 8:18-22

New Living Translation (NLT) 
The Future Glory
 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 

Good analogy :-) As I anxiously await the arrival of this little guy we've waited 9 months to meet, I can only imagine the joy we will all know when Christ returns and frees this earth from its curse of death, decay, and brokenness. As a final note, if you are reading this and really aren't sure what this Jesus kool-aid we've drunk is all about or want to ask us more about it, please feel free to comment or send us an email. He's worth knowing. Nothing else really matters.


Love,


Bonnie

A few recent glimpses into life around here :-)

Rainier sunrise
 

child labor aka "chores"

sledding day

"Snow Sam"




Snuggles