5/23/2020 1 Comment
Growing Pains | Tara Bailey
This Vlog is about an experience that I went through while cultivating a more personal relationship with Christ and venturing into my first dating relationship where Christ was at the center. My major encouragement is to stay true to yourself while growing in Christ!.
5/9/2020 1 Comment
Facing Reality | by Justice K.
Monday, April 27th, 2020 at 2:30am I was awaken by profusely sweating (because of postpartum hormones) and a need to pump. Amara had also woken up and was crying. While Gabe tended to Amara and I pumped, I got a phone call from UVA hospital, a rush of anxiety came over me as I answered. It was the NICU and the doctor there told me that Selah was not doing well. She told me Selah’s blood pressure had dropped really low and she was on 100% support already so there was not much they could do. The doctor said she did not think Selah would make it out the NICU and she might only have a couple days left. My worst fear was approaching. This was out of the blue because Selah had been doing “better” the past couple of days. We waited until about 6am for Gabe’s parents to pick up Amara so we could go to the hospital.
Fortunately, since Selah was in critical condition Gabe and I were both allowed to go into the NICU together. We went it to see our little girl and she looked the worst we had ever seen. She was so swollen, she looked like a different baby. Her conditions didn’t get any better. She still had low blood pressure, low on her oxygen intake and a low heart rate and she was on 100% support. Things were not looking good. Our care team had set up a meeting for us all to talk about the next steps for Selah’s care. I could not talk with out bawling my eyes out so Gabe did most of the talking. We had decided we wanted to fight for our baby girl’s life if it were feasible. The doctors were encouraging us to think about putting her just on comfort care because they seemed not to believe she was going to get better.
Selah had stopped making urine because of the medicines she was on for her blood pressure. Since she wasn’t making urine she was retaining all of her fluids. The doctors could not find out what was causing it but her fluids were not staying in her arteries and veins. Instead they were going outside of them under her skin making her very swollen. Since she was so swollen her organs were slowly failing as well. They didn’t have the space they needed to function properly and the fact that her blood pressure was low. Regardless of this, we still wanted to give her a chance so we waited there for her. Checking her stats continuously. At a moment her stats had jumped up after she received a dose of epinephrine, her heart rate and blood pressure was better and we could see more hope for her. But after a couple of hours she slowly started to decline again. At this point things were not going well for her. So instead of us deciding she should go on comfort care, she was deciding herself. She fought long and hard but her little body was tired and could only take so much. God knows I would have kept going, I would have never stopped fighting for my baby’s life. I didn’t care if she was going to be disabled or anything I just wanted her. So bad.
Later that night, Gabe’s parents brought Amara in so she could meet her baby sister. Our care team brought in Selah’s ventilator and other machines she was hooked up to in our room so we could spend moments with her before she passed. We finally got to hold her for the first time. She smelled like new baby. I kissed her cheeks and her forehead. I got to rub her hair and feel the warmth of her body. Amara came in and we introduced them. Amara waved “hi” to her little sister and then proceeded to point to her nose and her eyes. In an endearing way that Amara does…There was no way to explain to Amara what was happening but I’m glad she got to see her and touch her. Then Gabe and I had alone time with Selah. We cried out in anguish and despair, we wanted to so badly for our baby to make it. We wanted to have her so badly but the reality was not for us to keep her on this earth. The doctors slowly took her off her machines and Selah slowly drifted to rest with Jesus in our arms. We were able to give her a bath and dress her. At 11:07pm April 27th, 2020 our sweet girl became an angel. The hardest thing was to physically let her go, knowing we would never get to see her again on earth. We would never get to see her grow up and know her personality. We will never know what she could’ve been here on earth. Even though we are grieved beyond what words can explain, we can find comfort in knowing she is not sick or in pain anymore. She is completely healed and with Christ Jesus. We needed her but Jesus needed her more. We know her life had a purpose in ours even if it were only 9 days. Though we have to live the rest of our lives missing a piece of us, we will always have her as a daughter, she will stay in our hearts and memories. She will always be our baby girl Selah Irene. We love her more than I can express.
We have yet to scratch the surface of healing. This will be an ongoing process into us getting back to our normal lives. We will be living a new normal of losing a child. How do you go on from that? How do you let go of what you wanted so bad and it didn’t turn out the way you wanted? God only knows how, so we will continue to take this hard journey with him. Because we know weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. (Psalms 30:5) So as we process this tragedy we have something to look forward to, God’s everlasting joy and his healing power and also that we will see her again in heaven.
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah”
Psalms 3:3-4 CSB
5/2/2020 0 Comments
Fear God | By Lera R.
Every few months or so I go through my dresser drawers. I mean well--I really do--but over time, my drawers just become disorganized. I run out of time to fix the pile of shirts that fell over when I pulled one out from underneath the stack. You know how it goes. It just becomes a heap of clothes instead of an organized stack. I pride myself in being an organized person, so this is difficult to admit to you all. While going through the clothes and reorganizing the heap to a beautiful stack, I find a shirt or a pair of pants that I don't wear too often or maybe ever. I take a long look at this item and I then I look again. "Do I REALLY need you?" I ask myself. Sometimes it's an easy answer and I throw it into the give-away pile as fast as I can blink. But every now and then, I become nostalgic. I've had so many memories with you, corduroys. We had a nice time out on the town with the ladies, black top. I cringe as I put it into the give-away pile. I leave my room and cozy into a good book--proud of myself for all the good organizing I just did. About 5 minutes into reading, I put down the book, reenter my bedroom, and I put that beautiful black top that I never wear--and don't even NEED--back into my drawer with all the others. *Sigh* just a few more months of you sitting in my drawer not needed or used, simply taking up space.
This semester, I have been interning with the college ministry we have at our church in the hopes that I will go full-time into campus ministry alongside my husband. One of my favorite things to do is sit down over coffee, or a cinnamon sugar pretzel from Auntie Anne's (can I get an Amen JMU ladies?) with the ladies in our ministry and check in with them. During this season of quarantining due to COVID-19, our chats have been moved to over the phone. It might be better with some coffee or a pretzel, but the company is just as sweet to me. As I have checked in with the ladies during this season, I have heard a common theme:
This season is uncovering things in my heart and life that I have not fully given over to Jesus.
When the distractions have been removed, we can see more clearly. What are those things that we turn to that is not Jesus? Fear, insecurity, addiction to entertainment, pornography, unhealthy eating habits, etc. As my organization of my drawers revealed clothes I had forgotten I still had, this quarantine is revealing things in our hearts and lives we didn't know were still there.
My word for this year is "Listen." My scripture verse to back that is John 10:27 which says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." As I started this year, my desire was to not just listen to God's voice, but listen to His heart. To really listen to the voice of the one whose heart is to know me and have me stay close to Him. In order to really listen to God, my prayer has been to have a posture like Mary of Bethany. In my last post, I talked about how Mary was the woman who poured out the expensive jar of perfume at the feet of Jesus; and how she also sat at the feet of Jesus, fully attentive to His every word while Mary was in the kitchen distracted. I truly believe that Jesus' heart for Martha was not that she stop working, but instead to shift her perspective. He wanted her to cease striving and anxiety and change it to having an ever-attentive heart to Jesus; where we will find true rest--even in business. So that is my heart for this year. To be a woman who is taking care of my home with my eyes on Jesus. Who is thriving in ministry with my eyes on Jesus. Who is loving my husband, family, and friends with my eyes on Jesus.
As I have been in this quarantine, however, I am learning how quickly I can shift my gaze from Him. I go from starting the morning in a beautiful time of prayer and studying of the Word to then rushing through all the household chores I need to get done. I continue in a harried pursuit of my daily tasks feeling heavy. I exchange His peace for my own control. And as I have now become heavy-laden, my heart wants less of Jesus. I pick up my phone instead of my Bible. I scroll instagram instead of praying. I stop listening for the heart of God. I'm distracted. I'm heavy. I'm inattentive.
And I realize quickly that something has been in my drawer that I don't actually need. It's simply taking up space.
In Proverbs 31:10-31, we see the characteristics of a wife of noble character. In the text, we see that she is always working for her husband and family (v.15). We see that she bounces on opportunities, she is strong, and she is hard-working (v.16-18). We see that she desires to give to the poor (v. 20). This woman is busy! But in verse 25 we see that she "...can laugh at the days to come." This suggests a carefreeness and a playfulness about the Proverbs 31 woman that reminds me of Mary of Bethany. This woman has a lot going on. She is able to do many things WELL. One might ask--HOW?! How can she juggle all of these things and still be smiling let alone laughing? Verse 30 tells us: She fears the Lord.
During this time of crisis, we all need to clean out our drawers so-to-speak. We have an opportunity to purge some things in a literal sense, but we also have an opportunity to purge some things in a spiritual sense. There are some things in our lives that our distracting us from Jesus. And He is pleading to be our all--our everything. As we gaze into our hearts, let's get rid of those things that are within us that we don't have space for, in order to make more room for Him. He's it. He's enough. He's everything. Let's set our hearts on Him completely and laugh without fear of the future. How? Because we fear Him.
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