They are Weak, but He is Strong

October 1st began as a very normal Thursday morning during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. I rolled (literally) out of bed, got ready, and reminded Ben, my husband, that we had a doctor’s appointment at 11am to check on our baby boy.

My blood pressure had been a little higher throughout the entire pregnancy, for which I blame my anxious moments, but it didn’t seem to be anything to worry about. However, little did I know that toward the end of the pregnancy, blood pressures rise. Well, mine was a little too high for comfort at 38+ weeks pregnant. I remember the words rolling off of Dr. Scott’s tongue like it was nothing, “we are going to go ahead and send you all over to Labor and Delivery”. Ben and I looked at each other, then back at Dr. Scott (one of my favorites because he promised to bring a terrible towel to the delivery room; GO STEELERS)…and said “right now?”. He explained that they will most likely induce labor this evening. All of the sudden, October 1st wasn’t a normal Thursday anymore.

We spent a few hours in triage as they monitored my blood pressure. Let’s just say it wasn’t going down and we began the long journey of induction! We started in triage with the sweetest nurse, Lauren. She was with us for a short while, and shifts changed just as they were admitting us for the evening. Kim, a new nurse, came in to take Lauren’s place; little did I know that she would play the sweetest role of our nurse over the course of the next 24 hours. While I was a little apprehensive about pushing our little guy out of his temporary home too soon, after spending time with Kim and the others that crossed our paths over the next five days, it was completely clear that the Lord had this EXACT day and these EXACT moments planned especially for our family. He blew our minds.

It was a long 25 hours, a day that began with the exciting close contractions that reminded us that we were going to meet our son soon, continued with tears of JOY as they told us that I was 10 cm. dilated, and quickly moved to 2 hours of pushing, and ended with a C-Section delivery. You may be exhausted from just reading that sentence, but let me assure you that we wouldn’t change ONE thing about this day, not the hours, not the nurses, not the doctor, not even the anesthesiologist.

Our doctor’s office shares weekend duty with another doctor’s office in Raleigh. There was a 25% chance that, if delivering on a weekend, I would have a doctor we did not know deliver our son. Well, we found out Friday morning that it just so happened to be our “not so lucky” day. Nurse Kim assured us that our doctor is wonderful, but the unfamiliar was scary! Once again, the Lord totally blew our minds with Dr. Tosky, the doctor that we did not know, and yet fell in love with. He was the perfect man to deliver our son & to help us through the last stages of labor and surgery. Jesus was so very present in Rex Hospital that day.

My husband is not the biggest fan of anything medical…in fact, I was worried that a C-Section delivery would not go over so well, but once again Jesus blew our minds with strength and courage. Here we are going into the OR and… another shift change for the anesthesiologist (we were there for awhile). As we waited for Ben to come into the OR, I explained to the nurses my fears of our boy coming out totally healthy, as we lost our first child exactly a year earlier to miscarriage. The anesthesiologist spoke from the sweetest part of his 6 foot 4ish body by saying that “today, you will cross the finish line”. Finally, they brought Ben in, and he was the strongest, most excited husband I could have ever asked for in those moments. There wasn’t a fear on his face, and I needed that. Just before they delivered our son, the same anesthesiologist took Ben by the arm, pulled him up to look over the sheet, and he was able to see our son be born into this world, without any squeamish feeling in sight. I thank God for that anesthesiologist and the role he played in our story.

As many of you know, in a C-Section, mama doesn’t get to hold the baby until after she is in recovery… the longest 45 minutes of my life began. They brought our son around the curtain for us both to see; he was perfect. Ben went with them to weigh, measure, and test, as they continued on with the surgery. Nurse Kim kept looking at me and smiling, telling me that everything was fine, that Ford Andrew Snyder was perfectly healthy. She was my rock while Ben was away. I will always thank the Lord for the part that she played in our labor and delivery.

They finally gave our sweet boy to Ben and he brought him out to me. He was crying, which was the most beautiful sound. As soon as he heard my voice it stopped, what a miracle this life that was living within me was in that moment. Shortly after he began to cry again. I remember reading a blog that said that babies can recognize songs that were sung while they were in the womb. I always sang “Jesus Loves Me” to him while pregnant. In that moment, I just began singing to him, Ben joined in, and just as we got to the line, “They are weak, but He is strong”, we both had a moment of truly being in awe of a giving Father. We have always said that we had such a small part in creating Ford, that the Lord created this miracle…and in that moment it had never been more true. We, as His children, are so weak. Ford, as his small, helpless, yet perfect new creation, is so weak, yet our God is so strong. Strong enough to create this miracle, strong enough to remind us of His unfailing love and faithfulness, and strong enough to care about the journey along the way.

The next five days were filled with more nurses, doctors, and people that played such a sweet role in our birth story. There were always the perfect interactions at the perfect times. For that, we thank the Father who not only gave us such a precious gift on October 2, 2015 at 5:50pm, but a Father that cared about the details. We are so grateful. Welcome to the world, Ford Andrew Snyder, you are the perfect blessing and Jesus loves you.

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Singing to our precious boy.

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Our first photo!

God’s Got This

So, as you all may have noticed–I’m not the best blogger. I forget to write things, I get caught up grading projects & papers, and let’s face it…life just gets busy. However, I do love to write, and I figured that while I have all of these glorious ideas bouncing around this week, I would share a few.

As many of you know, my husband and I are expecting a sweet baby boy in early October. The amount of gratitude that I hold in my heart on a daily basis for this gift is indescribable. When we (at 4:30 in the morning) saw two pink lines, our world changed and until I felt him kick, this was one of the most joyous moments of our lives. I have been wanting to write and reflect on the past few months for a little while now, but truly words do not seem to do our God justice on this one. So, instead of expressing the way that God has rocked my world over the past few weeks & months, I will show you.

Last November, we lost our first little one right around 10 weeks. I can still hear the words that the ultrasound tech said like it were yesterday, “I’m just not seeing that flicker that I’m looking for”, meaning that she could not find a heartbeat. Those words still send chills up my spine and bring tears to my eyes. That will always be our first baby, and I am so grateful for that sweet little one because they made me a mom, and taught me how to truly love a child. The months passed and we struggled (if you haven’t read my last two blog posts surrounding this time, I would love to share that part of our story with you).

Then, in early February, we got those two pink lines. I always thought that in this moment, it would feel like deja vu, but it didn’t. In fact, in that moment I had a peace that really did “surpass all understanding”. I remember being terrified that fear would creep in, but somehow, our Lord kept that fear away. Now, I would be lying if I didn’t say that each moment leading up to all of our ultrasounds with this little boy have been scary to me. I knew that God would carry us regardless of the outcome, but the thought of losing him was the scariest feeling I have ever known. We went into our 18 week appointment, and I asked the ultrasound tech if they could please tell me that there was a heartbeat as soon as she could see the baby. About 30 seconds later, she said there’s your sweet baby, and a very strong little heartbeat. We had to take a little break from the ultrasound because the momma in me couldn’t stop crying and rejoicing. The appointment continued with her beginning at little boys head and working down to his toes (by the way, we didn’t know he was a baby boy quite yet!). The good news kept coming, his brain looked good, all heart valves were there and healthy, his kidneys were good, and spine strong. She got down to the cutest little butt anyone has ever seen and wrote “buy me something BLUE” on the ultrasound screen. His daddy and I were quite shocked, as we were sure that we would be buying pink– but HE was the best thing we had ever seen or heard and HE already had our hearts.

Around the same time that we lost our first baby, we had two close friends lose their babies too. We have shared our fear and our frustrations with one another over the past few months. Today, I had the honor of praying for both of these moms and dads as they went in for ultrasounds with their babies that they are currently expecting. I heard from both of them today that their sweet little ones were healthy and had strong heartbeats. I cry now, a lot– maybe it’s the hormones, maybe is the little human I’m growing, or maybe it’s the fact that I have never seen God’s power so clearly before in my life. The tears that I cry these days are tears of joy and knowing that these moms, my friends, are crying the same tears of joy from the same gracious heart is so astoundingly beautiful to me.

About a month ago, I had an old friend reach out to me that recently lost her first baby through miscarriage. After speaking with my two friends today and rejoicing with them in their news, I was then able to share this with a friend that needs hope and healing right now. I still do not understand why our first child was never put into our arms, and I do not understand why this happens so often, and why this happened to my friends; but I do know that God has used it to further His Kingdom and to bring glory to His name.

It is really easy to allow fear to creep into the uncontrollable situations that surround our lives, but He has been so faithful in the loss of our first child and in the creation of our second that I can’t help but believe that God’s got this– He’s got all of it. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

Chicken Salad & Dishes

Today marks six weeks since we found out that our baby’s heart stopped beating just shy of ten weeks old. Some moments the pain is so fresh that it seems as though it happened just days ago, and yet there are other moments, where Ben and I look at one another and cannot believe all that has happened since that day. While some may not understand the pain that we are experiencing, and many may dismiss a miscarriage as “a part of life”, they certainly, have not experienced a pain such as this. The day Ben and I found out that we were expecting, we became parents. We may not have a child on earth to hold, but one day we will hold this child– and one day our first child will call us “mom and dad”.

baby SWhile Ben and I have had to hear the few and far between “it is just part of lifes”, we have truly been overwhelmed by the tears that have been shed with us, and the friends and family that have helped us carry our burden– even when they don’t always know what to say. There may not always be words to say to comfort people in sadness, but if we love one another, shouldn’t we just simply do that– love?

Liam! Baby boy to our dear friends that brought us dinners & baby love.

Liam! Baby boy to our dear friends that brought us dinners & baby love.

Yesterday, I was speaking with a friend who had asked how Ben and I were doing. I realized in my answer that I continued to share how grateful we are for our friends and family during this time. I have always tried my best to “carry” the burdens of others, but until six weeks ago, I do not really think I understood what that meant. An hour after coming home from the ultrasound appointment, there was a knock at the door, this was Megan– the one who allowed us to cry and then in our tears, could not stop her own.

This sweet chick had a basket on our front porch when we came home from surgery.

This sweet chick had a basket on our front porch when we came home from surgery.

Thirty minutes later, we see a car, this was another Megan– dropping off lunch and dinner (all healthy, I might add to show how well she knows me). As I step onto the porch to give her a hug, she looks up, a red face and eyes full of tears promising me that He has a plan. We begin to eat the lunch that was so graciously needed in that moment, and I look over to see the first Megan unloading my dishwasher before she leaves to go back to work. Not long after this, my family comes over crying and praying with us.

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Eastern Shore trip with some of our sweetest gifts!

My surgery was at 5:30am at WakeMed the next morning. At 6am, our dear friend, Clark, comes in and sits with us to pray before the surgery. Our doorbell did not stop ringing that day as I was recovering– flowers (a lot of flowers), edible arrangements from co-workers, meals from our small group friends, and birthday cake milkshakes from my parents (because they know the way to their daughter’s heart). The next day, Ben’s parents came, they did our grocery shopping, cooked for us, and over the laundry that my mother-in-law folded– cried with me sharing in my same pain that she once knew. This is only a glimpse of what the people that we love have done to help us carry this burden.

Sometimes carrying a burden can come in the form of chicken salad and dishes.

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This Christmas we are grateful that our first child is in the arms of our Savior, and for our friends and family that remind us of that daily.

A Christmas Gift

Such truth from this sweet momma!

lego

Legos.  A large bag of Legos.  This is perfect!!

Emilie, my little creator.  She loved to build like her imagination was linked directly to her hands.  She would build tall buildings, homes, airports and roads with cars traveling quickly through the streets.  Legos are perfect, I thought.  I held that bag of Legos under my arm and continued down the aisle of the store.  It was December 14th and I didn’t have many shopping days left till Christmas.

That moment.  That very moment has played over and over and over and over again in my mind, hundreds of times.  That moment was the same moment my Emilie was being killed in her first grade classroom… and I was picking out Legos.

I remember a little while later, still shopping at that same store, I received an automated phone message telling me there was a shooting at a Newtown school…

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Not “why?”, but “will”

Two weeks ago my husband and I sat in a doctor’s office excitedly awaiting to hear our sweet baby’s heartbeat for the second time. The sound is indescribable– strong, fast, and loud. Only one word comes to mind when I think of that sound: miracle. This particular day we heard a sound that we did not expect to hear. As the doctor put on the ultrasound machine, we heard nothing–utter silence. Knowing what that miracle of a heartbeat sounds like, we saw our little one on the screen– little arms and legs, teeny tiny, but knew, even before the doctor’s confirmation, that the heart was no longer beating.

There are a lot of things that I do not know about this earthly life–like why this happened to my husband and I. I do not understand why our baby’s heart stopped beating at 10 weeks, but I have realized that we, as humans (even as grieving mothers), have no place to ask our God why He does something, or in this case, allows something to happen. If you are reading this and have experienced a similar loss, I am so sorry, and I am writing this post to share with you that our situations cannot be about the “whys?”, but about the “will”, the will of our GOOD and giving God.

Before I continue to share with you the things that I know to be true, regarding our God and the sorrow that you may be experiencing, I want to share a few things that I have known to be very true since that day I heard silence in the doctors office. I know that the feelings of anger, and sadness, and loneliness are very real and normal. I feel different levels of these emotions daily– I still cry, daily. This is a real battle between finding peace and trying to understand. I was walking with a friend one day and she shared with me that while it is “normal” to feel this way, and grieving is good, there has to come a time where you CHOOSE to stop asking “why” and just accept that the Lords will is always good. Once we do this, the battle becomes less painful, and the good becomes more clear.

While there are many things that I do not know, I do know a few. I know that God is good, and that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. This is why we have to do our best to not focus on the “whys” of this life and loss, but accept that this is His will.

I also know that all things and situations are made to glorify our Lord, so yes, this loss that you may be experiencing will somehow glorify Him, which is why I have decided to write this post. Miscarriages are often times seen as “taboo” to talk about. I believe that The Lord does not waste anything– He will use everything, and it will glorify Him. After reading many blogs on pregnancy, and now miscarriage, I have seen posts on pain and confusion. I have yet to see a post that focuses on the beauty and grace that comes from losing a baby. While we may feel frustrated, saddened, and confused, I know these things to be true. He has used this situation to show me that everything is in His control, not ours, He has shown me how precious life is, and He has made it clear that we must trust Him in all areas of our life– because in reality (especially this reality) there is no true alternative.

Finally, I know that our babies are in heaven. Our ultimate goal as parents is to get our children to spend eternity with God, their true Father. The peace that comes from this, is that we can rest in knowing that they are there. It is easy to think that children are created to bless us, and while they are blessings, they are ultimately created to bless God. For whatever reason, these children have been chosen by God, that is praiseworthy, and should not be questioned. We must work to find peace in focusing on the things that we know, and not on the things that we do not.

Our pain and our battles are real, but so is the strength and the love of our God– I am choosing to rest in the “will”, rather than the “why”, and pray that no matter what the situation, you choose to rest in the same.

We do not always “receive the things promised”

This week I was hit with the truth of Hebrews 11 like we are hit with the alarm clock after over sleeping. Can you recall those times? It almost feels like the wind is taken from you–rushed, too many thoughts to process, a sense of urgency. This is the exact urgency that I felt after hearing the words spoken to the Hebrews on Faith.

Faith is one of those words. A word that is used way too many times– “just have faith, just trust in the Lord and His plan”. I wish I could actually say that I fully live by those words as much as I give them in wisdom and love. However, we all know that having “faith” is a lot easier said than done. Why is it so difficult for us to have this “faith” that so many of us urge others to have? Is it the fear of it not turning out the way we think it should? I wish I had an answer to that question– I don’t, but I do have a pretty good scripture that opened my eyes to what real faith looks like.

Hebrews 11 gives many examples of people in history that “had faith”. People like “Abel [who] brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous…and Enoch [who] was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…and Noah [who] who when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. [and] By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going, and Sarah who was past childbearing age, [but, by faith] was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” (Hebrews 11:4-11 NIV).

These promises were given to these very faithful people– many people throughout history have been rewarded for their faith in the Lord, and yet– some were not. Later in the chapter it states that there were some “whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle” However, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they may gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning…they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– the world was not worthy of them.” These people never did receive the earthly promise that they were for sure their “faithfulness” would get them. How many times are we frustrated, or even in heavier situations, angry with our circumstances, or the sickness, or the unhappiness in our lives? So many times I believe that we ask ourselves how it works– this faith? Isn’t it pretty much cut and dry? You have faith, you live for Jesus, and you are rewarded? Not so much– well, not totally.

The final verses of Hebrews 11 was that breath after you realized that you overslept, but remember that it is Saturday. That feeling of reassurance and utter gratefulness. It ends with the explanation that “God was pleased with all of them because of their faith, but not one of them received God’s great promise. God planned something better for us. He wanted to make us perfect. Of course, he wanted those great people to be made perfect too, but not before we could all enjoy that blessing together.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 ERV)

The blessing and true promise that we can all enjoy together is not the perfect job, or house, it is not even really our “perfect” end to a disease, or sickness–it’s something much bigger that that. Hebrews puts it a little more clear than I could in verse 16, “Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.” a heavenly promise, an eternal promise– that is what this word “faith” gets us. It won’t always give us the “miracle” that we are looking for at that moment, but if we can look past that moment– or even this earthly life, we can see that this “promise” is better.

seasons and summer

7am alarms, strawberries-yogurt-with granola, sunshine, fresh flowers, yoga, and delicious spinach salads–a few of the things that create this teacher’s ideal summer. This year, my summer ended quickly. As my husband would say, most people in the business world would love to have three weeks of vacation mid-summer. However, as summer approached, so did a new season of life in private education. What a journey the last 4 weeks have been.

When I walked into my new school, I couldn’t help but think two things: “I have died and gone to teacher heaven” and “what’s the catch?”. Walking into the classroom on the first day and hearing the most precious students say “Good Morning”, in unison, was a game changer for me. In any school, most students are quiet the first, even the second, day of school. After the first week, when the students were in their normal state of quiet, asking the most inquisitive questions, and staying truly engaged–I knew that this classroom & these students were going to rock my educational world. They have.

Ben and I love our evening talks– even though the beginning of our conversations are the most cliche, usually covering the question “how was your day?”. He pointed out to me after 3 weeks that the daily answer is “good!”, and truly–it is good. A “bad” day, would consist of asking more than 3 students to quiet down and running out of paper towels in the teacher’s lounge. Once I came to the this realization, I also came to another–a spiritual summer.

There is beauty in finding joy within a workplace, and I am blessed to have had this many times. However, in this new place, I find myself so content and without frustration that my eyes have drifted from where true joy stems from.

Colossians 3:1 says that “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

I believe that the Lord provides new journeys and allows us to find such joy within their parameters–however, He has made it clear that if we continue to work for ourselves and not for Him, that we will lose sight of our true purpose here on earth. John Piper writes that “Every season is God’s season. But summer has its special power. Jesus Christ is refreshing, but flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer, and neglect the Word. But then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.”

“Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute.” My prayer for seasons such as these is that we savor the foretaste of heaven– and work to glorify the one that has provided it.