ALWAYS FAITHFUL

By Sarah Langness

In six or so short weeks, things are going to start looking a little bit different at our house. I’ve got a laundry basket of purple and pink sleepers, onesies and pants sitting on the couch waiting to be folding testifying to that change. Our little boy moved into a big boy bed two weeks ago, allowing us to move the crib across the hall into the room affectionately known as “Baby Sister’s room”. The quickly accumulating empty buckets of ice cream bear witness to one of my favorite (and most indulged in) pregnancy cravings.

In just six or so short weeks, our lives will once again be turned wonderfully upside down.

Upon reaching the 34th week of pregnancy, my local doctor sent me to another doctor in Bismarck where Baby Sister will – hopefully – be born. (I say “hopefully” because I never want to give birth on the side of the road. Or in my house – more power to those of you who do, though!) When I was pregnant with Ezekiel, the transition to a doctor in Bismarck proved . . . eventful, to say the least.

In short, at that initial appointment, I was measuring smaller than the doctor liked to see; as a result, weekly non-stress tests and ultrasounds were performed to make sure our baby boy was growing as he should. And praise God, he was and did and was born healthy! So when Jordan and I traveled to Bismarck on Monday, I was expecting similar events to take place.

And, they did.

Once again, I was measuring smaller than the doctor liked to see. He ordered a growth ultrasound to check on Baby Sister. The next day we had not one but two ultrasounds to check baby’s growth and the blood flow to her via the umbilical cord. Today we received a call informing us that baby is simply small, but otherwise growing well. Again, praise God!

I’ll never forget the fear in my heart during that first doctor’s visit in Bismarck when I was pregnant with Ezekiel. Seeing – or sensing – the doctor’s concern as well as hearing phrases like, “If the blood flow from you to baby isn’t good, we’ll have to take this baby today”, made me fearful for what could be. I didn’t know what to expect. Simply waiting for the ultrasound results was agonizing, not knowing what news we were going to get about our baby. I can still remember the fear, the tears, and the prayers Jordan and I shared that day.

But we were not alone.

My brother sent me a text that day with some of the most comforting verses in all of Scripture to remind me of that truth:

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the watersI will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fireyou will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . You are precious in My sight . . .You are honored and I love you,'” – Isaiah 43:1-4, NASB (emphasis mine)

I love those promises. And I am so glad they are not simply words on a page.

This week, there was none of that fear. Okay, maybe just a little bit for a short amount of time. Especially after receiving a call only ten minutes after our first ultrasound saying another one had to be completed. But in comparison, that fear lasted only minutes and wasn’t nearly as intense.

Because we had walked this road before.

I was confident that Baby Sister was doing fine. That I simply carry more inward. That different doctors measure differently. That, as her brother before her, our little girl would be found growing as she should.

And while all this is true – I do believe different doctors have slightly different techniques at measuring, hence the difference that spiked the concern of our Bismarck doctor’s – I realized last night that my trust was completely misplaced.

I was trusting in what knew. In what had experienced before. In what believed.

Instead, I should have been trusting wholly, completely, utterly dependently, upon the One who was faithful in this same situation two years ago. In the One who is knitting together our little girl. In the One who has never left us and has guided us through every step of each of these pregnancies.

“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.” – Lamentations 3:19-25, NASB (emphasis mine)

No matter if the path we are walking seems familiar or completely uncharted – we are not alone. The Faithful One is there, ready to prove Himself once more. Ready to sustain. Ready to strengthen. Ready to carry.

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Prepared

By Sarah Langness

I always wondered what heartburn was like.

Back in the day, when I lived in a house with a TV that did more than take up space and commercials for Zantac or Prilosec came one, I was struck with curiosity. Wonder what that feels like.

And now, I know. Oh boy, do I know.

The first time I ever experienced heartburn was during my pregnancy with Ezekiel. I’d get heartburn from any and everything. Thankfully, though, it was decently contained to the evening hours, particularly when I’d lie down for the night. Nothing some Tums couldn’t handle.

Pregnancy ended, baby boy born (with a full head of hair), and there goes the heartburn.

Until two years later.

Except this time, my heartburn isn’t as nicely contained to a certain time of day. Oh, I still get heartburn from any and everything. In fact, it rears its fiery head after my breakfast bowl of Cheerios and a banana. And Tums alone can’t fight it.

Let’s just say, I’m hoping Baby Sister has as much – if not more – hair than her older brother did at birth.*

A couple of weeks ago, I went to bed with heartburn like any other night. But, since I had popped a couple of Tums, I didn’t think much of it and figured the heartburn would dissipate in a few moments time. Except it didn’t. I woke up choking on my own bile from the acid reflux . . . and spent the next hour kneeling by the toilet as wave after wave came.

After that incident, I knew I had to check with my doctor in regards to what more I could take besides Tums and ice cream. But even after learning which medications I could take, it took me about a week and a half to go buy some. (And actually, I wasn’t even the one who bought it; my husband did.) Because after my midnight wake-up, the heartburn didn’t seem as intense; it didn’t seem to warrant more than Tums. (Or ice cream.) Until this last Saturday night – when I lay awake wishing I had something on hand I could take besides Tums; because Tums wasn’t cutting it when I woke up every hour.

As I lay awake Saturday night, readjusting pillows to elevate my head more, I shook my head at my folly. Why did I think that this wouldn’t happen again? Why did I seem content sticking with the status quo, when I knew that in the worst moments, the status quo wouldn’t suffice?

And then I thought how often I do the same thing with Scripture.

A certain chapter or book doesn’t seem to speak to me, to where I am on that particular day or season. So I neglect the Word. Or I just glaze. Never suspecting that what I read today could be just the words I need a month from now, half a year from now, or even three years from now.

The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” –
Hebrews 4:12 
 NASB (emphasis mine)

So right now, what I’m reading in Ecclesiastes isn’t exactly the “breath of fresh air” that I may need. It might not seem to be teaching me something earth-shatteringly amazing or leave a particular conviction upon my heart. But if I let the Word take root, it’ll work. I don’t exactly know when something from such a lamentful book will be just what I need for that day, but the Lord gave us Ecclesiastes for a reason.

And so, I’m going to keep reading. Not just Ecclesiastes, but through the Word. Because I don’t want to be stuck without it, desperately wishing I knew the promises within.

I’ve been there, and it’s no fun.

“Your word I have treasured in my heart . . .” – Psalm 119:11, NASB (emphasis mine)


*An old wives tale claims that heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will have hair. 

 

His Eye

By Jonni Sliver

I had one of the happiest experiences in a long time yesterday.  It involves a precious young lady I have kind of adopted. Her name is Cris and she is here with her husband, John and daughter Leota for a short time (relatively speaking, they will be here almost six months when they leave). She is nearly eight months pregnant and they to have their second baby here in Brazil because John and Cris hope to return permanently when John retires.  For right now, Cris needs a little extra support because John had to return to work for six weeks (he works as an engineer on oil rigs, his current assignment is in Singapore). So Cris is here with a two year old princess, a big tummy and as much Portuguese as you can learn in two months.

I have been trying to be a good aunty to Cris – taking her shopping, helping her make new friends, getting her language lessons, and just plain visiting! One of the more important little jobs I have had has been taking her to doctor appointments, and I finally come to the blessing I received yesterday! Cris needed one more ultra-sound, and as she doesn’t speak medical Portuguese, I went with. I have seen ultra-sounds before, but it has been a while. I was so amazed to see Faith Karen’s (this precious new baby’s name) face on the screen, as clear as a photograph! Her cute little nose, her hand pressed against her cheek, she even wiggled her fingers at us (I am positive she knew she was posing for photos!). It was amazing to see this little one, still in the womb, almost ready to join us!

I have mentioned before that Psalm 139 is one of my favorite texts;  you can imagine how that passage came to mind! Seeing this precious little one is a gift from God, who gave talents and intelligence to men to create something like an ultra-sound, but none of this is a novelty for our Father. He has seen each one of us as we were being formed, as He knit us in our mothers’ wombs. Yesterday I saw just a glimpse, but the Father’s eye has been on this little girl since before her mother knew she was being carried!

Faith Karen hasn’t done a single thing to earn God’s favor, but His hand of blessing is on her and He has already dreamed great dreams for her. Do you ever feel like you haven’t done enough, or you aren’t important enough to warrant God’s grace and favor? You are correct – you haven’t warranted it, but you have it just the same! The Father loves you with an eternal love. When you lie down tonight He will be with you, when you wake in the morning He will still be there; your frame is ever before Him and he doesn’t even need an ultra-sound to see you!

Precious Life . . . From the Start

By Sarah Langness

One of the scariest moments of my life happened when I was pregnant with Ezekiel. I was about 11 or 12 weeks along. We had just released the news of our coming little one to family and friends. Although initially scared and shocked, I was excited and already in love with that little baby. One morning, I had a tiny bit of spotting. It wasn’t much and I almost didn’t even call the doctor about it. But the doctor was unable to find baby’s heartbeat, which heightened concern because just one week prior she could find it. I was petrified. The drive to the hospital in Hazen was the longest seven-mile drive of my life. Praise the Lord that the ultrasound revealed a kicking, squirming, heart-beating baby.

But I know that many are not so fortunate. I know many who have dealt with the pain of miscarriage.

I remember telling my mom after the scare with Zeke, “I know he’s only 12 weeks old, but it was still really scary.” To which she replied, “Of course you were! That is three months of falling in love with that little baby.”

12 weeks. Three months. Our baby was the size of a plum. But still loved. Still valuable. Still a child. Because life begins at conception.

“You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb . . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works . . . My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16; NASB

Recently it was National Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. A difficult, but important day for those who have lost babies, whether through miscarriage, a stillborn birth or other tragedy. Because life does indeed begin at conception. And no matter the size of the child, loss is hard.

To my friends who have lost those little ones, my heart goes out to you. Not just tomorrow, but when you hear news of others’ pregnancies. When your baby’s due date rolls around. When you see the joyous smiles of other little ones.

And my prayers are with you. You have dealt with a pain I cannot imagine nor fathom. My prayer is that you will cling to the One who knows your heartache and pain. That you will find strength for each moment and every day in Him. That in the midst of the pain, you are able to remember His great lovingkindess.

“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.” . . . If He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness.” – Lamentations 3:19-24, 32; NASB (emphasis mine)