Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Baby Day!

May 15, 2009:
We are at St. John’s Hospital again for the first of our now weekly appointments with Dr. Blake. A nurse leads us back to a small room and instructs me to lie back on the hospital table as she makes the necessary preparations for the non-stress test. Benjamin’s only been slightly active this morning, so I hope he will cooperate. The nurse straps a few circular, palm-size monitors over my bulging belly, putting pressure on my womb. She explains that I will need to lay still for the next 20-30 minutes as the monitors track our baby’s movement and heartbeat. A machine close by will be printing out the results throughout the duration of the test. She tells me to relax and leaves Shawn and I alone in the room, saying she will be back to check on us and on the results periodically.
As soon as the monitors are in place, my unactive little boy suddenly becomes very active! He does not appreciate the extra pressure on his little abode. Shawn and I watch with amusement (and for myself with some discomfort as well) as our baby attempts with all his might to kick off the offending monitors! I have never seen my stomach move like this—waves would really be the best description! When the test is finally complete, the nurse unhooks me and explains that the results look good today. (We were sure they would). She then leads us to another room where I will have an ultrasound to complete part two today’s testing. As has been the case each time, a technician performs the majority of the ultrasound, with Dr. Blake taking a look at the end. Benjamin obviously wore himself out during the non-stress test, and he doesn’t move much as measurements are taken of my amniotic fluid levels. He must be napping. We are relieved to learn that my fluid has actually gone up slightly since last week!
Dr. Cook explained to me at our appointment a few days prior that I will probably have to be induced at around 37 weeks gestation; 38 at the latest, in view of my low amniotic fluid. I am currently at 33 weeks. While the idea of an induced labor does not sound appealing, it is exciting to think that we will meet Benjamin within the month! I can’t wait to hold my little boy!
May 18, 2009:
We’re sitting in Dr. Cook’s office again for my weekly check-up. We will be seeing Dr. Blake again at the end of the week. However, he believes that next week’s appointment with her will be the real determining factor on when they will decide to induce labor. He explains that he will be leaving town this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday. While it’s unlikely that I will need to be induced this weekend, he wants us to understand that in the event something should happen, I will be attended to by one of the doctor’s on call.
“It’s probably not going to happen,” he says, concluding his thoughts. We agree. We do follow the recommendation, however, to have a hospital bag packed in the car, “just in case.”

May 19, 2009:
Shawn and I sit in a conference room at Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville for our third of four childbirth classes. I am so looking forward to the end of the class tonight when all the dads get to take a turn wearing the “sympathy belly.” When the time comes, each man dutifully straps on the 30 pound vest, complete with a bulging belly and breasts, and he must bend down to pick up a pencil on the floor. The room is full of laughter and flashing cameras. Shawn and I have our picture taken together when it’s his turn, but my belly definitely has his beat! His five minutes of baby belly weight is nothing compared to constant kicks, sleepless nights and a squashed bladder! Next week’s class is the one I’m most looking forward to, when we will learn about breastfeeding. I’ve dreamed all my life of nursing my babies, and I can’t wait for that special bond! As an 18-month old nursing child myself, I stood up solemnly in the middle of church one Sunday, lifted my dress over my shoulder, and pressed my baby doll’s face up to my baby chest! I guess I’ve looked forward to this for a long time!

May 20, 2009:
It’s a warm day as summer is getting ready to set in soon. I’m wearing a one piece cotton dress and my newly purchased Croc sandles; the only thing my hot, swollen feet can handle at this point. I’ve wrapped up most of my Christian Education responsibilities at The Salvation Army. All that remains now is to clean out my office space and assist in Social Services as I’m able to until it’s time to deliver the baby! My desk is almost done, but I still have to tackle the bookcase. Sitting on the floor is going to be necessary to clean out and organize the bottom shelves. Getting down isn’t so bad; getting up is another story! I’m so glad Mandy’s close by. What will it be like to be able to do simple tasks like bending over again? It feels like a lifetime ago since I was able to do that. Some days it’s hard to remember what it was like to not be pregnant!..
…Since it’s Wednesday night, Shawn and I are leading the small youth group meeting at The Salvation Army. Tonight we are talking about trusting God. Our current situation creates the perfect illustration:
“We are really having to trust God right now. It’s possible that when I go to see the specialist tomorrow, she will tell me that I can’t go home but must be admitted to the hospital to deliver the baby. We have a bag packed in the car just in case.” (Of course, we have little expectation that this will actually happen.)
We go on to share that part of trusting God is being totally honest with Him. When we’re going through stuff, it’s good to share with Him all the rawness of our emotions. He’s big enough to handle it, and He loves our honesty. We encourage the teens to pour their hearts out to God about any and every situation they face. He will meet them there.

May 21, 2009:
Benjamin has hardly moved this morning. As we make the drive to Tulsa, I talk to him and pray over him. “Come on, baby. You need to wake up and be active so they can monitor you.” Surely he’ll get going again once they strap those intruding monitors in place…
He must really be sleepy this morning. Even with the monitors strapped down, he’s not doing a whole lot today. There’s some movement here and there, but nothing like the waves we saw last week. Surely it’s nothing to worry about…
The nurse keeps coming in and out to read the results as they print. She even brings some other nurses with her. No one is saying anything to us, but this doesn’t feel like a normal silence. Soon I’m being unstrapped, and the nurse says we’ll be going to speak with Dr. Blake now.
“…to do the ultrasound?” I inquire.
“I don’t think there will be an ultrasound today,” she replies.
Shawn and I sit in another room waiting for the doctor to come and tell us what is going on. We are both feeling very uneasy, and we are trying hard not to jump to conclusions. When Dr. Blake finally walks in, she exclaims “Well, it looks like it’s baby day!” We just look at her in shock, trying to process what she has just said. Our minds swim as she explains that Benjamin’s heart rate dropped for over a minute during the non-stress test. While it’s back up again, she feels that it would be in his best interest to deliver him now at 35 weeks. Otherwise, I would have to remain hospitalized and monitored 24/7 for the next few weeks to ensure his well-being. If his heart rate dropped once, it could do it again. It’s possible that this has already been happening.
Dr. Blake instructs us to head down the road to Hillcrest Medical Center, where Dr. Cook happens to be practicing that day. We’ve never even seen the facility. We were planning to deliver at the St. John’s branch in Owasso. In a daze we check out at the front desk and head to the car. I am so grateful now that we had the presence of mind to pack a bag, though it’s a fairly meager one. As Shawn drives I call my mom and tearfully give her the update, requesting that she fly out as soon as possible. My heart sinks as I realize that she won’t be able to be with me during labor after all. I had pictured her and Shawn and possibly our friend Myong staying with me through labor. They all bring such a calming presence. I’m so scared. This is all happening so fast; so unexpected. We knew this was a possibility, but I feel so unprepared. The nursery hasn’t been completed yet. Shawn was going to finish painting the dresser this weekend, and we were going to get everything arranged just right for Benjamin. How can this be happening?!









Friday, November 18, 2011

It's a Boy!

January 16, 2009:
Shawn and I sit in a large waiting room at St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, OK, waiting for my appointment with Dr. Blake, the specialist who will conduct the ultrasounds for our unborn baby. After what feels like an extremely long wait, we are escorted back to a small room. I am instructed to lie on the examination table and Shawn takes a seat in the corner. We notice a flat screen monitor attached to the wall, easily viewable from both of our vantage points. A young woman steps in and explains that she is one of the technicians who will be conducting most of the ultrasound; Dr. Blake will take a look at the end and visit with us.
We are both so eager. The only ultrasound I’ve had so far was at the very beginning of the pregnancy and only revealed what looked like a peanut-sized blob but was actually our baby, whose heart was already beating! We can’t wait to see what our child will look like at 17 weeks gestation and hope that the little boy we believe him to be will be clearly identified! We are slightly anxious about what the ultrasound will reveal, though we feel mostly confident that the quad-screen test was a false-positive for Down syndrome.
The technician has me lift my shirt over my rounded belly and smears a warm, clear goop all over. She then takes the ultrasound wand and starts to slowly move it across my womb. A picture appears on the screen, but at first it’s hard to make out what we are seeing. She is very accommodating, answering our questions and identifying for us what we are viewing on the monitor. She explains that the ultrasound will take awhile, as she must take detailed measurements of every part of our baby. I appreciate the she always refers to him as “baby,” not “it,” or “fetus” or some other sterile word. This is our baby, and his life is precious.
We are thrilled by some of the images we see. Our little guy is so active, swimming all around in Mommy’s womb. We recognize a side shot of his head and are captured by his profile. He lifts a tiny fist up to his mouth as though he’s getting ready to suck! We see an arm; we see a leg; we see many things we can’t readily identify. We are awe-struck that we are actually watching our baby move around inside my body. He’s really there, and he’s really coming! He also seems to prefer to tuck his head down into my right side, making it difficult for the technician to get some of the measurements she needs. She has me take a bathroom break, hoping my movement will cause him to move as well. Once back, we ask her if she can determine our baby’s sex or not. Seemingly on cue, Benjamin spreads his legs wide, as if to proudly declare, “I am Benjamin, and there’s no mistaking it!” We really are having a boy!
We notice that the technician keeps going back to look at his heart. She says that she’s having a hard time seeing all that she needs to see. We think nothing of it, and are excited the ultrasound is lasting a bit longer. After awhile she explains that she will need to ask Dr. Blake to get those parts of the measurements; she’s not been successful in obtaining them. She graciously excuses herself and tells us the doctor will be with us shortly.
Shawn and I are so excited. She printed some pictures for us before leaving, and we can’t wait to get back to work and show them off! Benjamin is Benjamin! A few minutes later Dr. Blake steps in. We can tell from the beginning that she’s not going to be one for much conversation but is there to accomplish the task at hand and then move on to the next one as efficiently as possible. She also takes some extra time examining our son’s heart, but we figure it must be difficult to measure something so small, especially when the baby’s so active. When she finally completes the ultrasound, she explains, much to our relief, that our baby’s measurements look normal. She does not see any obvious markers for Down syndrome. He weighs a whopping 7 oz., and his heart is beating at 123 beats/min—all within normal range. She says she would like to schedule two more ultrasounds, six weeks apart, just to keep an eye on his development. We are a little surprised by this, but the thought of seeing our baby two more times before he is born is exciting! We witnessed a miracle today. How could anyone deny that the active little life inside of me is a baby, and his life is so valuable!

May 8, 2009:
It’s raining cats and dogs this morning. We are scheduled to see Dr. Blake again in a few hours for our last of the three ultrasounds. The second one in March was less dramatic than the first. Since Benjamin had grown (as he should), it was very difficult to identify anything we were seeing on the screen, which was a bit disappointing. His measurements still looked normal, and we were sent on our way. I really don’t want to go. My body has gone through drastic change, even just in the last month. My belly is huge! I’m carrying Benjamin all out front and low. My ankles and feet are swollen, and I can’t walk without waddling. I’m exhausted from broken sleep every night. I can no longer sleep on my side and instead sleep in the living room in a recliner. I say “sleep,” but it’s more like a series of short naps throughout the night. Benjamin is moving like crazy, and though I love seeing and feeling him move, some of his activity has become painful. We are already driving to Owasso, forty minutes away, on a weekly basis at this point to see Dr. Cook. The thought of an hour drive to Tulsa this morning is not appealing. Everything has been fine so far, and while it would be neat to see the ultrasound (maybe), I wonder if it’s worth all the energy it will take. “Lord, if you want us to go, please let it stop raining. If not, I’m going to call and cancel.”
It stopped raining. Somewhat reluctantly, we load up in the car for the long drive. We are so blessed to have understanding supervisors, who not only allow for me to take time off for my multiple appointments, but who also allow my husband to accompany me. Captain Gargis and his family we transferred in January, and Majors Alan and Cheryl Phillips came in from Florida shortly thereafter. We miss the Gargis family, but we are really enjoying building relationship with the Majors. They are very supportive of my pregnancy. I’m thankful as well for Shawn’s willingness to come with me, especially now that it’s getting more difficult for me to drive, but I know he is getting a bit weary as well…
As we expected, it is very difficult to identify what we are seeing on the ultrasound screen unless someone explains it to us. Benjamin is just too big at this point. The abundance of amniotic fluid around him in the first ultrasound provided the perfect backdrop to distinguish his movements and features. He takes up most of the space now, and only a trained eye can recognize what they are seeing. As usual, Dr. Blake takes a few moments to discuss the ultrasound with us. Our baby’s measurements still look good, though his belly measures two weeks bigger than the rest of him. It looks like I’m carrying a little chunk! We are startled however, when she shares that my amniotic fluid is measuring low. What does that mean? How does that happen? She explains that there’s not a clear reason why it happens, but if my levels drop too low, our baby can be in danger of settling on top of and pinching off the flow of oxygen and nutrients from the umbilical cord. If my amniotic fluid drops below a certain level, it will require an emergency delivery. My levels are not to the danger point yet, but they are not good. She wants to see us back weekly until the baby is born to conduct both a non-stress test and an ultrasound. Our hearts sink. We have 5 weeks to go until my due date. How can we keep up with this pace?!
Later in the day I call our trusted friend Myong, who has been a spiritual mother to us for the last few years. I tearfully tell her about the doctor’s report. I’m not sure what to think or feel. I know our baby will be ok, but I’m scared too. This was so unexpected. I’m so exhausted, which is only heightening my emotions. She prays with me on the phone, and she is fired up. She’s going to fight in prayer for our baby’s well-being. She encourages me that Shawn’s and my prayers for our son are so important and so powerful. She encourages me to worship through this; it will be life to me and life to our baby. I place my hand on my stomach and silently pray over my son. I am comforted by his movement. I remind myself of the many promises spoken over him throughout my pregnancy. He is going to be ok.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unexpected Results

I've recently started going back in my writing to fill in the gaps from the early parts of our journey.The following captures the time during my pregnancy when we first discovered that our child may have Down syndrome... 


January 7, 2009:

I’m a few weeks into my second trimester. The queasiness of the first trimester has disappeared, and the early fatigue is beginning to lessen. I feel so relieved that I never experienced full blown morning sickness. I’m delighted with my growing “baby bump,” and  I’m enjoying my new wardrobe of maternity clothes. The faint flutters I occassionally feel in my womb are thrilling evidence of the life growing inside of me. I love being pregnant!

I have an appointment scheduled with Dr. Cook today, and I can’t wait for another chance to hear our baby’s heartbeat. I’m disappointed when I find out they will be drawing more blood today. I’ve never liked needles (who does?), but I remind myself it’s for the baby. The anticipated joy of our coming child is worth all necessary discomfort. After the nurse draws my blood, Dr. Cook explains to Shawn and me that this test is called a quad-screen test, which screens for potential birth defects or genetic abnormalities. I politely listen as he explains the details, though I am confident that none of this could possibly apply to us. He explains that an abnormal result on this blood test does not diagnose a condition, but rather verifies the increased likelihood of a possible condition. For curiosity sake, I ask what would be done in the case of an abnormal test result. He mentions amniocentisis or specialized ultrasounds as the means for obtaining an actual diagnosis. I tell him that I would not be comfortable with an amniocentisis because of the potential risk of miscarriage connected with the procedure. He already knows our stance on abortion; nothing could ever convince us to take our baby’s life. I feel a bit funny that we are even having this discussion. I know that our baby will be healthy and whole, and I don’t see much use in discussing the “what-ifs?” Dr. Cook assures us that if for any reason my test comes back abnormal, he will call us personally; otherwise he will discuss my test with me at the following visit. “I know everything will be fine,” I say, and he smiles as we wrap up the appointment. Though I didn’t feel like all the information was necessary, I am thankful for a doctor who takes the time to explain things to us.

January 12, 2009:

I am sitting at my desk at The Salvation Army where I am currently employed as an overseer for the small Christian Education department. While working, I chat on and off with my friend and co-worker Mandy who shares the office with me. We are interrupted when my cellphone rings.

“Hello?”

“Dana, this is Dr. Cook.”

I feel like my heart stops beating. There’s only one reason he would be calling me this week.

“I’m sorry to tell you that while most of your test results came back normal, there was a positive result that you run a heightened risk of carrying a child with Down syndrome.”

How do I begin to process what he’s saying? I feel so numb.

Dr. Cook gently goes on to explain that a woman my age typically runs a risk rate of 1 in 956 to give birth to a child with Down syndrome. My test results increase my risk factor to 1 in 270. He says he will refer me to a specialist to schedule an ultrasound in which they will measure my baby’s bone growth and look for any “markers” for Down syndrome. He assures me again that the blood test is not diagnostic and often further testing yields normal results. He encourages me that I can feel free to call if I have any additional questions and that I should be expecting to hear from the specialist soon. Fighting to contain my composure, I thank Dr. Cook for calling and hang up the phone.

“Is everything ok?” Mandy inquires. Her face is full of concern from what little she heard from my end of the conversation. I’m sure my expression gives it away as well. With a shaky voice I relay back to her my conversation with the doctor, saying periodically to comfort myself, “I’m sure everything will turn out ok.” My friend doesn’t know what to say and tries her best to offer some word of encouragement. I quickly excuse myself to go find Shawn.

I find my husband at the other end of the building, alone with his laptop and a book. The moment I walk into the room he asks, “What’s wrong?” The tears begin to flow as I blurt out with a sob, “Everything’s going to be ok!” It hurts me to tell him, knowing the pain he will feel as well. We sit together in shock, silent tears running down our faces. How could this possibly be happening? We wanted a baby for so long. We pray over my womb every day. We envision the perfect, healthy baby boy scheduled to arrive in the summer. Surely the test is wrong!

We make our way up to Captain Gargis’ office. He is our current supervisor and pastor, but he and his family will soon be transferred to another Salvation Army Corps. Over the last year and half, he has mentored us in his fatherly way, and he has always willingly offered a listening ear. In his wisdom, he doesn’t try to find a quick answer to make us feel better. He listens to us, cries with us, and shares in our shock and pain. He assures us of the love we will have for our child regardless of his or her condition and takes the time to pray with us. He also gives us the option of taking the afternoon off so that we can have some time to process the news we just received. Shawn tells me he will take an extended lunch break with me, but he will have to return in the afternoon to do school pick-ups for the after school program he directs. He will come home again as soon as he can get away.

Our drive home is marked by tears and prayers, but surprisingly, by the time we pull into our driveway, an unexpected peace has descended on our hearts, and we know others are praying for us. Once inside I quickly grab my pregnancy book to see if there is any information on Down syndrome and the testing I just received. As Shawn and I read about some of the common traits of a child with Down syndrome, it feels so surreal to think that this could be our child. We don’t feel at all ready to accept that reality and are encouraged to read that things such as a miscalculated due date or even the presence of twins can result in a false-positive reading. Surely this is the case with us. As I take time to read and pray, I receive strength from Psalm 138:3, 7-8….

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul…Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

After supper we head out to meet up with some friends from Nightwatch, a weekly prayer and worship gathering we have been a part of for the last few years. Tonight we will be carpooling to a neighboring town to listen to a guest minister at a church whom we have gone to see before. On the way Shawn and I ask the Lord to speak to us specifically tonight about our unborn baby.

The service is good, but it’s hard to fully focus with this unanswered question hanging over my mind. There is still a peace guarding my heart, but there is the presence of pain as well. Near the end, the guest minister is walking through the congregation, quietly asking the Holy Spirit to highlight people to him and give him words of encouragement to share with them. As he does this, he continues to share some and tell stories. He is a delight to listen to—very funny at times, but when he speaks, our hearts are so stirred for Jesus. The Word of God continually flows out from him because he has taken the time to really get it inside of him, and he walks very closely with the Lord and hears His voice. When he is close to our section, I silently pray again, “Lord, please speak to us tonight about our baby.” Within moments, he stops in front of Shawn and I and begins to engage us briefly in conversation. He then points to my pregnant belly and declares, “I speak John the Baptist over your baby. He will be full of the Holy Spirit from the womb.” (Incidentally, this same thing was spoken over Benjamin on three more occassions during my pregnancy by three different ministers, none of whom were connected to one another!)

Shawn and I are thrilled! John the Baptist was born in seemingly impossible circumstances and was set apart for God before he was even conceived. He walked closely with God and prepared the way for an entire generation to recognize and receive Jesus when He came. How exciting to think that our baby will be one set apart from the womb, whose life will prepare the way for many to meet Jesus. (How easily we forgot that with every calling, there is a cost).

More encouragement comes before the night is over. A layman in the church is a close friend to the guest minister and has travelled with him before. He is invited up at the end to share anything that he feels the Holy Spirit has been speaking to him. Without hesitation he points me out of the crowd and says, “I’m supposed to tell you that God is going to put a lot of vitamins and nutrients in your blood, making it rich with iron.” I almost fall out of my chair! This feels so incredibly personal after lamenting all day over my abnormal blood test! He shares words of encouragement with two more people and then asks for Shawn and I to come over to where he and his wife are so that they can pray for us. We tell them all about the test and the call that day. They encourage us, pray for us, and promise to be praying for us regularly. He asks us to bring the baby back to meet them after he’s born. Our hearts are soaring!

Before leaving, we purchase a book from the guest minister and ask him to sign it. He does so and jots down the scripture reference Isaiah 44:3-4…

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendents. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.

We feel like we are floating out of the church. With so much personal encouragement tonight, how could our baby possibly have Down syndrome?!



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Power of Weakness

I wrote this on October 30...

In many ways, I feel as though in the last two and a half years I have been in a school of weakness; yet sometimes I think I may still be in kindergarten! Becoming a new parent and raising a child with special needs has caused me to recognize my own weaknesses and limitations in ways potentially nothing else could have. Observing the weaknesses in my young son over the months and now years has taught me more about the kindness of God and His unconditional love for weak human beings. The lessons, though still elementary, have been invaluable.

I have so many thoughts spinning right now with what direction I should take in writing, so I guess I will go with what's been right in front of me. This last month especially I feel like God has been highlighting weakness to me on so many levels. He is inviting me to embrace my weakness without shame and to completely rely on His love and strength. Near the end of last month our church embarked on a 21 day Daniel fast (no meats, sweets, or choice foods), and a handful of us met nightly to pray and seek the Lord. We were fasting to see breakthrough on many levels: in our personal lives, in our church, in our city, in our nation, and even around the globe. As we came night after night feeling more physically and emotionally weak from the fasting, one thing became undeniably clear—we have NOTHING apart from Jesus. Our need of Him is so deep, so far reaching into every sphere and pocket of life. There is nothing we have to bring to Him that He didn't first give to us, even our love for Him (see 1 John 4:19).

My physical sense of weakness was increasingly heightened before, during and now even after the fast. Days before the beginning of our fast, I had an unexpected re-occurrence of what I had thought was severe acid reflux—a condition that has plagued me off and on since Benjamin's birth. Over the next few weeks I had a handful of episodes that left me screaming in pain on the floor, in addition to daily feeling at least some level of discomfort every time I ate. Near the end of the fast I discovered through a series of events, including an ER visit, that I had been misdiagnosed for the last two years. While I had been treating myself for acid reflux, my gallbladder was filling up with more and more stones, to the point that almost anything could trigger an attack. I consulted with a surgeon, and a week after completing our fast I went in for out-patient laproscoptic surgery to have my gallbladder removed. That was four days ago, and I am still very weak physically. Shawn has been caring for me and Benjamin, as I am not able to pick up our son yet. My mom is on an airplane as I write this to help me for the week since Shawn has to return to work. Friends have offered prayers, encouragement, and food while I walk out my recovery time. The physical limitations and discomfort have been frustrating, but again I am faced with my own weakness and my need for Jesus and for the Body of Christ.

I have been realizing more and more how quickly I try to rely on my own strength and ability, my own understanding of things, and my own emotions and opinions, which can so easily be swayed. Physical wellness impacts emotional wellness, and both can fluctuate so quickly. I am becoming more and more convinced that I can't rely on what I feel but only on what God's Word says, for His Word is unchanging. Yet, I so often look to myself or others when faced with a need instead of acknowledging my complete barrenness apart from Jesus. He wants me to come to Him in my weakness and vulnerability, to throw myself on His mercy and grace and All-Sufficiency. How easily I forget that He loves weak, powerless human beings, and He rises to show Himself strong on our behalf. Indeed, it is in the very acknowledgment of my complete lack that He steps in with His complete abundance. All He wants is that I trust Him absolutely, yielding myself to His ways that are always superior to my own.
I learn so much watching Benjamin. He doesn't worry or fear but has a simple trust that Mommy and Daddy are going to take care of him. He doesn't consider his inabilities to meet his own needs and try to figure out how to get around them. He doesn't question where his provision is coming from or try to figure things out before they happen. He lives in the present moment, confident that he is loved and cared for, free to be himself and to learn and grow. He demonstrates to me day in and day out the simplicity of a child's trust. I was recently reading in a book called The Seeking Heart by the 17th century Fenelon and was struck by the following:


Your only task is to bear the weakness of your body and mind. Strength is made perfect in weakness. You are only strong in God when you are weak in yourself. Your weakness will be your strength if you accept it with a lowly heart...

Trusting in God is a simple resting in God's love, as a baby lies in its mother's arms...

The point of trusting God is not to do great things that you can feel good about, but to trust God from a place of deep weakness. Here is a way to know if you've actually trusted God with something—you will not think about the matter any longer, nor will you feel a lack of peace.”


Like the apostle Paul, I want to know in reality, not just in theory, that His power truly is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). The all-powerful, eternal God promises to dwell with those who are contrite and lowly of heart, who recognize their absolute need of Him (Isaiah 57:15). I want to live so close to His heart. It's time to know and embrace the power of weakness!