We were grocery shopping, with all the kids in tow. Paco and I have it nearly down to a science: two kids per cart, groceries surrounding whoever is in the "basket", and ignore the looks that scream "FREAKS!"
I've grown accustomed to the questions and remarks of strangers who have no idea what's happening inside my womb. People say some harsh things to pregnant people, and if nothing else from this post, please remember that the Word tells us that children are a BLESSING and that the next time you encounter a pregnant woman- be it under any circumstances- encourage her rather than further discourage. Because that is seemingly the trend.
I could tell you countless stories of things people said, all while meaning well, while pregnant any of the five time I've been. But this time, they are much weightier, and the enemy uses them to pierce more deeply. I've learned to wear the armor of God thick, every day. Because if I don't clothe myself with it before leaving my house, surely I will succumb to defeat.
Things like "oh wow! Your hands are certainly full!"
This annoyed me before but now I want to scream back "MY BABY COULD DIE AND YOU JUST TOLD ME THAT BASICALLY MY WORK LOAD IS TOO MUCH!?!"
Or the classic "Any day now right? You're looking heavy and ready to pop!"
And I want to give them this piece of my mind: "YOU DO KNOW THAT HER BEST CHANCE OF SURVIVAL IS INSIDE RIGHT?"
People are so inconsiderate. But I've learned that people do not know. I've learned the true meaning of what Jesus said as He hung from the cross, meanwhile people mocked and jabbed at His situation. He says "Father forgive them, they know not what they do".
If He was dying in 2015, I'm pretty certain that text would read, "oh Father God, forgive these people cause they don't have a flipping clue!"
So just a little side-bar: the next time you see someone who's pregnant- with a perfectly healthy baby or not, just remember to encourage them. Things like "you are blessed!" Or "congratulations and best of luck to you!" Or "well I pray everything goes perfectly!" Are much more encouraging than the typical responses you think are well-meaning.
So we are walking through the super-sized giant store of BJ's, and I'm collecting the norm: apples, romaine lettuce, lemons....a few aisles later orange juice, lemonade, toilet paper. We are nearly done, the carts are heavy and full now, and the last stop is for some sour cream.
If you've ever run into moldy cheese, opened milk, or cracked eggs- you know that every time you purchase that particular item, you check, check, and double check to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Because the worst feeling is to be utterly exhausted from grocery hulling (as we do at our house), unload ALL the things, put them ALL away, make dinner, and realize the sour cream is passed the expiration date.
It's happened to me once before, and for me, the struggle is real to not include sour cream at dinner time.
So I check the seal of the foil paper covering the top, making sure it's sealed well, no tears, no cracks in the plastic tub.
I scan the product to make sure I haven't accidentally grabbed cottage cheese or heaven forbid light sour cream (insert face of disgust here). Because nothing in all the world would be so devastating, than serving up luscious potatoes for dinner, and not having luxuriously creamy full-fat sour cream to dunk them in.
And as I scanned the date on the back side of the tub it dawned on me: the baby is due before the sour cream expires.
The all-too-familiar sensation of fear and doubt surged through me like the chills. And then a wave of hope and strength as I reminded myself that the word says Esther Jubilee will "live and not die".
It's funny how small, and meaningless details can trigger such responses from those of us walking through a valley. And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will NOT be afraid, for He is with me!
That night, Paco and I sat in bed watching a Redbox movie: Moses, of Gods and Kings. Certainly a worldly perspective on a God-ordained story. Which we expected from Hollywood.
And yet I remembered the feeling I had felt as that expiration date stared me down just hours earlier, as the Israelites faced the Red Sea, and Pharaoh and His men closed the gap behind them.
They've experienced the greatest of miracles - both through torment of plagues and redemption of their people as they walked freely from the grips of bondage and oppression.
They undoubtedly celebrated as they marched onward towards the promised land ahead.
They probably sang songs and skipped a bit too, thinking of how God had delivered them from the hands of their captors and gave them hope and a future, as He had promised long ago.
And here they find themselves stranded - with a sea before and an army behind them.
The gap closing moment by moment.
The pressure was on.
The expiration seemed to be up.
Surely some of them believed that God could and would make a way. He had turned water to blood, sent frogs and locusts and hail, and even killed children on their behalf once before.
But among the several thousand people there, presumably one- if not many others- had a moment of doubt. A moment where it all appeared hopeless again.
How could God who had delivered them in such a mighty way, lead them to be slaughtered by their enemies or drowned in the great Red sea?
There are moments when I can completely relate to both of these ideas.
As the day grows closer, I am reminded of the great loss I could face. I'm reminded by doctors to "prepare for the worst". I'm told by friends and even fellow believers and people of "faith" that we need to be "realistic".
And there are certainly moments when my flesh is weak and my heart fails, and I sink to the depths where hopelessness and defeat seem inevitable.
I find myself staring at a giant abyss of ocean, and behind me lies the accuser of the brethren ready to slaughter my faith.
Oh God where are you?
And then in a moment....
Hope begins to arise.
Because if I "go to the depths, YOU are there!"
And though "my heart and flesh may fail, God is my strength and my portion forever!"
And I am reminded of how when the people of God- so many times before- faced such unfavorable outcomes, God delivered them out of them ALL!
He delivered a lion and a bear and GOLIATH into the hands of David.
He delivered Esther, Modecai, and all of the Jews from complete destruction and makes them a great people.
He rescues Jonah- who mind you disobeyed quite severely- into the belly of a fish, and then back to dry land in order that the gospel would go forth.
And He SPLIT THE SEA for the Israelites in the moment they faced their greatest hopelessness.
People ask how we are, and I can tell you that the pressure is on! The heat is turned up, and our faith will be refined. We can choose to believe or choose to doubt- and I am choosing faith. It is a daily choice that is sometimes harder to make- but I choose none the less.
I love how God sends His word of encouragement through other people.
I'm not talking about the people who say things like "if you need anything, we are here for you" or the people who are saying "we've loved and lost and want to walk this with you" because those are the people who's faith is either missing or ill, and I don't have the strength to explain or feed their hungry spirit.
I'm talking about the people who text to say " God woke me up to pray for your baby, and she is being made whole!"
The numerous people who've said "God is growing my faith through this, and I can't wait to meet your baby girl!"
The people who've said "I had a dream that your baby was perfect and complete, and I prayed that it would be so!"
That is true faith.
That is hope.
And that is what pleases God!
We still have no other information from the doctors. They won't offer much else unless we press them, simply because in their medical perspectives- all "intervention" is a lost cause.
I've seen God working a miracle though in the schedule of doctor appointments. I loathe the doctors office, and especially now because they have nothing good to say. And now that I'm in my last few weeks, I see them every other week- and soon every week. It's not only a pain to schedule sitters and rides and all the above like a normal person- but to have to listen to the medical jargon of the doctors is annoying to say the least. Because of different scheduling issues in the office though, my appointments have been rearranged to be once about every three weeks the last two times! And I laugh and thank God that He's working it out for me before I even go!
I keep telling people, the hospital staff is in for a huge surprise. They are preparing for us to have a quiet space, away from all the "regular" mothers and babies. They've told us they will not be intruding or interrupting us as often. That we can pretty much have our run of the hospital the day we deliver, as to make things as easy as possible for us.
The funny thing is, this baby will be perfect and we will get the best treatment ever! God is already giving Esther Jubilee special treatment!
So what to pray for now?
Well specifically- pray for complete healing as I've said many times before. But start thanking God. He has been so faithful, and it's time we start thanking Him for what He's done. His way of healing, as we see in the word, is always complete- and it's always immediate. He doesn't give "partial" gifts. Or "delayed" gifts. So start lining your thoughts and words and prayers up with that.
Secondly, be praying for all of our family as the day approaches. For peace and security. That the thoughts and darts of the enemy would be divulged long before ever arriving to our eye and ear gates. That the mouth of the accuser would be silenced and that people "well meaning", but actually doing more damage than good, would supernaturally hush.
Pray for Esther's delivery... Because she is coming soon! I'm nearly 33ish weeks. This pregnancy has an expiration date! Which means technically- she can come as early as the end of April. But we don't want opposition from doctors if she is overdue, because I don't want to be induced. I don't want there to be pressure for medical intervention if the labor is slow, or stalled for any reason. All of which can happen in regular circumstances. But doctors will see it as a result of her "condition" and may have more of a slant because of it.
Pray that my water does NOT break before it is time to push.
Pray that she is head down. Her perfectly round and brain-filled head that is!
Pray that my body opens and dilates fully and with ease. And quickly! I know a lot of moms probably say that- but I've always prayed for it, and God has always done it! (my labors have only ever been about 5 hours long, and as quick as 2!)
Pray that I don't become tired in the laboring process, that I am able to endure and stay focussed while managing the process.
Pray that Esther responds well to labor, and doesn't move away and can't be "monitored" because again, any sign of distress on her or my part could result in "emergency action" simply because she's been diagnosed with anencephaly.
Pray for favor with every staff member, health professional, doctor and nurse we encounter. That each of them are hand selected by God to help deliver this miracle baby and hear the gospel!
Because ultimately that is the goal. We want people to hear Esther Jubilee's story, and recognize God's glory and power through her, and come to a saving knowledge of Him.
Lastly I would say increase your faith! For those of you reading who are saying "I'll believe when it's done", that IS NOT faith.
I don't care how long you've known God, or been in church, faith and hope are based on the UNSEEN.
The enemy's destruction has expired...and his date has run out as far as I'm concerned. Don't keep moldy, nasty, expired lies in your mind either.
The faith comes in the unseen part. And you won't have the privilege of joining in on the testimony of the "believing" if you aren't believing before the miracle is seen!
If you notice, most products say "best if used by" with a date...and the instances of faith is no different. Faith is best used before the seen becomes reality.
If you find yourself amidst circumstances that seem impossible, take heart. Be encouraged. God hasn't left you, or Esther, or me, for destruction. He's making a way through the sea for you to be saved!
"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep." Psalm 107:23-24
"Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them …" Joshua 1:2b (NIV)
Joshua 3:5, "Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.