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The Detour

I had an appointment two hours away this week and as I was checking the map that morning I saw that there was an hour delay. Thankfully I was able to leave an hour early with no issue and when I got to the detour we were out in the country, I mean like barns and farms, at some points for quite awhile. It was a beautiful autumn morning. Getting off the highway, got me into the trees with all of their beautiful colors. At first I was so preoccupied with my thoughts about the destination, not literally for that day, but for my life as I’m focusing on what is to come next after this season of transition in my life and I was missing all of the beauty around me. I pulled up to a stop light and the road to my right descended down a hill with awesome orange, yellow and red colors bathed in the bright morning sun as it rose  from that same direction in the east. I realized how I was missing the beauty because I was focusing on the destination. I thought about how I had left the highway and was going to drive an extra hour in the country, but I was still going to get to my appointment on time. In fact I got to my appointment literally right on time…We have divine appointments that God has written into our books (see Psalm 139:16, yes we each have a book He took the time to write as He thought about us in His love before we were conceived). He is not only the Author but also the Matchmaker and He has appointments set up for us with our husband or our wife, with our friends, even with our children for when they will be conceived and born. He is the ultimate appointment maker and keeper…but that doesn’t mean we will be continually buzzing along a highway from one divine appointment to another. Instead we will have unexpected detours that His grace has planned for and we will find ourselves driving out in the country.

Some parts of the detour yesterday morning were bathed in sunlight, but other parts were covered in a dense fog where I could not see very far in front of me. The detour signs were kind of far between, and there were a few times I felt a bit nervous, wondering if I had lost my way. I had never driven that way before and I do not fully trust my GPS. I just had to keep on driving in faith that I had followed the path that the last detour sign had pointed out and that I had not missed a new detour sign telling me to turn to the right or to the left. I had to resist the temptation at one point to not take another path at a V in the road, because it seemed to me that the person in front of me that turned that way had been part of the detour “group” of cars. I decided to not follow them and I am glad I didn’t, as eventually the next detour sign came up again, encouraging and reassuring me that I was on the right path.

Some parts of this “drive” we call life will be us taking detours off of the highway. Detours can be bathed in marvelous beauty, while other parts will be covered in a thick fog. We will have to walk by faith and remember the instructions our Shepherd gave us because sometimes we not see or hear from Him for a moment when we feel lost in a dense fog. We will have to stay focused on the path right here, right now, right in front of us so we don’t get lost, so we don’t lose focus, or our way. Other sheep on the trail may need to take a right or a left, but we need to stay where we are walking or running along at the pace God has decided is best for us and on the path that He has designated for us, not that other driver ahead of us. The Lord will speak to us when we need to turn to the right or the left, but until that time we need to keep on the path He placed us on and watch for Him or listen for Him to direct and lead us at those perfect times, whether it be a time of fog or sunlight.

Eventually I made it back to the highway and I was off buzzing along again at a fast speed, straight ahead to my important appointment and like I said, I made it on time. Just like there are times for detours in life there are times to get on the highway and step on the gas, go, go, go, onward into our destiny. We can endanger ourselves and others during our “highway” times in life if we try to stay “in  our country pace” on the highway. When we are on the highway we need to keep up.

My dad is a former ultra-marathoner. That means He would run 120 mile races. When he would do an ultra-marathon he could not literally run the entirety at once. He would have to stop, eat, sleep, and recharge. The Bible talks about us running the race until we get to heaven. We have to stay fit for the race – and interestingly enough, for a truly long distance race like life that means part of staying fit is stopping to rest, stopping to eat, taking it slow, but at other times giving it our all and actually running.

Our Shepherd will help us. He leads us to green pastures and still waters, but also through the valleys and up and over the mountains. It is an ultra-marathon, but He is with us.

I will have to trust God that He will help everyone He wants me to meet up with to make it to our divine appointments on time and in the meantime I will enjoy the drive along the way to my destiny, whether it is belting out praise and worship songs along the highway, gripping the wheel in the fog…or marveling for a moment at the beauty along sunlit country trails.

Life is beautiful and the drive is part of our story, it is part of my destiny too.

What about all of the detours that were not what God wanted for my life, the ones caused by my sin or by sins of others against me, or just the grief and sorrows of life? Well I just have to remember that my destiny as a daughter of God is ultimately to be part of the Bride of Christ and He can take the most broken, the most horrible, the most appalling things in my life and He can heal me, He can bind me up, He can protect me and redeem me. He can restore me and sustain me even when things don’t make sense. My Shepherd is with me and someday I will see Him face to beautiful face as He has adorned me and prepared me for Himself with His love. Even when the detours don’t make sense, even when we are in the deep darkness of the shadow of death God is with us, leading us to Himself.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

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Caleb Gabriel

THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH
At my baby shower I spoke about my son’s name, Caleb, and how his name will forever be a reminder to me, and to him, to remain wholly devoted to God whether we are entering a promised land or a wilderness. Either way it takes courage to follow God, to fear Him versus fearing our situation. These are things that God used infertility to teach me and the Biblical heritage attached to my son’s name is a reminder of these important lessons. That leaves Gabriel, which means The Lord is my Strength – how beautifully and how powerfully this name has become intertwined into my son’s legacy. During labor I talked about my son Caleb Gabriel and was able to focus on God to be my strength, speaking my son’s name and its meaning over me as the power of the contraction would take over my body. However no one had any idea what was to come at delivery – how this name that my husband chose for our son really in a sense was prophetic because it was the strength of God that saved my baby. It was God, who after my son did not breathe at birth, when the oxygen mask failed, a failed intubation attempt, it was God who finally used an ER doctor who was rushed into Labor and Delivery to successfully get my son to respond during a second attempt at intubation. During this entire process I did not stop calling on the name of God, crying out loud to Him to save my son, declaring that He is good and He is the authority over my son’s life, crying out that every chain was broken in the name of Jesus and crying out to my baby to hang on, mommy was there. It was shocking watching tube after tube being inserted into my baby and tons of people swarming in and around him as my own OBGYN continued to work on me to deliver the placenta and to stitch me up. Time stood still for me, I noticed nothing but my son on the “baby spa” and focused on God saving my baby until finally about 45 minutes later my baby was placed safely in my arms.

PROVIDENCE
Just a few hours before breaking my waters on my due date to send me into labor God placed some verses strongly on my heart. I wrote this to a friend who was praying with me in preparation for labor:

“I was just praying my list of verses and two of them in particular feel like they are extra important for me to be praying:

‘For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.’
Isaiah 49:25, NKJV

‘ The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’
2 Tim. 4:18
Out of the two Isaiah 49:25 was most heavily impressed upon my heart. I did not realize how literally this promise would be fulfilled within the next 24 hours…nor did I realize how God had providentially provided to save my baby from low oxygen levels once we got home from the hospital.
Just a few days before God brought my baby into the world I got an Owlet oxygen and heart monitor in the mail that I won on CyberMonday through an Instagram contest sponsored by TempTraq… After 3 consecutive red alarms and low oxygen lasting 15-20 minutes as my son soundly slept early Sunday morning, 8 days after my baby was born we found ourselves in the ER and then the Pediatric ICU with oxygen desaturation episodes. If it hadn’t been for that monitor at home that God provided me with through a contest who knows? Now, with a medical-grade pulse-oximeter it is so wonderful to see great oxygen levels as my baby sleeps in his bassinet.
The Lord is my baby’s strength. When the tubes from delivery put my baby and I behind with feedings due to his sore throat and a resulting poor suck reflex – the Lord was our strength. We overcame, we met a 24 hour deadline for weight gain and no more meconium. My son is brave, he is courageous, God is his strength – these are his foundations: grounded, founded in the Lord. Where does my baby’s help come from? His help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.

HOODWINKED

So where does that leave things, how am I handling all this? To be honest the question “why” has been on my lips before God. It is ok to ask God why, as long as we are willing to wait for His correction, correcting our perspective to align with his. Often we don’t get an explicit, “x,y,z” answer, but instead the strength to simply trust in Him as our Sovereign Lord and our Good Good Father. I don’t know why we were in the hospital more than home the first 2 weeks of my son’s life, or why he had to get an IV and a lumbar puncture, why he didn’t breathe right away when he was born or why he has to be on caffeine, but what I do know is that God saved my son’s life, God knew there was an oxygen problem and provided, God has blessed me with a reward, a gift, a heritage, a son precious beyond words. My son is actually a very healthy little boy. The hospital ran the gamut of tests on him, ultrasounds, x-rays, he is brave and strong. I have a lot to be thankful for.
Something his pediatrician told me this week has really struck me. He said he wanted to reassure me and give me some good news so he ordered a test that he really didn’t have to that I was worried about. He said this should be a really good time in my life, celebrating the birth of my baby boy. When he said that it struck me, all of these events and tests had really put me in a place of concern to the point that I was spending a lot of my time researching every possible thing about it all to the point that I was worrying about things I didn’t have to worry about. It is natural of course given the circumstances that I would find myself researching things and looking for symptoms – but the bad thing is I was letting it rob me of bliss – of simply enjoying these precious weeks where my baby is so tiny and brand new. I wasn’t resting in the Lord or in His joy, I was being robbed of this. I felt hoodwinked by it all – God has answered my prayers. He has given me a precious son, He has saved His life. God’s got this. I can trust Him with my baby just like I trusted Him with my barren womb. Now it is time for me to enjoy my blessing. Now it is time for me to enjoy my son. We are hidden together in Christ, in The Rock of Ages-The Rock Eternal.

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 16:3-4

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES 
There are two songs that now are strongly linked in my memory to the birth and delivery of my son and interestingly enough they both have to do with names. Just as my son’s first and middle name have become very significant testimonies, there is another name that stands above it all – God’s name. I have an entire playlist that played on repeat during my labor – but there is one song that sticks out to me starkly – it brings me back to those moments of thanking God for the contraction, accepting the contraction, and relying on God’s strength to get me through. Interestingly I only had a vague knowledge of the song when I added it – really only it’s name and the images of Time Square – not the song itself, but the sound of it fit the mood I was going for. Now, however, it is part of my story, part of my son’s story. There is truly No Other Name. The second song I sang as a prayer out loud as I begged God for my son’s life at his birth, There is Power in the Name of JESUS to Break EVERY Chain! Amen.

God Knew

When my husband and I started to try to have a baby in 2010 God knew that it wouldn’t be until 2016 that we finally would conceive our son Caleb.

When I was in my mother’s womb, God knew that I would struggle with infertility issues when I grew up, but that didn’t stop Him from planting the desire to be a mother deep in my heart from a young age. That didn’t stop Him from placing me in a family where I was the oldest of six, surrounded by babies and younger children–I’m so thankful for those years that I feel prepared my heart for loving and valuing children – whether they “are mine” or not! All children belong to God first and foremost as their Creator*. He gets to see their first smile in the womb, their first grimace, their very first movement, their “firsts” belong to Him. God gets the first fruits of our life in the secret place of our mother’s womb. Even today with the advancements of ultrasound technology we come no where close to the 24/7 intimacy God has with our precious little ones as He tenderly and lovingly knits them–as He knitted us –together.

God doesn’t make mistakes. God is on time. God is perfect.

In January of 2013 I created a business card for a dear friend of mine as a class project for school. I needed to created one and she had a business that needed one. She created cute, lettered cloth blocks by hand. I borrowed one to help me with my project and I ended up never giving it back to her before she moved out of state. Flash forward to 2016, God has blessed my womb with life and another blessing of a friend graciously and kindly offers to take some photos of me to help document this miraculous time in my life. That morning before we met up for breakfast and photos she wanted to know if I had any wooden blocks with letters on them to help with the photos, I had none but thought maybe we could go by Walmart and grab some after breakfast. Anyway I remembered though that I had a cloth block in one of my office drawers somewhere…I just couldn’t remember the letter on it! I hoped it would still be in the drawer that I thought I’d last put it in, it was — way in the back.

Lo and behold the letter on the block was the letter “C”. In the bold color red, just like the shirt I had chosen to wear that morning for photos.

Before the beginning of time God knew me. He knew all of my paths that I’d take and every moment of my life. He knew that my husband and I would come very close to choosing to stop trying to have biological kids before He would open my womb. God knew that we would have a son and that we would choose to name Him Caleb. In 2013 He knew this and the cloth block my friend gave me to help me with my project had the letter “C” on it. How fun it must be for God, like a big surprise, 3 1/2 years earlier and He is the only one that knew as she handed me a block of cloth, both of us clueless how meaningful it would become. How amazing and how loving is our Father in Heaven truly is!

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Picture by Magdalena Ferrandino

 ” I could ask the darkness to hide me
  and the light around me to become night—
     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.”  – Psalm 139:11-16

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” – God speaking to Jeremiah (the prophet) 1:5

* Whether we accept the price God paid to adopt us as His child and become our Spiritual Father is different than God being our Creator. See John chapter 8 and Romans chapter 8.