The morning of.

Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.
John Wayne

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On the eve of our big day the 14 of us had a Thanksgiving Dinner followed by a time of sharing what we’ve become thankful for over the last 9 months. Then a time on our knees praying, declaring and worshipping. It was such a blessing. As the day had progressed a heaviness had settled over my heart but worship dissipated it quickly. We finished the night with big bowls of ice cream and watched the Olympics. Perfect.
I can’t say that I feel  ‘ready’ but I can say that my heart feels anchored. This morning as I curl my hair and listen to IHOP I am surprised by the peace I have. I can’t believe today is the day to meet her, kiss her, tell her we love her. No matter what comes today is the day of Jubilee…

Ps 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Once again, THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS. We WILL see the goodness of The Lord!

 

Courage to hope…

I have been meaning to write since last Thursday, or at least from this weekend. I have so much to say and feel so overwhelmed with love and support that my heart is actually on the verge of shut down. The amount of encouragement and prayers from hundreds and HUNDREDS of people from all over the world has been remarkable. The Corporate prayer and fasting event last Thursday & Friday had an amazing turnout from friends, family, friends of friends in different states, strangers. People fasted that had never fasted, people prayed that don’t normally pray. One new Christian told Nick he fasted from coffee those two days. I’m pretty sure that counts for double points in heaven 😉 Anyways, the response for Leilah has been more than incredible- I can’t THANK YOU ENOUGH.
This journey has been so covered with His grace and we have the body of Christ to thank. Prayers avail much. A couple times people have used the illustration of Moses in Exodus 17, he was unable to keep his arms raised during the battle so Aaron and Hur gave him a rock to sit on and they held his arms until victory was reached. We knew at the beginning of this that we would need all the prayer and support we could get. We certainly didn’t expect this much though. I want to honor each and everyone for the courage it takes to pray, to believe, to hope…it hasn’t been for the faint of heart. Faith is spelled R I S K. You’ve risked your heart, your faith in this. SO please hear my heart, thank you!

At the beginning of this when we were first diagnosed in September I wasn’t praying for healing. I was praying to survive. To make it until February alive with a marriage and a faith still intact. Someone told me they were praying for her healing and I wept and said I can’t, if I do and she doesn’t live I wouldn’t survive the disappointment. You see unbelief was the safer choice because it takes no risk but it almost always gets what it expects. I expected Him to fail me. It wasn’t until Bobby Connor laid hands on my tummy that I had even the slightest bit of hope to think healing was a possibility. That God encounter instilled courage in my heart to hope. Now looking back at the last 5 months that has been the theme, Courage to Hope.

It has challenged my understanding of God. How big do I think He is? Do I really believe that nothing is impossible for Him? I know He created the heavens and the earth but do I think He could craft her skull? I sing songs about His greatness and splendor but deep in my heart the things I secretly hope for speak the loudest about who I really think He is and what He is capable of. By not hoping I was saying no God, I think anencephaly is bigger than you; I don’t think you can be trusted with my heart, my hope, the aftermath…
So it’s been a choice to hope, to risk it all, to be unsafe, to believe what the Bible says- that His arm is not too short and that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

I don’t want to go to heaven and see all that could have been if only I had asked or dared to hope for more. We have not because we ask not. So I ask. I ask this ridiculous question. God would you do a miracle in Leilah. As medically impossible as it seems- she’s missing most of her head for goodness sakes but I know that it’s not a hard thing for Him to do.
I don’t know what the answer will be. I saw so many healings and miracles this past weekend I’m still reeling – I can’t deny His power, and I choose to trust His heart.
Friend, family, strangers that have come along on this journey… My heart is that in the very least praying for Leilah will start a ripple of hope in your heart and that it would end in a tidal wave of possibilities. Maybe you have a broken relationship, sickness or financial difficulties- whatever situation you’re struggling with that seems impossible- I pray that you are filled with divine courage to hope. To believe that when we partner with the Almighty anything is possible. That we honor Him with our prayers and dreams that are beyond us. That we walk courageously in all that was attained at the cross. That we refuse to settle on what we understand and have experienced but believe and hope in Him with reckless abandon.
Since this weekend I feel a fire burning in my heart. An excitement to see Him show up regardless of the outcome. He will not fail whether she lives or dies. When God is on our side it’s a win/win. Though loss will hurt I know the Heart of my Father and it is Good, He is always worthy of my hope. 

“Bold prayers honour God, and God honours bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If you’re prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention” Mark Batteson, The Circle Maker

“Never lose consciousness of the God that invades the impossible.” Bill Johnson

 

Oceans

This summer I started singing this song. As I sang it with all my heart I asked myself did I really mean the lyrics, did I understand the magnitude of being led beyond what I knew or trusted. In the moment I thought of course, what could possibly be worse then the things I’ve been through…whether trekking through the jungles of Papua New Guinea or protecting myself from loved ones… of course. What else could possibly come my way…

Little did I know that in my womb was journey that would take me here…to the great unknown. Where my feet have failed and fear has surrounded…far beyond the borders of my trust. As the countdown ends I sing this still, with more of my heart because His grace has abounded in deepest waters. His sovereign hand has been my guide each and everyday… even the days I didn’t feel it.

My faith has been made stronger in the constant presence of my Savior.

For the next 5 days I will continue to call upon His Name and keep my eyes above the waves. My soul will rest in His embrace because at the end of this…whether my arms are empty or wrapped around my baby girl…
I am His…
And He is mine.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
[x6]

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

13 days 3 hrs 3 min 15 sec

As if the anticipation were bad enough I have a countdown app on my phone.. yes 13 days 03 hrs 3 min 15 sec give or take a few hours…or days. Who really knows! I take comfort in my little countdown but really as I sit on the couch with my Braxton Hicks it reminds me that I am not in charge. Neither is she for that matter, God knows the hour and He will supply us the courage and grace we need exactly when we need it. I do imagine my water breaking and panic setting in sometimes. Any normal pregnancy with the second baby there’s the confidence of ‘I’ve done this before, I know what to expect’ but with this there’s not. But we’re doing the best we can. The last few weeks I have acquired a bassinet, a co-sleeper and we’re getting the car seat ready. I need to buy a pink outfit. In all this prep there has been so much peace. Like a blanket, just surrounding us. Grace and rest..and I just have to remind myself that I simply have to trust Him and the rest will take care of itself.

Leilah is not the only arrival we have coming. My mom, sister, sister’s fiancé, best friend and husband are arriving a few days before the birth to help out and be here for us. I keep making plans in my head like oh we could take the boat to Alcatraz or shop at Ghiradelli Square or the zoo! Oh wait- no. That’s not why they’re here and I definitely am in no shape to hike around Alcatraz- waddle around yes, hike no. I am touched by their willingness to be part of this event, it takes courage, I am blessed to have them. 

So last Tuesday I met with my midwife. Tomorrow we have another appt. Leilah continues doing great, very active, strong heart beat, head down. Once again having a midwife that has faith, that prays with me for a miracle – its just an incredible blessing. I’m still in awe that God worked that out.

On Wednesday Nick and I head to Redding for Healing conference with Bill Johnson and Randy Clark. The conference will teach on  a variety of healing aspects but the two that struck Nick and I were ‘The Thrill of Victory’ and ‘The Agony of Defeat’. Each night there will be an alter call for those in need of healing, I will be first in line getting all the ministry I can for my baby girl. 

Prayer Requests:

  • The Conference, Thursday and Friday. We are not going just to seek healing for Leilah but also to be loved on and to love our God. We desire/expect a radical encounter with Papa God. We want to be sewn to His heart and not to our circumstance. That no matter the outcome we want to have a fresh fire and revelation to keep us anchored in.
  • For Nick & I’s time together at the conference. I just want a joy filled, life giving time with my hubby. We are great friends and our love language is quality time, something that has been missing the past month with our busy life. We have 3 days together at the conference and then we have 4 days until our guests arrive, 12 until she comes. And some great sleep would be nice too…
  • For B, my handsome, active little 19 month old. That his heart would receive all that God has in store for him in the next few weeks. This is affecting and will impact him whether or not he’s really comprehending what is happening. He’ll be at his grandparents house quite a bit during this so I know he’ll be loved on. But I just pray for a special time for him. Also I pray that we as parents would demonstrate that we serve a Good God who has no limits. I want that to echo in his heart and set the course for his life. That he would have crazy faith!
  • Financially, having a baby isn’t budget friendly. If we end up needing hospice care or anything extra please pray that we continue to see His abundant provision. The last two months we have been incredibly blessed and humbled with anonymous checks in the mail- to whoever you are – THANK YOU! You have no idea what an immense and timely blessing those were.
  • Our family and friends. Please pray for the hearts that have been softened and drawn towards the Lord. We want lives to be impacted for Christ regardless of the outcome. 
  • And lastly, the birth itself. Quick, natural labor with a healthy beautiful baby girl at the end.

🙂 Aubrey

Poor and Powerless

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34 weeks

The Holidays are over! I’m not sure whether I’m happy or sad. I don’t know if this year was just busier than usual or if being very pregnant and chasing an active toddler made it extra tough. Physically and emotionally I am thankful to be back to regular life. The week of Christmas was tough for Nick and I. We both had break downs. His was a momentary one, I wasn’t so lucky..

Christmas Eve I spent the morning cleaning. My M.O is doing the dishes and listening to Bethel Sermons. This day’s sermon hit me hard. Like I probably should have rewashed the dishes because of all the snot and tears that infiltrated the sink. The sermon started out with a testimony of a 4yr old little boy from Norway with ridiculous health problems, he was slowly dying, in a wheel chair, unable to eat. He had an encounter with the Healer. Here’s the link if you have a couple minutes it’s amazing – http://documentedhealings.com/bethel-church-healing/. After their testimony Bill called for anyone with Cancer or some sort of terminal, incurable disease to stand up for prayer. While people were standing someone asked about ‘standing in the gap’, which means that person stands up for someone they know who needs healing for those things. That reminded Bill of a testimony he recently heard about an infant who had cancerous tumors around the heart, someone stood in the gap and received prayer for that baby and the tumors and cancers were gone. The baby was healed completely. So back to people standing for terminal diseases, praying that impossible conditions would be reversed, breakthrough would happen. Of course Leilah was rolling around and making her presence known as I was listening (and she is now as I re-listen to the sermon). It was just one of those moments when everything that was being said applied deeply to my life. I wasn’t at the sink doing dishes -I was at church. As Bill said these testimonies of the God we serve doing the impossible I cried ‘Of course!! THAT’S WHAT YOU DO!’. None of that surprises me. He’s a great and powerful God, capable of anything. As tears and snot ran down my face my heart’s question was ‘What if you choose not to act?’ Then it all came tumbling down on top of my head…fear, dread, hopelessness, loneliness…it was a rough few days to follow.

Now normally I have a few hard hours or 1 day but I couldn’t shake this. Everyday seemed to get worse. I couldn’t imagine a baby shower, she’d move and I couldn’t talk to her. I didn’t want to leave the house or be in public because I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. I could burst into tears or worse at any moment. At our family gatherings I pretended to chase B around so I could avoid conversations. I wasn’t the nicest wifey I could be- I had moments of wondering if she dies will our marriage even make it. I felt scared that if she dies my faith won’t survive. I felt like all my prayers hitting the ceiling. I hate to admit this one but jealousy, bitterness and anger crept in as I met the new baby that was added to our extended family. Anytime I’ve thought why me, why us, immediately it’s been rebutted with why not me, why not us- but this week I pondered it a little deeper. It’s just not fair. I was even angry towards teenage girls on reality shows that didn’t even want to be pregnant in the first place but go on to have healthy babies. Anger towards anyone who has ever taken for granted a healthy pregnancy.

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Leilah’s first Christmas present, booties and a headband from Grammy & Popop.

I told Nick on Sunday afternoon that I don’t think people can handle when I am unable to handle this. I really don’t think people want to know the nitty gritty. He couldn’t even handle it! I was just going to suffer in silence until the storm passed and try to keep my poison inside. But in true Jesus fashion HE saw that I needed encouragement. HE heard the prayers I was sure were hitting the ceiling. On Sunday night 3 people facebook message/texted me saying they were praying for me. Their words were for His grace to cover, empower, encourage and strengthen me. For His courage to be in my heart. One sent me a voice memo of scriptures reminding me to think about the things of heaven not of earth, to rest in His peace, to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

People – PRAYER WORKS. Monday morning I woke up and the ‘fog’ was lifted. No more hopelessness, I felt joy, deep joy and courage to hope. Strength to pray. Love for my wonderful hubby. A new embrace for this journey and a refreshed ariel view that HE WILL USE THIS for His glory, no matter the outcome. I fell asleep Tuesday night holding my belly as she kicked and moved, from the depths of my heart I told her I loved her, that I want her to live, I imagined what the baby shower will look like. A night and day difference from the days before. I am so thankful for the support and amazing warriors God has placed around us. I’m thankful for a God that hears and acts even when I don’t feel He’s listening. He sent help before I even asked for it.

So as we walk through the final weeks of this journey, 5 to be exact, I will do my best to be more transparent. Hard days are coming stronger and more frequent, kinda like contractions…I think sometimes I forget that I’ve never been through something like this, I don’t have directions or a game plan. This whole Holiday season our family and church has been singing All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons & Daughters. The children sang it in our church’s Christmas program, as a family we sang it at our company party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The lyrics remind me that I am powerless, He is God. Sometimes I sing this with all my heart and change the lyrics to He is GOOD.

Go on scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God
We will sing out
Hallelujah

I am powerless to do anything but surrender my heart and trust my God. I will scream it to mountains, He is God and He is Good.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yu5cRT9uno

Mid-December happenings.

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Run or Dye San Francisco 32 weeks

Sometimes I forget that this blog isn’t just to preach (sorry..ok not really sorry at all) but also to keep you informed as to the whole pregnancy. I am 32 weeks along. Leilah is incredibly active! I say that with a smile but really it hurts. She stretches and kicks and my entire stomach contorts and I wince. I love feeling her but it is rather uncomfortable. She rarely is calm. I don’t remember B being this active at all.

Speaking of B, he is the sweetest big brother. If I talk about any ‘baby’ or say Leilah he smiles and points to my tummy. He’ll say LaLa and lifts up my shirt to wave at her or give her kisses. This isn’t something we taught him, it was a completely original idea from him. I cried the first time he kissed my tummy. I think he knows something. And of course when we are cuddling she makes sure to kick him and let him know she’s here and not wanting to share mommies lap.

According to my midwife she is head down and I am measuring right at 32 weeks, all good signs. Last appointment we discussed induction and came up with a date. So unless she comes early by herself our date is the morning of February 10th. I’m kind of making plans around it but laughing at the ridiculousness of planning much around birth since even a regular pregnancy is so fluid.

Things I have to do:
Make a birth plan(s). As a ‘special’ patient we get to create a plan for how we want her entrance into the world to be. Music, guests, privacy, preacher etc.. I want to make them specific for each scenario we may face.
Plan A: She’s born a healthy perfect girl with a full head of dark crazy hair like her Grammy – WE HAVE A DANCE PARTY!!!!
Plan B: She’s not healed but her brain stem is working and we get to take her home for a few days…
Plan C: What we do with the minutes.
Plan D: She’s already passed.
And along with Plans B,C,D go the memorial service, burial arrangements etc..

One huge blessing lately has been my midwife. She’s actually the midwife that delivered Benaiah. She lost a baby to anencephaly years ago. My first appointment with her earlier this month we cried almost the whole time. At the end she prayed for me, thanking God for not making mistakes, for His hope and asking for a miracle. I was so blessed! She knows the ins & out of this and relates to me in a way no one else understands. I am so thankful that God wove her into my life 17 months ago. Another reminder that we’re in His loving hands!!

B's Lala kisses

B’s Lala kisses

Faith hurts but it’s worth it.

We’re counting down the days until Christmas… wait days?! Not weeks..days. It feels like last weekend was Thanksgiving. Time is flying thanks to the hustle and bustle of the season. At the beginning of this journey I anticipated that our diagnosis was going to ruin the Holidays. I thought how would I be able to be thankful or joyful in the midst of heartache? I’m so glad I was wrong! God has been so good to us and I am surprised everyday by His grace. And being busy with festivities certainly helps to keep my mind occupied although I think about her always.

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Thanksgiving bump 29 weeks

On Thanksgiving I posted this picture to my Instagram & Facebook. The caption read “As difficult as this season is ‘suppose to be’ I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more thankful. I am thankful for a pregnancy that has defined my faith and challenged what I believe about God and His heart. I am thankful that with Him nothing is impossible. I am thankful that this has opened my eyes to what really matters in this short fragile life, it’s slowed me down and caused me to appreciate so many little things. And I am especially thankful for the love, prayers and support from all over the world! Thank you!! We are so blessed. Happy Thanksgiving! Love Aubrey & Leilah Jubilee (about 10 weeks away)”

Shortly after Thanksgiving we had a.. I’m sure what to call it. A heart ache, a disappointment. A friend of ours lost her baby girl at 18 weeks gestation. It was a tumultuous week of praying for this precious life, declaring life and protection, hearing things were improving and then the final text that it was over and she was with the Lord. I think I shut off towards the end. I couldn’t pray because it hurt to much. It hit too close to home. I was confused and angry at the end, asking God why do we even pray if you’re going to do what you want anyways? We believed according to this scripture and declared according to that, we believed and did not doubt, we bound and loosed, tons of people were praying! How was the passing of that beautiful perfect little life part of your wonderful plan? I still get teary and filled with mixed emotions. Before our diagnosis when I would hear of situations like these I would say ‘How horrible, I just can’t imagine.’ But that week I couldn’t say that, I have to imagine. This may happen.

I’ve been listening to Bill Johnson’s teaching series on Healing. And He doesn’t have the answer either which makes me feel better 🙂 He does point out that churches don’t teach us how to deal with hope deferred, instead we made adjustments to our faith, our beliefs, we hold our hearts back from God. Really though why some are healed and some are not has got to be the biggest question. And the problem with me is I’ve been exposed to miracles, I’ve witnessed God doing the impossible. For goodness sake my middle name is Faith! My mom was told for YEARS that she wasn’t able to have children but God had other plans, she received a word of knowledge at a church service, received prayer and within a few months I was conceived. Yah me! Yah God! You see the standard is set high in my heart! There is no such thing as a ‘hard miracle’ for a God who is limitless. As rough as that week was I will not bend or tweak my theology to fit that situation. I still have hope. I didn’t for a few days then the thought came to me – ‘If I were the enemy what would I want me to believe from this?’ Immediately I thought ‘oh no it worked!’ So I repented and as painful as faith and hope are- I choose it. For her I choose it. It would be much easier to give up if this diagnosis was solely pertaining to me. But it’s not. Life and death weigh in the balance for my Leilah. She’s worth the fight of faith.

Here’s my heart Lord…

I think one thing that has really stuck out to me this week is just how fragile anything in this world is and how really the only thing that matters, the only thing that will survive in the end is my relationship with the Lord. For eternity I’m His, that blows my mind. As much as I cling to this life and all it has- it’s short, fleeting and not necessarily meant for my comfort. Sure, children are a blessing but not a guarantee, my husband is great but he could choose to leave (especially if I don’t do the dishes more), our house could burn down, our ministry could end, etc. Nothing in this world lasts except my heart and God’s heart. And how I relate to Him in spite of life actually matters. How I view His heart when life is good or when calamity strikes matters.
I’ve been listening to a David Crowder song call ‘Here’s My Heart’, it gutted me yesterday. The lyrics that hit me were ‘You’re all I have, You’re everything, here’s my heart, speak what is true.’ Come February that is all that matters. In the midst of the most trying time of my life He really is everything. So my hearts cry is that I hear Him ‘speak what is true’. Speak what is true, what is eternal, what life really is, what endures, what is good. Speak truth louder than this diagnosis. I want to know His heart and what He thinks and not what I decipher from my circumstance. I pray that at the end of this, no matter the outcome I can still say ‘You’re all I have, You’re everything, Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true.’

David Crower Passion 2013
Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

‘Cause You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

Here’s my life Lord,
Here’s my life Lord
Here’s my life Lord,
Speak what is true
Speak what is true
Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

‘Cause You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You’re all I have, You’re everything

Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

Here’s my life Lord,
Here’s my life Lord
Here’s my life Lord,
Speak what is true
Speak what is true
Speak what is true