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Friday, 24 September 2010

Autumn Charm & Significance

This has always been one of my favourite times of the year... I have countless poems and other personal writings about the world around me preparing for a winter's slumber death as trees transform into brilliant colour and shed the remnants of summer's dancing leaves.

The wind is different in autumn... as though it knows it bears a new task... one of carrying forth the yellow leaves, enchanting us with the unique sound of rustling and the smell of impending Winter.  The air is crisp with reality and the chill reaches the heart's desire to keep warm and give thanks for the shelter we know.

To me, there is a solemn wisdom to the earth in autumn as it prepares for the inevitable.  You see the odd tree struggling to hold on to its leaves, resisting what is coming, but for the most part, there is a harmony to nature as it surrenders gracefully to this process.  The transition is a humbling one as all that decorates these trees is shed to reveal rawness, nakedness... the very core of what is there.  No hiding...

I love this time of year for the introspection it draws forth from me.  This year in particular, as our family delves deeper into the question "what HAS God asked of us?" we are inspired and in awe at the significance of His "appointed times" and more specifically the many that are found in autumn!  It is as though my heart has known all along of what hinges on the air of Fall based on the "feelings" aforementioned.  Perhaps we all know it to some degree... perhaps we all feel the calling of its significance.

Rosh Hashanah (God's appointed "new year" also known as the Feast of Trumpets) was on the new moon of September 9th.  It marks the beginning of the Holy Days and celebrates the beginning or creation of the world... a spiritual birthday for all creation, if you will.  The blast of the shofar (or trumpet) proclaims its commencement, announces the coming of Holy Days and prepares our heart for the trumpet blast that will announce the second coming of Christ.  It certainly makes one reflect on the validity and indefinite weight to God asking us to observe these appointed times for all eternity.  Perhaps they are appointed because of the many historical events that seem to coincide with them and their eerie connection to why these are appointed in the first place.  It's as though God has designed these markers to "prepare" our hearts and our eyes to recognize when life-changing events are occurring and/or will occur... like a clock whose special time can only be read by those who study to understand them... what a brilliant and loving design!  And then my heart begins to thump in a panic as I exclaim to God "but I want EVERYONE to KNOW how to read this clock!"

And so I offer you my promise to better study and understand these appointed times and to share that knowledge as best I can with all of you!  But in the end, it will depend on you to seek your own understanding and to seal your own connection with God's truth.  My hope is that I can help in some way and share with you that journey of seeking a deeper understanding.  I do not want to observe these festivals just because... I want to observe them because I believe that God has asked me to. 

Yom Kippur was on the 18th which traditionally means "the day of atonement" and "Day of Judgment/Redemption" and lastly, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths".  It is meant to be a day of fasting (except for small children, pregnant and nursing women), cleansing and reflection.  Back in the day, the Hebrew teachings revealed that animal sacrifices were not "enough" to pay for our sins... something was missing as Hebrews 10:4 indicates "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."  God designed these sacrifices to mean temporary redemption... as though a true sacrificial lamb was yet to come... the One who would make us all clean again... ETERNALLY!  Is it possible that "judgment day" as prophesied in the bible will coincide with this appointed time?  Wouldn't that make perfect sense?  "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God." (Hebrews 7:19).  And is it mere coincidence that judgment day will be proclaimed by the blast of a trumpet... perhaps the Feast of Trumpets only days before the Day of Atonement?  Is this prophetic poetry in all its majesty? Is He trying to tell us something?  Is He trying to TEACH us something?  Is He preparing us to recognize these times?

And sundown on September 22nd marked the beginning of Sukkoth, or "Feast of Tabernacles" where we are called to live in a temporary dwelling for a week of harvest festivities.  Why temporary dwellings?  To represent the temporary dwellings of the Hebrews who were led out of Egypt's slavery to live in the desert for forty years.  To represent God coming to live among us.  And some would suspect, a prophetic preparation for the prophesied "rapture" where God's people are taken up to a "temporary dwelling" prior to the great years of tribulations prior to Christ's return.  Once again... it makes one look at these appointed times with far more awe and respect than a mere "oh these were just things/dates made special for the old times... they no longer apply to us."

The more I make these connections, the more I am shaken by the significance of their TIMELESS application!  And the more I am eager to learn them!

So this autumn posting finds you on a day when our rubber boots are preparing to hibernate for the winter as they bid adieu to a summer that was rich with the need to wear them!  The leaves are collecting at our steps as though daring to remind us of the significance of this time of year both consciously and subconsciously.  May you be richly blessed with vivid colour all around you, crispness in the air and a calling to search within your heart and soul... finding the elements that make you who you are - good and bad - and the promise of an impending Spring of life only moments away!

Prepare your hearts in the way you see others and yourself for it is written in 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things DONE IN HIS BODY, according to that HE HATH DONE, whether it be GOOD OR BAD."  One could almost deduce that what we have done to others, we will also experience... good AND bad!  Keep that in mind the next time you lose your patience or try to hide from that neighbour of yours who always wants to talk or borrow things they don't always return!  Or when you have a power struggle with a co-worker or treat someone you have never understood (or liked) with an unloving heart.  Be mindful of what you give others whether by the way you speak to them, look at them or don't look at them. 

Shed those leaves and be bare before yourself and God that you may discover a raw love for your fellow brothers and sisters... especially those who challenge you the most!  And be made new again in the glory of God.  That is my prayer for you today... and always.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Reality setting in

Alright, so exhaustion is beginning to set in and that blissful place is slowly fizzling into the reality of dragging one foot in front of the other (not fast enough when chasing a toddler and preschooler!).

Not getting a stretch of sleep greater than 2-3 hours at a time really does begin to wear you down like a slow sanding paper working on you until you're a stubby piece of leftover wood!  Where is that lovely high I was on?  Ah yes, the one that allowed me to work very hard for an hour straight at the end of the day cleaning, organizing and preparing for the next day?

Instead, I am typing a post while wondering what on earth I can conjure up for supper before Sivana wakes up to be nursed for forty-five minutes.  Hmmm, I had better get crackin' if I want us to eat before seven thirty!!

Man, if I could spend a whole day just getting woken up to nurse, I think that would be wonderful.  But maybe not getting good stretches is going to keep rejuvenation from visiting my energy level for the next few months.

Oh, and farewell dear patience... at least I knew you again for a couple of days.  I watched all remnants of it fly out the window when I blew a gasket on Ethan this morning.  A little boy not even two... just lost it on the poor little guy.  Stubborn, poor little guy... incredibly stubborn and defiant little guy. 



(Cue the inexplicable tears and hormonal breakdown).  And this is where my husband will walk in and say "And you wanted MORE kids???"  Well... yeah... sort of... maybe... if they would listen, stop whining and let me sleep... then yeah.

So today, I pray for you REST.  Because that is the biggest blessing I can think of right now.  May the Lord find you wherever you are (preferably not at the wheel) and bless you with glorious sleep!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Too Good To Be True!

I am blissful... exuberant... in pure heaven!

Baby Sivana is almost too good to be true!  She nurses every four hours, goes to sleep on her own and sleeps peacefully until her next feeding at which point she lets out a tiny cry and that's it.  She nurses BEAUTIFULLY and efficiently (a key to a happy baby, in my opinion) and is such a contented little angel.  Last night, she even gave me a SIX HOUR STRETCH!!

Six hour stretch, people!  Ethan did not give me that until he was a year old!

Ok, before this post becomes nothing but exclamation marks, I should take a deep breath and remember that it has only been one week.  Oh but it has been a blissfully good week!  Doh, there goes another exclamation mark...

Had we let the fear of God that we would have another Ethan be the deciding factor on whether or not to have another child, we would have never known Sivana Grace.  Thank goodness for wacky ovulation when weaning a child!  Hee hee hee!  All I can say is that I am very grateful God has taken "control" out of our own hands regarding Sivana, the circumstances of her presence both in the womb and that of her special arrival to the outside world.

Even while I was pregnant with her, I have never been one to reflect and seek inner peace prior to opening my big mouth but somehow while being pregnant with Sivana, I felt a great peace and introspection I have never experienced before.  That's one of the reasons we chose Grace as her middle name.

All of it culminated beautifully with my labour and birthing experience with her, too.  Pure peace and surrender (ok, maybe not right away but once the process began, all was surrendered).

I am finding myself reflective on that "fight" or struggle prior to surrendering or letting go of control in any or all aspects of life.  Even death.  For me, it is not death that I fear but that process in between.  No differently than as a first time mother, it is not the birth of your child that you fear, but the process of birthing that can be most frightening.

And yet, when the process finally begins, you wonder what you had worked yourself up for so badly in the first place!  You wonder, "sheesh, had I not fought this so much and wasted so much energy on this, I would have realized how simple and beautiful this actually is!"

Now I have no idea what the circumstances of my own death will be when that day comes, but I hope that I will not fear it as I have all these years.  I hope that the process will be beautiful and that my surrender brings me a peace I never knew to imagine.

And the same goes for any major changes in my life (which some could describe as a sort of death).  Letting go of the familiar, the comfortable and embarking upon a new path is always so scary!  And I have fought it on so many occasions.  It's as though I stand between these two doors and I want to shut the one but not without having already opened the other... a safety net, if you will.  However, the rule is clearly laid out "only one door can be opened at a time".  But you try and try to just have that old door open a smidgen before trusting the new one to open.  Then finally, that leap of faith moment when you shut it completely and you hover there in what feels like an abyss only to find the new door open wide with pouring light!  And the age old question "why did I fight this for so long?"

So here I am, finding time to blog, kitchen cleaned and laundry on the go, feeling like the queen of my world!  I can finally pee normally again, bend over and pick up the plethora of toys around the house without sounding like a walrus, I can sleep on my back again and fit my feet in my shoes.  I can run up the stairs without huffing and puffing (by step three) and my world as a mother of five is looking more promising than I knew to imagine.

Now, you'll have to remind me of this post should Sivana discover her lungs and the joys of having mom all to herself in the middle of the night!

But for now, today, at this very moment... all is so good.  What a gracious and glorious God to have blessed me as He has.  I praise Him with all of my heart and soul.  Thank you, Father... thank you for this life you have given me.  Amen.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Amazing Grace...

I have to thank you for the miracle of your prayers.  I was shaking so much going in to the hospital, anticipating hours upon hours of erratic and unyielding contractions... fearing the worst.

We began the process and I rested peacefully between slowly growing contractions.  I lay there peaceful and welcoming the prayers that brought my body rest.  It was truly a beautiful process that I did not even imagine would be happening to me.

My body lay completely relaxed as I merely breathed through each contraction, acutely aware of its workings and the fact that each one was bringing me closer to my baby.

Amazingly, three hours later, we were holding our precious baby girl, Sivana Grace!

She is positively perfect in every way.  She weighed 6 lbs 6 oz, nursed like a little pro right off the bat and measured 19 1/2 inches length.  She peed right away which was a great relief given her kidney issue.  We call her our little peanut as she is just so tiny.

We are thrilled to have welcomed her into our lives even though the timing seemed most intriguing!  But she was able to meet Grandma Jacquie who was in from Moose Jaw as well as aunty Diane, Uncle Richard and family (also from Saskatchewan), AND made her presence known at Grandpa Vaags' funeral. 

True to the Vaags nature, she was most efficient with her choice of timing!

So without further a due, here is our beautiful Sivana Grace Vaags...

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Sunday, 5 September 2010

Heading in to be induced

Despite our best efforts all day yesterday, no real contractions ever kicked in.  It has now been well over 24 hrs since my water has broken & the midwife would like me to come in right away to get hooked up to IV antibiotic and... to get induced.

I have heard nothing but horror stories of induced labours and am trying not to shake profusely as I type this anticipating what this day will entail.  Am doing my best to let go of fear, submit to God's will (which is really puzzling me right now) and surrender to this process.

I pray that before the end of this day, we will be holding our precious child and all will be good.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Home Intruder

Now I can elaborate on the details of what happened when Duane was working one of his night shifts this week...

Because I have an overactive imagination, I lock all of our doors the nights that Duane works his shifts at the firehall.  My thoughts have gone every place imaginable including scooping up the kids, climbing into the attic and screaming for the neighbours... keeping a knife by the side of the bed... you name it.

My husband does not like any wireless devices in our home and DECT cordless phones are among the worst!  But in this old 100+ year old home, you can understand that telephone jacks are few and far between.  We do not have one in our bedroom so I have often pleaded with him to let us keep a cordless in our room.  His logic?  What?  EMF's right next to our heads for hours at a time??  I think not!


The day I had taken Anika to Children's Emergency, Duane was scheduled to work a night shift.  I was exhausted, Anika was not getting any better and we'd spent the last few nights up with her.  Rather than risk having her wake Ethan up with her cries, moans and yelping that she's wet the bed, I decided to have her sleep in the bed with me for that night.

At 3:00 a.m., she woke up with an alarmingly high fever again so I put her in the bath and gave her more advil.  When I could see that her eyes were not so glassed over, I took her out and placed her back in bed with me.  I have the fan running in our room as a nice white noise and it was working well in filtering out the constant noises Anika was making.  However, just prior to either of us falling asleep, I thought I heard the front porch door creaking...

My heart stopped as I jolted up to put my head near the door so as to hear better.  Anika yells "MOMMY!  WHAT'S WRONG??"  As I rush to her to hush her.  All our bedroom are on the second floor and the creaking is so ridiculous up there that there will never be worry about our kids "sneaking out" at any point in time!  Heck, there are times the creaking has woken them up from nap!!

Here I was, fearful that someone was in our house as it dawned on me the front porch was the only door I forgot to lock!  And that the nearest phone was in the bedroom across the landing from ours and there would be no way for me to "sneak by" and get it without notifying everyone in the house (and possibly the neighbours) that I was awake and aware that someone was in the house.

I was getting angry that despite my stupidly over active imagination, I did NOT have a solution procured for THIS scenario! 

Then again, maybe I was just hearing things...

Until I heard the creak of the first step on the stairs... and my heart began pounding.  What will I do?  Do I jump on this person & claw at his face?  Do I start screaming now?  Do I try to get Ethan and bring him back to our room so I can have my babies locked in the room with me?

Second step creaks...

Finally, all I can think to do is yell "WHO IS THERE???"

And Duane comes rushing up the rest of the stairs to say "It's me!  It's me!"  And I burst into tears from the relief and release of the fear that had been clutching at me.  He spends a few minutes consoling me before it even dawns on me to wonder why he is even home!

And it is in that moment, that my husband looks into my eyes and tells me that his father passed away at 2:00 a.m.

And then different tears begin to flow.

Duane's father suffered a stroke three years ago this past August.  We have watched him suffer the effects these last three years and more achingly, we have watched mom diligently stand by his side and care for him day in and day out non-stop seven days a week all these three years.  The last two weeks have been especially challenging for him as his breathing was much more troubled and the inability to breath was scary to him... to all of us, really.

Duane shared this news with me not filled with grief but rather filled with compassion and relief that his father was finally freed from his suffering.  And the love for his mother shone through, too, in that he was relieved that she would not have to watch her husband suffer anymore either.  And the added peace of mind knowing that everyone was there with him at his passing... mom, Duane's four sisters (and two in-laws) and Duane himself.

So our week thus far had been greeted with a very sick child (who is still fighting fevers today, although she was willing to actually eat some food today) and the passing of a great man.  But it does not end here.

Last night, my water broke.  Three weeks early.  And I am sitting here typing waiting for labour to kick in.  I have had contractions (especially when going for brisk walks) but they cease as soon as I come back in the house.  And because I am exactly 37 weeks pregnant (technically tomorrow), and have NOT been swabbed for strep B yet (was going to at the midwife appointment this Wednesday), the baby is now considered at high risk.

If labour has not properly set in within 24 hrs of my water breaking, I will have to be induced.  I have opted for the intravenous antibiotic given the baby's risk for Strep B.  I just want this little one to be born sooner than later as I do NOT want to miss my own father-in-law's funeral!

My scheduled midwife took off on holiday this morning so I am going to have a different woman help us out with this process.  And our respite worker (who never takes a day off in her life!) booked off for the long weekend and cannot help us with Isabel's care as originally planned... thankfully, Isabel's dad is willing to look out for her but not without letting us know of plans he has had to cancel.

So prayers for a swift and SAFE delivery would be much appreciated.  Prayers for Duane's family at this time... prayers for our Anika who is still quite sick despite four days of antibiotics... and prayers that life STOP throwing us these dodge balls all at once!

Hope this finds you all enjoying a slightly less hectic schedule in your own lives at this time!  And hopefully the next posting you see will be of our darling little one who has come to join our family!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The good and the bad

These last few weeks have been nothing short of truly charged with everything possible under the sun!

In winding down for the tail end of this pregnancy, things seem to have been winding up instead.  The nesting instinct has kicked in and I have spent nearly fifteen hours thus far completely reorganizing the basement and the plethora of various children's clothing sizes (from Melina's pre-teen hand me downs to the newborn clothing awaiting our newest addition)!  We have been cramming in as many visits with friends and family as possible and annual doctor's appointments (as I am concerned things will be too hectic over these next six to twelve months to be on top of these things).

In addition to the great increase in activity, I have no longer been able to sleep at night.  I now make unnatural sounds when attempting to shift from one side in bed to the other... and yes, sometimes I need to ask Duane for a shove.  My bladder is holding up very well with this pregnancy so I am only getting up about once or twice in the night.  And the dreaded anticipated end-of-the-road swelling has arrived.  The numbness in my hands keep me up and any attempts at cooking or handling the kids (even just pulling up pants) feels so strange without sensation in your hands!  Yik!

But worst of all has been the heartburn!  Never in my life have I experienced anything like this!  It feels as though I have gargled with Drano and it keeps trying to come back up.  The reflux causes a great deal of coughing which results in the occasional bouts of vomiting.

Aint pregnancy a pretty picture??

But I am convinced that this is all part of God's perfect design to have a pregnant so bloody miserable by the last month of her pregnancy that she WELCOMES the pains of labour and birth in order to finally put an end to it!  Quite brilliant, really.

Let's just say I am quickly getting over my anxiety about welcoming our fifth child!!

My health is not the only one to discuss at length in this post... Anika has been complaining all week that she is sick and needs to see a doctor.  She was not exhibiting any symptoms (no fever, diarhea, etc...) so I did not feel right taking her in to see someone and say "I don't know... can you just charge us for guessing?"  A few days later, she woke up with her face completely swollen.  I have yet to do research on facial swelling & possible kidney issues but we figured perhaps an allergy to whatever has been blowing in the air lately.  Either that or she was being overly empathetic about MY swelling!

Tuesday morning, the little ones and I ran a bunch of errands only to return late for lunch at which point my father arrived to babysit the kids so I could attend an apt with the OBGYN.  By the time I returned from that, Anika was lethargic on the couch and exhibiting the beginnings of a fever.  The night before, she had woken up twice in the night to pee in a panic (one of which was an accident... very unlike her).  Let's hope it's not another bladder infection!

Well, by supper, her fever was at 104 so we gave her some tylenol in hopes that she would have a better night.  No such luck.  Up again at midnight in a panic about peeing and then once more at 4:00 a.m.  This time, she was alarmingly hot to the touch and her temperature read 106.

Off I went to Children's Hopsital Emergency with my Anika...

Thankfully there was no one else in the waiting room so we only spent about three hours there.  Anika's preliminary urine tests came back positive for every negative thing under the sun including puss and blood.  Off we go with a prescription for antibiotics.

Normally, we let her body rid itself of these on its own, but there are times when it is evident that her body needs the extra help... especially given that a back flow of infected urine to the kidneys could cause permanent damage!

I have since been in touch with her pediatrician to see where that referral for a VCUG & kidney ultrasound is at.  We should have some appointment dates within the next couple of weeks.  So given that this unborn baby has the kidney issue that he/she does, I am beginning to think that we have a structural issue with our Anika, too.

Why can't we give birth to perfectly healthy children anymore??  Is there even such a thing?  Seems like every new mom I talk with has a health issue of some sort with their child.  Are we just that hyper aware now?  Or is something happening to our world, our food, our environment that is costing the well-being of our children?  And if so, what will it finally take for CHANGES to be made??

So Anika has gone nearly two days without eating, with fluctuating fevers and restless nights and the occasional bouts of vomiting.  Last night at a peak of her fever, she looked up at me wearily and said that her sibbling within my womb was opening a gate for her...

She was quite convinced of this!  So finally I just went with it and said, "maybe this baby is opening the gate to HEALING and LIGHT so your body can get all better!"  And she seemed peaceful with that explanation and went back to sleep.

Whether real or not, the idea of a little soul looking out for its sibling really IS beautiful and reassuring... I think I may have to hold on to that one as a gift in the realm of the inexplicable.

There is much, much more to tell (including a house invasion last while Duane was gone working a night shift)... but the time is not right just yet given some additional details to be shared.  Just know that our lives have hit a level of chaos I was not expecting BEFORE the arrival of our baby and that we hope peace will quickly ensue.

Much love to all of you out there and here's hoping that the Lord has embraced you in your own hectic lives and that you are at peace with events that surround you at this time.