Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Great is Our God

Today I read a verse that I think is an important reminder. Isaiah 40:25-26 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." I know I am guilty of this too, but we forget How great He really is. We are human so at times, we tell God how big our mountain is, rather than telling the mountain how big our God is. The devotional said this "...In 1995, the Hubble Deep Field Study space probe concluded that there are billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars. By one estimate, there are more than 10 stars in the universe for every grain of sand on the earth. Yet each night, without fail, God “brings out their host by number; . . . by the greatness of His might . . . ; not one is missing” (v.26).
Why then do people say, “My way is hidden from the Lord”? (v.27). Yes, billions of individuals inhabit this globe, but no one has been forgotten by God..." I love that. He calls each star by name, and yet He still wants to know me intimately. WOW!


This Christmas, we have so much to be thankful for. What a difference a year makes. I did not know the joy that would be in my heart this year. It's better than I'd hoped. God has molded, stretched, pressurized, constructed, and refined me in ways I couldn't have expected. I pray that each time I'm faced with difficult times, I'll remember that it's always for my benefit.

"Lord, as I thank you every day for my miracle sons, and the precious time we had with Layah, I know you only have great plans in store for my life, and the lives of my children. Remind me not to sweat the small stuff. Give me endurance, patience, faith, strength and wisdom for the big stuff. In your precious son's name, amen"

Faithfully His,

Mika

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away


I have been soaking up each day with Luke so I've gotten behind on my blog postings. Recently the mom of 18 children, Michelle Dugger, gave birth to a 1 lb 4 oz baby girl due to a gallbladder problem and preclampsia. I do not agree with her continuing to have children "as long as God will allow her to". Just because you can doesnt mean that you should. I feel that she may have an addiction to being pregnant/having children. I dont doubt her love for the Lord, but I think even as believers we can let anything, food, Facebook, alcohol, shopping, gambling, food, having children, etc can become an addiction, an idol, put above God's place in our heart. I think it's wreckless for her body and the child she is carrying, considering she's already had so many, and each pregnancy radically changes your body. She's 43 and each year she ages, she increases her chances for complications along with problems for the baby. I think the Lord wants us to be responsible with His blessings. To me, it would be like these people that say, I have cancer or some medical disease or problem but I'm not gonna go to the doctor, I'm just gonna expect the Lord to heal me. That could happen, but he's also given us wisdom and medical techonology and doctors to assist us in making decisions. Sure, it's her body and her life. I just pray that the little girl doesnt have to suffer the many complications preemies can face, born that early, 25 weeks. I know, and it wasnt easy having Tobi as our only child at the time, much less having 18 others to "care" for.


On a different note, Ashley Cox Stegall, a girl that I used to hang out with when Matt and I first started dating, and Tobi went to her son Leighton's birthday party, had to take her husband, Jason, 31, off the ventilator Monday morning, the 14th of December, due to him being brain dead. They think that it was from H1N1. He had been a decorated soldier in Iraq, and received 2 purple hearts and bronze star and a few other medals. He'd returned from Iraq and was in El Paso Texas for 2 weeks before coming home. He went to the doctor the Monday before his death complaining of breathing problems and the doctor discovered he was in liver failure. He was flown to DC where he went into a coma. Ashley had posted via her phone, on Facebook, that she had to make the most difficult decision of her life to remove Jason from life support. I wept and wept for her, as my heart broke. It brought back all the emotions from when Dr. Randolph in the RNICU said to me before Matt got to the hospital, "You have to tell us what you want us to do. Do you want us to perform CPR on Layah if her heart stops? Do you want to discontinue care now? or just wait until her heart stops on it's own?" Matt was my support, and my strength, besides the Peace that I experienced after we decided what was best for Layah. Having to make that decision for my husband, I could only imagine the magnitude of pain she felt at that time. She and Jason have a little boy, Landon, just 10 months old. She had 2 boys, Leighton who is 9 or 10, and Logan, who is 8 or 9, with her 1st husband, Leighton, who was in Delta Sig with Matt. It just breaks my heart that Landon will never know his daddy. I'm so thankful that they did have him, so Ashley will always have a piece of Jason that she can hold and kiss. I know that at the time she found out she was expecting, she wanted a girl, but now, I know that Landon is that much more a gift, because he looks just like Jason. She didn’t get necessarily what she wanted, but what she needed. I pray for her many times throughout the day. I think of her having to get funeral arrangements made, go through his clothes, and just try and do mundane chores and “life” for her boys, and how difficult it will be. I hope her close friends and family will help her with those arrangements, as well as take care of getting the Christmas gifts under the tree for Leighton, Logan, and Landon so that Ashley can focus on beginning the grief process for Jason. It's just so sad that he comes back safely from Iraq, and dies from a virus. It just seems so unfair. Why would God allow that to happen? I think it’s okay to question Him, although we’ll most likely never get an answer, and even if He did answer, it probably wouldn’t make sense to us here on earth. Just as there is no understanding losing Layah before she had a chance to live. We just have to accept in faith, with life, comes death.
Matt and I were talking and I think that these soldiers are given so many vaccines and drugs before going over to war that these can cause the body to go kinda hay-wire, and turn on itself, or that they are in such close quarters with one another over there, it could weaken their immune system. This is the second soldier, we know personally, that is our age, late 20's early 30's, that comes home dying or to die of something unrelated. Matt's friend Ian Hogg was diagnosed with ALS a few months ago, and he's so young too.
As I read today, the devotional mentioned Jehovah-Jireh, "The Lord will provide" The verse mentioned was Matthew 6:8, "The Father knows what you need before you ask Him." I read it differently though. It says, 'what you need', not what you want. The Lord knows. I wanted Layah to survive, but the Lord knew I needed Luke's life. I wanted her to be healthy and live, but the Lord knew I needed Luke to be born fullterm, and healthy and whole. He does provide what we need. I cant imagine all the “wants” Ashley has. I know she wants Jason here. I know she wanted to grow old with him. I know she wanted Landon to get to know his daddy. What I also know is the Lord will provide. He will provide Peace to her through the Holy spirit. He will also bring her comfort, throught His spirit and through friends and family. He will provide Joy, maybe not for a while, but one day, He will provide it. I pray that the Lord will provide hope in her. It's hard, even as a Christian to have that sometimes. I know, even though I had so many praying for me, and supporting me, I just simply wanted to go to heaven and be with Layah, and not feel the pain of her loss. I can only imagine the magnitude of Ashley's pain, but the Lord knows. I'm so thankful that she has the boys, and little Landon to have a piece of him always.
Lord, you know Ashley's grief. You have felt what she feels. Hold her Lord, letting her know to rest in you. Give her strength to go on, for her boys. Give her peace, knowing that, as a believer, we can grieve unlike the world, we can grieve with hope and the truth that we will be with them again.


Faithfully His,

Mika

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I heard this song on my own blog and it brought so many emotions. It brought many tears just thinking about my sweet baby girl. As I kiss and smell Luke, my heart still breaks that I cannot do that with her. I love you sweet girl, and we'll see you when we come home to heaven.
You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again
And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Monday, November 30, 2009

So late but such a THANKFUL heart

11/30/2009

We've had some computer issues, plus I had foot surgery on the 19th. It was a bunionectomy, where they had to break part of my foot in order to straighten the bone next to my big toe. It's been pretty painful and I still have a pin in it. I'm getting the stitches out today, and the pin next week. Mom's been driving me everywhere, when I can get out, but until this weekend, I couldnt really be on it for long before it would begin to throb and sting. I've had a little stomach bug too, so I didnt go anywhere from Friday, (the day after Thanksgiving), until Sunday, when we finally were able to go back to church on a Sunday!


I heard the song "Healer" that I heard for the first time when we returned to church after Layah died. Even though I have this song on CD, I never listen too it because it causes me too much pain and emotion. When we sang it yesterday, I was flooded with all those feelings. I wept for Layah, and the longing to know her and feel her; I wept for Luke, and the fact we prayed for him and he's such a wonderful and healthy baby. We just could never have gotten a better baby. Luke doesnt cry. He just kinda "boxes" his hands around when he's hungry, and grunts to let us know he needs to be fed or picked up. He doesnt fuss with a dirty diaper, and doesnt require a lot of holding. He is a very content child. I can only pray this personality and tempermant will continue throughout his life.

Today's devotional had this verse: "John 14:1-6 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
This was just a comforting reminder to me that Layah is waiting on us in the place we can be confident is being prepared for us! I know she was thankful for us having joy and happiness with Luke, this Thanksgiving Day. Yesterday, during praise and worship, as always I felt close to her, which is painful yet so filled with happiness. I felt as if she was thanking me for letting her go. I know in my heart that if she'd survived her extremely premature birth at 23.3 weeks, she'd have suffered a life of disabilities, possibly blindness, deafness, CP, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, etc. I could never have said I wanted her to go to our Heavenly Father, at the time we were fighting to save her, but I know now, it is what was best for all of us. As I've said before, I know she gave up her life for her brother, and we could never lover her more for it.

Here are some pictures of our growing boy. We took him on the 23rd for his 2 month check up, (OMG I can't believe he's already 2 months old!) and he weighed 12 lbs 12 oz, and is 23 inches long. Rachel, my friend wh lost her son Isaac and now has precious Annabella, said that she's gonna be 4 months old and she is 15 lbs, so Luke is gonna be a big boy!





Sunday, November 22, 2009

More pictures

11-20-09, He wont officially be 2 months until the 28th.





Is he not just the most beautiful boy you've ever seen? And he's the best baby God's every made

besides Tobi! He doesnt cry! He just grunts when he needs something!











Monday, November 16, 2009

update on Luke (11-16-09)







So over the past weekend, Luke has apparently hit a growth spurt. He's eating more than my body is making and we're having to supplement him with formula, which I'm not happy about, but it cannot be helped. He is getting so big! He still has really bad thrush in his mouth and I'm thinking that may be why he gets so frustrated nursing after awhile, because of him having to suck harder and that irritating his mouth. Dr Hodges' nurse told me to just stop his Nystatin and see if his immune system will fight it off and she'll check him when we go for his 2 month check up next Monday. He's eating between every 2-3 hours. He is already wearing a 3 month old size now. Being off with him is going too fast! Also, the more I look at him and think he looks like me, the more I think he's gonna have blue eyes. I so hoped for brown, but I guess I'll have to wait till our little girl comes one day for that!

Faithfully His,
Mika

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We prayed for you...

On Tuesday my dear friend Johanna text me that she was on her way to the doctor, to see if she was pregnant, as she had invitro done a couple of weeks before. She was not hopeful as she'd taken a test the day before and it was negative. I had a neurology apt at St. Vincent's and decided to drop off her gift at her husband's office, (he's a cardiologist at St. Vincent's). I had the book "Safe in the Arms of God" that I read after Layah died, as well as a prayer cross that was blue with tiny baby feet print in it's center, and a card. She text me later that she was not. My heart broke for her. I know she was devastated. I know she was angry, and frustrated and depressed and just very, very disappointed. I had no words that would less the pain that she was feeling. You don't wont to hear, "well maybe next month", or "well you can always adopt" or things that people say with good intentions but are inappropriate. I text her that I personally know His timing is perfect, although she didn't want to hear that either. After I got her bad news, I recalled a little onsie I'd seen at Christmas Village, and had decided I could make one for Luke. It was a simple onsie with feet on it, (his feet are so big, I ended up just putting one foot on it!), with the verse "I Samuel 1:27-28 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there." I had forgotten exactly which verse it was, so I ended up reading the whole chapter. It was very interesting. This woman, Hannah, was a wife and had no children. Her husband had another wife who had children, so she felt very inadequate compared to his other wife, however her husband, Elkanah, would give Hannah double her portion even though, "the Lord had closed her womb". The other wife was mean and rubbed the fact her womb was closed in her face. Then in verse 10 and 11 it says "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." This spoke to me about Johanna. I text her to read it and later she too agreed that she felt that the Lord was speaking to her through it. Later on in the chapter it says, "Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him." It stuck out at me the part about "so in the course of time" because Johanna has been so concerned about her "clock" ticking. I just know that she will be blessed with a child. I cant wait for God to show himself to her through this trying time. Later on in the chapter it said this, "So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah
of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there." Johanna said that she put that verse in her car. I felt the power of that verse for Luke too. We prayed for him and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him. Thank you Lord, beyond what my words can express, for your amazing love, grace, mercy, favor and blessing you've given me and my family. I pray you will help us raise Luke to serve and worship you all the days of his life.


Faithfully His,

Mika

Friday, November 6, 2009

pictures



Luke as our little "pea pod" 103109







Luke and Daddy 103109

Slideshow of Luke Jeremiah and a couple of my opinions

It's been awhile since I've posted an entry and I feel "behind". My sweet little "Peetie Pod" (that's what we call Luke since we called Tobi "Peetie Pie") has wanted to eat about every 2 hours, and nursing and pumping leaves little time to do much else except change diapers and catnap when Luke does. He went for his 4 week check up last Wednesday and he weighed 9 lbs 12 oz! That's more than 2lbs he's gained in a month! He is such an awesome baby. He just doesn't cry!

These photos, again, done my sweet friend Stephanie Fisher who recently had one of her newborn photographs used on Alabama Baby magazine...She's very talented. I will cherish this as long as I live.

http://www.sfisherphotography.com/slideshow/luke/

Today I read a devotional that had this verse, "Exodus 13:14-16 (NIV)
"In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.' And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand."


The devotional talked about sharing God's word, and all it's exciting and inspired stories, with our children. I am guilty of not doing this enough with Tobi. I want him to understand then truth in the stories and that they are not "make-believe" as he says about fantasy and fictional movies and books. At the same time it reminded me how much more I need to be familiar with God's word and how much more I need to read and meditate on it. God has a mighty plan for Tobi & Luke. And we have been given the responsibility (and gift) to prepare them.

I'm gonna get on my soap box in a moment. I also read the verse "Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers, " and thought it ironic, considering that yesterday, a crazy, Muslim US soldier who was a Psychiatrist and treated patients that suffered from PTSD, went into a processing center in TX and started shooting fellow soldiers and 1 civilian; 13 people died and 28 were injured. It was reported he said "Allahu Akbar" which in Arabic means " god (and I use the little g on purpose because this is not the same God that followers of Christ call God) is great" as he unloaded on these unarmed soldiers who were part of a graduation ceremony. He was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and had hired an attorney to fight his deployment, probably because he didn't want to fight against his Muslim comrades. (The last time I checked, no one is forced into the military, but when you enlist, you enlist with the understanding that you may have to be deployed to war). He allegedly had been "harassed" about being Muslim. They have found a blog he may be connected to where he compared a soldier falling on a grenade to save the lives of others with that of a suicide bomber for "Allah"...CRAZY! There were all kinds of warning signs that have been discovered but since our society has become so PC and we cant "profile" these people and we have to be "tolerant", the red flags were never pursued. Now 13 people are dead and many, many lives are changed forever. I'm so sick of people making excuse for crazy nuts like this. Anyway, back to me tying this to the verse, "...God will not be mocked.." I thought that was interesting. Claiming to kill others in the name of god, would be exactly that. "A man reaps what he sows...." This went right along with the day as well. The man was shot by a civilian police officer and although it was originally reported he was dead, it was later corrected that he was not. He was on a ventilator. I hope he doesn't die. He would consider it "honorable", a martyr for his jihad war on us infidels. I hope he survives and then the military has a military tribunal. I think they should do the firing squad with him,but let all the first 43 shots be in non-life threatening places....then just leave him there. This man had no regard for these people's lives or their families. He was a radical nut. That may be harsh, but this is not the first time this type of violence has occurred. from someone in the name of Islam Whatever his earthly punishment, he will ultimately have to pay the price for this and I'm positive there wont be 72 virgins waiting on him on the other side.

Faithfully His,

Mika

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

fellow blogger who lost a baby girl in April 2008

One of my coworker friends sent me this blog, http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/

of a mom of 3 girls who lost their baby girl on 040708. As I read her blog, I was so in awe. I think she may be publishing her story in a book. (wish I was that talented). The name of her blog is "Bring the Rain". Her little girl's name was Aubrey. Just like the other mom who lost her daughter 092607, Copeland, that I've posted the Youtube video for, this family has a memorial video that was made by a talented friend. I hope you will watch it, but get the tissues out. I also wanted you to read the lyrics, as they are so touching, and exactly the way I felt when Layah died.


This was an older post that I've had saved as a draft....(busy being a mom to 2 is wonderful!)

I Will Carry You



There were photographs I wanted to take


Things I wanted to show you


Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes


Who could love you like this?


People say that I am brave but I'm not


Truth is I'm barely hanging on


But there's a greater story


Written long before me


Because He loves you like this


So I will carry you


While your heart beats here


Long beyond the empty cradle


Through the coming years


I will carry you


All my life


And I will praise the One Who's chosen me


To carry you


Such a short time


Such a long road


All this madness


But I know


That the silence


Has brought me to His voice


And He says...I've shown her photographs of time beginning


Walked her through the parted seas


Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes


Who could love her like this?


I will carry you


While your heart beats here


Long beyond the empty cradle


Through the coming years


I will carry you


All your life


And I will praise the


One Who's chosen Me


To carry you

Monday, October 26, 2009

Luke's a month old on Wednesday, God's faithfullness

Today as I nursed Luke this morning, I just cried and praised God for His greatness and blessings. I told Luke just how much we all prayed for him and wanted him SO much. It's still surreal to look at his angelic face and just really see the face of God all over him. Last week or so, as we were driving somewhere, I was condensing my brag book of photos from 2 (one for Tobi and one for Layah) I was taking the pictures out of Layah's book and trying to decide which ones to keep in my brag book. As I looked at her face, I could see a strong resemblance of Luke. You may not believe that since here eyes were even still fused shut, but as her mother and Luke's mother, I can see it. I wept for the future that she would not have, but at the same time, the future that she and our Heavenly Father gave to Luke. I still ask why. Why did you not allow us to find out that my body had this problem until it was too late for Layah? And I know that one day, He will tell me, but for now, I have to just remember, daily, that Luke's future and destiny was already marked out before Layah even was to be conceived, so whatever the reason, His plan-as always-is much better than mine. Who knows, maybe Luke will be the President of the United States, serving as a God-fearing man, who is unashamed of his faith, and bold in his declaration of it, yet completely accepted by our country. I know God does have great things planned for him and Tobi, after all, Jeremiah 29:11 was put in our family's heart a long time ago. The verse I read today was this:

Romans 8:26-29 (New International Version)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."


This verse has many important aspects to me. I feel that on many days, "Lord, I hate to pray the same things over and over every day", but maybe this is what I am to do, stay on those prayers that the Spirit lays on my heart that maybe others are too "weak" to pray. I know at times, going through Layah's death and my pregnancy with Luke, I felt too "weak" to pray, and I know for sure, many, many others prayed on my behalf. He "searched my heart" and had other "saints" who I call my dear friends in Christ, to send up those prayers on my behalf, how awesome is that! Even though we are told to pray, "...ask and it shall be given unto you..." on those times when we just cant, He's made a way for it to still be done!

I think the second part of the verse is equally as important. Many know this verse, but I think a lot of times, we miss the second part..."who love him who are called according to His purpose..." When we have that question, why do bad things happen to good people, this is why. In a weird sorta way in my mind, this is the balance. If we have a heart after God, if we love Him, ALL things, even those things the enemy attacks our body and spirit with, will fall into the plan that the Lord already has planned out for us when we became a follower of Christ. (I don't necessary believe that God has the exact blueprint design created until we make that step. He can make adjustments to fulfill the plan once we give up self and choose to follow Him, but I don't think that He actually has the "details" until we make that decision.After all, He gave us free will.) The verse says "His purpose", so we are not always gonna know, or understand, what that purpose is. Our "good" maybe a different interpretation than what His good is. The point is, we just have to have faith that His plan, no matter what the trials, is better than ours. That's why we gave Layah "Faith" as her middle name. We did not know if she would live or die, but regardless, we had to have faith that in the end, He would be glorified and her life would be complete, and it was.

The last part of the verse spoke tome about Tobi... "29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." I think that this speaks to me so clearly that the plan for Tobi to be allowed to be born so early and survive, having his first and middle name (Tobias Gabriel) mean, "Yahweh is good", and "the messenger" was prophetic. He was declaring this and he was to be our first born son. We were promised life and it was fulfilled!

Well, I have a little guy who's making his "Ton-ton" sound telling me he's ready to eat! I'll post some more pics soon!

Faithfully His,

Mika

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recovering, round 2.....

Well, this week started out very bad. I had a headache on Saturday, which my mom had one too last week, which we contributed to the weather. Anytime the barometric pressure changes, I have a high chance of getting a migraine. Since I'm limited on what I can take nursing, plus what actually works for me, I didn't expect the migraine that came about Sunday. I ended up having to get my mom to take me to the ER-in between tears - late Sunday night. Many times with these, I just really want to die, not permanently but temporarily for the pain and agony to go away; they're that bad. So they drugged me up at St. Vincent's, and I was very comfortable. Well, I could tell before we left, as they were rushing us to sign the discharge papers and ignoring what I said as far as my pain scale number, that it was coming back behind my right eye. I got home after the 3 hour ordeal and Luke was not resting well, and although I was only at the ER for 3 hours, getting home at around 2am, Luke wanted to stay up until 5am, which with my CPT2, it's no good for me not to sleep. One thing that has really upset me, although I know it's temporary, is that I cant nurse or give Luke breast milk for 3 days because of Phenergan-not the narcotics, but the nausea medicine! They don't want the residual to make the baby sleepy because of the risk of SIDS at his age, if given it. Of course I want him to be safe, but it's really made me feel like a bit of a failure, even though it's just for 3 days. I never wanted him to have any formula. I know. I sound somewhat ridiculous, but it's how I feel. (Plus he has thrown up 100% more with the formula than he ever did with his mommy's milk.) Then Monday morning, I could tell it was back, just as bad. Matt called into work to go in late, to see if I could sleep it off. I got up and in the shower and prayed and prayed it would be gone. It was for about 10 minutes, and then was back in full effect. Matt had to go to work, so I was left, in misery, with my precious baby Luke, that I felt incapacitated to care for. My mom was at the hospital with my grandmother, and Matt's mom was at work at St. Vincent's. She was able to get off work early and come take me to the ER here in Alabaster, which is normally against my better judgement. We got there about noon and went right back, thank God. The ER doctor at Shelby questioned why they gave me narcotics to treat a migraine...( I almost said, look doc, I'm not an ER doctor and don't work for St. Vincent's. I've been going there for 10 years and that's how they treat them. Why don't you call the attending there to find out!!) I didn't, and he was young, so maybe he just didn't know what other hospitals do. So anyway, they acted like it was a big deal when we told them that I would require IV fluid because I'd been throwing up a bit and had not been able to eat anything, particularly because of my CPT2, which of course, they had NO idea about. We were there longer than at St. Vincent's, and got home about 5:30 or 6pm. They gave me a completely different "cocktail" than what I'm used to, but I was willing to do ANYTHING to get relief and keep it from coming back. They gave me Reglan, which I thought was for reflux, nausea, and indigestion, and Toprol, which is apparently equivalent to 800 mg of Ibuprofen, and Compazine which is for nausea. I was so extremely sleepy until this morning about 10am. I'm just glad that that's all over. I hate not being able to take care of myself, much less my family. It's a very helpless feeling.

Now, Luke is doing great, besides having to get the formula instead of my milk. He seems to be recovering from a case of the thrush, basically a yeast infection in his mouth that can become very painful for babies and even adults. We call him our little "ton-ton" which is the furry white creature in the movie Star Wars Empire Strikes Back (of course) that makes this grunting sound....check it out on this Youtube video, it starts in at 1:04 :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52U2WJyjBl0 I am still so in awe of how awesome a baby he is. God just truely has blessed us beyond what we could ever earn or deserve!

Now finally for a devotional! I read today Deuteronomy 11:13-21 (New International Version) "So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the LORD's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." Following up from the service that was given at COH (church of the highlands) on Sunday, I am extremely aware of what lies ahead for Matt and I in raising Tobi, Luke, and any other children we may have. With the world around us continueing to spew temptation, lies, and false hope and happieness, we have to not only pray over our children but also to pray with our children. Now days, it is more important than every for our children to know where true happiness and fulfillment comes from, and what roads lead to distruction. If we dont discuss how important faith and a personal relationship with Christ is, our children will be extremely vunerable to the lies of this world. Matt and I both did a good bit of regretable activities as young adults, but given that the Lord has forgiven us and wiped it clean with the blood of Jesus, we now have a more sensitive eye to the things that can be thrown at our children. We know what lured us into such activities and how to keep our children from following that path. Many parents think that if they were honest with their children about what activities they were involved in growing up, they will look like hypocrits when "preaching" against it to their children, but I believe that this is quite the opposite. Just because man doesnt always follow God's word, it's still the standard. Just because the parents may have messed up doesnt mean that the standard is any different. We have to make sure that they understand that. We are not the standard, but God's word is, and that is who we must direct our children to follow. Now, yes we do have to be an example, but when it's concerning our past, that's how we have to address that issue. This is what the devotional I read today said, "Telling children the stories in God’s Word is especially crucial because the Bible’s enduring truth can shape character and show consequences of actions (1 Cor. 10:11). Tiny seeds of faith can be cultivated in fertile soil and help children to see how God has worked in the lives of His followers throughout history. Bible stories also show how God is intimately involved in our lives." I cant agree more.

Faithfully His,

Mika

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PHOTO SESSION WITH STEPHANIE FISHER

These were taken this morning at our home. The friend of mine who did the maternity pictures, also took these. These are just a few that she took and they turned out awesome! I'll post a blog of my thoughts next. I've been in some pain lately and am not sure why, since Luke's 2 weeks old. You'd think I'd be healed, or at least having less pain, but ever since last week, one side of where my section was performed, feels as though I'm being stabbed or needles stuck in it, anytime I'm standing or moving about. Not sure what that's about, but I've left 2 voicemails for the nurse, but havent heard back. Anway, enjoy this teaser of pictures of Luke.
October 13th, 2009 Is this not the most precious newborn you've ever seen?!

Just a sweet sleeping baby pose...

Now, this one has special meaning. The pink beenie is in the photo (scroll all the way to the bottom of the blog) with his big sister Layah. The blue one is the one that was photographed with Tobi, when he was born at 2 lbs 3 oz. I thought it turned out just perfect.

God is so faithful!

Faithfully His,

Mika




Monday, October 12, 2009

More pictures of this beautiful boy!

October 8th, 2009, Luke loves to be in the "Moby" close to Mommy

October 10th, 2009, this was just too cute, not to take a picture of!


Our little "treat", October 11th, 2009


October 11th,2009 Luke & Nana

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So Blessed beyond belief


Getting some sun to get the bilirubin down, October 2nd,2009
It's seems as though time speeds up when you are just having the most wonderful time. I cant believe Luke is already 11 days old. I just soak up each day with him, as I know this newborn time, will be gone in a flash. Each moment I look at his precious face, tiny fingers and toes, and just gaze into his eyes, I feel like I'm truly experiencing a little bit of heaven, knowing he's come from where his sister is, where our Heavenly Father is. I read a devotional today wit the verse John 15:9-17 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other." The story was of a pilot who was caring a load of ammunition made the ultimate sacrifice of crashing his plan in a bay rather than ejecting and letting the plan crash in a populated neighborhood. It was just a reminder to me of 2 sacrifices. I believe that the Lord may have allowed Layah to chose to give up herself and her life with us, for her brother, Luke. I know some may question this belief, but considering the verse above, and that Jesus willingly gave himself up as the ultimate sacrifice for us, I totally believe that with Layah's spirit being mature, she was able to make this choice. I don't know why, but I believe that God has something amazing planned for Luke. I pray over him daily that the Lord will continue to protect him and Tobi from things of this world and the enemy, as well as that He would plant the seed of purpose in Tobi and Luke, as well as giving them a very sensitive spirit, so that they would accept Christ into his heart at a young age, allowing the Lord to work in a mighty way in each of my boys.
My heart has really been aching for Johanna, Amber, and Allison. Just knowing what joy and true bliss I am feeling now, I so long for each of them to experience this, Johanna and Amber for the first time, and Allison, once again. I ask that many of you pray for each of them, and that the Lord would heal their wombs, hearts, and emotions and would bless them with the gift of life this up coming year. To hear from a friend that a UAB L&D nurse told her that most of the young moms that give birth there do not want their babies in the room with them, but would rather them stay in the nursery most of their stay, breaks my heart, knowing of these moms, and having been one, who so desperately want a child to love and care for. Lord, please give these women who seek after your heart, the gift of life this year, as you have our family.
Faithfully His,
Mika

Sunday, October 4, 2009

LUKE HAS ARRIVED!!! September 28th, 2009










For those of you not aware, Luke arrived on Monday morning at 2:58am by c-section weighing 7 lbs 9.6 oz and 19 3\4 in long! I had done a lot of activity on Sunday afternoon. Matt pressure washed the outside of the house and I "supervised". I had a lot of cleaning and organizing outside to do, then mom and I did some cleaning on the inside, so I guess with all that activity, it got him here before the scheduled section. I woke up about midnight and as I went to the bathroom, felt my water break. Matt was asleep on the couch, cause I'd turned the TV on,unable to sleep, after he was ready for bed. I went to wake him after I made sure it was time, and told him, "honey, I think my water just broke". He was like, "What?!" I told him not to panic, everything was fine. He said, "do I have time to shave?!" because he'd gone several days and was very scruffy. I felt like we did, so I got the last minute things packed, got Tobi up and ready, and let the dog out. I started having contractions, and we got going. We dropped Tobi off at Nana and Papa's, and by that 10 minute drive, the contractions were really starting to get strong and close. By the time we got there, I'd really saturated the towel I'd brought to sit on. I knew it wouldn't be long. Once I was there, OMG, the contractions were coming and I was hollering! I didn't cuss, but said, "Oh GOSH!" and "OWE" about 100 times. They got me some pain medication to take the edge off just a bit until I could get the spinal. So, then it was done. They pulled him out at 2 minutes till 3am, and hearing him cry, hearing that loud, healthy cry, was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard! I didn't cry surprisingly, but I think it's because I was so overwhelmed, and still in kinda disbelief it was actually happening. He is the most beautiful baby. I wonder if this is what Tobi would have looked like, had he come full term. He has huge feet! I will take a picture of his feet compared to Tobi's and Layah's. It's amazing! I had a very difficult day on Tuesday. I woke up with extremely excruciating pain in my shoulder radiating down into my rib cage. I was crying but with every breath it felt as though someone was kicking me in the rib and stabbing me in the shoulder blade. Apparently, this pain, was referred pain from gas! I was shocked, but apparently it's pretty common after surgery. I thought I was dying and worried it was a blood clot or something. Thank God it passed by Thursday morning. I had some great friends visit us in the hospital, and of course all our family. It was very surreal that this joyous time was finally ours. Matt was amazing while I was in the hospital. It really is like we're first-time parents all over again. Matt is 180-degree different than when Tobi was born. He's such an amazing husband and father. I'm so glad that we never let the enemy destroy our marriage when it was so under attack. We wouldn't have this beautiful miracle!

I have to tell you about Wednesday afternoon. Matt and I were just hanging out in the room, and I just began to feel very weired. I felt like my hearing in my right hear was distorted a bit, and that my heart was racing. I felt short of breath and like I wanted to get outside. I knew that it was very similar to the fear, anxiety, terrified feeling I felt the week of Layah's birth\death anniversary, and that it was a panic attack. I asked the nurse to come in and check my pulse, and she did. It was 100, but not alarming. I know she thought I was crazy when I told her how I was feeling, but then I felt it was an attack of the enemy. I walked up and down the hall, taking deep breaths, but the feeling were not relieved. I felt something was gonna happen to me or Luke, and i was just scared. Then I went back in the room and decided to take a shower. In the shower, I just began praying, and worshiping and just praying against the enemy. I felt calmed, and relaxed after about 30 minutes and just continued to sing His praises as I got out. I went over to Luke and just prayed over him, and the continued peace followed. I know that this was not just a panic attack, but the enemy's attack, and through the Holy Spirit, we won. I don't know if he just thought he'd try one last time to terrorize me, but it did NOT work, Praise God!

We were discharged Thursday by lunch, and the nurse that was my discharge nurse, was a nurse that had worked in RNICU with one of the nurses that kept Tobi, and we'd met at this other nurse's daughter's first birthday party in January 2004. It was so nice to have a nurse that new of our fight for Tobi's life in the RNICU and our loss of Layah, and now to get to celebrate with us in the miracle we have in Luke. Luke is such an amazing baby. He is nursing so well. It's so odd how tiny he seems to me, but yet he is the same size Tobi was when we brought him home. Luke's billirubin was a bit elevated so we had to go to the peds office on Friday and again on Saturday to have it rechecked. It's coming down so there is no need for him to need photo therapy. We're just getting him some "sunbathing time" in the swing in the window. I had developed a cough while in the hospital, and was concerned since my staples were removed Thursday morning. I thought that was a bit soon, but the docs said that since I'm thin, they take them out before discharge. If I was a very large person, they'd leave them in longer. Apparently the staples are more cosmetic than anything. The fascias muscle underneath, and uterus sutures are sewn very tightly, so the staples are just to close skin. Anyway, Thursday evening, in getting Luke's bassinet ready for him, I leaned over and coughed, without being able to hold my wound, and felt a sharp ripping pain. I was scared. I went and looked and saw some of it had opened up. I was so upset. I told Matt and he was afraid we were gonna have to go to the hospital, but after I called them and my mother in law who's a nurse, I was assured that it was okay, and the steristrips I'd put on it, along with the waterproof medical tape, should do just fine. I didn't have any other symptoms that would be signs of bleeding internally or anything, so it was just another scare tactic of the enemy. I talked to my precious nurse, Veronica, on Friday and she said that all that was true and that I could come by clinic on Wednesday to get it looked at. So, that's all worked out as well.
We have been home now for almost 3 days and it's still so dream-like to have him healthy and home with us. I say "Praise God" a million times a day! We went by the cemetery after the peds office on Friday, and got Luke out to see where his sister is laid to rest. I was emotionally, but just really thanked the Lord for allowing Layah to give up her place for her brother, as he must have an amazing plan for Luke's life and future. One of my "sisters" Ginger asked me the other day, in the most delicate and loving way she could, hoping not to upset or anger me, if I was glad that Layah had gone on to be with the Lord, having been born so early and with the potential for so many life long debilitating complications. I really feel that was best now, of course you could not have spoken anything close to that a year ago. Of course I would have wanted her to be living and healthy and whole, but if she'd lived and been a prisoner to a body that was broken and not free, I would love her and take care of her, but know this plan of the Lord's was much better than what I wanted at the time. I think of my sweet friends, Amber, Johanna, and Allison that are on the journey to the life of a child and I pray that they will get to experience the changing seasons the way I did. I could not have anticipated the happiness and joy I feel now, at this time last year. Like Ecclesiastes 3:1-10 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, "
I pray that my dear friends will be blessed with 2010 as a new year for life and many blessings. I will post a devotional soon.
We have so much to be thankful for. Thank you to all of you who read this and have lifted our family up in your prayers. We know that is the only way Luke got here, by the petitions of God's children!
Faithfully His,
Mika

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We remember

I just wanted to post that today was the 40 week due date for Layah, as well as my precious grandfather's birth\death date. We remember. Thank you Lord for both of these precious lives You created.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Approaching our special days

It's so surreal to believe that this time next week, we'll have our precious miracle, Luke Jeremiah Shelfer here with us. It's such a difference compared to our sorrows last year, as we approached the 40 week due date that Layah would have had, September 26th. It's so ironic that as I am now 38.1 weeks, we are so ready for him to be here, and for 8 months, all we wanted was for him to stay in! I've not been sleeping well, for several reasons, but in all honesty, it's because I will wake up and think, "I haven't felt him move" and then after I use the bathroom I spend several minutes "waking him up" to get him to move, before I go back to sleep and the cycle continues about 2 hours later. Each time, I praise God for this life.

October 15th is the Remembrance Day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss and I'd like for you to check out a video on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSYvT-Qv_5w it's very touching to me and I hope many of you will do this for me, another friend or loved one, or at least think of us on that day. My mom gave me a poem, that a co worker of hers, who had lost a child, had given her a copy of when a friend of my mom's daughter passed away. I changed it to "she" for my personal reasons:

God's Loan

I'll lend to you for a little time a child of mine He said,
For you to love thee while she lives and mourn for when she's dead.
She may be six or seven years or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back, take care of her for Me?
She'll bring her charms to gladden you and should her stay be brief,
You'll have these precious memories, as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked this whole world over in search for teachers true,
And in the crowds that throng life's land, I have selected you.
Now will you give her all your love nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take her back again?
It seems to me, I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joys thy child will bring, the risk of grief will run.
We'll shelter her with tenderness, we'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known forever, grateful stay.
And should the angels call for her, much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.
Author unknown


I thought about the title and how true it is for all of us parents. Our children do not belong to us, they are loaned to us. As I looked at Robyn's video of Remembrance, I saw related videos, that were just as touching, and sad other families had made themselves of their own loss. Even now, my heart breaks at times, remembering that Layah is gone. Our hearts, many times, have a "mind" of their own. We know our children who have passed are in His arms, and safe, and better than we are, but our hearts cannot connect with this understanding, nor that we will be together again. It's only for parents that cling to the Holy Spirit, and the precious Savior that this connection can be made. I could not imagine trying to "understand" the death of Layah, without my faith, and comfort that only came from my Heavenly Father. Here is one more video, I've shared before, but want those of you who haven't seen it to watch it. www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjAZDVai_So The mom is my age and lives in TN with her daughter Sellers, and daughter Emmertte. Their middle daughter, Copeland, passed away after 8 days. She died on September 26th 2007 from a condition called Trisomy 16, which is chromosomal defect that is not compatible with life, and most babies do not make it to term and die in utero. She showed the world that she would live beyond all expectations and complete her purpose. Their singer\songwriter friend wrote this song for her, which I ball every time I hear. The words were so overwhelming (and still are) when I was going through the most difficult time of grief for Layah.


I know that the Lord's plan is so much better, in the whole picture, than I could ever create. I know I would not be the person I am today had I not been through all the things I have over the past 30 years. Lord, help me to always trust your way, and not to decide to do things my way. Give me wisdom and discernment. Remind me that there is nothing that is impossible for you. Show me how to love others the way that You love them. Break my heart for the things that break yours and use me to make a difference with all the expereinces I've had.
Faithfully His,
Mika

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A baby to be born and a brother's life "reborn"

Today I had my (next to last) OB appointment with my MFM family. I left work feeling a little ill, but I think I was just a little hypoglycemic, cause I felt better after I'd had some coke and peanuts on the way. My BP was a little high compared to what it usually is, 112\8? but nothing they were alarmed by. Joey was in the OR so I didn't get to see him today. I got my "letter" to take with me to triage at 5:30 am in the event that Luke gets taken on October 1st, a week from Thursday. We're praying he'll come on his own before then. I want Joey to deliver him and be with us during that special time, but I also want it to just "happen" and not to have this scheduled. You'd think with it always happening in an emergency situation, that I'd want it scheduled, but I guess I want the chance to get to actually call my husband and say, "it's time. I'll meet you at the hospital" and it not be an emergency. I know the Lord will let it happen when it's safest and the best for Luke and me. Dr. Patterson, (one of the only females) saw me today. I've never met her before, but she a lovely, young African American doctor. I though she looked my age! She was super sweet and checked me at my request. She said I was dilated 3.75 cm and very soft, so that's good. We're making progress. She said that there was no problem with us doing "extra activities" that some have said can cause a woman to go into labor, so that's pretty cool. Veronica, my dear sweet nurse that's been with us for the past 8 years, said that she though Luke weighed at least 6 lbs, so I'm anxious to know what he weighs. That's about all for the update. Tomorrow would be a great day since 23's are huge for our family. Here's the reason why:

My mom's birthday is May 23, my dad's is June 23, my brother's is January 23, my brother's wife's is Feb 23. I was suppose to be born on July 25th and my parents thought I might come 2 days early, well I wasn't, but I was born at 1:23 in the AM. My BCBSAL employee number has 23 at the end. My ssn has 23 in it. The first house we bought was at exit 231. The house we live at now has 23 in the address. I was married and had Tobi at 23. Tobi weighed 2 lbs 3 oz, (not a good one, but nevertheless), and again not good, but Layah came at 23 weeks. So, if he came tomorrow, that'd be cool.

Also, Layah's 40 week due date is on the 26th as well as that is the day for when my precious Papa, who Layah's buried next to was born and died, on his 80th birthday. So the 26th would be special. Also, my precious nurse I mentioned, her birthday is the 25th, and Dr. Ramsey, who was with us for 8 years and put the cerclage in, "up to my tonsils", his birthday is September 30th, so that would be awesome if he came then too. We have lots of special days that eh could arrive.

My dear friend Amber, who's had 3 losses, had surgery to remove a cyst, and we are now just praying that this procedure will have cleared the way-literally- for her fertility. I pray that this will be her season of life. My friend Johanna, who lost twins back in march at 18 weeks, is having a medical procedure tomorrow to make sure her reproductive system is clear of any blockage, and I guess tumors or tissue, so I pray the same for her. I know how badly she wants to be a mother.

Today I read this verse,

"2 Corinthians 10:1-5
By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."


I thought about this verse because it's so true. We followers of Christ do not live by standards of this world. That's obvious by what is considered acceptable in society today which are in direct conflict with God's inspired Word. Just because the world may now consider this to be "tolerant", sin is sin, good is good, evil is evil. At the same time that our society continues to lower the line, or the standard, the enemy is constantly waging war against God's children. We are not fighting a war of flesh and blood, but a war that is invisible to the human eye, but so clear to the receptive spirit a believer may have. While this war does have it share of casualties, as I think Layah is one of many, we have been given "divine power to demolish strong holds", and I interpret that as what the enemy intended for evil, and our destruction, physically, spiritually and relationally, God has given us the power to take hold of that and use it for His glory and our benefit, on earth and in heaven. When life, at many times, feels so out of control, this verse is comforting to me that He has given us power here on earth to direct many parts of our life, as long as we are humble and acknowledge that this divine control is only allowed by Him.

On a seperate topic, my dear brother had a near death drowning yesterday and it really shook him to the core. We've been through a lot, growing up with physical limitations and challenges that kids of divorced parents face, and then all that we've endured as a family with Tobi's early birth and Layah's short life and death. We are very close, and I could tell in my brother's voice over the phone, several hours after the event, that this had changed him. We have always grown up in the "wilderness" with my dad, hiking, biking, canoeing, all of it. My brother had gone down the creek on an intertube behind his house in Trussville many times, but yesterday, alone, and not wearing a life jacket, he quickly became a vulnerable and helpless "object" to the power of the rushing water. He said he was pulled under close to a rock twice and saw his life flash before his eyes. He said of course it felt like forever, but it was just a couple of minutes. He described seeing all of us, his family, having to be notified by a coroner that his body had been found, and also thinking, "I'm too young to die", as well as about his wife and 3 children. He is convinced, as well as I, that the Lord pulled him from the water, and I have no doubt in that. When he got to a rock that he could climb on top of, he screamed and cried out to the Lord, in just thanksgiving for life. I feel that the Lord allows some situations we put ourselves in, in our life, to sometimes be a powerful tool in reminding us how fragile life is, and how quickly it can be gone. My brother knows death very well, as he's a "harvester" for the Alabama Organ Center, and obtains bone and tissue donations when someone dies. He sees death daily, but yet this was the event that was used to give him an awakening. I know that the Lord has already used Derok to share his testimony, his experience with others, with boldness and confidence, knowing it was not luck, nor his physically fitness, or youth, or swimming ability that pulled him from the water. It was God, cleansing Derok in a way from things that may have clouded his mind, and blurred things that God wanted to reveal to Derok that he'd not see without a powerful experience like this. I'm so thankful that he was spared and the Lord has given him a passion and a boldness now, that wasn't there before, to share his faith in a way that simply says what I always come back to as the simple "great commission", I don't know what happened, but once I was blind and now I see." Basically, it just is what it is. Derok had that occurrence. So each of you that read this, be reminded today just how precious your life is, and is to others. It could be gone in the blink of an eye, and what can we leave as a legacy to our families and others?

Faithfully His,

Mika