Monday, September 25, 2006

Sharing My Heart

*Holy Cow, this is long. I started writing and could not stop.
It is interesting the way our emotions and our lives ebb and flow. Earlier this week, my heart was full as I was reliving awesome beach memories, then reality came crashing in as we attempted to re-enter real life at home with Daddy across the country. In the last 2 days, I have regained some perspective and fallen so head-over-heels-in-love with my little family in a new and fresh way that my heart feels like it is going to burst.

It started with, of all things, Grey's Anatomy Thursday night. I KNOW it is fiction...but watching Izzie mourn Denny, Omar mourn Jazelle & Christine realize how close of a call Burke had experienced took me back to my own mortality. When I think about what emotions my precious husband felt as I lay in the ICU at Northside Hospital...especially in those first hours when the future was so completely uncertain....I cannot bear it. He had 3 newborn preemies in the NICU with a combined weight of 8 1/2 lbs and an unconcious, intubated wife with a heart that did not work. He was in a hospital (a setting where he has LIVED for the last 13 years, for crying out loud) and was completely unable to DO anything.

We begged God for these children. We pleaded for Him to heal my heart and restore my health. We implored God to give us our "shot" as a family. In His infinite and inexplicable grace He did. In response, we vowed to give Him to glory and to honor Him with what we did with our lives and how we raised these children....and yet life moves on. Memories become faint. Busyness takes over...and somehow, unimaginably, we forget.

So, a couple of days ago, as I finally got caught up on some blog reading (desite the fact my luggage is STILL not unpacked--UGH!) I found this post. As I listened to the incredible lyrics of the song, I held K close and realized just how quickly life goes by.

Then yesterday, in Sunday School, we discussed I Peter 5, in relation to our marriages. This afternoon, it occured to me that as a parent, this had great meaning for the way I treat my children.

I Peter 5: 2-7 (The Message translation)
Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people.
So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

So, tonight the kiddos and I turned iTunes up loudly and danced all over the playroom to Buffalo Girls & Boys by The Backyardigans.As the 4 of us danced and giggled, I was reminded again of the INCREDIBLE DEPTH of my gratitude to God for sparing my life and blessing me beyond what I could ever ask or imagine.

Psalm 77: 1-14
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
"Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

As I was reading this passage, I remember how completely abandoned I felt by God as I awoke in the ICU and the reality of severity of my condition came to light. The ICU at Northside is in the basement. There are no windows. I would literally look at the clock on the wall and know it was 2:10, but not have any idea if it was a.m. or p.m. I was not completely aware of how sick I was until a couple of nurses from the floor where I had spent 8 1/2 weeks on bedrest came in the room and stood at the foot of my bed, looked at me and cried. I remember short visits from my family, my mother-in-law bringing countless Scriptures, the weary, worried looks on everyone's faces, being annointed with oil for healing, the video clips my husband would bring me of the babies in the NICU, and the hours of laying completely upright in my bed staring at the clock trying to figure out what was happening to my life. I scarcely slept for days once I was concious and extubated...I was deathly afraid of falling asleep and never waking up again. So, I passed the time by watching the clock and watching my heart monitors, as if I could will the numbers to improve.

On the 3rd day, the NICU nurses brought the babies down in isolettes in the middle of the night, so I could actually touch them and see them. My heart rate improved dramatically while they were in the room. The next day, I was allowed to travel by wheelchair to visit with them in the NICU. Then, that night I spiked a 105 temperature and was diagnosed with an MRSA pneumonia, which meant I was on isolation & unable to see the babies for the next few days. It was the last straw. I remember crying out to God: "WHAT!?!? You have my attention. What do you want from me?"

As I read this Psalm, I am right back in that place of despair and confusion. Then I look up on my desk and stare at a family photo. I think about the angels sleeping in the next room and the dear man who just pulled in the driveway and I, with David shout:

"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. "
Thanks and praise be to God!


Renee said...

Tears. But beautifully written, Jen.

Matt and Amy Snow said...

How absolutely precious. I am still in awe of your God given ability to articulate so beautifully the reality of His grace. You are such an encouragement to rise above the mundane/just surviving the day to embracing what we hold before us. Thanks for continuing to bless my life.

Teresa said...

That is an absolutely beautiful post. It puts EVERYthing in perspective. You are truly blessed and your family is truly blessed to have you with them.

Anonymous said...

wow, i will bookmark this post and read it when i need reminders of God's grace, mercy, and love... and that there is ALWAYS hope. You have NO idea how much I needed this today. Thank you for sharing... I didn't know you went through such trauma right after the little ones were born. Praise God for your family.

much love, calissa

katie said...

amazing jen... i'm so thankful you took the time to write all of that. i had NO idea that you guys endured so much! thanks for sharing your heart...

Alison said...

I am weeping and filled with praise to our God who chose to spare you. What a testament to His power and love for us all.

Enjoy having Ryland home again!

keri said...

oh jen, thank you for sharing your heart with us! your story is such a picture of God's grace and love and his divine plans for our lives....your story is full of miracles. thanks for giving me some perspective for my own life too!!

HW said...

As I listened to that song and watched those precious babies, my arms simply ached to hold my childrend again. It doesn't happen much now that they are 12 and 15.
In January of this year, my son made a terrible mistake and, in his grief and shame, spent lots of time in my arms. Having him in my arms was a huge conflict of emotions - I hated what had brought him there but loved having him there.
Your post was beautiful.

The Jones Family said...

You are amazing. What a testimony you have and what a blessing you are to me. Thank you for sharing God's faithfulness.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful testimony to God's grace and never ending mercy. His love is so much further than we can ever truly comprehend.

I am going to go back and read as I have had a couple of hard "Mommy Days" and need some perspective.

Erickson 5 said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I met you through the national triplets group as my babies were born on June 1st, 2004. You sent out your new blog and I have been following ever since. I just started my blog a few weeks as I was inspired by you. Thank you! You have such an incredible talent with writing and describing your experiences. I wish I lived closer so I could know you in person and our children could play. God Bless!

The Amazing Trips said...

Jen, this is incredibly beautiful. You have an amazing heart. As far as I can tell - your heart works VERY well and is full of love and light. You are an inspiration with your faithfulness and devotion to your family and God.

I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better. Those first few days of being home again can be extremely tough. This is a great reminder it's all about your attitude and perspective.

Paulette said...

I absolutely LOVE the way you express your soul. I love reading about your Thanksgiving to the Lord.
Jenmom did you read my post today about my visit with my cardeologist? It was amazing!! Only God!

Anonymous said...

God is faithful and He is pleased that you are faithful to remember and testify about the many miracles he has brought to your life.

Beautiful post.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blogs for months, JenMom. And I've always been curious about the story on those first days after the labor... So, this is it.... I'm really sorry about this, dear... But feel so glad that you could overcome all those painful days. I could not imagine myself if I had to go through the same thing :(.

This is a beautiful, touching post. It must be hard remembering those sad moments. And I'm so proud of you that you have this strength and love to share it with us beautifully.

Thank you so much, dear..

Much love,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing another example of God's mercy. I am thankful you and your children are all well. This was a beautiful post.

We are slowly studying 1 Peter in Bible Study now-just on Chapter 2, but I'm looking forward to Chapter 5!

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

What a beautiful Post.... Your heart is to tender to God!

Sarah said...

Oh, this made me cry. You're right--how quickly we forget! Our trials are barely in the past tense (and I'm not sure they ever will be, completely), and still I sometimes lose the sense of awe and wonder when I look at the scar down Addie's chest. What's most amazing is that He never forgets, never.

Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your encouragement. God is so good!


Stacey said...

Wow, that story really had me thinking about my own life. I am to praise God in every situation. Remember the times I begged God and promised things would be different if only He would let me have a chance. The way I get upset with my children when they've pushed that last button. The way I snap at my husband when all he's trying to do it help. Thanks for making me stop and think today! You've been an inspiration and I'm soooo glad you took the time to share your story!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful. I needed to read that today--thank you, Jen.

Michelle said...

I don't think I knew (???)you had a Cols. connection as well! LOL It is a small world. We weren't from there (obviously) but loved our time there. In giving directions we always used the phase, "Coming down Hilton know the big rock mansion???? Well, you can see it from out house! Or Do you know where Al "Who" lives! My oldest DS started preschool at St. Pauls. We used to have pizza picnics at the playground at Lake Bottom! Many special memories were made there and we have often thought of moving back but my sweet, dear husband's career hasn't sent us that way.

Leslie said...

Beautiful testimony, Jen. Thank you for sharing your heart!


Carey said...

You have a beautiful tesstimony and beautiful children. Thanks for allowing me to read what was in your heart and on your mind. Our families are to be treasured always.

Unknown said...

I delivered quints on 11-15-05 and was taken by ambulance to the "main" hospital for possible heart failure...I didn't see my babes for a few days....I sobbed while reading your a believer, I too thank the Lord daily for my children and for my health! God Bless You!

Borbe Bunch said...

Thank you Jen for sharing your heart, full of praise to our GREAT God! He is absolutely GLORIFIED through your precious life, He chose to spare, so you could so beautifully raise your miracles and teach them about the grace and goodness of God.
I listened to the Rocking Song, tearing up thinking back to our rocky days in the NICU with our son...God is good and His mercy is so new every morning! He daily bestows His NEVER ending grace on our lives...we are so blessed by HIM!
Thank you again for sharing your heart, your life with us, your "blogging friends" :) You are an inspiration...
A fellow mamma

Big Mama said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Just an incredible testament to God's love, mercy and grace. Thanks for sharing it.

Your children are adorable.

owlhaven said...

Wonderful testimony. Found you from "In the midst of it"

Mary, mom to many

Linda said...

That is truly a story of faith and amazing love and grace. You are so right. We think at the moment of the miraculous that we will never forget, and then every day living dulls the memory. Before we realize it we don't see with clarity those things we thought we would never forget.
Thank you for reminding me,in such a beautiful way, of the wonder of the God we love.

Heather Smith said...

Beautiful post! I'm so glad that God granted you a miracle and that you are using this miracle to His glory! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Mountain Mama said...

What a beautiful story. The Lord is so good to us.
You are wise to enjoy your babies. They grow up so fast and we don't get a second chance.
They are so precious.

Kim said...

Beautiful...simply beautiful! Beautiful family...beautiful words! Thanks for sharing your heart!


justin said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony. I was wondering if you'd like to post it on my new site called

I created the site to let Christians share their testimonies, and read other testimonies to see how God is working in the lives of others.

If you'd like to contact me, you can click on the contact link on my site.


Stutts said...

as a mother of triplets who are 23 months old now but born at 27 weeks and in the nicu for 5 months, i read your blog and it describes many of my same feelings. Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement. e have mutual friends in birmingham and one saw my boys today and reminded me to read your glad i did
jill at