Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Streams in the Desert

For Christmas, Uncle Mark & Aunt Debbie gave Garrett & I both the updated version of Streams in the Desert and new prayer journals. It has been such a blessing, new journey, new journals. We left for Orange Beach Christmas day to spend some time away with one another and with the Lord and took our new devotionals and journals with us. The first morning I started reading and God began speaking to my heart so strongly through the dedication and the introduction to the updated edition that I had to "stop and think about it" before I could even move on; what perfect timing it was to have been given this devotional, God's so good that way.

Sitting on the balcony of the Strickland's beautiful beach condo, the sky was overcast and the sun was gently peeping through the clouds, I read the words, "Through the waves, clouds, and storms He gently clears the way." The place that Garrett & I are walking is uncharted territory for us. It is a new leg of the journey. The Lord reminded me today that although we have never been down this exact road before, the He is with us, and this way is not unfamiliar to Him. He will clear the way on the trek so that we can walk the path He's marked out for us to travel. Although it seems strange to us that He would choose this route we are assured He has a great plan for our lives, "plans to prosper and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). We rest in Him, we trust Him (Prov. 3:5-6). Our pastor recently reminded us of Spurgeon's words, "When we can't trace His hand, trust His heart."

Tonight I received permission from a new friend of ours that cared for us in the hospital to share her story with you. Our friend is an ORT at the hospital. She was such a blessing to us while we were in L&D a number of times before "the time" that Gabe was born. She always had a smile on her face and just a sweet spirit about her always asking if there was anything she could do for us. In the past couple of days we've been in touch via facebook. She wrote us to share that her mom and dad had both went home to be with the Lord in the last two years and the past 6 months she'd been angry with the Lord. My ORT friend shared that after Gabe's funeral she spent some very healing moments confessing her anger towards Him and asking His forgiveness and went on to say that she has experienced a restoration of her faith in the Lord. I never would have guessed that my friend was carrying this load in the time that I spent with her. She was even part of Gabe's delivery on Thanksgiving Day. I remember being in so much pain and her smile was so uplifting. It is so good to have a sister in Christ to talk to about the journey of losing a loved one; noone's loss is the same, but one thing is for sure, it's not without hurt, and for a believer, we're not left to grieve alone. I thank God for placing people in our lives through this experience that we might not have ever met otherwise. He knew I'd need a friend like my ORT friend; she's such a blessing to our family and I look forward to continuing our friendship. Her story is refreshing to us during a difficult time; like a stream in the desert.

Isaiah 35:6, "Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."

Monday, December 29, 2008

May Gabe's life continue to be used for God's glory

I am so grateful for the wonderful tool of the caring bridge website. Caring bridge was a source of encouragement to our family during our pregnancy and as our son, Gabe, was in Phoebe and MCG NICUs. The caring bridge website also permitted us to update our family and friends often and enabled us to ask many people to pray with us. My sister-in-law, Graham & Gabe's Aunt Melissa, started our caring bridge page for us and would update it frequently when we were unable...what a blessing.

It has been one week and two days since our Gabe has gone home to be with the Lord. It is the desire of my husband Garrett & I that Gabe's life would continue to be used of the Lord Jesus Christ for His glory.

On Christmas eve Garrett & I visited the Phoebe NICU for the first time since Gabe was transported to the Medical College of Georgia NICU in Augusta, GA.

(We were so blessed while in Augusta by new friends that would bring by meals or snacks to us and to our family while at the hospital. These new friends were amazing, that they made time to gather, prepare, and bring us a meal or snack was amazing (not to mention that getting up to the NICU was no easy feat). It taught us a valuable lesson that we will make time for what matters to us. The fact that our son, that Garrett & I mattered to a people that didn't even know us was overhwelming.

These friends meant so much because our life for a season, like many parents of children in the NICU, was lived at the hospital. We sat at Gabe's bedside watching him, watching the monitors, praying for him, reading to him, talking to doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and we were able to touch (not stroke) him and kiss him. We even got to help care for him at times. We would help take his temp, wash his eyes and mouth, smooth on chapstick, change his diaper, all of which are precious memories that we'll treasure forever. When we were not at his bedside, we were in the waiting room. In the waiting room we'd pay bills online, catch up on phone calls and texts, visit with others in the waiting room, and catch a bite to eat. The days would end late as we'd head home to sleep at night and to return to the hospital the next day and sometimes later that night. Being that we were away from everyone and everything we knew God in his awesomeness showed Himself so awesomely as he provided us with new friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, who took care of our physical need to eat. It was such a blessing because we didn't have to even think about what we were going to do for our meals, they were brought to us. It was great to be able to spend as much time with Gabe as possible).

God prompted our hearts to return to the NICU at Phoebe on Christmas eve to deliver food to some NICU parents. When we arrived, noone was there, but we were greeted by many of the NICU staff that helped care for Gabe including one of our neonatologists, some nurses, respiratory therapists, and even those that transported Gabe to Augusta. We were able to hug their necks and thank them for all that they did in caring for our son. We continue to thank God for each one and the gift He's given them in the abilities they have to care for their tiny little patients. The NICU teams really work so hard and they work long shifts. We have so much love and respect for them. As we said our goodbyes to most of the NICU staff we were visiting with, one of Gabe's nurses hung back. This precious nurse shared with us that she recommitted her life to Christ at Gabe's funeral. Wow! Our prayers continue to be answered, that God use our son's life to draw others to Himself.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your prayers and encouragement. "The joy of the Lord is our strength." Neh. 8:10

Our son

Our son