Sunday, March 30, 2008

Answered Prayers, Part One

God takes such good care of us, doesn't he? And in our humanness, isn't it so easy to forget all the ways he has miraculously intervened on our behalf? I decided that, partially for my own benefit, it was time to take stock of all the HUGE prayer requests God had said yes to in my life. We recently have developed another ENORMOUS request that appears, from our vantage point, to have a needle-in-the-haystack chance of ever being granted. So, to still my worrying heart, I must take the time to look at what God has already done. Doing so will probably take a few days of blogging, so I'll have to complete it in parts.

Big Prayer Request Number One

In 1990, when I was 24, I moved from my mom and step dad's home in San Diego, to a small high desert town (2500 feet) about ninety minutes northeast of Los Angeles. My dad lived there at the time, so I stayed with him while I substitute taught during the day and took graduate classes at night to obtain an elementary teaching credential.

Since it was a small town, I stayed single much longer than I probably would have had I stayed in San Diego; there weren't many single people around. However, San Diego was too expensive to go back to.

As a very independent person, I really enjoyed living alone in my apartment for seven years, which I obtained soon after securing a first grade teaching position. I loved my job, and put all of myself into it, even staying until eight o'clock at night oftentimes. My students were like my kids. I enjoyed every minute with them, at least until serious behavior problems started to come my way. Happy as I was, the years went by quickly and I was getting old and lonely; I worried about becoming a spinster.

So when I became a Christian at age thirty-one, the first thing I prayed earnestly about, (besides my family's salvation, which hasn't happened yet) was for God to give me a loving, mature, and Godly husband.

Two years later, I met Don, a transplant from PA. He had been in the High Desert for two years. I met him through the singles' group at our church, while on a group mountain hike. He was forty, had never married, was a Bible College graduate, Godly, nature-loving, mature, and had been praying for a wife since the age of twenty-two. He was not in the ministry, which had been his hope, but instead was a building maintenance employee for a local city government. Since he didn't make much money, the other girls in the singles' group weren't interested in him, although he was very gentlemanly and handsome and treated all women as Christ would do Himself. Seems many parents tell their Christian daughters to marry someone who can support them. I was brought up much differently, being told very often that it wasn't wise to depend on a man, and that I should secure a living of my own. So the fact that my beau was not a breadwinner didn't concern me in the least, especially since I made decent money as a teacher. Moreover, I really believe(d) that all we have comes from the Lord, not from us. Marrying a well-paid engineer or doctor does not guarantee one will never suffer financial hardship. God allows spouses to pass away or become disabled ALL THE TIME - yes, even Christian ones. It's not something we should dwell on, but it's certainly a reminder that we are not in control.

For the first time in my dating life, I had not a single doubt about the relationship. It was smooth as silk. We did things with the singles' group for several weeks, not as a couple, but just as acquaintances within the group. Once we became interested in one another, it wasn't long before a proposal came along, and then a wedding, nine months later. Yes, quick - I know - but we were both older and knew what was important. Our courtship and marriage was a sweet answer to a very earnest prayer! I was amazed at the time, and I still am, nine years later. That was Big Prayer Request Number One; God came through in a big way.

We honeymooned in Northern California in July, then went back to the High Desert, where he moved into my apartment. All was smooth, and after a few months we rented a house from an older Christian couple. We enjoyed each other very much, went hiking often, took weekend nature trips, and basically had a very nice first year together, which culminated in a first-anniversary camping trip to breathtaking Mount Lassen, in Northern CA, where our first child was conceived.

While the marriage was wonderful, my school year as a teacher was horrific. I had several behavior problems that year, one of which was serious enough that in the following year, as a second grader, he pulled a knife on two students and got expelled. His presence in my room took a huge toll on me. I went from being an enthusiastic, energetic, innovative teacher, to hating my job mightily.

Before that year, I fully intended on remaining a teacher forever. It was who I was, at least up to that point. Clearly, God had other plans. Looking back, I believe He allowed that student's continued presence in my room so that I would develop disdain for my job. He wanted to move me into another phase of my life, without me kicking and screaming about it. Brilliant. Though at the time, it was awful; I wondered more than once why God had abandoned me.

Our new pregnancy was joyful and uneventful, until we found out via ultrasound at twenty-one weeks that our baby boy had passed away - called a missed miscarriage. I was sent to Labor and Delivery the next morning to be induced, which is a whole other story I've already chronicled on this blog, and won't get into again. Too sad to write about twice.

Big Prayer Request Number Two

No woman wants a baby as badly as those who, for some reason, can't have one. It's a yearning so deep, so enormous, so all-consuming, that there aren't words to describe it. In my grief, I became obsessed with getting pregnant again. I was told that most woman who miscarry go on to have healthy children. I wasn't so sure this was true, for my age group, even though we did get pregnant quickly the first time. It took five long, heartbreaking months to get pregnant this time around. I prayed and prayed and prayed. In reality five months is not that long. But to me, during that time of grief, it was an eternity. When I finally got that positive pregnancy test in April, 2001, I was a blessed woman. Down on the bathroom floor, I cried my thankfulness to God.

Big Prayer Request Number Three

My husband and I were very afraid of another tragedy, and in my twentieth week, at yet another heartbreaking ultrasound, we were told our baby had hydrocephalus and swollen kidneys. To make a long story short, they were wrong, or perhaps they were correct, but God answered our prayer and our church family's prayer, and healed the problems. At any rate, we had a healthy baby boy, Daniel, two weeks early, after ten weeks of bedrest.

Big Prayer Request Number Four

I developed preeclampsia, to my horror, which was caught on the third post-partum day, by a breastfeeding-clinic nurse. I had to be admitted to the hospital without my newborn or my husband, and take magnesium sulfate to prevent convulsions, for four days. I couldn't work on getting my baby to latch, due to the medication, so I pumped and dumped while in the hospital.

I wanted to breastfeed so badly, that being able to do so successfully became Big Prayer Request Number Four. Daniel wouldn't latch on to the breast until he was three weeks old, then it was another two weeks before he would latch on consistently. Phew! Lots and lots of tears. It is unusual to experience failure to latch for so long, but I'm sure it had a lot to do with the fact that he had to start on a bottle while at home with my husband those four days. Extracting milk from the breast takes a lot of work, and my baby just wasn't interested, until God intervened to say YES to my earnest prayer. Daniel nursed well for 13.5 months. He actually weaned on the EXACT day his brother was conceived. Wish I could have nursed him longer, but I knew we had to start working on expanding our family.

Have to stop here for tonight. It's getting late and Emily Rose, our fifteen-month-old, is sleeping very poorly lately due to some molars coming through. We're all tired here lately.


Evenspor said...

Thanks for sharing these. They brough to my mind some of the big things I have to be thankful to God for in my life. :)

Betsy said...

I heard this the other day and thought you might find it interesting.
I did.
I'm particularly interested in your teaching story. I too taught for just a short while, two years, only one full time, and I too found it was not my calling. But, unlike you, I resisted the message and still feel like it was just another failure of mine to adapt. I admire you're ability to see what is right for you.