Monday, August 10, 2015

"Be strong and courageous."

I just gave birth to (in my unbiased opinion) the most beautiful baby girl in the entire world.  Her name is Natalie Jean, and she graced my husband and I with her presence as the sun was rising on a Monday morning, July 6th, 2015. 

Throughout my pregnancy, my husband and I prepared and planned and prayed for a completely natural childbirth.  There were many reasons for us choosing this path, but most importantly, I wanted to deliver my baby without medical intervention because I truly believed God had this experience designed and laid out for me!  He created my body to deliver my baby, so I prayed into that Truth, found a Midwifery Center that supported natural childbirth, hired a doula (a woman who serves as a birth coach), took an 8-week childbirth class, and read a lot of books about natural childbirth!

Maybe someday I’ll write about my labor and delivery experience, but that’s not why I’m writing this post today.  For now, I’ll just leave you with the short version: Natalie was delivered without intervention, IV, needle, pain reliever, or tearing of any kind!  We praise God for His faithfulness to carry us through the entire way, from first planting that desire in our hearts to fulfilling the ability to deliver her completely naturally.

The first immediate hours after delivering Natalie were a blur.  From the skin-to-skin time to getting myself showered and cleaned up, by the time the room cleared, Jordan and I were completely spent… and starving.  With Natalie all swaddled up and adorable in her new pink hat, we laid our heads down and rested while we could. 

As I was falling asleep somewhere in those first hours, I very clearly felt the Lord whisper these words into my heart: “Be strong and courageous, Amy.” 

I felt Him repeat those words over and over again to me as Jordan and I learned how to take care of our precious little gift, and not stress too much when she seemed to cry for hours without reason. 

“Be strong and courageous, Amy.” 

You see, as soon as Natalie was born, my heart started to be anxious and count down the days, hours, and minutes we had together as a family before Jordan would leave for a 3-month deployment: 29 days, 8 hours, and 15 minutes to be exact.  And every minute that passed made me more and more sad that he was going to leave us, and we would miss him more than words can describe.

“Be strong and courageous, Amy.”  

In those sleepless hours with Natalie, I began to ask the Lord why He was commanding me to be strong and courageous.  I mean, I already birthed my baby without pain medication… wasn’t that pretty courageous?  Didn’t I prove my inner strength?

God pressed back on my questions.  It became clear to me that God would not ask me to be strong and courageous if He were not about to send me into a season that would require both strength and courage. 

I am about to raise my baby without my husband or her daddy around for 90 LONG DAYS.  This is both terrifying and deeply saddening for me, as Jordan is not just an amazing husband and father, but my very best friend in the whole world.  The amount I’m going to miss him terrifies me.  There, I said it.

Am I the first woman to ever have to be alone with her newborn while her husband is on deployment? Absolutely not even close.  There are many women who even have to birth their babies without their husband present.  My heart goes out to these strong and courageous women, who have had to press through even harder seasons than mine.

But for me, this deployment is a first.  The first time Jordan’s deployed, the first time we’ve ever had a baby… the first time he’s ever deployed while we have a baby.  You see where I’m going? These firsts terrify me.  And the only things that are going to get me through this season are supernatural strength and courage that come from God alone.

The words “be strong and courageous” might be familiar to those of you who read your Bible.  God spoke them to Joshua as he was about to enter the Promised Land.  Joshua had just become to new leader over the Israelites.  Moses had led them through the wilderness for 40 years, and now Joshua had to finish the task and bring them home.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

I noticed that God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous three times in this first chapter.  Sometimes it takes God repeating Himself a few times for us to finally grasp His message.  But I also find the power of repetition to be really encouraging!  I know the more times I am told something encouraging, the easier I will believe it!

The time leading up to this deployment has been like my wilderness period.  Like the Israelites, I have complained a lot about this upcoming separation.  I have questioned and doubted God, even when He has done nothing but provide for me!  I mean, I was pregnant with a baby I prayed and prayed and prayed about for years!  What gets more clearer than that?! God has been with me always. 
And yet, I doubted God’s plan.  Would He really give me a baby and then take my husband away for the first few months of her life?! 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about God is that His plans are perfect.  His thought and ways are nothing like mine.  They are higher!! (Isaiah 55:8-9) So I have to believe He is sending me into this new season for a reason.  Even though it sucks… even though it is scary… God has promised to be with me every day, hour, and minute that Jordan is away from us.

It might sound crazy, but it’s hard to believe and have faith in such an amazing God without strength and courage.  Strength to endure the hard days when Natalie fusses and cries for no reason, and courage to believe that God hears me even through her loudest wails.

So onward we press… and count down the days until Jordan returns.  But I am confident God is going to teach and mold both Jordan and I in ways we never would be changed without this period of separation.  And I’m so thankful for a God who gives me strength and courage that are not of this world!