Monday, April 29, 2013

Earthly Facts & Heavenly Hope


We've received some preliminary MRI results on little Will.  We are hoping for more detailed information later, but at least I can share the gist of what's going on...

1) Praising God that the bleeding on Will's brain has stopped and looks like it will heal itself.  The doctor thinks the bleeding clotted well, and the extra blood will eventually soak back into his body.

2) Will has a "weak link" of sorts in his brain.  Evidently, there are four "communicators" in our brains that tell important arteries where blood needs to go.  Unfortunately, Will never developed TWO of these communicators.  Our doctors said that if you'd MRI 100 or so people, you might find 5 people that have the same issue.  Several of those 5 people might live "normal" lives, never knowing what they're missing.  We are learning more about how how the Lord has designed the stronger parts of the brain to compensate, at times, for the weaker parts.  Regardless, for Will, in his specific situation, these missing communicators seemed to be the weak link that set off some of his other problems.

3) Will does have two spots of potential stroke on his brain, due to those communicators failing to deliver blood to the right places.  We are obviously very concerned about this, but we are cautiously hopeful that again, Will's body will heal itself a bit.  Older people's brains have spent years "mapping" - learning how to function and perform basic things.  When older people have strokes, they can be devastating, because those "maps" are destroyed and very difficult to rewrite.  In a baby, however, much of this mapping hasn't even taken place.  Though Will's brain IS injured, we are going to be moving ahead with lots of therapy in hopes of teaching the stronger parts of his brain to take over some of the injured places.

4) The seizures were a symptom of this sort of "perfect storm" that was brewing in little Will's body.  He is currently on anti-seizure medication that seems to be controlling things well.  These meds might be a long-term and/or forever sort of thing for him.  We will really need to watch him carefully and stay up-to-date with some special doctors in Sioux Falls.

So...  Those are the facts.  We've been inundated with test results, percentages, research...lots of facts.  The thing we are trying to remember, though, is that these facts are pretty "earthly".  Yes, the facts are super helpful and are useful for figuring out a game plan for Will's health, but they are still finite.  They are what the world says about our baby.  This is what the wisdom of man declares about his health.

However (and this is a big however), the Truth of God is so much bigger and more powerful than all of these things.  Though the test results and the facts say that Will's brain is underdeveloped, that he may have developmental delays, that he may live a life full of medication, that he may struggle with more seizures or areas of stroke...  We believe the Lord can break off ALL of these things, heal all of these things, and cause all of these facts to be totally TRUMPED by His supernatural power at work in Will's life.

Though the MRI shows areas of concern in Will's little head, we are hopeful, knowing the earthly facts do not need to determine his destiny in life. 

A couple of days ago, a handful of our friends stopped by to pray over Will.  We prayed for supernatural creativity, skill, wisdom, and power in Will's life.  We are hopeful that, someday, people will see Will's life, be amazed by the favor that rests upon him and wonder what's special about him.  We will enjoy telling them the story of Will's rocky start, and of the plans the enemy had for his demise.  We will rejoice in recounting the story of how God placed His helmet of protection over his head, cancelled all the enemy's plans, and won the battle for our little Will.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

About Will's Name...


We struggled to pick a name for our little boy.  We had a good list of names we liked in general, but one never really stood out.  Mark had been praying for God to give him a dream (kind of like Joseph and others in the Bible) and to tell us what we should name our baby.  Months passed, and no dream.

Overall, we really wanted to pick a name that had special meaning.  We wanted to be able to use our baby's name as a sort of blessing or destiny to pray into over him.  My name, Liza, means "consecrated or dedicated to God", so over the years, my mom was continually praying that my life would be dedicated to the Lord.  

In the end, obviously, we chose the name William Daniel.  We never received special revelation from the Lord that that should be his name, but we prayed and trusted it was the right one. 

"William" was my grandpa's middle name, who was so special to me.  He was always a little stubborn and rough around the edges, but he was such a godly man.  Loyal to his family, such a hard worker, and always stood, with courage, for what was right and true.

"Daniel" is Mark's middle name.  Mark's parents gave him the name Daniel after a pastor, Dan, who led them to the Lord.  So, in both cases, "William" and "Daniel" are names that remember the spiritual heritage of our families.

To take this a step further, the name William means "helmet or protection", and Daniel means "exhorter of truth or justice".  We loved these meanings and began to pray that Will would protect and stand for truth in his life.  That he would courageously stand for the Lord and defend what is right.

Little did we know, Will would run into problems with his tiny head.  

I remember when my midwife told me, as I was pushing, that our little guy had a ton of hair.  I was convinced we'd have a blonde or bald baby, since Mark and I are natural blondies.  I was so excited, and had actually (and shallowly) prayed for a baby with dark hair.  Since that moment, Will's little head has always been my favorite part of him.  It's just so perfect.

But yes, on the inside of Will's head, there is bleeding, seizure activity, and not-so-good things happening.

And then it hit us like a ton of bricks a couple of nights ago.  We had named our baby William.  Helmet, protection.  Of all the things that Will needed right now, he needed a helmet to protect his little head.  When we visited Will in the NICU the day before last, he was even wearing a helmet of sorts, to hold on all the electrodes for his tests.  

We will continue to pray for Will to protect Truth, but even more, we are rejoicing, knowing that even before he was born, the Lord strapped on His Helmet of Salvation over Will's head.  I believe the Lord has written the word "Salvation" over his head, that He sings songs of salvation over him - hour after hour in that little NICU room.

The enemy had/has plans for Will's (and our family's) demise, but the enemy's arrows can't penetrate the Armor of God.  Will's helmet is too strong, too True, and too supernatural.  

For as much as we battle hopelessness, our hearts are ever encouraged, knowing the Lord's protection is already a banner over our Will.  

Sometimes, I ask the Lord for seemingly silly things.  In these last couple of days, I have been asking God to show me what Will's helmet looks like.  Because, friends, I am not talking about a metaphorical and symbolic sort of helmet, I am believing Willreally has a supernatural helmet on that I just haven't been able to see yet.  It might be silly, but I am hoping God shows me Will's helmet, just for fun, and just for encouragement.  

Right now, I imagine it is shiny - more brilliant than I have seen before, forged from strong supernatural materials, and has the word "salvation" written over the front.  At the top, there's a big, red, plume symbolizing the blood of Jesus covering his life.  On the back, there's an emblem symbolizing the Lord's Army.  And every, single firey dart that comes against it from the enemy harmlessly "pings" off the sides.  Praise the Lord!

Our Caring Bridge site is here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/deyounges


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Bearing Each Other's Burdens

For more background info, visit our Caring Bridge site here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/deyounges

This is the first time we've been able to sit for a while and attempt to update you all.  Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.  To say you all have been a huge blessing to us would be a ridiculous understatement...  

We are learning new depths of the verse in Galatians about "bearing each other's burdens".  Even though are hearts are grieving like they've never grieved before, we are finding a lot of comfort in the Body of Christ - all of you - who are praying, volunteering to help in your own ways, sending encouraging texts, etc.  We are not journeying this road alone - that much is evident.  

We are incredibly thankful for the army of prayer warriors the Lord has raised up on behalf of our little Will.  So many of you are joining us in persistently asking, seeking, knocking, and warring for him with the heavens.  

With so many of you, we might not hang out often, we might not know you super well, or have had lunch with you lately, but there is a deep, deep, deep sort of unity that comes when we all join together in crying out for the same thing, and in fighting for the same thing in this "battlefield."  Though we might not be best friends with all of you, know that we are blessed to fight this good fight alongside you.

As of right now, we have no "new" news.  Will is sedated and stable in the NICU, we are staying in the Sioux Falls Ronald McDonald House (who knew I'd ever be thankful for McDonald's!), and we are trying to catch up on some sleep.  Things have been a whirlwind to say the least, and we are struggling to stay on top of all the doctors, check ups, visits...not to mention pumping, eating, sleeping and remembering to take a shower every once in a while.

We are anxiously awaiting test results that will be coming in tomorrow and early next week.  Waiting is so tough...  

I wish I had time to list all the miracles that have happened in this journey already.  MIRACLES.  Seriously.  In the midst of the darkest storm we've weathered, we have been extremely amazed at thegoodness of God and His steadfast love towards us.  We have never seen his goodness so, SO evidently.  I hope I can write more soon so you can add these praises to your prayers.  

Please keep praying.  We are so filled with peace and hope, yet our hearts are hurting so badly.  I hate that we were discharged from the hospital today without Will.  I am so jealous of all the moms that got to leave with their baby carriers full.  I hate that I can't snuggle with him and show him his nursery and change his diaper and just be his mom tonight.  Yet, I know the Lord's plans for him and our family are GOOD.  Just please keep praying.  

We are looking forward to the Lord continuing to receive glory and fame through this journey.  All the plans the enemy have meant for our demise will be restored and turned around for good in the Lord.  Thanks for "bearing our burdens" as we continue to trust in Him!
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kids' Infographic Wall Art




It seems that "infographics" are all the rage.  Not sure what an infographic is?  Wikipedia would be happy to explain HERE.  In addition to Wikipedia's information, I would like to add that infographics are cute, clean, modern and a super fun way to display some interesting stats.

I can't wait to design some more of these for some cute kids.  Order your own HERE in my Etsy Shop!  Keep in mind, these are totally customizable.  I will insert YOUR state, or YOUR baby's name meaning, etc.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

We're Planning a Hippie Home Birth




Our baby should be coming any day!  We are so excited.  

Yes, we are planning a home birth.  Yes, we know we are not so "normal".  Yes, we laugh about how tree-hugging and granola we are - we don't take ourselves too seriously.  And yes, we've seen many raised eyebrows and stunned looks in explaining our plans to friends, family and others.

I know many of you are curious, so here's where I go public about some of our reasoning and processing...  However, I do have a couple of prefaces I would like to share first.

1. This decision was made after lots and lots and lots of prayers, conversations with wise people, reading, researching, etc.  We have been thorough in our processing, and we took the decision very, very seriously.

2. We are not fundamentally against hospitals, doctors or modern medicine.  Our choice to plan a home birth is a personal preference.  If complications arise before, during, or after labor, we will be willing and very happy to go to the hospital and take advantage of all it offers.  Keep in mind that we are planning a home birth and we are hoping all goes well.  That's Plan A!  If things come up and we need to resort to Plan B or C, we will be flexible and trust our midwives' and doctors' advice.

3. While there is definitely an appropriate time and a place for healthy debate on this topic, days/hours before my labor is not the time, and this blog is not the place.  My purpose in this blog post is to share our personal experience and conviction, and quite honestly, I'm not in the mood to be discouraged by nay-sayers this close to my personal labor and delivery.  If you have questions, I'd love to answer them, but let's keep the comments respectful and uplifting.  I could use the encouragement!

There.  I feel better.  On to the more important things.  This, in a really small nutshell, is why we chose to plan a home birth.

1. Like I mentioned earlier, we are not against hospitals, but we are usually admitted to hospitals when there is an emergency, we are sick, when we are hoping for a certain procedure, or when we really need medicines.  In contrast, we believe that birthing a baby is an extremely healthy and natural occurance, that, in healthy and low-risk circumstances, does not require complicated procedures or drugs or intervention.

2. I've never given birth before, but from what I've heard and read, being able to relax and focus in labor can make or break your experience.  I am the most relaxed and feel the most comfortable in my own home.  I like my own bedroom, my own bathroom, my own lighting, familiar textures, sights and smells.  You might call me a bit of a homebody.  When I start feeling contractions, or when my water breaks, I will be right where I need to be without needing to pack or go anywhere.  My doors will be locked, the shades will be drawn, and no one but Mark, myself, and our two midwives will be inside our home.  We will just settle in and be cozy for as long as it takes.

3.  As you know, we are kind of "granola" people.  We err on the side of being a little hippie, a little weird, and pretty natural.  There are several standard procedures, normal practices, immunizations, and just "ways of doing things" in hospital births that we respectfully disagree with and/or just do not prefer.  Though we know we probably wouldn't be absolutely forced to do or accept certain things in a hospital, I really don't want to have to feel "on guard" or like I need to be vigilant in asking questions or playing defense while I am in labor.  At home, I will be resting with confidence.  I will be uninhibited and uninterrupted.  My labor will be on my terms and my body's natural timing.

4. Home births can be professional, and a lot less weird or dangerous than many might assume.  Our midwives are certified and licensed, have been through extensive training and school, and they both have years and years and years of experience - at hospitals and in homes.  Heck, they are even covered by most insurances.  They both have delivered thousands of babies.  They bring heart monitors, birth pools, oxygen, emergency drugs, and medical supplies - everything that would be in a regular birthing room.  If complications arise, they will be ready and willing to call the hospital, have them prep for emergency procedures, and get me to the ER...which happens to be less than three minutes away from our home.  In the time a regular hospitalized patient would be able to travel down the hall, and in the time a regular hospital ER team could assemble and prep for a procedure, we would be ready and in the facility as well.

5.  We know that many of us live out of our own experiences.  Since many of us have only heard of (or have experienced) hospitalized births, those are the only sorts of births that we feel "safe" about or can even fathom.  The unknown can be scary.  Totally understandable.  At first, Mark and I strayed away from the idea of a home birth because we were too scared to consider anything else.  Later, we were convicted.  We didn't want to make our decisions out of a place of fear, but out of a place of trust, faith and wisdom.  We support whatever decision others make, but for us, the more we learned, the more we researched, the more we prayed, and the more we started living into a place of more trust...well, the more we felt comfortable and at peace in choosing to have our baby at home.

Golly, I could ramble on and on about these sorts of things - they are just so close and relevant to us right now.  But alas, your eyes hurt and you are sick of reading.  For those of you who are still curious, you can view my birth plan HERE.  Keep in mind, I wrote the birth plan in case we need to end up in the hospital.  Since we hope to be at home, there's really no need for a birth plan, since we've already talked to our midwives about all of these things.

To those of you who still think we're crazy - that's okay!  We know this is just a personal choice and we don't take ourselves too seriously.  We laugh a lot about how hippie we are!  To those of you who are scared for us, don't worry.  We have a hospital bag packed and ready to go - just in case.  We hope to deliver at home, but if something happens, we will make sure and get to the hospital quick-like.  And, let's be honest, terrible things have happened in hospitals AND in homes, so join with us in praying for a safe and healthy delivery either way!
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Friday, April 12, 2013

On Being "Overdue"...

Due dates are such silly things.

I DO understand that it is helpful to have a vague idea of when a new little bundle will be arriving.  I mean, it's nice to have some supplies on hand and some preparations in place.  Yes, I understand.  I am not opposing doctors and midwives and their super-smart calculations.

However, I have been noticing how much due dates seem to mess with pregnant ladies' minds...

Due dates seem to play into our ridiculous notion of being in control.  We like to feel like we're in the driver's seat, like we're in charge.  In anticipating a due date, we plan and organize and prepare - in hopes of being independent, and totally "put together."  The silliness in all of this is that we are not in control, as much as we'd like to think it, we are not in the driver's seat.  We are not in charge.  The older I get, the more I am learning that I am not independent and I will never be put together, either.

So, yes, the baby and I are technically "overdue".  He did not arrive per my Google calendar appointment.

But here's the thing...  My blood pressure is low, his heartbeat is perfect, we are both doing just great.  So I hesitate...no, I hate...calling my little buddy "overdue".  "Overdue" comes with connotations of being late, untimely, or delinquent in some way.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Our little boy is not overdue.  He will come at the right time.  We are trying to wait patiently, with lots of trust and faith.   The waiting is an exercise in trust and faith.  Faith to believe that the Lord's timing is absolutely perfect, trust in knowing His plans for my baby and I are good.  Faith to believe that my present anxiousness and suffering uncomfortable-ness is temporary and worth it.  Trust in knowing that the Lord's control and charge of my life is so much better than my own.

And heck, if can't let go of control, being in charge, and being put together and meticulously scheduled now, what in the world is my life going to be like when kids really do enter the picture...in all of their glorious messiness and spontaneity?  Lord, help me.

PS - Did I mention we're planning a home birth?  Like, not in a hospital?  I can feel eyebrows raising...  More on this later. :)
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Monday, April 8, 2013

New Design Work!

Wowza.  I've been so busy with design work lately!  Thanks, friends, for your business and for all the fun projects!

An entire family's name meaning prints...

Here's a logo and business card for a local handyman...


A new blog header for one of my besties...



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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Single Ladies: On Relationship Books


Dear Single Ladies,

Be cautious about dating and relationship books.  There is no formula to finding Mr. Right or to stewarding your singleness perfectly.  Go ahead and "kiss dating goodbye" OR "give dating a chance", but don't put all of your hope in these approaches.  Remember that for each author, they are sharing out of their own experience about what worked for them...once.  There are a lot of other experiences that God orchestrates that are much more traditional, controversial, miraculous and everything in between.  Who knows what He has in store for you!  It may not be something you expect!  There is no replacement for prayer, discernment, wise counsel, accountability and waiting on the Lord...and trusting Him in the messiness of it all.

Much Love,
Married Lady Who Wish She Would Have Learned These Things Earlier in Her Single Lady Years

PS - I will spare you the nasty details regarding how, in my desperately single twenties, I threw all of the dating and courting and relationship books that I owned in a nearby dumpster.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baby Dropping Diagram

Mark looked at my stomach this weekend and thought the baby had dropped.  I wasn't convinced, so he drew a picture of my torso's profile on our chalkboard.  You will notice the arrows pointing at the bulk of the bump to illustrate his point.

I will let you all be the judge of the baby droppage as you view Exhibit A:


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