We’ve continued to see the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives this past week. We are praying and preparing for the conference in Perryton, Texas next weekend. Nathan and Melanie are planning on going with us as well.
This week, we kept busy with normal life, school, and house projects. A big corner was turned: interior painting has begun! Joseph and John have been finishing up mudding. We still have much house work ahead of us, but it’s refreshing to see color on the walls.
I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by thanking so many of you for your faithful prayers on our behalf. Melanie and I have been encouraged and challenged by your faithfulness. Encouraged that we are so graciously remembered before our Father’s throne; challenged as we seek to be faithful in lifting up others we know of with needs.
The biggest news we have on Baby Maxwell’s progress is related to a recent Dr’s appointment. Due to the challenges with Susannah, we were encouraged to have a Level 2 ultra-sound at 18-20 weeks. This happened about a week ago. Let me digress briefly into some information on a Level 2 in case readers aren’t familiar with this. We had a number of Level 2 ultra-sounds (L2 US) with Susannah. An L2 US uses regular US equipment, but the technician spends more time measuring different aspects of the baby, looking at organs, and checking things on the child you didn’t know needed to be checked. A L2 US is also differentiated from a standard one in that a specialist, in our case, a peri-natalogist, reviews the scan pictures and will even operate the US machine himself/herself to check things. A L2 US, last pregnancy, is what found the stomach issue in Susannah. What is grieving to us, is that though they are looking at all things related to the baby, it would be safe to rename the L2 US a “Down Syndrome Screen” as many of the measurements and things they look for are then correlated to Downs markers. These markers are of uncertain accuracy – many children with them don’t have Downs and vice versa. I can only image how many children are matched up against Down’s markers, possibly followed with more testing, and then their lives taken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome#Ethical_Issues). We are committed to loving, raising, and caring for any child God gives us, being special to us regardless of whether others apply the same label.
We would have liked to avoid the entire scan. But not knowing whether this child would need special care later on, we felt it was in his/her best interest to have it done. That would allow us to arrange the care he/she needed ahead of time instead of being in reactionary mode. We were prepared to have all kinds of bad news given to us.
Back to the appointment, we praise the Lord that neither the US technician nor the doctor were able to find anything that concerned them regarding what they saw. Everything looked great they said. This was a huge relief to Melanie and I. We couldn’t believe that they found nothing of concern. This obviously doesn’t mean there will not be challenges later on, but it does allow us to stay out of the “high-risk” category and select our doctor/hospital – something we’re now praying about.
The other big news is that Melanie is feeling baby move.
Thank you for your continued prayers for us as we journey through this pregnancy. We’re excited to be approaching the half-way point. Nathan
Last Thursday was a rainy, cool day in Yuba City. We had a quiet day at the hotel, catching up on computer things, and the children worked on school. That evening, as we girls were setting up the book tables, a young boy offered to help. He had a sweet spirit, and he told me about a business he has selling candy bars. We were amazed to hear about his diligence and industry, but then what impressed us was when we heard what he did with the money he earned: he gives it to the poor! A lady provided a dinner for us: complete with tri-tip marinated meat. This was only the second time we’ve had this meat, and it’s the most unbelievable tender, juicy meat. Thank you for this special treat :-).
Friday morning we drove through stiff winds, but we made it to Livermore safely. Cornerstone Fellowship graciously let us use their facilities, and the rooms they gave us worked out extremely well. Meals were provided Friday night and Saturdayâ€”we are grateful for the wonderful food!
Many families we talked to had driven several hours to be able to come. We are grateful for their extra investment of time. Friday night’s music session for the most part went smoothly, although we had a few minor things, like the dobro being knocked off it’s stand. It wasn’t even noticed by the person starting the next song, so things continued :-).
Since there are so many of us, we have chances to talk to quite a few of the families throughout the weekend. After the conference, we love to sit around and share about the different people we talked to and what they told us regarding their lives and what the Lord Jesus is doing. One very special highlight was meeting a family who started a nursing home church last year. We were thrilled to chat with them, as brief as it was, and to meet another family who had started such a ministry.
(Mom giving the Loving Your Husband session Saturday afternoon.)
We will be posting some more thoughts on the trip later, but we wanted to give you a weekend report!
The little ones that come to the conference are such a delight. Here’s a cute little girl playing on the floor near her mom.
Our family was really looking forward to visiting Carlsbad Caverns and seeing the wonder of God’s handiwork. That is why there was some disappointment when Uriah was “broken,” and we would not be able to stop at the Caverns on our way to Tucson.
Oh, but God’s handiwork is not limited to old, cold stone, and it is best observed in the lives of His children. We simply exchanged one opportunity to praise God for another. Late in the morning, it became obvious that the part we needed was simply not available in Carlsbad and to overnight a part in would mean we would be late for our Tucson conference.. We had been to every parts store and machinist in Carlsbad and there were no local options. Without God clearly intervening, we were stuck.
I have to admit, in my flesh I really prefer to be “in control” and have no problems. However, if difficulties mean my children (and their father) grow to a deeper level of trust in the mighty hand of the Lord God, then that is my desire.
So after all options were exhausted, God began to work. He opened doors to make a fabricated part to get us going and then provided a new factory part in El Paso. I was clearly out of my comfort zone driving Uriah in downtown El Paso rush hour traffic as we tried to find the coach lines that was going to sell us a new part. We even had the opportunity to meet new friends and share Christ’s love with them.
Serving a risen Lord sure beats a stale, dead religion any day even though it will mean we are out of our comfort zone.
“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
In Christ Jesus, Steve for everyone
Downtown El Paso.
Joseph, with a bus mechanic, where we were able to locate the part we needed in El Paso.
And so begins a rather popular Christmas song. As I am in different businesses and hear all the “secular” songs about being so happy and what a wonderful time of year it is I realize that not everyone has those feelings. My route home often includes passing a funeral home, they had a full parking lot tonight. A friend of ours recently delivered a child with a fatal birth defect – she lived just over an hour. Melanie and I look at our approaching times of Christmas celebration and are keenly aware Susannah isn’t with us. For those grieving a loss or struggling in other areas, it doesn’t mean Christmas can’t be celebrated. Christmas isn’t about how we feel. Christmas is about remembering the plan God set in motion for us. Yes, this plan didn’t begin at Christ’s birth, but that was when it became so real to mankind. Without all the “happy” feelings and distractions, we have the chance to celebrate in a genuine, heart-felt way. We can come before God and be real, sharing both our hurting hearts and gratefulness for His love expressed. I recently read in John how the Israelites would gather in Jerusalem for the feasts; they would come together and worship. This worship probably included song and praise, but I also think it included times of quietness and reflection. Hannah’s heart-felt request for a child came during a trip to the tabernacle to worship. (1 Sam. 1:3 & 1:11)
I also wanted to update you on how Melanie and I are doing. . . . The pregnancy seems to be progressing well. We are greatly desiring and praying that we can be “normal” this time and not have to go down the “high-risk” road. We have heard the baby’s heartbeat twice – each time a huge blessing and encouragement. Melanie’s energy level seems to be up just a bit, something we were hoping for in the second trimester.
We recently returned to the hospital where Susannah was delivered and cared for. It was a good, but challenging visit. Standing outside her room in the NICU brought back so many memories. We were able to see two of the nurses that had cared for her as well as her delivery doctor. It wasn’t an easy time but it was good for us. God has faithfully cared for us this past year, we are amazed at how He will send encouragement just when we need it. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, posted a comment to encourage us, mourned and rejoiced with us.
About sixty-five cups of flour later, thirty-four loaves of whole-wheat cinnamon bread were ready for our caroling evening. It has been a yearly tradition to bake some sort of Christmas goodies, and along with a card, we carol to our neighbors. John has our master list of whom we carol to, and we’ve found that Sunday evenings are the best because people tend to be home. Last night was no exception; most of the families were home. We have been blessed with good neighbors and this is a time when we enjoy sharing Christ’s love in song and smiles. Nathan had the idea for candles, so he invented a way (no wax dripping on our gloves!) for us to carry them without them blowing out. However, we did find the cups can catch on fire if not held vertically. They added a very nice “touch” to the singing.
We are also preparing and looking forward to this Sunday evening’s Christmas service in Gypsum, Kansas. We will be sharing through music, testimonies, and a message from Dad. This will be Uriah’s first trip with the whole family.
Although this is a very joyful time for many Christians, I know there are those who are also hurting. I think of a family who lost their newborn baby girl very recently and the ache they must feel. For those of you who have gone through a difficult trial this year, may Jesus comfort your hearts as only He can.
Merry Christmas – our Savior is born!
Joyfully His, Sarah
The first batch of bread was started a little before 11:30 a.m. (after we came home from church), and by 5:30 p.m., the loaves had all been baked and were ready to go!
This is the front of the card we attached to the bread.
This is the inside.
Nathan, Melanie, and baby!
The only two who aren’t in this photo: Dad (who took it!), and Melanie had gone home a little earlier.
Anna – with two of the caroling candles!
The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.