Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It was the best labor Tonya has ever had. We saw the Lord answer specific prayer after prayer after prayer. It was remarkable. Tonya said Anastasha was the best birthday present she could have hoped for.
Tonya, the kids and I spent several hours with Anastasha after her death. Yesterday was one of the most profoundly painful and profoundly peaceful days we've ever had.
Tonya and I are home. She is recuperating well. She was able to labor completely naturally, which was a blessing and always seems to allow her get better more quickly.
Her funeral will be this coming Saturday, Oct 30st at 11 AM at First Baptist Church in Pittsburg. We invite ANY and ALL who would like to come to attend. We would be honored to have anyone who reads this to come celebrate with us.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, we would be blessed if you would consider making a contribution to Harvesters Reaching the Nations, a nonprofit ministry that serves orphans in Sudan. This is a wonderful work of the Lord that our family is blessed to be a part of. Click here to watch an endorsement by Franklin Graham. To give, you can go to this web page and put Anastasha's name at the bottom where it says "in honor of". The money you give will be used not just to bless us, but to advance God’s kingdom in Sudan by caring for and blessing some very precious children, whom we love.
We love you and thank you for praying for us. More details and pictures to follow in the days ahead.
Monday, October 25, 2010
We were at the same hospital earlier today visiting a friend who just had a C-section. It was really eerie walking past L&D, knowing that just hours from now we will be in that same place and will be experiencing the greatest pain we've ever known. I am thankful that our Savior had similar anguish the night before he was crucified, and yet completely trusted His Father (and was without sin).
The "tomorrow" that we have been dreading/fearing/anticipating has finally come. In just hours, it will be our "today". Pray that we (Tonya, me and the kids) will trust Him to be the Lord of not only tomorrow, but of TODAY. Our hearts are heavy, but there is joy as well. Fear, sadness, excitement, relief..all bundled up together.
Pray that our faith would be increased and that we would not fear. We are expecting our God to show Himself mighty to save for all of us tomorrow. He is a GREAT DADDY and so good to us.
Thank you for loving us and walking this broken road with us. We are so blessed by the Bride of Christ...YOU!
Craig and Tonya
Saturday, October 23, 2010
We are near the end of Tonya's pregnancy, very grateful that we have had as much time as we have been given. If Anastasha does not come on her own (and she might - Tonya has been contracting regularly), then we will induce labor this coming Tuesday, Oct 26th. Not only will that date mark the longest Tonya has carried any of our other children in the womb, but it is also Tonya's birthday. She has said from the beginning that she would be so honored to share that day with her daughter if the Lord would allow.
We trust our great God and Father wholeheartedly as we move forward. We are honored that he called us to be Anastasha’s parents. We find rest in the fact that He is Good no matter what may come. If the Lord chooses for her to return to Him, then we will be celebrating God's goodness with a memorial service next Saturday, Oct 30th at the First Baptist Church here in Pittsburg.
There is not much I haven't said already. If you can believe it, I think I am out of words. But I do want to thank each of you who have journeyed with us, from both near and far. Please pray for us in the coming days, especially on Tuesday.
Tonya wanted me to end with this excerpt from Mary’s song from the Gospel of Luke when she was told she was going to bear Jesus as her son:
And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
Craig and Tonya for the whole darn big crew :)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Throughout this pregnancy, I've been particularly drawn to read about how Jesus himself handled trial and suffering. What did His emotions look like? Was He stoic or emotionless? Did he stand above the emotional roller coaster that many people experience during trials? How did He relate to His Father during these trials? I know He did not sin in these times, so I am particularly curious what the range of His emotions were.
“He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. Mark 14:33-34 (Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane)
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came into this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28 (Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane)
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” John 11:33 (Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus)
In these three accounts, it mentions that Jesus was "troubled". All three times this phrase is translated from the Greek word "tarasso". A Greek dictionary translates this word as "to disturb, disquiet in body or spirit, to make anxious". Hmmm, so our Lord was disturbed and maybe somewhat anxious? It does seem like He was in each account, especially in Gethsemane. What a wonderfully human emotion that the Creator of all things Himself experienced. I am so thankful that we have a God who is not some distant deity, who set the world in motion and then watched history unfold from afar. Instead we have a God who took on our humanity WITH US, and as a result, can empathize with us perfectly in any given trial.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
It is almost blasphemous to compare what we are feeling right now to how our Lord felt in the garden the night before his betrayal and crucifixion. But Tonya and I do most certainly feel "tarasso". It isn't purely fear, because we trust in God's sovereignty. It isn't purely doubt, because we have faith in His goodness and love. And it isn't completely disturbed because we do have peace. But our hearts are heavy for what lies ahead. And so was Jesus’.
It is also important, though, to look at how he responded to his distress in the garden…
"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." Mark 14:36
He acknowledged God’s unlimited power, knowing He can do all things, including deliver Him from that trial. He told God the desire of His own heart. But, and this is the clincher, He willfully submitted His will to that of His loving Father because He trusted that His Abba knew what was best. That pretty much sums up where we are right now –believing…asking…submitting…trusting…
We are learning even more now to let God be our "God of the present moment". Living in "tomorrow" is painful and doesn't come with the grace that "today" does. However, I am so thankful that God, Who sees the end of a thing from its beginning, is already in our tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day...). That gives us peace.
So please pray for us that we won't be consumed about how this will all end. How will we handle her death if it comes? How will the children handle it? Will the funeral honor the Lord? So many unknowns. We don't have the grace for these things because we aren't there yet. But today? Yes, we have the grace for today. With God's help, we can get up today and make it through until "tomorrow" becomes the next "today". Pray that we will live in each moment with Him.
This will almost certainly be the last email I send before Anastasha comes.
Craig and Tonya
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
We've decided on a middle name for our littlest princess. Kalil (Kah-LEEL) is a Hebrew name that means "complete". We've known of and liked this name for over a decade, but it seemed fitting to go with Anastasha (Greek name for "resurrection") since she will be made "complete" at her "resurrection".
Since our last email, we've been blessed to have some special events for our daughter. The first one was an evening of prayer and worship with some friends locally. It was very sweet and intimate time for us to cry out to the Lord for strength and mercy. We were very blessed by the love of the Body of Christ, manifested by our dear friends who attended. Most of the women who attended have lost children themselves, including one who gave birth do a daughter with anencephaly just over one year ago.
The second event we attended was a baby shower last week given by some very special young women. “Living Alternatives” is a home for young women who have a crisis pregnancy and have decided to carry their child instead of having an abortion. These brave young women have followed our story and wanted to do something tangible to bless us, so they invited Tonya and I down to their home near Tyler, TX. We were so blessed to meet them and be allowed to share our story with them. They showered us with gifts, as well as with love and prayer. We were indeed very blessed and so thankful that they each have chosen to give their child a chance at life.
Tonya is 35 weeks pregnant now. We had Caius at 35 weeks and 5 days gestation. So based on our history, we assume Anastasha is coming soon. Tonya has been contracting very regularly, but hasn’t gone into labor yet. Anastasha is doing well, growing and active in the womb. She is head down, engaged and ready to come out and meet us. We both assume she’ll be born within the next 2 weeks.
As it gets closer, it is clearly a bittersweet time. There is increasing joy and excitement in our hearts for the time to meet her and be with her. But there is sadness not knowing how long we’ll have with her. We know that however long it is, whether minutes or years, it won’t seem like long enough.
As our journey nears its pinnacle, we are learning by necessity to trust more in our Heavenly Father. Tonya and I were talking today about the fact that in this life we struggle much LESS with trusting God with the “big” things – life, death, illness, jobs, etc. But where we really struggle is in trusting Him in the “little” details. We are both control freaks (what a mirage that is!), and like to know the details before they happen. Even with Anastasha’s life, we ultimately trust Him in “what” He decides. But the “how” is stressful to us. Will she be born alive? How long will we have? What will we do with the kids during labor? Who will come visit and when? None of these are big details in the grand scheme, but the cumulative effect is to cause us angst. And this is mostly because of our disbelief and lack of trust, which is sin. Would you please pray for us that we would TRUST more?
Some other things that we would really appreciate prayer for in the coming days:
Preparation for our children’s’ hearts for what
For Tonya’s body to be strengthened for labor (and the
contractions to settle down until it is really labor time)
That we can
hold Anastasha in our arms while she is still alive
Many of you might be wondering if we are resolved to the fact that Anastasha will die. I can say truthfully that I have been praying more earnestly for Anastasha’s miraculous healing more in the last 2 weeks then probably I have cumulatively the rest of the pregnancy. Do we believe God CAN heal her? Oh yes, with ALL our heart we do. Do we believe with certainty that He WILL? No, we don’t because we don’t presume to know His specific will and plan in this situation.
We do have HOPE. But our hope is not in an outcome that we desire per se, but our “hope is in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18. As hard as it is to say or to write, our greatest desire is that God would be glorified and magnified in Anastasha’s life by whatever means. That is the prayer we have for all of our children, and we know it is a dangerous prayer.. He may be most glorified by her miraculous healing and long life to show the world His power and mercy. Or He may be most glorified in her short life and death to show the world her great value despite her frailty and brevity. We don’t know, but we do trust Him…deeply.
Thank you for your prayer and support. We need it now more than ever.
Craig and Tonya
On those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
To deliver them from death
And keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
For we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
Even as we put our hope in you.
PS. When Anastasha is born, Tonya and I know that some of you may want to show us love in the form of flowers or gifts. And we are thankful for that. But we would be SO GREATLY BLESSED if you would consider instead making a donation to the orphanage and school that I have visited in Sudan several times. Harvesters Reaching the Nations is an awesome ministry of which I am honored to serve on the Board of Trustees (click here to watch an endorsement by Franklin Graham http). To give, you can go to this web page and put Anastasha's name at the bottom where it says "in honor of". The money you give will be used not just to bless us, but to advance God’s kingdom in Sudan by caring for and blessing some very precious children.