Thursday, February 9, 2017

HOPE.

 Hope.
Hope by its very definition is a feeling of expectation for a certain thing to happen. We exercise hope on daily basis. We hope we get to work on time. We hope our students are not wild crazies all day. We hope we get every lesson taught. We hope to leave work at a decent hour. We hope we get dinner made. And we hope to get in bed early to get enough rest to feel like we can get up again the next day and do it all over again. But how often do we feel the deep and abounding desire for something to happen that it takes over every fiber of our being? I believe that it is this intense hope that Jesus displays as he tirelessly runs after our heart on a daily basis. Could you imagine using that much of your energy hoping for something?
Jordan and I got to do just that. Got to. It has taken me a long time to say it that way. At first, it was a burden. At first, it was a curse or punishment. But, once we parallel it to this hope that Jesus has as he runs after our hearts, it became a blessing. It was hard, but through the fire and refinement, we were able to understand the deep intensity of Jesus’ expectations and hope for our lives. Not every thing I talk about in this post is going to be spiritual, but my intention is that by the end of this you understand that when you hope for something, it is a beautiful connection to the abounding hope that Jesus had and will continue to have for your life.
Jordan and I were the crazy, young couple that had no desire to wait to have children. We wanted to be parents so bad. Our only “checklist” item was to be in a house. We did not want the stress of having a newborn in an apartment with paper-thin walls and floors. We were blessed enough, that we were in a house within our first year of marriage. Like most people, we thought having a baby was like it was in the movies. You wanted a baby, you got a baby. You don’t want a baby? You still get a baby. It’s like Oprah. You get a baby! You get a baby! Everyone gets a baby! Done. End of story. NOT. I took us two years. Now, I know that there are couples that have struggled 5 times as long as we did. So if you are one of these couples, please know that I am not discrediting your journey. I think we can all agree that trying to get pregnant any length of time is one of the most emotionally difficult things you can deal with. Whether it is 3 months or 3 years. For us it was 2. That was our ordained plan. I truly believe there is a purpose for everything the Lord does. And it is not always as a punishment. It took me a LONG time to realize I was not being punished. God was not punishing me for something that I did by not giving me my baby.
I learned to hope far beyond what I thought was possible. Each month I would hope and pray and beg God a little bit more than the last. Through this I also learned how to pray. Not the daisies and roses prayer. “Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for all of the blessings you have given me. I pray for safety and please give me a baby.” No. I learned to Pray. Capital P. I learned to be transparent with God. Why not, right? He already knows what I want. So in true, Sassy Kara fashion. I told him. I begged him. I began to understand the true definition of hope after I learned to do this.
*Rant: Someone once told me, “Don’t get your hopes up. Just relax and it will happen.” FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY! Please never say this to a woman trying to get pregnant. Don’t you think they have tried relaxing? Don’t you think that they should get their hopes up? YES! Get your hopes up! Throw them up to God! Let him know that you trust in his plan and that you have a true expectation that he will give you the desire of your heart. End rant.*
But we kept going. Months and months of heartache, loss, and treatment cycles later (thank God for modern medicine and petri dishes), we got pregnant and this baby was just what God had for us. Our hope for a pregnancy quickly became a hope for a baby. We were scared out of our minds that we would lose this baby, too. But, that beautiful, wonderful hope took over and gave us peace. We went for our first ultrasound with our Reproductive Endocrinologist at 6 weeks. We weren’t supposed to be able to hear a heartbeat, but the Dr. forgot to turn the microphone off. We heard her heartbeat and when I say that I melted like butter, I am not joking. I wept big fat ugly tears. I believe God intended for us to hear that precious heartbeat on purpose. It was in that moment that the hope that we felt became a real and tangible thing to me. In that moment, I understood the intense love and hope that Jesus has for us. Not that I would ever wish this on anyone, but I do truly wish that everyone could have that moment of clarity and understanding that I had.
A few months later we found out that little peanut inside of me was a precious little girl. I now have a special place in my heart for all things pink, ruffley (is that a word?), and sparkly. There was no question about it, HOPE was going to be in our daughter’s name somewhere. Since my middle name is Faith, it was fitting that Hope be hers. So she was named, Parker Hope.
The pregnancy flew by. It was full of intense morning sickness and sciatica. But, around 22 weeks, Parker decided that she didn’t like my sciatic nerve any more and moved off, and so did the morning sickness. Around 32 weeks, we found out that I had preeclampsia. Apparently it is common for women who go through fertility treatments to have this. So they decided they were going to induce me at 37 weeks to keep Parker and myself safe. Once again our hope had to kick in. We had to hope and expect that everything was going to be fine. Parker and I would make it though without any problems at all.
We set the induction date for July 18th because my Grandma’s birthday is July 19th. So we thought it would be sweet if they shared a birthday. HA! Once again, God reminded me who is actually in control. 24 hours of labor, I had not dilated at all. I was a crazy person. Poor Jordan. Full-blown labor pains and contractions with no progress or pain meds. You are telling me I am feeling all of this pain and nothing is happening? Get out of here with that mess. July 19th came and went. That second night they took me off of the Pitocin and monitors so I could eat something. We prayed and hoped that God would give us the strength, and endurance to get us to that precious baby. There it is again. That word Hope.
Our night nurse that night was fantastic. She let me move around and do whatever I needed to do to get through the contractions. By that morning, I was starting to dilate and my water had broken. Then complete joy was taken away by quick fear. In a matter of seconds, they had me flat on the bed, oxygen to my mouth and moving me in all sorts of positions. Parker’s heart was starting to not be able to handle my contractions. I thought to myself, “Sister, I can’t handle them either, so why don’t you come on out of there and let’s get this mess over with.” They slowed the Pitocin and that seemed to help her. They let me continue to labor but closely monitored her with an internal monitor. By 7:30 pm (46 hours after induction) I was 9 cm dilated, but Parker’s heart started showing major concern. It was decelerating with every contraction. She stopped dropping into place and just stayed there. They told Jordan and I we needed to do a c-section and get her out.
I do not think I have ever felt a fear like I felt in that moment. I was more than ready to be done with it, but this was not in the plan! You would think I would learn by now, that my plan does not matter. God could care less what my plan is. I just remember lying there stone-faced, praying. and realizing, I have got to give this up. My hope is in a mighty God. My expectation that everything was going to be okay was not in my hands, but his.
Even still through all of this, God had to chase after me and get me to put my hope in him. Like come one Kara. Haven’t you learned by now?
At 8:22 pm we heard that precious cry that we had longed and prayed to hear for so long. The tears streaming down our faces were nothing short of pure JOY. Our Parker HOPE was here. It was then and only then that I realized the unimaginable joy the Lord feels when he finally gets us to put our hope in him. I am jealous that he gets to feel this joy over and over again. But ya’ll, without having that intense, uninhibited hope, you don’t get that pure, raw joy. I truly believe that if I would have not surrendered my hope to the Lord to allow myself to desire something so deeply, I would not have felt the way I did when Parker arrived.
Now, I am not saying that births are not joyful and that seeing your child for the first time is not special without the struggle we went through. It is beautiful in every single way. But, God needed me to realize the intense hope and expectation he has for my life for me to understand the pure Joy that was present in that operating room that day.
Ya’ll. Jesus has an expectation, a hope for our lives and I truly believe that it is immeasurable. There is no way that you can put into words what he hopes for you, what he expects from you and your life. Even though that comes with a lot of responsibility, it also comes with a lot of honor. Hope. It is a beautiful thing people.