"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain."
~Psalm 127:1

June 29, 2016

Night work

What seems like ages ago, I used to work a night shift of milking.  This was when we were milking 24/7 (milking 24/7 is not normal for a herd our size, but the reason we did it is a long story that I don't know if I will ever tell on my blog.  Too complicated and probably wouldn't be that interesting to read.)

Sometimes, especially on nights like tonight, when I take a walk after dark around the barns in this beautiful weather, I miss those late night milkings.  

I would turn on the worship music and sing as loud as I wanted because no one else was around except the cows, and they really don't care what I sound like when I sing.  It was kind of exhilarating, being up when very few other people were.  Doing something productive and good and seeing how good of a job I could do each time.  And being alone.  That place became my personal worship and prayer room.

Of course, that room no longer exists in our new parlor setup, and I no longer get to milk because I'm taking care of Joshua.  

But I still pull some night shifts of a different kind.  It's hard to feel the same way about these shifts as I felt about milking because they're just so different.  Then, I was caring for 250+ cows, and I could see the progress and outcome of my work very clearly, almost instantly.  Now, I'm caring for 1 little human.  And the progress feels so slow, the amount of work that we've put in feels greater than the "outcome" we've seen so far.  The past 7 months have seemed to crawl by, but at the same time, I'm wondering how my little boy is growing up so fast!

I guess those night shifts were preparing me (a little bit, nothing can ever really prepare you for having a baby) for now, as a reminder that the work I'm doing is still exhilarating.  I'm raising another human being, for crying out loud!!  It's been the most crazy, and scary, and wow-I'm-gonna-need-so-much-jesus-and-coffee-to-make-it-through-this, and hard, and wouldn't-trade-it-for-the-world challenges.

June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day & Joshua's story

So today, along with being Father's Day, was also the child and baby dedication at our church.  There were 8 children being dedicated!!  And Joshua was one of them.  (Only one child was a girl!)  I thought I would share what we shared in front of the church, which is an abbreviated version of Joshua's story of existence and words of encouragement for him from us.


Valerie:  In 2012 (and really since 2009) the farm was going through a difficult financial time.  I was reading through the book of Joshua and I felt the Lord prompting me that the name of our first son was supposed to be Joshua, which means "the Lord saves," because the Lord was going to save us through that hard time (and He still is).  So I wrote that down on a piece of paper and hid it away for later.  (I brought it along to the hospital to show family and friends after he was born.  The date on it was 10/29/2012)
  Then in February of 2015, I had a dream that we had a baby boy on December 1 (I asked the date several times in my dream just to be sure) and we named him Joshua Clay.  **Side note that I forgot to share: If I had been a boy, my parents would have named me Joshua.  I had forgotten all about this until after Joshua was born and my mom reminded me!!**  When we had the doctor's appointment to confirm the pregnancy, they told us our due date was December 11, which is the date of our dating anniversary.

Josiah:  I am the fourth generation in the Garber family with the initials of JCG.  We thought this was a neat tradition that we wanted to carry on.  And Joshua Clay fit that "criteria."
  At our 20 week ultrasound, we found out we were having a baby boy and he was growing well.  The next day Valerie had to go back for some follow-up ultrasound pictures and received the diagnosis that our baby had a 2 vessel umbilical cord, a normal cord has 3 vessels.  **Another thing not shared:  Valerie also had a low lying placenta, which can also lead to more complications.  Thankfully it moved up to its proper place after a few weeks.**  Because of this we were scheduled for a few extra check-ups.

Valerie:  At the first of these extra appointments, I went by myself (Josiah had been able to go to all them so far).

Josiah:  Shortly after Valerie left, I got a phone call from her saying she was headed over to the specialist (Maternal Fetal Medicine or MFM) for an emergency ultrasound because the baby's heart rate was irregular.  I joined Valerie for this appointment and every appointment after this.  **They didn't find anything wrong, his heart rate was normal and continued to be normal at every visit.**  Monthly, then biweekly, then weekly ultrasounds (and non-stress tests) followed and consumed the last 3 months of the pregnancy.  These appointments confirmed Joshua's health, renewed our faith in God and reminded us that "the Lord saves," and an added bonus was that we got to see 3D pictures of him almost every week until he was born.
  We prepared for a December 1 arrival.  And on Monday, November 30, we went in to the hospital in the evening, hoping now was the time.  Joshua Clay was born November 30 at 11:55pm.

***Big side note here:  The midwife asked if we wanted to wait until December 1 to have Joshua because we mentioned the dream, but we decided that we didn't need to specifically wait for that date.  Whenever he came, we would be happy.      So when Joshua was still inside me, he apparently pooped, a lot.  This first poop is called meconium and is black and sticky.  When this happens and the baby is born, they may have meconium in their mouths and can inhale it which is pretty bad for their lungs, as you can imagine.  So they try to take the baby quickly after birth and suck as much meconium out as possible before they can breathe it in.  We later learned that the midwife said this was the worst amount of meconium that she had ever seen and she was a bit worried that it could basically have killed him (this midwife (lovely woman that she is) tends to be very excitable and even maybe a little overdramatic at times, so I'm not sure really how serious it was).  Thinking back on this, I wonder if part of the reason for my dream was a warning?  Maybe Joshua wouldn't have made it if we had waited until December 1?  Either way, God's timing was perfect!***

Valerie:  Joshua, it would have been easy to see all these challenges arising and be discouraged and even fearful that we may never be able to meet you.  But the Lord is consistently faithful.  All your extra check-ups were an assurance of this and of His promise to save you.
  It would have been (and sometimes was) easy to doubt God's timing of your birth, but we kept holding on to that promise of December 1, even when others may have laughed it off as a simple dream.  Through your birth, our faith has been strengthened in the promises and faithfulness of God!

Josiah:  Joshua, may you live a faithful, passionate life; whole-heartedly chasing the dreams the Lord lays on your heart.  Be a strong and courageous mighty warrior, fighting battles for the Lord.
  Joshua 1: 9,  "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."

Happy Father's Day Daddy!!