Thursday, July 17, 2014

{Some thoughts on process and faith.} #houstonpregnancy3

Babies sure do have a way of marking seasons and time unlike anything else on this earth!  I have spent a lot of time pondering all the changes that have taken place in my life since becoming a Mommy of 2, as well as this incredible season of growing baby #3... and I am in awe of God's "process."

In the past couple of years there have been some pretty major circumstances and events that have taken place in my life.  To name a few: SO many health issues with my husband and my kids, joining a new church body, my Grandma almost died, a lost relationship with a very close friend, pregnancy #3, breaking my foot while pregnant with #3, and more marital refinement than I can possibly express.  That is seriously just naming a few!  But God has used every. single. one. of these life-events to do some beautiful shaping in my heart. He is so so faithful!


Pregnancy is a very good representation of growth and new life.  But we don't always "see" the growing and developing that The Lord is doing inside of us spiritually quite as clearly as we can see a growing pregnant belly... However, He is ALWAYS at work in our lives.  I love this quote:

"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them." (John Piper)

For right now, at least, I'm pretty aware of 1 of those 3 in my life... And it gets bigger every single day!  Haha!

I believe, waiting for a baby to arrive is one of THE most unique and divine life-moments that we can experience here on this earth.  Because (unless you are scheduling a c-section or induction) you have absolutely ZERO control over the situation.  It does no good at all to worry or stress over it.  You can't possibly plan for it.  Well, you can try but it's not productive.  At ALL.  My body had some very strong consistent contractions about 4 different days in the last 2 weeks - All false alarms that just didn't move into active labor.  For the past 2 weeks we have had our bags packed, ready to drop off the kids and head to Ste. Genevieve hospital (which is an hour drive from our house) at any given moment.  Every day we talk about a new "game plan" for how we would handle the situation if I went into labor based on that particular day.  And this has gotten pretty exhausting.  I told myself that I would be PATIENT and wait for this baby with a joyful heart, but I have finally reached that point of impatience and frustration saying, "OKAY LORD, can we please GET. This. Baby OUT already?!?!"

Now here is the irrational thing about this waiting period for me... As I sit here and type, I am 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant; this baby is HUGE and clearly evident... But can I just be completely honest and say that somehow my brain had convinced me that this baby is NEVER COMING OUT!  How ridiculous is that?!?!  Of course I "know" that I am merely DAYS away from seeing it's sweet face and it WILL COME.  But "knowing" something and "feeling" something are 2 totally different experiences. So many days of false-alarms have sort of squashed my hope and even my joy.  I am feeling so weary.  And this kind of struggle applies to so many areas of faith in our lives... All the more when we can't physically "see" the evidence of the thing we are waiting for as clearly as I can see this baby!  So we ask, "Lord, will ____ ever come?!?!  I mean is it REALLY coming?  Do you hear me?  It's still not happening, are You SURE?"  

So what is it that you can't see?  What are you waiting for?  What are you hoping for?  Is it relational?  Financial?  Is it an addiction that you are in the process of breaking free from?  Are you exhausted in the waiting?  Ask yourself, "What is The Lord's desire for me in this situation?  What "process" is He walking me through as I wait for MY "labor and delivery" to take place for this particular thing in my life?"  Because it WILL come.  Maybe just not the way that YOU want it to come (I'm preaching to myself here, people)!

"Process always stretches us.  It is designed to.  Because we have to change our focus and our desire from just GETTING A RESOLUTION in the situation to a desire to BECOME LIKE JESUS in the situation."
(Graham Cooke)

No matter what, God's number one desire is to change our hearts FIRST before He changes our circumstances... And for us to learn the intimate fellowship that can be experienced with Him in that place, as we wait.  So I am choosing to spend these last few days keeping my eyes gloriously fixed on who GOD is.  It's not about what I WANT to happen or WHEN I want it to happen... but HIS PLAN is what is most important.  I always want to trust Him more and MORE... And I'm thankful for every opportunity that He places in my life to grow in this process.

Help me Lord.  Your strength inside of me produces good fruit.  I can do nothing apart from You.  You are with me.  Your timing is unmatchable... And in the same way that even Jesus doesn't know when He is returning to earth (Mark 13:32), help me to wait patiently and expectantly... Knowing that YOU KNOW when this baby will come.  Thank you, Jesus, that You understand my humanity and you are holding my hand as You wait with a similar sense of expectation, for Your Bride.  There is so much beauty and intimacy in the waiting... And so much JOY waiting on the other side as well.  Amen.     

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Coen's Birth Story

This was my second pregnancy.  We had a beautiful natural delivery with our son, Gideon, at Missouri Baptist Hospital but we were thrilled about the opportunity to have a water-birth this time around at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital.  They are the nearest place to us that offers the option of water birth.  They also have an on-staff midwife, which we LOVED.  Even though it is an hour from our house, we believe that it was totally worth the distance to have the kind of birth we desired.
 
My due date was July 31st.  On Monday, July 30th, I had my 40-week check-up.  I asked my friend, Lindsay, to drive me because I didn’t think I could stand the drive out to Ste. Gen and back without being able to put my feet up.  My feet were horribly swollen most of my pregnancy but especially at the end!  On the way home, Lindsay didn’t notice a speed bump we were about to drive over so we ended up getting a little air-time... We joke now that the speed bump is what sent me into labor because I started having contractions right after that!

Robbie and I both got home around 6:00PM.  I told him I was having contractions.  This felt like awful timing because we were in the middle of a conflict that morning before he left for work that still had not been ironed out.  I remember thinking, “I CANNOT go into labor now because we are not ok and we NEED TO BE OK!”  Well, God is gracious.  He allowed us the entire evening (in the midst of very manageable contractions) to have dinner, relax and work through our conflict.  His timing is so beautiful like that.  Our hearts were united and ready to have our baby!   Around 11:00PM the contracting changed from uncomfortable to painful.  I decided it was definitely time to head to the hospital!  We called our midwife, Kelly Donze, and told her that we were on our way.

One of my big prayers for this labor was that I would not have a miserable drive to the hospital like I did with my son (especially because this drive was much longer).  This time it was a very pleasant experience!  The contractions were about 8 minutes apart the entire drive so I had plenty of time in-between to rest and talk.  There were no cars on the highway.  A full moon was beaming from the dark night sky as I held hands with my husband.  It was kind of romantic.  I felt reassured to see God answering my prayers from the very beginning of my labor… And I was filled with a peace in my heart that spoke to my soul, “All is well.”  

 
Considering the fact that I had an 8.5-hour labor the first time around, we were confident that this labor would be quick as well.  But for some reason, it was NOT!  We rolled into the hospital parking lot at 12:00PM and got checked in.  At this point I had already been in labor for close to 7.5 hours and my contractions were still not picking up.  They continued to stay right around 8-10 minutes apart.  I walked lap after lap around the hospital.  I went up and down stairs.  I LUNGED up the stairs.  I squatted.  I stretched.  I bounced on a labor ball.  I walked some more!  The contractions finally started coming closer together around 2:30AM.  I asked Kelly to check and see where I was at, in hopes that I could get into the tub (you are supposed to wait until around 4-5 cm to get in).  I was about 95% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated.  Sooooo… I walked some more… squatted some more… stretched some more… I was already starting to get very tired and the difficult part of my labor hadn’t even begun yet!

Around 5:00AM I had finally reached 4-5 cm.  It was finally time to get into the tub!  I was SO HAPPY to be in the water because it was a lot easier on my body/muscles to feel so weightless and relaxed.  At 7:30AM, after 2.5 hours of laboring in the tub, I felt like I HAD to be getting close… however my midwife checked me to discover that I was STILL only 4-5 cm dilated.  I had not progressed at all!  Thankfully, I was in the kind of birthing environment where they allowed me the freedom to let my body do what it was going to do instead of trying to step in and speed up my labor.  The baby’s heartbeat was perfect.  My body was not in any kind of distress (other than just feeling completely exhausted). This baby was just taking a very long time to decide to come out!  At this point, my contractions were intense and only about 3 minutes apart so I did not have very long breaks to relax in-between.  I began to fight an intense battle of weariness.


It was in this place of weariness that I was filled with strength as my husband pulled out his phone and began reading Psalm 91 over me.  This was one of those life-moments that I will NEVER FORGET!  Robbie could hardly get the words out through the tears while he read me this Psalm.  Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  The Lord alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him…”  The presence of God filled the room, sustaining my body when it literally felt impossible to keep going.  In that moment I saw a beautiful depiction of what marriage is designed to look like as my husband pointed me towards God’s truth and filled me with faith when I didn’t have enough for myself.  I cried, surrendering everything again to my Savior, who died for me, enduring pain and hell just to be near to me.  I chose to trust Him completely for this delivery to happen in HIS perfect timing, even though I did NOT understand why it was taking forever and ever and ever.

My water was still fully in tact.  My midwife said she thought the baby’s head was posterior and that is why it was taking the baby so long to come down.  The fact that my water had not yet broken most likely was helping the baby to turn... And it was DEFINITELY helping to manage the pain!  I did a lot of squatting and lunging side to side in the water with each contraction, in an effort to get the baby in the right position for delivery.  My back was hurting SO BAD!  Robbie, Kelly and the nurses took turns putting pressure on my back and hips to both alleviate the pain and also to widen up my hips and help get the baby’s head in the right position.  I was so grateful for that help!

At 10:20AM I was 6 cm dilated.  I still had about 4 more to go!  I tried to keep a positive mindset, knowing that it is possible to move to a 10 in a matter of minutes… so I refused to get frustrated.

Well…12:00PM rolled around and I was STILL in the middle of hardcore labor!   I was getting more exhausted with each passing hour.  Suddenly, all my senses heightened and became super sensitive.  Noises were annoying.  Smells made me want to vomit.  I was getting so frustrated.  I hit a low point when I snapped at everyone in the room, telling them to shut up! Then I started to have a crying fit because I felt like a jerk.  Haha!  I just wanted to get this baby out of my body!  


I have never experienced more vulnerability in my entire life then I did at this point in my labor.  I felt completely helpless.  As I look back now and compare this labor with my first I see that the first time was much more about “my” strength and “my” faith.  Of course my husband was undoubtedly a part of it all, but I remember it as more of an experience that brought ME closer to God and deepened MY trust in Him.  However, this labor was so much more about my MARRIAGE.  I needed my husband’s strength… I was relying on HIM to carry me through and breathe faith into me.  I believe that is exactly where God wanted my heart to be.  I felt safe in my husband’s comfort.  I was so excited to share this moment of triumph with him, knowing that we truly did it TOGETHER!  


In the last few hours leading up to delivery, I kept thinking to myself, “I HAVE to be getting close!” but all of that time I felt uncertain if I should be trying to push or not.  Kelly told me that my body would know when it was time to push.  However, with Gideon I never had that “urge to push” so I felt very insecure about what it would feel like.  Since I wasn’t sure, Kelly checked me one final time and said that it was safe for me to push whenever I was ready!  This was so different than when I had my son, not having anyone at the foot of the bed telling me when I needed to push.  This time I had to trust my body and decide on my own when it was time.  Around 3:30PM, I asked Robbie to join me in the tub to help me deliver our baby.


I turned my body facing my husband with my head burrowed into his chest.  I tried to focus on his embrace instead of the pain. I was in so much pain and wanted it to be over so bad, but I still wasn’t sure that it was quite time for me to push.  Then one of the nurses put her hand on the small of my back and said, “Baby, I command you to come out in the name of Jesus.”  She should have said that a few hours earlier because, at that very moment, my water broke!  It felt like a water balloon busted underneath me.  “My water just broke!”  I said.  Then with the very next contraction I said, “Okay it’s coming, it’s coming!”  Sure enough, “the urge” finally hit me and nothing on earth could have stopped me from pushing this baby out!  
 With 2 quick pushes, our second baby was finally born at 3:42PM (on her due date!)!  I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to deliver in the water. It was AMAZING!

Robbie caught the baby and brought it up in-between us.  I reached down to pick up our baby and held on so tight.  Robbie looked down and said, “I think it’s a Coen Elyse”… He and Kelly looked once more to double check and said, “It’s a GIRL!   Wow.  WHAT A MOMENT!  I remember holding her warm little peaceful body against my chest, outside of my womb, but still connected to me.  There are not many moments in life that can compete with one like this!  My husband and I cried tears of joy, as we drank in the victory...




Coen Elyse Houston was 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches.  Time stopped while I held my daughter.  I was completely CAPTIVATED by her beauty.  She was a perfect end to all of the pain... And I would do it all over again just to hold her in my arms.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In His Grip

Parenthood, as it is meant to be, is an overwhelmingly beautiful parallel of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  I love the intimate little ways that God speaks to me, as I speak to my son.  

Gideon has had stomach problems his entire little life!  So at the beginning of each meal we give him an enzyme to help him digest his food.  It's in capsule form so we break it open and pour out the powder on his first bite of food.  Now this can be quite stressful when we have a hungry boy pulling at our legs with tears running down his face because he can't stand to wait another SECOND to eat!

One day last week, I was breaking open an enzyme but my fingers got wet, which seriously inhibits this process because it causes your fingers to STICK to the capsule... then the powder gets stuck in the capsule as well... and it just takes longer to pour out (ok, like a whole 15 seconds longer, but when you have a screaming boy at your feet 15 seconds seems more like 5 minutes).  Now let me tell you, this intense moment was full of tears, screams, and drama-drama-drama!  So in an attempt to try to calm my son down, I was saying to him, "Gideon, Momma is TRYING.  You have to wait.  I promise I will give you your food!  Calm down, it's coming.  You just need to wait."  And in the very same breath I heard the Holy Spirit speaking straight to ME through the words coming out of my mouth (I am discovering this tends to happen a LOT in parenting).

God began downloading truth to my heart... 

The Lord is ALWAYS at work to accomplish His good and perfect will in our lives.  It may not always happen at exactly the pace we want it to.  We may dramatically cry out to him in an attempt to speed along the process or even just in hopes of getting exactly what we want, but that doesn't change the fact that HE IS STILL AT WORK AND HE WILL ACCOMPLISH HIS WILL!  I had encountered a little kink in the enzyme process (which ended up prolonging Gideon's lunch time by a whole 15 seconds... LOL... Oh, I love my dramatic boy!), but that did not change the fact that I WAS still at work to give my son his food.  The same truth applies with my Heavenly Father!  I believe that there are many times when God is TRYING to work something out in my life... Perhaps He is trying to speak to someone's heart about being a part of the process and maybe they are not listening to Him... Or maybe someone is not praying... Maybe someone is being deliberately disobedient (maybe that someone is even ME)... And maybe He has to finally move on and find someone else or another solution to help Him accomplish His plan.  And this could end up taking some time. We just NEVER KNOW what He is doing behind the scenes of our lives.

Now, I laugh at the fact that 15 seconds could make THAT big of a difference, but in the mind of a toddler it is a VERY big deal!  And I believe that God looks on us with the same kind of perspective that I had for Gideon in this moment.  It seemed silly to me that he was so worked up for his food when I was standing right there ready to give it to him.  What if God is sometimes looking over my situation like this? And maybe I'm too busy crying and whining that I can't even hear Him speak over me saying, "Gina, I AM working.  It may not look exactly like you want it to but I promise that I will accomplish My will.  You have to be patient and wait."  His timing is NOT my timing.  

"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord is NOT slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you... " (2 Peter 3:8)  

Another fun stage we are currently going through at 17 months is the fact that Gideon suddenly HATES his car seat!  He will arch his back in an attempt to keep you from buckling him in.  And then... He cries... And he cries... then cries some more!  We, his parents, know that he is safe in this seat and that we are taking him somewhere for a purpose.  However he doesn't understand WHY he has to stay in this seat for an extended period of time. So there is this precious moment that happens when his Daddy reaches back and rubs his little head. Gideon grabs his hands.  And he calms down.  He knows that even though he is stuck in this seat, unsure of where he is headed, he can hold on to his Daddy's hand and trust that he is safe.  



We are called to have this kind of blind trust in our Heavenly Father... To reach up and take His hand in the middle of frustration and uncertainty... in the middle of the unknown... and to smile as we rest in this place.  Sometimes I don't understand why God has placed me in a certain uncomfortable situation.  I DO know that He is always at work.  I DON'T always know how long I will have to remain there or even why I am there.  But I trust that my Daddy knows the perfect timing to lift me out.  And, in the meantime, I can rest in the comfort of His presence.

He is always reaching down to hold me tightly in His grip. 



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Come Messy.

I am 7 1/2 months pregnant.  On top of that reality, I have a vibrant 17 month old to lovingly chase after each day.  Needless to say by 8:00PM, once Gideon is asleep, the day is over for this Momma.  The couch is suddenly my best friend.  Ok, who am I kidding, the bed is my best friend!

But if you know me at all you know that I am a bit of a neat-freak!  At the end of each day I like to do a quick once-over before bed and get everything in working order.  I finish up the dirty dishes, put away the laundry, clear off the bottomless pit that is the kitchen table, etc.  That way I am able to start the next day with a clean clutter-free house and it makes me quite happy.  Well, last night, not only did my daily to-do list remain only half accomplished, but every corner of my house was also in exceptional disarray.  Since this pregnant Momma was left with zero steam to make the magic happen, the disaster remained.  And I went to bed.

This morning at 5:30AM, I was wide awake and ready to take on the day (I am a morning person, what can I say?!?).  Now understand this.  I always strive to put Jesus FIRST in my day.  I'm not saying that it always ends up happening that way, but it is always my goal and my heart's desire.  So I sat down at the kitchen table and grabbed my Bible.  And then, of course, my son starts to scream (he is the lightest sleeper on the earth and wakes up if he hears a tiny creak in the floor).  So now I am (1) frustrated with the fact that my son is awake at 5:45AM screaming to get out of his bed and (2) I am ALSO completely distracted by the chaos and disorder of my house!  The mound of crusted dishes on the counter are calling out my name... The toys (and random items that my son "thinks" are toys) scattered about the house are suddenly highlighted in my brain... The 6 Target bags from my errands yesterday are begging to be unloaded and put away.  So I think to myself, I will be able to concentrate more on Jesus when my son finally decides to go back to sleep and when the house is sparkling clean... Surely, THEN I will be able to quiet my mind and be still with Him.

I get up and begin to tackle the house... The toys... The dishes... The MESS!  After 45 minutes, my son (thankfully) has fallen back to sleep and my house is beaming with order.  So I sit down and I begin to look at my to-do list, scheming over the order of operation and the probability of fitting it ALL into one day.  AGAIN, I wander off track to something other than sitting down to be with God.  Thankfully (by grace alone) it is only 6:45 and I still have some time left in the morning (since I got up so stinkin' early) so I pick up my Bible, along with the book I am reading, "A Praying Life," and I begin to read.

The chapter is called "Become Like Little Children."  As I read I soon discover that it is talking about coming to Jesus just as we are...

"The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with a wandering mind.  Come messy."  - Paul E. Miller

My eyes welled up with tears.

This message was exactly what I needed.  I had spent the entire morning busy and cleaning up the mess of life.  And I realized that all the while, my Heavenly Father just wanted me to come to Him FIRST.  In all the mess.  In the middle of all the chaos and unfinished business of my life.  Just as I am.  Just as my world existed in that moment - Even if that was with a screaming child in the background, a disaster of a house surrounding me or a to-do list consuming my brain.  Even if I am insanely distracted by my circumstances.  He just wants me to come.  I don't even have to have the Bible or a deep book to read.  I can just come and sit in His lap.  Even with all of my wandering thoughts.  I can just close my eyes and breath in His comfort.  Soak in His embracing presence.  Even if only for a moment (sometimes moments are all we have).  He just wants me to COME... to tell Him that I love Him... that I need Him... that I'm frustrated... that I'm overwhelmed.  He wants me to welcome Him into every messy moment of my day.  Most of all, He longs for me to ENJOY Him in the midst of the messiness.

This is something that I am working on.  I'm trying to find the delicate balance between maintaining order in my home (and my heart), while at the same time not missing out on the eternal things that my eyes "cannot see" along the way.  I become so easily overwhelmed with all the to-do's of life and the short hours that I have to accomplish them.  On top of it all, I worry that I am not praying "enough" or as "effectively" as I should be.  But the reality is that my prayer life will NEVER be perfect.  It was never meant to be.  Prayer is simply communication with God.  My Father just wants me to talk to Him about what is going on in my life and allow Him to walk with me.  He wants to be there when I stumble (and I WILL stumble), not to condem me but to encourage me and love me through it.  And even to LAUGH with me in the middle of my ridiculous problems.  He wants my straight-forward honesty.  Nothing hidden.  My frustration, weariness, confusion and strife are all instruments that God uses to draw me closer to Him.  And for that, I can rejoice in the mess.  


Jesus, help me to always look to You first... messy... and help me hand it all over to YOU!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking a walk in the light...


     I went on a walk this weekend with my family... As I was breathing in the fresh air and gazing ahead at the trail, I experienced a moment of breakthrough. 

     For the past 2 years, one of my greatest life challenges has been in figuring out how to do relationship with God (as a wife and a mom) in a way that comes close to comparing to the intimacy I had with Him as a single person.  On the one hand, I have a husband that I long to draw close to God WITH, not separately.  And what exactly is that suppose to look like?  Then on the other hand, I don't have a fraction of the time that I used to have to spend with God.   

    I am forever grateful that God has brought me to this new season, but adjusting to life as a Wife and a Mom has been an extremely challenging journey!  And somewhere along the way, I think I just began to depend too much on my own strength.  I grew weary.  Without even realizing it, I slowly began living in my own strength instead of resting in Him in my place of weakness.  I long to rely on God like I once did, in a way that literally sets my heart on fire!  

     So this question of "how" has remained my heart cry. 

     And now suddenly, I have felt God awakening my heart to a new season with Him.  He is showing me that relationship with Him is never going to look exactly like it once did, but that it can still be incredibly beautiful and intimate.  He is reminding me to SEEK HIM in every single moment... And to meditate on the fact that He is ALWAYS seeking after me.  "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." (Psalm 23:6)

     So on our walk, I saw this trail ahead of me, with a beam of light bursting down at the end.  And God spoke to me in this moment saying, "You have been on a detour these past 2 years, trying to get back to a place of intimate connection with me... Now you are finally arriving back to the place where my light shines BRIGHTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN YOUR LIFE.  Please take my hand.  And let's go on a entirely new walk together.  Welcome back."  
   

    I feel like my spirit has come back to life again... And, my soul is rejoicing in the light!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Life is a gift from God.

We go to church with a couple who are also expecting a baby, one day away from our due date.  She and I are both 25 weeks pregnant right now.  Sadly, their sweet baby girl's heart is growing too fast for her body, so her lungs do not have enough room to grow and develop.  This is very dangerous and if they don't take her early the baby may not survive.  However, if they do take the baby early she doesn't have a very high change of survival either.  So they are injecting the baby's lungs with steroids to try to get them to grow in the next couple of days before they deliver.  My heart is in angst, as I look down at my belly, and think about my mommy-friend who is walking out this trial.  I don't understand why we have a healthy growing baby, while this precious baby is fighting for her life.  We know and love the same God... He is the Creator of both of these babies.  I know that He hears both of our prayers!  It seems that the longer I know God, the MORE I discover that there is to know about God... But while I don't always understand His ways, I completely believe and trust that HE IS STILL IN CONTROL!  His faithfulness does not escape one moment of our lives.

Father God, please perform a miracle in this baby girl.  May the story of her life be a living testimony to the name and power of Jesus... Raise her body up in health and strength... Work behind the scenes (beyond the understanding and comprehension of our human minds) to bring about a beautiful story of grace and beauty in the midst of all this confusion and grief.  I ask for a comfort to wash over these precious parents and for their marriage to be bound with a unity that most couples will never come close to experiencing in a lifetime.  Bring about GOOD from all of this, Jesus.  Your Word promises this (Romans 8:28).  In Your name, Amen.

Meanwhile, I stand amazed (and with a sobered perspective) at the life that God has graciously blessed my husband and I with in our son, Gideon Luke... as well as the life that is growing inside my belly.  There is no greater gift than LIFE.  I will seek to live in the fear and wonder of this gift.  And for all the unanswered questions, I trust that no matter what happens, God's heart for us is always good!  His plans for us are always perfect.  His desire for us, above all else, is for us to draw close to Him in the midst of all that He gives... AND all that He takes away.  His grace is enough to sustain our hearts, no matter what happens.  Our lives are in His hands.