Friday, October 9, 2015

Larra Iris Hailey: God's Protected Promise

If you didn't know, I'm pregnant.

And in case anyone missed my last Facebook post, IT'S A GIRL!!! And her name is Larra Iris Hailey.

As many know I'm all about name meaning. Ellie's full name is Elianna Jane Hailey. God gave me the name "Eliana" when I was 9 weeks pregnant -- before we even knew she was a girl. It's Hebrew, and it means "My God has answered." Jane is her Grammy's middle name as well, but also, Jane is the feminine of John which means "Jehovah is gracious." (Also Hebrew.)

God had indeed been gracious to me that year by answering so many prayers. For seven years I prayed for God to send me someone to love and who would love me, and finally, in January of 2008, along came Robert. We were married six months later, and after only six weeks of marriage we found out we were expecting.

Marriage and motherhood seemed to elude me. Everyone I knew had fallen in love, married, bought houses and had children from toddlers to teenagers, and yet, here I was still lonely and longing. It may have seemed like a late start to most, but God in his due time sent answers to all the prayers I had prayed for so long. All the blessings I had waited so long for were suddenly upon me. So Ellie is appropriately named, "My gracious God has answered."
My Daddy, Larry Joe Luna, the day after Ellie was born.
"Larra" is to honor my Daddy who is passed. With two R's it looks more like "Larry" so I'm hoping folks will pronounce it correctly. So it is NOT pronounced "Laura;" it's like saying "Larry" only replacing the Y sound with an A sound. Also, Larra means "protection." Something I have prayed over my body since the loss of our second child, and especially since finding out about this pregnancy.

"Iris" is for that sweet baby we lost. If any of you read the blog I posted about that, then you might remember that an iris bulb that had been dead for three years finally bloomed that same weekend. 
(Here is a link to that blog in case you want to catch up ... http://keepingupcarla.blogspot.com/2015/04/hailey-baby-no-2.html).


Iris means "rainbow" and the rainbow was God's sign of His promise and covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flood. 
This baby is God's promise to us; Larra Iris Hailey is God's "protected promise." Since the news of her conception God has been telling me that He will never again let miscarriage visit my body. She will be born healthy and happy, and she will only add health and happiness to our lives. I fully believe that. She is the long awaited promise that Robert, Ellie and I have all needed.


And here's another little nugget of God's gracious goodness ...I lost Hailey Baby No. 2 on April 3, 2015 -- Good Friday and Easter weekend. Larra is due March 26, also Easter weekend. Good Friday 2016 is March 25. On Good Friday of last year I lost a baby, and on Good Friday of this year, it is very likely that I will have a baby! Only God can do that! Robert and I couldn't have made that happen if we tried! Only God can give and take away, or in this case, take away and give.

Job 1:21 says, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." But what that scripture doesn't say, what the automatic beautiful opposite is, is that "The LORD took away and the LORD has given."

And a further little nugget ... Robert and his mom have always had this thing about the number 328. I guess it's like their lucky number. It was part of their address and phone number growing up, and it has also found its way into other of life's circumstances as I understand it. Robert has the number 328 tattooed on his back. Well, it is also highly likely that Larra could come a few days late on March 28 (328). Also not something we could've planned if we tried. So either way, if she comes a day early or a few days late, she will be an on time blessing that only God can give.

I hope as others read this you will see the sovereign hand of God over our family and our Larra, and that you will be just as blessed as I was at the realization of God's timing.

Genesis 9:8-17 ESV"Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

We have seen some dark clouds in recent months, but we have seen the rainbow and we are hanging on to God's promises. If you are in a dark time as well, please remember that
Daddy with my brother, Larry Brandon Luna.
where there are clouds or even rain, there is often a rainbow. In fact, you can't have the rainbow without the clouds! Clouds may be dark, dreary and hard to see through, but remember  that clouds are what make the rainbows all the more beautiful!
Daddy with my niece, Peyton Annabelle Luna

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ellie Update From Riverside

Well, here it is -- the official update on Ellie.

I'll get straight to the good news...

Monday and yesterday were "awesome" days!

After leaving Ellie's teacher two messages last week, I finally heard from her Monday afternoon. We went over just how bad her behavior had been, but she also went on to tell me how awesome Monday was for Ellie. She was a very pleasant and compliant child all day. She never once had to be placed in the hall or in a time out/seclusion room. (Something that had been happening since she started at Riverside Academy two weeks ago.) She did her work all day as asked, interacted well with others and only once did she try to run when forming a line, but was very quickly corrected.

Yesterday, Tuesday, she came home without her folder. Normally when she comes home without it I know to assume she had a bad day, because what has happened is she has intentionally left it at school. She honestly thinks that if I can't read about her behavior then I can't punish her for it. So because of the "folder-hiding," if she comes home without it, I automatically assume she had a bad day and she will receive a consequence.

She asked to watch "Wreck-It-Ralph," (her reward for having a good day), to which I responded, "No. Not without knowing how your day was." (I'm hoping to teach her personal responsibility for her own belongings or at least honesty about her behavior.) About that time I noticed I had a missed call from her school and a voicemail. I paused to listen and turns out it was her teacher calling to tell me that Ellie really did forget her folder and that she in fact had a great day -- did all her work as asked, didn't have to be removed from the classroom or put in that horrible time out room. (My words, not her teachers.) So, with that, "Wreck-It-Ralph" was officially on! :)

Today she had some issues with not wanting to comply during PE, but she started the day well and I'm told she ended it on a good note too. And really, I guess you could say it actually started this Sunday in Children's Church. Before we could get out of the sanctuary to pick her up, people were coming out telling us how "exceptionally good" she had been.

I dunno ... her morning in Sunday School hadn't been great -- at least I don't think so because I was told that she threw crayons at other kids. Upon this news I would've normally taken her straight to the bathroom for a severe tongue lashing, or sometimes, depending on the behavior, a spanking. This time I decided that I was going to handle her differently.

I've been trying to be less harsh lately. I am just so weary of all this! Nothing I do seems to work, but rather only drives a wedge between us. I've tried so many things: taking her toys/privileges away, rewards systems to earn them back, throwing or giving toys away thinking if she knew she couldn't earn them back she would be a little more motivated to behave. I've tried being nice, begging and pleading with her, being stern, yelling at her, spanking her everyday she came home with bad notes. (Of course, I'm not proud of those last two.) Lately I am so disgusted; I feel like I can't even enjoy my child anymore. All I know to do to keep from driving the wedge deeper is to simply give her the cold shoulder and only speak to her unless absolutely necessary. And some days that seems to work; I think it's because her behaviors are attention seeking and her goals attention driven.

So ... Sunday I decided to do things differently. I took her to the bathroom and just asked her questions about her behavior (in a loving but correcting tone):
"Ellie, did you really throw crayons? Please just tell me honestly."
"Yes, but it was only one," she answered.
"Did you really throw it at (a friend)?" I asked.
"No. I didn't mean to. I just threw is because it wasn't the color I wanted." She continues, "I don't know if I hit anybody with it."
"Okay, well from what I understand it sounds like when you threw it you hit (friend) with it. Even if you didn't mean to you need to tell her you're sorry," I explained. "Also, do you think that is a good reason to throw a crayon?"
"No," she answered.
"Do you think there is ever a good time to throw a crayon?"
"No," she replied again.
"Okay, well since you acted so impulsively, Daddy and I won't be stopping to get arrows for your bow." (Archery is hobby we have embarked on in hopes of teaching her to focus, discipline and diligence and how to control her body and thoughts.)

With that I finished up in the restroom and then went out to find our pew. Several minutes later as the children were dismissed to Children's Church, I pulled her close, gave her a hug and kiss, told her I loved her and to please do better in Children's Church or she would "lose something else." Normally I would pull her close and in a low "Mean Mommy" growl threaten her to "be good or else."

I dunno ... I can't tell you what exactly I did or what changed, but from that moment till this she's been a pretty good kid. Not that she isn't already a good kid at heart, but she's actually put effort into showing it.

How bad did Ellie's behavior get?

It was immediately worse this year. As soon as she started at Pegram Elementary she began with intruding into peers' personal space (just talking too close, getting in others' faces, very touchy, etc.), random outbursts during class time (just sporadically yelling out nonsensical things as the teacher is trying to teach) an antic that got worse and more disruptive every day. Other impulsive behaviors like elopement (getting up from her desk and running around the room or running from her class when transitioning from homeroom to lunch, recess, PE, etc.) and refusal to participate with the class during PE, Music, or some days, even lunch.

As we expected, upon her transfer to Riverside, she really ramped up the bad attitude and has been giving her new teachers a real run for their money. As I mentioned earlier, she has been so disruptive in class that they have tried moving her desk outside in the hall. Her teacher told me of an instance last week where Ellie actually started screaming for her (the teacher) to stop hitting her (Ellie) when she was nowhere near her. Mrs. Franck explained to Ellie that there are cameras in the hall that would prove she never touched her, so that was the only instance I know of that Ellie tried that.

But even after being placed in the hall the testing behaviors and disturbances continued, so Ellie was placed in what the school calls a "time out room." Otherwise known as a seclusion room. It's a small room (maybe the size of a janitor's closet) that is completely empty and it is meant to give the student a place to calm down. The teacher will either go in and wait it out with the child or, from what I understand, there is a window in the door that the teacher can observe her through. Well, Ellie got put into the time out room last Wednesday and figured out real quick she didn't like it. What she didn't figure out quick enough was how to stay out of it, because by Friday she was put back in it. She did however figure out how to get taken out of the room: pee on herself! That's right. My sweet yet devious little girl figured out that if she simply peed on herself they had no choice but to pull her out of the room. Good thing we went through the "peeing-on-myself-to-go-home" antic last year, so anticipating that she may try it again I had already sent two changes of clothes to school with her. Plan to send herself home: Sabotaged!

So what am I doing to reinforce good behavior?

Well, again, I am learning that since it's attention Ellie is seeking -- good or bad -- I have to stop giving her the negative reactions. I am learning that when she is bad it is best to just ignore her. I am not saying I don't give her a consequence for her bad behaviors. I do still do that, but further, I now do not speak to her unless absolutely necessary. For example: If she comes home with a bad note, the first thing she loses is technology of any kind (TV, computer, PS3 games, etc.) and on top of that I don't speak to her unless it's to tell her "come eat," "take a bath" or "go to bed." She can't stand it. She would rather have my negative reaction because then it is at least some sort of attention, and in a kids eyes, negative attention is better than no attention.

These last two days when she has come home with good behavior I have given her as much positive attention as I possibly can -- even if I really don't have time to. Monday I played Legos with her for an hour. Tuesday it was an hour of Barbies. I put household chores and making dinner on hold in order to give her what she needs. I am ashamed to say that hasn't always been the case. In the past, I thought I was reinforcing good behavior by giving her toys back, giving her treats or giving her special treatment. Not true. It may have temporarily reinforced good behaviors, but nothing will ever replace what our children truly desire of us, and that is our time and attention.

I hate that it has taken me six years to figure this out, but what can I say? Perfect parenting doesn't exist, and even if it did it doesn't come naturally; it's hard work getting there. The flip side is that at least I am figuring it out early and we are getting the help we need now.

Please just keep praying for us all friends. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

School's Out For Summer!

Welp! She did it! Ellie is a first-grader!



To anyone who actually keeps up with us, so sorry that I haven't blogged since the IEP went into place back in January; as always, life has just kept me very busy.

Maybe now that summer is here I can breathe a little, and then maybe share more often.

The IEP seemed effective at first. She had an initial adjustment period where she came home with bad marks or notes, but not long after the IEP was in place she seemed to level off. But then after spring break, Ellie once again seemed to show her true colors. Her behaviors once again hit a level that was not tolerated by her teachers or peers. Mostly safety issues like pushing and kicking others and hyper-active issues like running around the room during the teacher's teaching time or not staying on her mat during rest time -- things that were causing major distractions for the other students.

So as the story goes, her teachers and I decided to make a change and placed Ellie in the Resource Room full time and flip-flop her IEP. So since she was a student in a general education class with 2 hours of Special Education attention, that meant she would go into spec. ed. full time with 2 hours of reintroduction back into gen. ed.

And again, there was an adjustment period where she bucked the system, but after 2-3 weeks she seemed to gain the hang of it and honestly, seemed to do better in the spec. ed./resource room setting.

The plan is to re-introduce Ellie back to gen. ed. as her behavior improves. Unfortunately, her behavior did not improve enough to make that re-introduction possible before school broke for summer. So next year she will be passed to the first grade, but she will begin the year in the resource room, and upon improvements in her performance, she will eventually go back into a gen. ed. class.

Let's hope and pray we end next year in gen. ed., and that by the time she starts second grade we will have etched out some "normal" behaviors and conduct -- whatever that is. :)

Academically, Ellie is advanced -- I mean smart. She can read -- actually has been reading for a while. I don't know many kindergartners who can read on her level. She has a high IQ and knows more sight words, sounds, numbers and math equations than she is expected to. She brings home A-B report cards. She's a little sponge; she just absorbs information and retains it well.

I think she is just bored with school. I hope she will always be this smart. She's gonna need it for a college scholarship. :)


On an emotional note, she handled the miscarriage rather well. She was very, very excited to be a big sister, but I think it helps, obviously, that I was only 3 months along.

We've always told her that babies come from baby seeds. (Just an easy, G-rated explanation for now that seems to satisfy her curiosity.) When we sat her down and explained that there wasn't a baby in mommy's belly anymore, without batting an eye she told us to "just plant another one." And that was that.

It has made her a little more curious about death, but honestly she showed more emotion when Lady, her Grammy's dog, died.

She does still want to be a big sister, and Robert and I do still want to be parents again, so we will "plant another one" soon. :)

Until then, we plan on taking this summer as it comes and enjoying it. So far, though, it has come with rain and storms. Since her last day of school, today makes a week, it has rained and kept us indoors. Needless to say we are driving each other nuts!

Her daddy has some time off in July, so we may even actually take a vacation this year. Can't wait to blog about that. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of Ellie throwing a fake fit about losing her pet praying mantis. This on her first full day home from school!

Ah the joys of living with little humans! :)

https://www.facebook.com/HeyYaYa/videos/10206370795456128/?l=8901392726273158414

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hailey Baby No. 2

[WARNING: You will need tissue and at least 20-30 minutes to read. Y'all know I post long blogs! ADDITIONAL WARNING TO MALE READERS: I talk about periods in this blog. Hope you can deal with it, because if you can you will be blessed. :) ]

My last blog was Feb. 4 - two days before we found out we were expecting Hailey Baby No. 2. That last post was about the faithfulness of God, and so is this one.


I know so many of you are concerned about my well-being, so I decided that maybe it was time that I open up about the miscarriage.


I also know more people than I can imagine are praying for me, and I genuinely feel those prayers. Please keep them coming. God is healing my body, but it is going to take some time yet to heal my soul. Truly, I know my emotions may never fully recover, and I am at peace with that. I know I will one day be made whole again when I get to meet that precious soul, and that is my comfort.


As many of you already know, I miscarried the baby two weeks ago on April 3 (Good Friday) -- the day I turned 12 weeks, the day I was supposed to be "out of the woods."


It happened in that traumatic way you see played out on TV but think will never happen to you. ...


Ellie and I were home alone; Robert was at work. The bleeding started around 3 a.m. Of course I called my OB's office with the morning, but since the bleeding was minimum and had already tapered off, the NP reassured me that a trip to the ER was most likely not necessary. I had been texting my mama all morning for prayer and to help ease my mind. My step dad had just got in town the night before (earlier than expected as he's an OTR truck driver); my mama must've clued him in because at about 10:30 he pulled into the driveway. He was actually on his way to Clarksville but said he "just felt like he needed to swing by." Within minutes of him pulling up the bleeding came back and with heavy force! Something was definitely wrong! I told him that he needed to take me to the ER, so he rushed me to Centennial.


They were great by the way -- took me back almost immediately. The nurses and techs were so smiling yet so sympathetic. Their experienced faces told me they knew exactly what was happening, and honestly, I did too. How could I not? It was a lot of blood, and the cramping had started. I was just still clinging to the hope that somehow this was normal.


The ER nurse had me strip down and gown-up then immediately began plugging me up to machines. Then she and the hospital registrar started the 111-question process of information-taking before the doctor could come in. Once in, he ordered an ultrasound right away, but it took that tech another agonizing hour or so to finally arrive.


As you sit in quiet worry in these situations you take in the hustle and noise around you. Apparently two other women also in the stages of miscarriage were there that morning. One of them was at least 5 months along! I overheard the diagnosis of "incompetent cervix caused by a short cervix." My heart began to break for her too. As I was realizing what was happening to me and my baby, I began to think of how much worse the situation could be. I was sad yet still holding out hope, but also grateful in the midst of my sorrow that it wasn't what she was going through. (Please pray for this unknown lady friends as she had a tougher day than I.)


Finally! The ultrasound technician rolled her big monitor and equipment around the curtain, and my heart began to beat a little faster. Robert clutched my hand a little tighter. (He had finally made it as well and had been waiting with me for most of that agonizing hour.) She explained that she would not turn up the volume on the monitor nor would she reveal her findings to us but rather to the doctor. She was thorough and methodical as she scanned my belly and clicked away at the keys, making sure not to turn the screen so that Robert nor I could see it. That was either the most deafening quiet I have ever experienced or the loudest clicks of any keyboard I have ever heard. When she was finished she let us know she was stepping out to send the doctor in.


"It looks like what we have is a fetus that stopped developing at 8 weeks. There was no heartbeat present. I'm sorry Mrs. Hailey, but it looks like you are miscarrying." I think I heard the rest of his words, but mentally I was already checking out of the conversation. I think he was answering Robert's questions when I snapped back to reality.


He explained my options -- that I could go home and pass the baby naturally or that I could opt for a D&C procedure to speed up the process, because sometimes it can take several days -- even weeks -- to fully pass. He then excused himself to see what surgeons were on call while Robert and I discussed it. We felt like the D&C was the way to go. If in fact the baby was dead and I was going to pass it I didn't think I could emotionally withstand it. I just couldn't. Some women, unfortunately, do it and that more than once, but I didn't think I had it in me to be that kind of strong.


There is, on the other hand, that tiny little voice of worry (or maybe hope) at the back of your mind that says maybe the doctors are wrong. What if the baby is still alive and I have this procedure done? Won't I then ultimately abort my baby? "Mrs. Hailey, I can assure you of two facts: One, your baby is deceased, and two, you are miscarrying this pregnancy."


Okay. So I had no more questions. Permission was given to treat, papers signed and I was rolled upstairs to a private room and prepped for surgery. Psalm 22:9 promised me that morning that God would safely bring this baby from my womb. :'-)


And looking back, I guess the surgery was the best option for me. Dr. Cothren, the surgeon, explained that I had "a lot of stuff in there" and because of that and my size (I have a small pelvic), that I did a lot of bleeding during and post op. So they kept me a little longer to watch me before sending me home.


"Stuff in there?" Hmm ... My mind goes back to a particularly heavy period I had around November or December. I noted very heavy bleeding at the time, even cramping which is something I am blessed to never do with my periods. Could I possibly have had an early miscarriage then and just never knew I was pregnant? At the time I honestly just thought my periods were changing because I am getting closer to 40. I don't remember ever passing anything either, but I'm wondering now if that might be the "stuff" Dr. Cothren referred to. Well, only on the other side of this life will I ever know the answer to that question. But it does make you wonder.


I can't lie, in the first week after the miscarriage I grieved, yes, but I was so uncomfortable from physical pain and numb from painkillers that my emotions didn't get a chance to catch up to everything that was happening. It wasn't until the following Friday, a full week after the miscarriage, that I feel like it really sank in and I started to make real progress with my grief.


I remember I dropped Ellie off at school and immediately felt like I just couldn't go home. So I drove down to Cleece's Ferry here in West Nashville and I just sat for what seems like hours. It was a quiet place to pray and think; seems like only old men looking to do early fishing or the occasional hobo ever visit the place anymore. I knew it would be a good spot to sit and talk it out with God. So I did.


I began to listen to Kari Jobe's "I Am Not Alone." (https://youtu.be/bfveawSAHJA) My sweet pastor sent it to me through a text message days before, and I had listened to it, but only once -- not really enough to begin the grieving process like I needed to. Sometimes we put off emotions that only music can bring back out, and in the moments that followed that is exactly what this song did!


I have never questioned God is all this; never asked Him "Why?" I trust His sovereignty! I know He cares for me -- LOVES me, and has a plan for me. And I never felt the need to pray and ask Him to heal my body or my heart -- Jesus' death and resurrection say to me that these things are already mine. I know not only that He WILL do these things, but that these things are already done. His word says that Jesus took the stripes for my healing and "it is finished." I don't have to ask for those things because I already have it. But I (we) do have to go through a "go-through" process sometimes in order to get to what is already promised and waiting on the other side.


I was carrying around something that I couldn't give a name to: Grief seems to simple a word. Disappointment? Devastation? Sorrow? Distress? I don't know. I only know that as I began to let myself cry it out, I began to hear sounds coming from me that I have never heard me make in my entire life. Not even when my Daddy died did I make such sounds. Sounds of pain, heartache, mourning ... dare I say travail? I wasn't just crying anymore; I was weeping and lamenting -- literally travailing something in my spirit. I was still pregnant with something, and I had to get it out of me! My abdomen would literally rise and fall with contractions as I began to wail harder and harder, and as I kept weeping I felt those contractions push "stuff" out of me. It felt cleansing. So did the tears. It felt as though that in those moments while I acknowledged my grief and allowed it to serve its purpose in me, that I began the process of laying to rest my baby and all the hopes I had for it.


"Miscarriage." It sounds like such a technical word -- even like you did something wrong to make it happen. But in nearly every case there is nothing that could've been done to stop it. It is an inevitable event, and it is all too common. One in four women is the statistic. And when you know someone who experiences it you don't fully understand the death that it is for them until you go through it yourself. It is very much the death of a child, and in a way the death of hope -- not the fullness of hope or all that hope is, but the death of all the hopes you had for that baby. They have to be laid to rest and you have to find some way of conceiving new hope and new vision for the plan God has for you.


Just beginning the process of faith to see and understand that God still has a plan in all this is hard! But I do still believe that! In fact I have never stopped believing it. I can't say I know or believe that God planned this loss, because I understand that our bodies are just a shell that is subject to the curse of sin. These things just happen and there is no understanding for it on this side of life. But Romans 8:28 has always been my life verse, and in times of loss or struggle I remind myself that God has a reason for allowing it and He will work it out for my greater good.

Hailey Baby No. 2 took me by such sweet surprise! After trying with only negative results for so many months before, I was beginning to think my eggs were getting old! :) Honestly I had hung up the idea of having more children. Maybe just one was best. And then we got an unexpected positive, and we were so ecstatic! All of us -- Robert, Ellie, our families. I knew all about how your chances of miscarriage lessen the further along you get, so in the beginning I was reluctant to get too excited on the outside, but it was too late on the inside! And then when I got to hear that precious heartbeat at my 8 week scan it was finally real to me. It wasn't very long after that scan, though, that the baby stopped developing. We announced at 9 weeks, but little did we know the baby had already died.


That's the thing I'm having the hardest time with. All the well-wishes and congrats were for a baby that was already passed. My belly was still growing though; I was already in maternity and I am sure I felt little flutters. None of that can be medically explained. The body just does what it does. It takes cues from our minds or its other parts, and well, my body took the cue to be pregnant and ran with it. Or did it?


Maybe my body was already cued to miscarry. I still think about that heavy period months ago. What if -- just what if -- that WAS a miscarriage that I never passed? What if Hailey Baby No. 2 was sent to heal my body and knit my heart for the next baby? What if it was sent to "prepare the way" so to speak for the next life that will grow in my womb? I mean, if my body was a toxic environment that only incubated death then surely only death would come from it. But what if -- just what if -- that baby was sent to make my body whole again? What if another preganancy had been unknowingly rotting away and this miscarriage which led to the D&C was meant to clean me out and restore my body? What if I were on the verge of a serious blood infection? It wouldn't be the first time He sent a baby to save my life would it?


It's a thought that I see only confirmed around me when I look at this season of spring. God has always spoken to me through my plants, and He is speaking to me today in the smallest of voices. I'll explain. ...


A few years ago my neighbor gave me an iris bloom, but while I was re-potting it I somehow broke the stalk on the plant's only flower. For two springs I have nurtured that plant with sunlight and water to no avail; not once have I seen the slightest chance for a bloom. I thought that maybe the bulb was damaged and that it will never bloom again. No matter. I keep watering it anyway. It's what I do. When spring 2015 showed up I just kept watering away. Until the miscarriage. Then what seems like 2 weeks worth of rain moved in and I haven't been able to tend to my flowers as usual.

Well yesterday, I took some time to check on the many things I have planted, and I finally saw something I had been overlooking; something that was developing in all that rain and storms. That once hopeless iris plant is now blooming! It has three stalks and each stalk has a bud! The thing that I thought would never thrive again is now showing signs of life! For two years, leaves would sprout up but nothing would ever come of them. Not until now has it brought forth flowers.

This is God's voice to me. I feel God saying, "Keep trying and have faith. Have hope." I am. Three is God's number for life. I don't find it to be at all a coincidence that I'm looking a three iris blooms.
So to those asking how I am ... I am well. I am better. I am healing. I still have hope. And no matter our circumstances, God is always faithful.


Spring is truly a miraculous season. Every year we watch God resurrect His creation. I'm glad the miscarriage happened when it did, because all around me are signs of life from death, new beginnings from hopes that have died, and I am taking my cue from spring to plant another seed. We WILL try again, and as I lay to rest my hopes for one child and am beginning to conceive in me new hopes for the child (or children) that are ahead of me!



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

So we've been very broke these last two weeks. Robert and I manage our finances fairly well considering our situation, but this week has been no joke.

We do our best to be givers, and we tithe -- just not faithfully. We usually tithe from the first two checks of each month and then use the last two checks to pay rent (always due on the 1st). I used to feel this was being a good steward of the money God had given us: ... with the first two checks, tithe, pay utilities and bills and buy groceries. Then this way we could use every dime toward rent and gas for the last two weeks.

Well, after hearing our pastor's sermon this past Sunday, Robert and I have pledged to God that we will tithe every check, every earning, every increase, no matter what. No longer are we going to "try" to tithe or "try" to be givers. We signed the pledge and placed it in his bible at Malachi 3:10, "... Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 'Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that there will not be room enough to store it. ..." (NIV)

You read that verse and, if you're honest about your thoughts, you think, "I don't know! Will God really do that? I mean, I've seen Him do it for other people, but would He really do it for me?" I know this verse clearly says it's an area where we can test God, but most of us fail the test of actually testing Him. We let fear of our unforeseen circumstances dominate control of our checkbooks.

Well ... no more. Robert and I decided Sunday that no matter what we WILL tithe faithfully, because we are ready to see what God can do -- will do -- for us if we will but believe Him at His word.

That being said, the rent for February 1 was already paid the day before we made this pledge. That Saturday I had also spent $65 for a small handful of necessities. There was no longer any earnings to tithe from this week; it was spent. After all was said and done we had $8 in the bank. Praise the LORD we were in the black! We went home and had canned soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Not all of those necessities I bought the day before were groceries. I wished they were, but some things trump my grocery list - like toilet paper, feminine products, medications, school photo fees, etc. Food doesn't help in these situations. I had two pounds of meat in the freezer and a couple of canned veggies in the cabinet. I bought two boxes of Hamburger Helper. That's Monday and Tuesday covered, but I cook five nights a week. The math didn't add up. "Should I ask the church pantry for food this week? No," I thought, "that should be saved for those who are truly in need." I decided to make due.

Monday comes. A friend called to buy a bottle of X-treme 5000 from me. (See I sell vitamins, weight loss supplements and health care products on the side, but for a long while that is a side income that hasn't seen much business.) But ... for "whatever reason" this friend decided this week that she needed a full bottle of fat burner (which she never buys). I only charged her $40; that put $36 back in our pockets. Why only $36? Guess where the other $4 is going. Yep! I tithed it. Now I had a little extra for gas (because I'm almost on "E") and money for fast food tonight (because I don't cook on Wednesdays).

But can I tell you that the blessings haven't stop there?

This morning when I got to work a co-worker approached me with an envelope with my name on it. She said she found it next to the computer where we clock in. I opened it to find a Kroger gift card worth $25! Wow! I was speechless. Twenty-five dollars isn't a lot, but when you have no more meat in the freezer and only Ramen noodles, canned soup and crackers to choose from it can go a long way. My co-worker didn't know where it came from -- only knew that it was setting there when she got to work and that it wasn't from her. There was no other name on the envelope or card but mine. Whoever gave it quietly placed it there for me to see when I clocked in, and no doubt they were led of the Holy Spirit when they did it.

I have not told anyone we needed groceries. I did not put out an all points bulletin on Facebook. I did not make it a point to complain about my circumstances. I trust God knows my every need. And even though I haven't always been a faithful tither, I have given regularly. In lean times as these I make due and God reminds me, "You've sown for this." I also like to believe that God blessed me because He sees my heart and He knows my intentions to tithe are genuine. I must admit that sometimes I do wonder where the blessing is going to come from; who will He use to meet my need? Dare I say, that's even the fun part about being so broke so often?

Just last week, knowing I wouldn't have much food in the house, God used my gay next door neighbor to give me 3 bags of fresh spinach and lettuce. Granted I'm the only one who will eat it, but it has provided me lunch this week. I mention that my neighbor is gay because God can use whoever He wants to bless us. (Proverbs 13:22 " ... the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous ...").

I don't post this blog today to brag about my blessings; I post this blog to brag about the God of all blessings. The blessings are not the point -- no matter how big or small. The point of all my ramblings is how good God is and how faithful He is towards us. Great is thy faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Thank you Father that you know all and see all. Thank you that nothing in my life takes you by surprise. Thank you that my life is not a radar that you man as "blips" pop up, but rather that my life is a time line laid out before time began, my blessings planned before I even got here. Thank you that you have already mapped out the events that will force me to trust you and then prove that you really do see me. Thank you that every friend and even every "foe" plays into those blessings. Father God, please bless my neighbor, my customer and my co-worker who blessed me. Bless them for being sensitive to your leading and for their obedience to you. God I pray a special blessing to all those who read this and I pray ultimately that you get all the glory! By the power of the name of Jesus I pray. -- AMEN!

(To listen to Pastor Scott Dobbins sermons at any time visit at http://www.bellshireag.org/media-bellshire-ag-church-service-sermons-videos-every-sunday.asp. To see a list of health and wellness products and supplements sold by Saba, please visit my website at http://SabaForLife.com/CarlaHailey.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ellie Update: Finally! An IEP Is In Place!

Well ... two weeks came and went pretty quick, as well as these last two months! :-) What can I say? The holidays came and time got away from me. We are back on schedule now - between work and home - so I thought it a good time to catch everyone up.

We did have an initial S-Team meeting on Nov. 11. All usual staff was there: Ellie's teacher, principal, behavioral specialist that had been trying to work with Ellie since the October meeting and the school psychologist. At that time the behavioral specialist had been conducting periodic evaluations and had implemented some rewards systems. She went over her findings of those evaluations as well as how the rewards were affecting Ellie's behavior. She did seems to be improving, but at a slow climb. The school psychologist just listened in.


At the end of it all, the principal, teacher and BS agreed that Ellie displayed some "emotional disturbances." The psychologist agreed that it "sounded" like most of her behaviors were emotionally driven." (Without having evaluated Ellie herself she couldn't be certain.)


At that time no real recommendations were made. The BS said that we could keep going with the rewards system, however the team of ladies did make me aware of my rights to request a psych eval. (I think maybe that was their way of dropping a hint to please request one.) No worries; I wanted an extensive evaluation done anyway, so I did make the request.


Side note: When the school psychologist does this evaluation it's actually done over a couple of different examinations in different settings. Ellie received one in a classroom setting as well as in a one-on-one session.


For the remainder of November and December Ellie greatly improved; she brought home stickers nearly every day. Before Christmas break we all agreed to meet again this Jan. 6.





Without going into great detail or all that psych jargon, we did have our final S-team meeting last week, and it was determined that Ellie does qualify for Special Education services, and in her particular case an IEP (Individual Education Program) was recommended. FINALLY!


Ellie now has two 30-minute "pull-outs" each day as well as a 45-minute "push-in." What that means is that for an hour each day she is pulled out of her classroom to go work one-on-one with a Special Education teacher or Spec. Ed. teacher aide. Those two pull-out sessions focus on improving Ellie's language, reading and math skills. The push-in time is when a Spec. Ed. teacher (or Spec. Ed. teacher's aide) comes to work with Ellie in her classroom setting. In Ellie's particular case, this person also attends lunch with her because that is usually the place where Ellie tends to display her worst behaviors. So it's like she has her own personal lunch buddy now.


I couldn't be happier! They implemented this IEP the very next day, so it's only been a week. It's probably too early to see how well it's working, but I am so pleased that we are finally getting somewhere with her.


Now yesterday was a hard day for her - first one in over a month! So, because of that I didn't spank her when we got home, but I did take away the TV, the computer and Monk Monk for the night.


Thank you all for your prayers and for loving my baby girl. She is finally getting the help she needs. Please keep praying for her - that she continues to do well.