Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday is for Fotos: Twins Update!

Yesterday we had another ultrasound and visit with my high risk doctor. Ultrasound visits are my favorite. While I love hearing their heartbeats at my other doctor's office, there is nothing like seeing them moving right before my eyes. The boys don't usually cooperate to get good profile shots for their ultrasounds. This week was no different. They are just so busy they don't have time for photographs!
Here is a rundown on their pictures:
  • Luke is in the picture on the top right. He is still measuring smaller than his brother, but he doubled in weight from the last visit a little over three weeks ago. The doctor still assures us that this is completely normal since he is trending well. He weighs in at approximately 14 ounces! He is the least interested in having his picture taken. He just likes to hang out and move around.
  • Zach is in the picture on the bottom right. He is a little more camera happy. He also is a mover and a shaker. When my other doctor listened to his heartbeat on Monday he could hear him moving before he could even find his heartbeat. He was like "I know he is in there, he is just moving around so much!" He is going to be a busy little guy. He weighs in at a whole pound and 2 ounces!
  • Their two heads are in the top right picture. It's the only picture we can get of the two of them together anymore. They are too big for one picture now. I guess they will just have to wait until they are born!
  • Zach's face is the bottom right picture. It's hard to tell what he looks like because it's so fuzzy, but it is just such a precious picture to me. This is my boy's face and I love it already. Luke wouldn't let us take a face picture. He likes to turn away when those ones are taken!
All in all everything is going well. I feel pretty good now. And besides the fact that I am getting bigger by the minute, my discomfort level isn't too bad. I can feel them move every day, and I must say that this is my hands down favorite part of being pregnant. It overwhelms me to feel these little boys moving around. Daniel felt them move for the first time a few days ago and his reaction was priceless. We just love them so much already.
As I reflect on the fact that I have made it this far with these boys I am again brought to my knees in thankfulness to our great God. Every moment with them is a gift and we cannot wait to meet them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Embracing the Seasons

A few months ago I read an article about women who use pictures of their children for their Facebook profile. The author saw this as a step down for women who once were possibly prosperous, individuals in our society. Now they are simply relegated to their children. Their children define them. Their online identity is their children. What once stood as a testimony to their interests, dreams, and personality has now been invaded by a little person in diapers. Their conversations, which were once intelligent and deep, now consist of sleep schedules, teething, and diaper rash.

While I agree that our children, career, friends, or husbands should never be where our identity is found, I was troubled by her assertion that these women were in some way "letting down the team." Women have a variety of seasons over the course of their lives. Some seasons are "productive" in that we bring in income, complete a variety of projects, and have a full social calendar. Others are seemingly less "productive", but looks can be deceiving. As Christians, we should be careful that we not define fruitfulness by tangible results and productivity, per se. A young mom might not check much off her to-do list on any given day, but her work in her home is sowing seeds that will, Lord willing, one day produce a harvest of righteousness. A pregnant mom might once have had the energy to engage in deep conversations at the end of the day, where as now all she can do is give her friends an update on the morning sickness.

What the author failed to acknowledge is that women, unlike men, have fairly defined seasons in their lives. My husband is not, nor can he be, pregnant. And while this pregnancy has certainly impacted him, he can still do the majority of the things he did before we were pregnant. He doesn't have to pack extra snacks wherever he goes. He doesn't have to put his feet up at the end of the day. He doesn't have to rest more frequently.

I do. My body is not my own now and won't be for a very long time. Pretending like this is not the case is to deny the very clear biological and emotional differences between my husband and myself.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the reality of living a seasonal life. When we first got married I struggled with the sudden changes that my life underwent. My single life was easier and more carefree. Now I had a husband to love and care for. When I was dealing with the side effects of some treatment, I struggled with the fact that I couldn't do all that I wanted to do. I was limited, but only for a season. When I first got pregnant I was pretty much dead to the world for about 17 weeks. But again, it was only a season. Now I have a little more energy, but still not as much. When the twins come it will be another season of change and adjustment.

I think that part of the reason we face seasons in much greater measure as women is because it allows us to adapt to the ever changing needs of our husbands and families. When I resist these changes, I am actually resisting the One who created me and the season I am in. There will be a day where I am not limited by my growing belly, but then it will be a new season with new joys and new limitations.

The world doesn't understand this. As the article I read articulated, our sinful nature is self-seeking. To give your life for another is a foreign and ridiculous concept. But that is what we are called to as women, and as Christians, really. Every single day, whether you are married, single, pregnant, or caring for multiple children, is an opportunity to embrace the season that God has placed you in, recognizing that it is only that--a season. Like all seasons, it will end, only to be met by another one. And each one is a precious gift from God.

Friday, November 16, 2012

When Motherhood Begins

This video has been making the rounds lately. And I will admit, it makes me a little emotional when I watch it. I think Carter's captures the feelings of a mom well in this short commercial, and they certainly are gaining a following because of it. But while the commercial moves me for the obvious reasons, one line always bothers me a little bit.

"When a child is born, so is a mom."

I get what they are trying to say, but I think they miss the mark. Our culture sees motherhood as beginning at the same time it sees life as beginning--at birth. But as Christians, we believe that life begins at conception. Wouldn't it be a logical conclusion that motherhood begins at conception as well?

While I cannot hold my babies yet, have no idea what they look like, and don't really know their needs, I still am their mother. I make daily decisions based on their welfare. I don't drink coffee anymore. I hold the rail when I walk up the stairs. I eat when I'm hungry, instead of trying to finish one more task. I go to the doctor when I'm supposed to. I wonder how they are doing all of the time, even though I can't see them. My protective and nurturing instincts will only grow when they are outside of my womb. My motherhood may be more involved than it is now, but that doesn't mean it's not motherhood.

I am not simply a gestational carrier for an unknown blob of tissue. I am a mom carrying my sons. Their lives have value to my husband and me, not only because we see them as our children, but also because we see them as precious image bearers of our God. Motherhood begins at conception because a child is made at conception.

Pregnancy is as much about growing into motherhood as it is about growing a baby. From the very early stages we must learn to sacrifice for the good of another. If morning sickness (which really should be called all day sickness) is not the definition of sacrifice for your child, I don't know what is! We learn in every stage of pregnancy what it means to love, care for, and protect this little baby growing inside of us.

So even though I enjoy the Carter's commercial, I wish it said a little more. A mom is born when a baby is conceived, and she only grows more and more into her motherhood with every passing stage of development.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Merciful God

For most of my Christian life I have always seen Elijah as this stalwart of the Christian faith. He stood against the ungodly, heralded truth when it was unpopular, and lived much of his life alone because of his work ministering to an idolatrous people. He certainly was a man who loved God and wanted God's people to love him too. Even his life ended in a spectacular scene with chariots of fire coming down from heaven whisking him away to glory (2 Kings 2:11-12).

Elijah was not your ordinary man.

Or was he?

Even though I have read of his life on a number of occasions, this morning I was struck by how his ministry ended. While I recognize that his life ended in a far more eventful way than I will ever witness in my lifetime (unless Jesus comes back), he didn't exactly model resolute trust in God up until his final breath.

Elijah had a hard road ahead of him. After dealing with the prophets of Baal he was a wanted man. Jezebel wanted him dead (1 Kings 19:1-3). The Israelites were not too fond of him. And as far as the book of Kings goes, he was pretty much alone. Being a prophet of the living God was a high and lonely task. So we find him hiding from it all (1 Kings 19:4-18). And who can blame him? Even after God confronts him in the cave Elijah never seems to fully recover the days of grandeur even though he continues ministering God's word. In a lot of ways that time in the cave was a pivotal moment in his ministry. It signaled the ending of his ministry and the beginning of Elisha's. When God called Elisha to follow Elijah, Elisha's enthusiasm stands in stark contrast to the lack of enthusiasm on the part of Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21).

We aren't given the information behind his demeanor. He had spent a lot of time alone. He was persecuted for his ministry. And even when God was providing a companion and successor for him it was surely hard to see it. When Elisha came along he was at a very low point in his ministry.

I find this particularly comforting. Here is Elijah, a man who was given the task of bringing God's word to people, and he struggles to trust the very God he proclaims. He had seen God work in mighty ways, yet when the pressure of his life began closing in he believed the circumstances rather than the character of his God.

How often am I like that?

Now you could say that I have not seen God work like Elijah did, but as I've pondered Elijah's life I've begun to realize that I've actually seen him work in far more abundant ways. I live on the opposite side of the Cross. Elijah only had the hope that God would one day defeat his enemies through a promised Messiah. I have been changed by this Messiah. Elijah only had the hope that God would keep his promises to his people. I know because of Christ that every word God has ever spoken finds it's "yes" and "amen" in this Christ.

I have more reason to hope and trust because Christ has come.

But what moves me even more about Elijah's story is the abundant mercy of God. Elijah didn't deserve a successor. Elijah didn't deserve a response from God. And Elijah certainly didn't deserve such an amazing departure from his earthly life. But God did it anyway. I am faithless just like Elijah, and yet God does not repay me according to my unbelief. Instead he gives me more reason to believe that he is a good and trustworthy Savior.

Some might think that the imperfect men in the Bible discredit these precious words, when in fact they actually do the very opposite. They give truth to these words. The steady thread throughout the entire Scriptures is that we serve a merciful and gracious God. Salvation belongs to him alone. Put that truth next to fallen human beings like Elijah, Abraham, and even me, and God gets so much more glory because of it. I'm thankful for men like Elijah, not only because of the work they did for God's name, but also for the testimony they serve for people like me even after all these years.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Cross Leads Us to Worship

I've been slowly reading through The Gospel Primer the last few weeks. The first part of my pregnancy was so rough that I often struggled to read anything. But lately I have been able to pick it up again. I have heard nothing but good things about this book, so when Daniel bought it a few months ago I couldn't wait to read it. I'm not quite finished with it yet, but here are a couple of quotes that really ministered to me when I read them:

"The deeper I go into the gospel, the more I comprehend and confess aloud the depth of my sinfulness. A gruesome death like the one that Christ endured for me would only be required for one who is exceedingly sinful and unable to appease a holy God. Consequently, whenever I consider the necessity and manner of His death, along with the love and selflessness behind it, I am laid bare and utterly exposed for the sinner I am. Such an awareness of my sinfulness does not drag me down, but actually serves to lift me up by magnifying my appreciation of God's forgiving grace in my life" (33).

"The Cross also exposes me before the eyes of people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved...Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person" (34).

What Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross frees us to be honest about who we are as sinful human beings. But in turn it enables us to worship him abundantly because of that amazing work done on our behalf. This is good news!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Favorite Hymn

How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word.
What more can he say, than to you he hath said;
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.
I strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to His foes.
That soul, though all Hell should endeavor to shake
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

This is by far my favorite hymn. I say that, knowing that my "favorites" change frequently. But I am pretty sure that this one is a constant. After our miscarriage over two years ago this song was in my head throughout the days, weeks, and months of my grief. Since then the words have always been near to my heart.

We sang "How Firm a Foundation" at my brother's wedding a couple of months ago and it was all I could do to keep from weeping. Three days before his wedding we found out about our precious twins. As I tried to sing the words to this song I was moved to tears. For over two years this song has been my comfort in our suffering. The promise that "the flame" of infertility and loss would not hurt me, but would refine me was something I clung to so tightly in my darkest days. The truth that Christ would not ever leave me even when every force imaginable was shaking my faith in his goodness was my lifeline. The promise that He would be my refuge even when the deep waters of sorrow seemed to overwhelm me was like a precious light at the end of a dark and weary tunnel.

And there I was, carrying two precious lives who were a testimony of his kindness to answer our desperate prayers. But even more than that I was on the verge of crying because those words reminded me that God is a God who keeps his promises. He did use our infertility to refine me. He did uphold me by his omnipotent hand. He was my only refuge in the storm. And I could stand there (and stand here today) thankful for the deep darkness that was our infertility and pregnancy loss. I have emerged a very different woman, that's for sure. But I have emerged with new eyes to see his goodness and power not only to answer the cries of our heart, but also to use our suffering to make us more like himself.

We have a firm foundation. His name is Jesus Christ. I have already started singing this song in hopes that these little boys will hear me singing and one day love the song as much as me. But more than anything, my prayer is that they would stand on this firm foundation through repentance and faith, so that no matter what trial comes their way they will lean on him every day of their life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

These Boys Have Names

This morning we had our first meeting with our high risk doctor. Knowing that we were going to find out the genders this morning, we were excited and nervous. Would everything look okay? Would the babies be growing on time? Would they be boys or girls? So many questions that were thankfully all answered this morning.

Our appointment was at 8:10 am, but was delayed because the doctor was delivering a baby at the hospital. We were able to get in with the doctor around 9:45 and he started the ultrasound. We were both so excited! I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. In fact, I slept even worse than normal last night because it felt like the night before Christmas!

After looking at their heads and brains he moved down to determine their gender. Since he was pretty sure they were identical, he said he would be surprised if they were different genders.

He found Baby A's gender pretty quickly. Baby A is a boy!

Daniel screamed "yes!" immediately. He would have been happy with either gender, but he was really hoping for at least one son.

And then it didn't take him long to determine that Baby B is a boy, too!

Thankfully these little boys cooperated pretty well this morning and made themselves known. There is no denying that they are little boys. I have had to really get used to the fact that we know their gender now. I have twin boys. In the same way that I repeated "I'm pregnant" or "I'm having twins" to myself after I found out, I have had to say "I have sons" to myself all day. It all still feels so surreal. I am the oldest of four children and the only girl, so I always knew that it was preparation for something. I am once again going to be outnumbered in my own house and I cannot wait!

Here's a quick rundown on the twins:

They always thought I might be a day or two ahead of what originally was thought. It turns out that I am. So I will be 19 weeks this Wednesday instead of this Friday. I don't mind gaining two extra days! Baby B is measuring a week behind Baby A, but he has always been smaller. My doctor was not concerned at all and said this is completely normal with twins. But they will keep monitoring me to make sure he doesn't lag too far behind his brother.  I will go back for another ultrasound in four weeks. After that I will go every three weeks, maybe sooner. Everything else looks great.

Now for the part you have all been waiting for--their names. Because we were pretty sure they were identical, we already had names picked out (I like to be prepared). We really wanted to give them names the minute we knew their genders because we have been calling them Baby A and Baby B for so long. These babies deserve to have more exciting names than that!

Allow me to introduce to you the newest Reissig boys.

Zachary Garrett Reissig (aka Baby A)

We really wanted to use a name that honored the great miracle God performed in giving us these twins. Zachary means "the Lord remembers". Often when the Bible recounts a story of a barren woman being given children the author says "the Lord remembered her" and opened her womb. We can relate. We truly believe that God has heard our cries for children and remembered us, and we look forward to sharing the story of our God's faithfulness to our little Zachary. Garrett was my grandpa's last name (my mom's maiden name). I was really close to him and wanted to honor him with our little boy.

Lucas Daniel Reissig (aka Baby B)

I'm pretty sure we have had this name picked out since we were engaged. We have always liked how it sounded, so we were mainly just looking for a name to go with this one. But then I found out that Lucas means "bringer of light". Our prayer for both of our children has been that they would come to treasure Christ above all else and put their trust in him at an early age. We want both of them to trust in the true light of the world, our Christ, and tell of him to all who will hear.

We are so overwhelmed by all of the love and support we have received in these recent months. These babies truly are loved by so many. But more than anything we are brought to joyful tears over God's kindness to us. He has heard our cries and has given us two precious boys to raise, love, and cuddle with. We are most excited to share this story of his faithfulness to us with them. We want them to forever know that God is the one who gave them life and he is the center of our family. And our deepest prayer for them is that they would one day embrace him as their own.

Thank you everyone for sharing in our joy. We love every one of you!

And in case you were wondering, we are going to call them Zach and Luke.