Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Birth of Stefanie, My Liberian-Born Baby

Our middle daughter, Stefanie Leigh, was married ten days ago. 

So thankful that God allowed us the pleasure and YES, even the challenge of raising this incredible young woman...full of hope, dreams, gifts, and purpose!!

Stef with her best friend and new hubby, Jason

(The following abridged excerpt is from my first missionary memoir, IN THIS PLACE)

          The day I was due to deliver baby Stefanie, our missionary nurse slipped and fell in the mud, breaking her wrist as she was walking to Wednesday market. She had to be flown to Monrovia to have it set properly, and several of the missionaries thought that I should have gone with her. Thankfully, God had already shown us His will concerning the birth of our second child, and even with our nurse Rachel out of the picture, I was still content and at peace to deliver my second baby with the
Liberian midwives in Tappi, a town nearly two hundred miles away from the capital city, Monrovia. Though always up for adventure, I was not willing to play carelessly with the birth of one of my children! God just gave absolute peace: there is no other explanation.

          Stefanie Leigh Abernethy came exactly in God’s time. God was merciful to the little American mommy who had only lived

in the unfamiliar African jungle for ten months. I went to sleep on the eve of October 6 with tinges of hope, awaking around 1:00 a.m., filled with more than just hope, but also with a strong assurance that it was time. From that point, I never thought about being afraid nor did it stress me to realize that I would be able to have absolutely nothing for pain, no matter how hard the labor might become.

         The jungle was pitch black and quiet except for the soft breathing of Jeff as he slept. Whispering my longings and petitions to my Heavenly Father who I knew was there with me, I tiptoed around, getting things ready, laying out clothes for the baby, making some hot tea for myself, making sure for the twelfth time that the bedroom where I would deliver was clean and orderly. I reveled in the exclusiveness of the early morning quietness, but was starkly aware that all would change very soon. When I could no longer delay the pointed breathing through the contractions, I woke Jeff. When he realized that it was still very dark outside but heard the urgency in my voice, his face became a mural of excitement in the flickering amber light of the kerosene lantern.

          By 3:30 a.m. Jeff had gone for one of the missionary ladies who wanted to be there for the birth, mainly, in case our 3 year old Michelle were to wake up during the process. He also rode to the clinic and informed the two midwives that I had chosen to help with my delivery. One of them, Emma, arrived a few minutes later seeming very nervous and concerned. She told us that she had just delivered a baby about three hours earlier and that the baby had been macerated, black, and rotting as it came out of the mother’s womb. Emma felt that she should not be in the room with me because she might “jinx” our  baby.

          Even in the evidence of my labor cranking up, it was a wonderful time for us to talk to her, using Scripture and prayer to help release her from those fears. Nothing like getting your mind off your own situation (like labor pains) than by investing in the lives of others! Though the labor pains increased rapidly, I was still able to be involved in the teaching process with Emma, and thankfully she soon agreed to help deliver our baby. 

          Stefanie was born at 6:30 a.m., with the humming of the generator and about 100 curious bystanders waiting on our piazza for the news. That, unfortunately, was as close as they were getting to the delivery room, though it might have been different. When I first decided to have Stefanie in Tappita, I considered delivering at the OB clinic just as the African women did. Incredulously, I soon got wind that a couple of the midwives were going to sell a few tickets for entry into the delivery room to watch the white woman have her baby. That was enough to persuade me to deliver in the most controlled environment I knew: my house.

          However, there was no way to stop the throng of people waiting on our piazza and what made it more interesting, was that none of our windows had glass in them. Only a thin metal screen was between those waiting for the baby to be born and the sounds a woman makes while in labor. I have no idea what they heard and at the time, I am sure that I did not care. When Emma cut Stefanie’s umbilical cord, that was the last I saw of my new baby girl for almost an hour. Jeff and my Liberian midwife friend Mary swept her away to be weighed, cleaned up, and shown off. I heard clapping, singing, and shouting on the piazza, and knew that Jeff must have gone out there with our little baby. I heard later that he went out the door holding her up above his head and was praising God for a second beautiful little girl. 


Monday, August 26, 2013

My "Chapter Twelve" Baby Becomes a MRS

Stef and her daddy eating chocolate which is their favorite food of all time!

Stefanie Leigh, our middle daughter and the one who looks most like her daddy, changed her name a few days ago.
In a whirlwind of dress shopping, finding the right venue, fun wedding projects and just daydreaming about Stef's vision for HER day, it was pure delight to spend that time with her!

Of all three of my daughters, Stef has always been the one who enjoyed "dress up" and playing princess. 
On August 17, she was a real princess. From head to toe.

Stunning in her wedding gown and one-of-a-kind vintage-inspired headpiece, she was beauty, grace, and contentment...
even in the midst of the rain that fell all day long and changed many of our plans for the ceremony and such. 

Tomorrow I will share her birth story from my missionary memoirs called In This Place

Today, just enjoy the pics and allow this momma a moment.

Stef and her new husband Jason met more than four years ago. I remember well the first time Stef brought Jason to meet us. Somehow I just knew
There's a lot of history in those ensuing years; so much that God showed both Stef and Jason about themselves and each other. 

When they said their wedding vows under a white tent amidst twinkling lights, shabby chic decor, and more than 250 guests, they were aware perhaps more than some other couples what those vows meant and will mean in the future.

Congrats, Stefanie and Jason LaPoint!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Silent Invasion That Is Changing Us

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been waiting for this book for a few months now. First and foremost, I know that it is going to offend me, stretch me, challenge me...but I'm okay with that. It is necessary in order for me to become a better, more relational, more effective ME. I know I am a digital junkie. I admit it. (There, that's the first step, right?)

The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships contains a landmine of truths about are all-consuming electronic world. Authored by Dr. Archibald Hart and one of his daughters, Dr. Sylvia Frejd, offer spiritual and physical suggestions for not allowing the world of digital to control who you are and what you do on a daily basis.

My wake up jolt as to how much electronics can affect relationships was a Facebook status of my youngest daughter cited in a post from September 2012

Twenty somethings and younger are the ones that will be most affected by the encompassing power of our electronic world. It is a
point worth heeding for any parent or young adult finding their child or themselves moving ever so slightly away from real relationships.

More on how the digital world is rewiring our brains HERE.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spinning Out of Control

I love social media. But even good things have crusty corners. Ten years ago, we were "in the dark" about many social issues that now flow around the internet. Dangerous as well as exciting that we have so much information at our fingertips. Sometimes the information overload can simply spin out of control. Where does it end?

Jessica Rey recently spoke out loud about her belief on modesty - citing the bikini as one of its most damaging culprits. Watch the video HERE. Many perhaps offended women accused Rey of using her platform of modesty as a way to sell her Hepburn-inspired one-piece swimsuits which she began designing back in 2008. See the Rey swimwear here. Sharp marketing skills or a jab toward bikinis? Who knows? Do you? Do I?

In the past three days, I have read numerous Facebook statuses and three particular blogs that responded to Jessica Rey's allies and adversaries. Some were insightful and I gleaned insight by reading them. Others were simply rants about a woman who dared to speak her faith out loud. There were accusations and defiant quips like "wear whatever you want to wear" and "we are not responsible for the sinful thoughts of men." When I read statements like that, it is not hard to see which side of the "weaker brother" - "stronger brother" they lie. And because of that, I choose to say nothing in response to them directly (or to enter the social media pool of arguments), but the "Kim" in me certainly wants to!!

Modesty is a weighty subject and not one that I will explore today. There is a more important matter that I feel has been overlooked in this modesty discussion and many other discussions that take place in our social media world today. As a Christian, I gauge my belief system and even my reactions to things by what the Bible says. God is the Creator of wisdom; so Who knows better how to guide me in my daily living?

A powerful and timeless standard on how I should treat others and how to live out my faith without an IN YOUR FACE attitude toward others.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:2-4)

Simply put, Jessica Rey had the Christian liberty to design her line of clothes and also to talk about her belief about modesty. We, on the other hand, have no right to judge her because she doesn't think like we do. This is her standing before God. Not before you or me.

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brotherI know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  (Romans 14:13-15)

In light of just these few verses (though I advise you read the entire chapter), we do have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters to not grieve them - even if we feel we have the liberty to wear whatever we desire. 

Sometimes our faith must be lived out just between us and God. (verse 22) Only God can help us to know when that is a good thing to do.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Trippin' Mama

It's funny how phraseology evolves through the years. 

When I was a kid and my mom would get upset and vocal about something she was not pleased about, I would say, 
"Mom had a fit!" 

When my kids were a little younger and I was displeased with them, they would say,

"Mom was freaking out!" 

Today, as I talk to college students and they discuss how their moms react, they say, 

"My mom was trippin'."

What other descriptive words and phrases have evolved through past generations?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflection in the Shadows

Since my bi-lateral knee replacement six days ago, nightime has been the hardest time to find comfort & rest right now. The Coumadin is causing my legs to turn black & blue and also gives me sharp needly pains in the back of my leg. Never having been a back sleeper has accentuated the long shadows of the night right now. At the mercy of my nighttime caretaker to prop pillows and fill my cup with water, I must rest in the reality that I am not a burden to them and then accept the blessing of their presence.

In these shadows of brokenness and pain, I have found God's grace and promises have not moved nor have they been diminished. He reminds me to breath deeply of Him, to allow time and His mastery design of my body to do its work. In the night when the physical therapy and visitations from friends and family are over, He tells me to rest. Completely rest in Him. And this time there is nothing to distract me. I am giving in to some of the best solace I've ever had.

Asking for blessed sleep, He gives it. Asking for decreaesed swelling in the legs & knee area, He does that. Asking Him to remind me to breath in His fragrance of mercy & healing, the shadows somehow shorten.

In a place I have never been, a physically painful place; I ask Him to show me His treasures in the shadows.

Tonite I am seeing the beautiful hues of hope & peace in these shadows.

Where else would I want to be?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feeble Knees, Part 2

I am almost at the three day mark before my surgery. I vacillate between being very excited (especially on a day when I grow weary of the bone on bone pain that shoots through one of my knees) and anxious about the whole thing.

I told you in Part 1 that I would be candid with my feelings, but remember that I am human and you cannot expect that I'll have godly, positive emotions every second of the day. Maybe you do, but I just don't have the incorruptible mind to help me do it 24/7. (smile)

Here are my biggest fears as of today:

1. The epidural. Since the first day when I met with the surgeon and he mentioned that he does all his surgery with epidural anesthesia, I can't get it out of my mind. Unfortunately my mind is extremely active so I even try to feel what it will be like as the needle is going in my spine. That makes me literally sick to my stomach. I had all three of my girls natural mainly because I could not stand the thought of having a needle put in my spine even if if would help to numb the pains that can often come with contractions. 

My prayer: Father, I ask that you calm my heart even now. I do not want to go into the procedure with anxiety and fear. Help me with that. Please be with the doctor administering the epidural in my spine. May his hands be steady and may the needle go exactly where it needs to go to numb my knees. Really really numb them for the entirety of the procedure. I ask this because you tell us to ask. And I ask in faith through Your son's name, Jesus.

2. Taking Coumadin. I have never ever taken a prescription medicine except for pain pills occasionally. To most of you, this may be extremely silly, but remember. These are my struggles and they are real. My brother had terminal nephritis (kidney disease) for twenty seven years. I saw him go through so many surgeries and so many procedures. He had to take some of the harshest meds known to man at times. Though he is in heaven today, HE is my inspiration and motivation to swallow those pills without falter. I realize that blood clots are a major concern with this kind of surgery and I love my family enough to do all that is humanly possible to prevent them.

3. Getting up for the first time after surgery. I have had knee surgeries before so I remember. I remember that initial uncertainty that you'll be able to stand up. But with both knees done at one time, there is no good knee to rely on. The feeling of standing up straight with no arthritic bend to my knee literally takes my breath away when I think about it! I am both excited and apprehensive.

Once I'm past these three things, there is the physical therapy. My surgeon told me last week that he will give me the best knee replacements that is in his power to give. But then he said, the rest is up to you. 

I take the challenge, Dr. Homesley. One of the prayers that God taught me to pray when my dad had knee replacement surgery while we were missionaries in West Africa was this:

Father, please guide the hands of the surgeon and allow it to be the very best procedure he has ever done! (A few days later, the doctor told my dad those exact words.) 

So, I am asking God for the same thing for me.

And, oh, the picture below are two of my biggest inspirations along with the yet to be born grandchildren!!