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He Led Us Ginger-Leigh.....

Have you met Ginger??  If you have, you probably just smiled when you read that!  She leaves an impression, that girl!
The mustache picture is very appropriate to this you will soon see!

Our spicy Florida #6 was very much planned.  It's been 4 years since she arrived and her story hasn't been recorded anywhere but our hearts.  Her birthday seems like a good time to share!

Her story has to begin with that fact that her Daddy really loves babies....I mean reeeeaaallly loves in, we would have 64 by now if money, time an logistics didn't have to be a factor in family planning!  So a common comment heard in the Florida house since the first Florida baby came along has been, "How 'bout another baby??  Why wouldn't we want to do that again!"  Now Ginger's Momma loves babies too....really loves babies.  But Ginger's Momma also gets tired, especially after 5 babies in 8 years, so Ginger's Momma just felt overwhelmed whenever she heard that question.....until one day.....when she saw her 40th birthday looming in the squinty future....  For the first time in a lot of years, the idea of having another baby didn't make her gulp....and that made her pause and consider.

We were on the verge of having all 5 of our children in school.  It was that time of my life I had anticipated adjusting course and adding a 2nd career to my first of being a Mom.  The table next to my couch was piling up with grad school catalogs and I was contemplating taking my teaching degree in a new direction.  Scott's question rang in my head though.....classrooms and assignments began to weigh against the sweet smell of a newborn.  We discussed, we listed pros and cons, we prayed and we dreamed.  We played the fun name game on long drives and came up with a girl option we really like.....Ginger Leigh.  And in the end, we decided that we believed what God said about children being a blessing from Him....and since the window of career and grad school stays open much longer than the window of baby-growing, we knew what needed to come first.  Having our kids had been such a blast so could we not do it just one more time!?  So with the fluttery feelings of a new-born secret, we decided to throw away the school catalogs and pray for one more Florida baby.  Little did we know how much she would give to this family and the roads God would use her to pave in our hearts.

The positive pregnancy test came pretty quickly.  After the initial excitement of the two lines, I remember suddenly feeling sheepish when I imagined telling others.  It almost felt greedy to be expecting again, until my sister's words settled me......"this is just lavish, God's lavish love."

1st trimesters are more of a battle to keep the fear down than the food down, more heart-sickness than morning-sickness.  Having past pregnancies end long before their due date have left me with a predisposition to early pregnancy fear.  Just about the time I was beginning to breathe easy, I developed a complication I hadn't even known to worry about!   As I turned off the evening news to head upstairs to bed, I felt a shift in gravity and saw a lot of blood.  What I felt and saw left no doubt in my mind that the worst was happening and there would be another unfinished due date.  We rushed to the hospital, fighting for just a shred of hope....and were met with this:

The long story short is this.  When a tiny little new person is beginning and burrows into the side of the womb for their 9 month stay, they can get a little too aggressive in their burrowing.  Sometimes the microscopic baby displaces a lot of the rich nutrient material along the wall and causes a clot to form.  This can be big or small and can hang on with the baby for the whole 9 months or can fall off sometime along the way scaring the pants off the baby's parents!  The danger comes based on the size of the baby versus the size of the clot. A large clot can be like a tidal wave and sweep a healthy, but tiny baby out with it.  Our ultrasound showed that our tiny healthy baby had hung on like to a tree in a storm.  We were unbelievably, overwhelmingly, joyously happy to be still expecting a baby!  

The ultrasound also showed that the storm might not be over....there were more threats to our baby lurking, so precautions had to be taken.  Precautions to let this little baby grow and grow until it was big enough to not be threatened by any more tidal wave clots.  Precautions, otherwise known as bed rest.  Bed rest for a mom of 5.  Looking back, it wasn't really hard at all to lay on the couch for those weeks...I can't even remember exactly how many it was.  My memories are of dear friends cleaning my house and bringing us meals and movies, lots of snuggly time on the couch with my kids, and a lot of time praying over my belly.

That was it.  The one and only complication with Ginger.  It was exciting and dramatic and caused us to face our fears and put our faith in God for things we couldn't see or do.  As ultrasounds revealed that the danger was over, normal life resumed.  She was a fun baby, even before she was born....her under-skin gymnastics made us all giggle and go running for the video camera.

She decided to enter the world with a little drama and excitement too.  A normal school morning about a week before her due date, nothing special....until, WHAM!!!!  Contraction!  No achiness, no wondering if something might possibly be starting....just CONTRACTION!!  I kept making the kids' breakfast and packing backpacks thinking maybe there would be another one in a while.....BAM!!! Contraction!!  A quick glance at the watch made my eyebrows raise and convinced me to zip those backpacks up quickly.  Contraction #3 knocked me in half and got Scott's eyebrows to go up a notch.  "I think you'd better come right back home to check on me after you drop the kids at school."  I told Scott.  20 minutes for him to get there and back and he found me on the floor breathing through constant pain.  I'd never had it go so fast and hard.  Little Elena was still with me since she was only in half day Kindergarden that didn't start till noon.  We called her babysitter, told her she didn't have time to change out of her pajamas before she came to pick her up and started heading out the door.  2 more contractions convinced us that we shouldn't even wait for the babysitter.  Since we were living in the parsonage next to our church....and our pastor is always in his office early....he became our "go-to" guy.  I'll always remember Laney walking across the parking lot with her cereal bowl and then waving out the office window with Pastor Compton, her breakfast buddy.  We had one of those exciting, movie-style drives to the hospital....both of us alternating between laughing and tensing!!

A few days before Scott had grown bored with his gotee.  Every now and then, he likes to get creative with his shaving routine and surprise me with something new....sometimes something weird just to see if I'm paying attention.  March 23rd was one of those days.  Here's the template he used just before the first contraction hit.

He'll tell you that as he was driving home from dropping the kids at school, he was making plans to quickly run upstairs and run a few swipes of the razor over his face to make it something more "baby's birthday picture worthy"....but as he walked through the door and made intense eye contact with his eyebrow furrowed wife, he suddenly knew....that his daughter's first pictures would look like this:

The magical epidural came as we got to our room, and Ginger's birthday felt like a party.  We laughed a lot that day and just felt overwhelmed with how over-the-top lavish this felt, how rich.  Ginger was born into a village of people who love her...she's been adored from the start.

This baby was wanted and this baby was fun.  Having a baby with older kids in the house surprised me in it's level of awesomeness   A friend once told me that the best gift you can give your child is a sibling....and boy has Ginger proved that to be true.  She has brought laughter to our home, shown me kindness and care sparkling inside the hearts of her brothers and sisters, and brought us together.  If a family could have a mascot, Ginger would be ours.  There were many times during the first few weeks after her birth that the kids would marvel with me that just a few short months ago we hadn't felt like we were missing anything and now our hearts were full of a little girl named Ginger who we couldn't imagine being without.  Not only was it super fun to have a baby with a housefull of older kids, but it was waaaaaay easier!!  All those extra and hands and laps and hearts spread the labor out so far that baby chores never became mundane.  We actually had to keep a record of turns and set the timer for baby duties and if my kids hadn't had to go back to school I might have never gotten a turn myself.  It was precious to my Momma's heart to watch the nurturing happen. And I have to tell you that there was something about seeing my man-boy's big hands tenderly holding her that made me go weak in the knees.

Having these last 4 years with Ginger and stepping back into full-time preschooler at home mode was the right decision.  That degree can sit on the back burner as long as necessary....I'm so glad we didn't wait for Ging....she's added so much to our lives.  And now, looking back, I can also see how having her set our hearts up to feel ready to say "yes" when God asked us to do more with our parenting (click here to read about our adoption.)

The Ginger plant is used as a delicacy, medicine or spice and Leigh (also her Momma's middle name) means from a meadow or pleasant place.  Such an apt description of God's blessings through our Ginger.  We all know Ginger's spicy....she uses those eyebrows and shoulders to tell you everything she's thinking without a speaking word!  Ginger is proof of God's lavish love to us, she's our delicacy.....a gift that was undeserved and has bathed our home in the glow of a pleasant meadow.  Instead of making us feel overwhelmed and worn out, she's been like medicine to our souls....convincing us that adding children to our home is a blessing to us, is good for us and is something we should continue to seek.  Who expected baby #6 to teach us that??      It's impossible for me to think of Ginger's life, particularly her beginnings, without feeling like she's the embodiment of how our Father has gently and tenderly led us...particularly as we have little ones.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd:

    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he Ginger-Leigh leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

It's been such a pleasure to celebrate Ginger today and thank God for the gift she is to us!!  Happy Birthday to our spicy little Ginger-Muffin!


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