Treasuring Up All These Things

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

This verse in Luke is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Mary had just given birth to her first child and a little while later a group of shepherds came running in, telling her about angels that had just visited them in the fields. The angels were praising Jesus, the same Jesus Mary had just given birth to. What must have been going through her head at that moment?

As 2016 draws to a close I realize that this year has been a year of treasuring up and pondering; like Mary did in her heart when the shepherds came rushing in after Jesus was born. I can only imagine how overwhelmed Mary was after going through labor and delivery, then facing these visitors and their message from God. Sometimes the weight of a moment is too much to take in right then. Sometimes God reveals things to us that we can’t possibly fathom. Sometimes the beauty and wonder of the moment deserves more than the time it’s given. Life is so fleeting. I often wish I could pause time to fully take in the wonder before me, chubby arms and legs, toddler sized proportions in nothing but a diaper, the sweet five year old love ballads to Mommy, the gentle kiss from biggest brother to tiniest sister. Since I can’t stop time I treasure up the moment and soak it in, ponder it in my heart, store it up to take out later and admire. My year has been full of these moments that I want to keep forever. Moments that point back to God and His goodness.

The moment when Mary stopped to treasure up all the things that were happening around her, to ponder the message God was sending her about her child, often reminds me of a day when I did the same but in very different circumstances. February 8th, 2013, the worst day of my life, when my daughter’s heart stopped and my body became a tomb, God made His radical promise to me, “I WILL REDEEM THIS.” I had no energy or clarity of mind to even attempt to grasp what the words meant, so I stored it up for later. Like Mary, who probably could not believe what was happening to her or how the path of her life had suddenly gone a completely different direction than expected, I struggled to take it all in. I was in shock. But God spoke over and over again, an audible voice in my head, “I WILL REDEEM IT.” And each time He spoke I took His promise like a treasure and stored it away to ponder later. Since that day, almost four years ago, I have contemplated the promise many times, turning it over in my mind. God promised to redeem my daughter Lucy’s death and all the loss and pain that came with it. But did He realize how much was lost on that day and all the days since then? That promise of redemption feels too large. It feels impossible. The first year or two after Lucy’s death I reached in and took that promise out in anger, wielding it like a weapon towards God, “You promised me! But you let more tragedy strike instead! Why would you make a promise you could never fulfill?” How could He possibly repay me for my daughter’s death? Over the years God has patiently and carefully crafted my story, moment by moment, using all the loss for good, mending broken places and making the barren wasteland fruitful. And yes, even redeeming parts of my Lucy loss that I thought would never be redeemed on earth.

This year especially I have seen the redemption He promised emerge more than ever. There have been countless moments of glory, beauty and joy that I never thought I would experience again on earth, too many to list here. Many of these moments involved my miracle baby Nora and many of these moments involved other women with high risk pregnancies who were looking for support. I treasure all these things up and praise God for them (especially my baby Nora!)

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There have been other moments this past year that felt surreal, heavy and empty at the same time because Lucy wasn’t in them:

The play date where all the babies have their preschool siblings along too but three year old Lucy is missing. I’m supposed to choke down my chicken nuggets and smile like everything is normal. I’m the only one who sees the empty space where she should be.

Folding up and putting away her empty stocking on Christmas Eve after the other three have been filled with toys and chocolate.

Telling her brothers that I am sorry, I don’t know what she would look like today and watching their hot tears stream down.

Suddenly realizing in the middle of an English lesson that the little girl I’m teaching is the exact age that Lucy would be today. Her big brown eyes staring up at me, her little laugh. Would Lucy look like that? I don’t even know what her laugh sounds like. I weep for my baby girl the entire drive home.

Over the course of this year God has been teaching me to pause right then and ponder the painful moment, gather it up and give it to God to be redeemed later. I’m learning to trust that He WILL redeem even that terrible moment. Every tear shed, every time the weight of grief feels too heavy to bear, every single thing I miss with Lucy will be redeemed, repaid and restored. God can redeem the deepest loss, even your loss. He can bring beauty from ashes, He can even heal parts of your heart that you thought were broken forever. Some things can never be mended until we get to heaven, but these things that He does redeem on earth are our foreshadowing of the glory and restoration to come.

If you are reading this I have prayed for you. I’ve prayed for your 2017, that God would bring about the most beautiful redemption in your life. I’ve prayed for your healing and for your joy, that God would give you the desires of your heart and would grant you the request of your lips. Be bold and ask Him for the thing you so desperately want. Gather up all of your hurts and hand them over to Him to be redeemed. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

Psalm 126  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

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Anti-Kell Antibodies: Is My Baby Kell Positive or Kell Negative?

One of the first things that doctors and patients want to find out after a mother’s antibody screen comes back positive for anti-kell antibodies is whether the baby is kell positive or kell negative. In fact, the rest of the treatment for the pregnancy and the baby’s outcome in the end often depends on the answer to that question.

Since anti-kell antibodies are specifically programmed to attack the kell antigen only (kell positive blood) then the babies who do not have the kell antigen (kell negative blood) are not in danger at all. Kell positive babies could be attacked by the antibodies during the pregnancy, so that is why it is important to figure out as soon as possible whether the baby carries the kell antigen or not (is kell positive or kell negative.)

There are several ways to find out if your baby is kell positive or kell negative. The first test that should be run is a simple blood test on the baby’s father. Since the mother is kell negative (her body would not produce anti-kell antibodies against itself so we know she isn’t kell positive) the only way the baby could possibly be kell positive is if the father is positive. The father needs to be tested for the kell antigen. If the father is kell negative then you can know for sure that the baby is kell negative and will not be harmed by the antibodies. If the father is kell positive then the next step is to find out if he is homozygous or heterozygous. Most men who have the kell antigen are heterozygous which just means that the baby has a 50% chance of being kell positive. If the father is homozygous then the baby has a 100% chance of being kell positive. So, if you know the baby’s father is homozygous for kell, you can be 100% sure that your baby is kell positive.

If the baby’s father is heterozygous for kell then it is harder to know the baby’s blood type since there is a 50% chance of being kell negative or positive. The most common way to find out is to wait until about 16 weeks and then have an amniocentesis which will show baby’s blood type. The only problem with the amniocentesis is that it does come with some slight risks and could even cause you to lose the baby, although the likelihood of that happening is minuscule. Some doctors think that doing the amniocentesis increases the possibility of the baby’s blood and mother’s blood mixing, which could cause the antibodies to become more aggressive.

There is another, less invasive way to find out whether your baby is kell positive or kell negative. Dr Moise recently shared this information with me and I am so excited to be able to share it with you. There is a maternal blood test that can be done in Europe that simply tests the mother’s blood to find out whether the baby is positive or negative for the kell antigen; no risk to the baby. Wherever you are located, you should be able to send your blood off to the Netherlands to find out baby’s blood type with these forms and instructions I have posted below. Another kell mama here in Alabama was able to send her blood off to the Netherlands to have it tested. She found out by 14 weeks that she was pregnant with a kell positive girl and she was even able to get the cost of the testing covered by insurance. So, here is the information you will need to do the maternal blood test if you want. Print these forms off and take them to your MFM and you should be able to find out whether your baby is kell positive or kell negative without doing an amniocentesis. I have also included the forms for anti-c and anti-E antibodies.

Instructions for Kell free DNA testing (updated)

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Instructions for CcE free DNA testing (updated) (1)