Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Everyone has limiting realities.  I'm thinking of limits in our space, resources, time, finances, energy, even food intake.  Many people feel lonely in their limits, most of us wish for different limits, but we don't always get to choose them.  We can decide how we see them.  We can choose our perspective.  I jotted down a few thoughts about limits yesterday, and thought I'd share them here.
Living over my limits is exhausting.
Living over my limits is dishonest.
Living over my limits is uncomfortable.
Living over my limits feels trapped.
Living over my limits is discontentment.
Living over my limits creates weakness.
Living over my limits creates more limits.
Living over my limits will always show up in my health.
Living over my limits affects my family primarily and profoundly.

Living within my limits is good.
Living within my limits is refreshing.
Living within my limits is sane.
Living within my limits is honest.
Living within my limits is empowering.
Living within my limits is satisfying.
Living within my limits allows space for opportunities.
Living within my limits honors God—my Limit-giver.
Living within my limits is really living.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dear Mom,
On your birthday, I want to remember a few reasons that I love you so very much. In no particular order, here they are:
1. You care. Have I ever told you thank you for caring when I call you rejoicing about the tiniest baby victories, and milestones or caring when I call crying the blues because a small thing had made my day a challenge.You’ve always cared about the deeper struggles as well – and the very difficult moments in life. If I called and asked if you could come down here, you absolutely would (& have).
You care about others so much too – “Open arms leave the heart unprotected” you’d say. You consider loving others worth the risk – thank you for your self-less example.
2. You’re passionate. As a Schaper, by blood, you’re usually more reserved with your emotions – on the surface, anyway. But I know your heart and how your love for God, Daddy and your family are purpose-giving for you. You’re also passionate about caring for children, educating them, loving and enjoying them – thank you for the way you’ve educated me in these areas.
3. You’re very, very wise. As a young person, I remember thinking “so and so” was really something cool. And you would say, “Things aren’t always as they seem.” You’d not gossip about their problems or bother my young mind with details, but you’d just remind me not to be fascinated with people and surface things.
4. You’re beautiful. Last time I was home Shar and I were watching you and I said, “Isn’t she the most beautiful lady? Her skin is just perfect – rosey blushed cheeks, gentle eyebrows, gorgeous blue eyes…” I’ve always considered her to be the most beautiful lady I know.” Shar said, “Have you ever told her?” I don’t think I have before, so I am now… And I know you well enough to know that the beauty on the outside is just the beauty on the inside coming out.
5. You’re humble. In the last year or so I’ve thought more about this part of you…who a person is comes thru in difficult times. When there were challenged in our family, I remember hearing you crying out to God as you knelt at your bed. God used those moments to melt my heart… Your humility before Him stood you tall before me.
6. Possibly my favorite aspect of you as a mom: you don’t freak out. Or I could say, you have perspective.
You let me cook and make messes and mistakes - you didn’t freak out.
You let me cut Dad and Charlie’s hair – you didn’t freak out.
I was sorting thru old papers and found a letter you had sent to Bro. Knight at school in response to a letter he’d sent home to you about my misbehavior as a freshman. You were kind and direct and taking responsibility for my behavior even though it probably embarrassed you a lot. I never knew about that letter till a few days ago. It wasn’t something you decided to confront me about and made into a huge issue. I’m sure you prayed though…
It was that year that I called you from class and asked you to come get me. I was really struggling & felt I was at a critical point spiritually. Which crowd would I go with?? There were two crowds pulling and I had to choose. I knew I was at a decision point. You came and got me and I don’t remember how much we talked, but it didn’t involve lectures. You let me cry and work thru it and I went back to school. Looking back that was probably a turning point in my life.
You listened while I declared I’d never go on another date after that first one. We ended up laughing a lot about that.
When I was 15 and our relationship was a little strained, God sent healing in the form of a baby boy named Jareth. You called Peggy and told her to tell me that you were coming home and bringing a surprise. I met you in the driveway and was very shocked to see the tiniest baby I’d ever seen in a car seat in your car! He was jaundiced and needed a bath, but he was so precious. It was love at sight for our whole family, but especially me. You taught me how to love and care for a baby thru those months, years. He was like my own and I admired your motherly know-how. That tiny baby gave our relationship a breath of fresh air – he gave us a common goal – remember he gained a pound a week for a couple months! - and gave me something to do in those difficult growing up years.
Another moment comes to mind: a few days before graduation I stayed at a friend’s house with several girls from our class – we got the bright idea that my hair needed to be a little more blonde. We got the stuff, did the deed, shrieked laughing in the mirror at my very blonde hair…then I realized how permanent this was… I called you the next morning & told you I’d done the stupidest thing ever… you said come on home, it would be fine.
I still remember walking in to the office to your twinkling eyes telling me it was no big deal and we’d try to fix it. I think you told me about something similar you’d done when you were my age – and we laughed and I cried.
I wish I could say thanks for everything, but I don’t think there’s enough paper in the world. You’ve loved and cared for me as only a Mama can – “thanks” seems so small. But Thank You. Thank you for the grace, the gift of your unconditional love & the million ways you’ve shown it thru my almost 32 years.
All my love,
Elizabeth Joyann

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Caleb turns 3

We were honored to have Papa Gary, Grandma Ruth, Great Grandpa Schaper, & Miss Evelyn & Drew to share the special day!

Daddy helping Caleb make 3 :)
This boy is full of energy & joy & lives full throttle.  He brings so much F-U-N to our house!  Surely God has something unique planned for this little man.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Week Two with Gideon

 Papa and Nana came to visit...

 We went to Myriad Gardens where Heath practiced writing his name :)

 Darrell and Papa practiced cornhole :)

 We tried really hard to get a good picture on this little hill, but Caleb could not resist sliding down... and giggling... so we gave up.

 It was a beautiful, wind-less day here in Oklahoma so Gideon enjoyed the sunshine too!

 First family picture since Gideon's birth.

Gideon is Loved!!

 Welcome Home!

 Daddy and all the boys play a game.

 Our first Sunday Shot with Gideon.  (Caleb was having a rough time...)

Caleb really liked his "baby" spot, but he is doing well with Gideon.  He really loves the "new baby" and dearly loves to "help." :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gideon's Second Day

 I was so happy to that my sister was able to come down the evening after Gideon was born and stay with us overnight.  It was nice to be spoiled by her nursing expertise. :)

 Gideon at 1 day old.

 Getting ready to go home. (Darrell and I are talking to him, hence our chins in the picture.)

 All ready to go home!

 Love these guys :)

 We were waiting for the nurse to take us downstairs, and he went back to sleep, so I laid him down and he pulled his legs up so cute...

Mom and Dad got to the hospital about the time we were released, so we traveled home and they got to see him up close for the first time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gideon's Birth Story

I thought I might should wait a few days, but not too many, to write this down.  Darrell quotes Jeff Foxworthy as saying, "But Honey, I don't remember them bringin' in the jaws of life..." when his wife starts recounting birth stories. :)  So here at your own risk.

Friday AM
2:12 - I got up after a contraction, then laid back down.  I'd had night contractions - some stronger and some lighter - for the past couple nights, but nothing time-able and steadily stronger.

2:28 - Another contraction - up again.  Hmmmm... maybe I should watch this... I laid back down and thought about it for a few...  I'd really hate to call Kristi to come stay with the kids in the middle of the night.  I was hoping this would happen during the day...  In the next 15 minutes it became clear that I needed to wake up Darrell at least.  Soon he called Kristi as the contractions continued.  She arrived and we left...

3:40 - Arrived at hospital ER. Contractions were strong enough now to stop me and double me over, so of course, I had one in the parking lot.  Signed in - yes, I do believe I'm in labor.  Those receptionists must be trained to be compassion-less.  No, it didn't matter that I was pre-registered I needed to wait for Labor and Delivery to come get me...

3:55 - The nurse comes with a wheel chair and pushed me down the hall - "Have you drank enough water..." etc.  She was trying to see if this could be false labor, but by this time I was feeling a little testy with the disbelieving receptionists.  As another contraction started, I said, "This is the real thing, Sweetie."  She believed me.

4:00 Triage.  How I love Triage.  Can't find me in the computer - but I was scheduled to be here for an Non Stress Test in the morning, and I was just here Tuesday for an NST as well, I called last week and pre-registered... Darrell explains that typically labor can be fast for me... OK, well every time is different, says the nurse.  Ahem.

I'm contracting regularly and stronger all the while.  Another nurse comes to help her with the computer issues, then Darrell shows her the place to click.  Eventually she resolves those things and checks me - I'm 3-4 cm, 80% effaced, up from 1-2cm at the Dr. on Monday. But baby is still high - Yes, I tell her, that's normal for me - they don't come down till the end.  Those contractions don't look that strong, she says, observing the monitor... (Thing #546 you should not tell a woman in active labor.)

4:15 - Calls my Doctor.  He says watch me for an hour because he thought that's about what I was on Monday... I said, no, that's not right.  He's not remembering correctly.  Remember I go quickly?  Remember he missed the last birth??  But doctor's orders are doctor's orders.  So she says I can shower and try to relieve the back labor.  It did help the back pain, but contractions got stronger, longer and closer together in the next 30 minutes.

5:00 - Contractions are continuing to gain intensity.  Darrell tells the nurse I really need to be admitted.  Nurse says, but I can't take that from you, I have to wait for Dr. OK - Darrell says, I'm just giving you feedback...  She says, I know -- we have a room ready.  She wants me to get back on the monitor.  Lay back so the monitor can pick up contractions well.  Only thing is, they make me want to double over!  Or at least sit up and make space for progress!

5:15 - She checks me again - 5-6cm, bag of waters is bulging.  She calls Dr. and he gives the go ahead to admit me.  I'm wondering about that epidural...I've never done this without an epidural... But I know how long it takes to get checked in officially and I know how strong contractions are getting and they're almost on top of each other now.

5:40 - They wheel me to my room. Nurse on the right asking me random questions: Do you know the results of your strep B test?  Details, details, in between helping me breathe through contractions.  Nurse on the left starting fluids.  I ask and yes, there's always an anesthesiologist on staff.  How fast can he be here?  They have to get blood drawn and results.  There. Is. No. Way.  But contractions continue on top of each other, tech is called to prep the room.  Darrell and nurse help me breathe through contractions - sooooo long and hard!  But they were awesome coaches and I tried to remember all that stuff from birthing class.

Nearing 6 - Nurse checked again and says "You're...7...8...9..." I say call Doctor. (but more dramatically, between panting...) :)  Prepping the room, breathing, focusing on not hyper-ventilating. Breathing, panting, little break between contractions.  Is Dr here yet?? I don't know how long I can do this!!  The nurse and Darrell keep me focused...

6:20 - Nurse says, "Look who I found wondering the halls!" and the doctor walks in - a welcome sight.  I'm at the beginning of a contraction, so I focus on making it thru - he checks me and breaks my water.  I tell him baby's gonna be here on the next contraction.  They break down the bed very, very quickly. Nurse goes to help Dr. and Darrell coaches me thru...with his face just a few inches from mine - hee, hee, hee, whoooo... Dr asks for the suction, and we heard that precious cry...

6:24 - I was right -- he was born!

Some observations:
  • Childbirth is a natural, yet very dramatic process.  I was interested/frustrated by how procedure-ized the hospital experience has made it.  When my nurse realized I wasn't going to fit into the procedure model, I think she switched modes well enough (she had been a Lamaze instructor in years gone by) - she joined Darrell in my face to keep me focused on breathing and did well.  But procedure kept her from doing much of that till the end.  I've decided all young couples should attend childbirth classes - you never know, you might not fit the procedure.
  • A person probably shouldn't say, "You're so lucky that labor is so fast and easy for you!"  Fast and Furious, perhaps, but don't equate fast with easy.  The same thing that happens for some people over many hours happens a bit more ferociously and in less time for some of us.  Not worse, just different, I'm sure.
  • I've left previous childbirth experiences terribly grateful for modern medicine.  I came away from this experience amazed and grateful for an awesome God who designed the process and made our bodies capable of doing incredibly hard things.  
  • I am also really thankful that God prepared my mind for the possibility of a natural birth.  I had thought that I might like to go completely natural, but 1) I knew that Darrell's reaction would be, "If you can have medicine, do it!"  2) And I've always had "good experiences."  3) And I wasn't sure I could do it.  However, I had talked to 2 or 3 friends about it and asked one of them in particular to pray with me about it...God knew.
  • God used another resource Redeeming Childbirth -- specifically a free chapter from the book called Nesting in Knowledge, to help me run to Jesus with fears and concerns and the mental scattering that happens towards the end of pregnancy.  Essentially, this chapter challenged me to "nest" spiritually and emotionally as well as physically, which was really, really helpful during labor, as scriptures would come to mind and prayers were constantly on my lips.

"Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15