I wanted to take a moment and pen down our story. I know so many people that are always hurting and facing trials and I wanted to share the amazing story of how God took care of us in our trials and even moreso how He gave us the peace, comfort, and strength we needed while we were going through it all. If you are experiencing trials, please take a moment and read.
Pregnant Again – Anxiety and Fear
It all started way back in September, 2017. I came home from work and prepared to head out for Rachel’s mom’s birthday dinner. But, before we left, Rachel brought me a birthday card and asked if I liked the card as a gift for her mother. There were only two words that I remember on that card: “I’m pregnant.”
With our first pregnancy, we both had decided to start trying and did everything to make a pregnancy possible. One day, I noticed Rachel was acting differently and asked her to take a pregnancy test; it wasn’t too much of a surprise to find out she was pregnant. With our second, we weren’t really trying. It was kind of a “If God allows it, it will happen” kind of a thing. So, when I found out that Rachel was pregnant, I was in utter shock. Before finding out, I was preparing to eat one of the biggest Italian meals anyone had ever seen. Afterward, I would be doing good to keep down water.
I honestly had no idea how I would react. There was a part of me that was scared that Rachel would never get pregnant again. I had heard stories about how it’s super easy to get pregnant the first time, but subsequent pregnancies are near impossible. It’s as if the couple becomes infertile. I had played out the scenario of finding out that Rachel was pregnant in my mind thousands of times and each scenario played out differently from the last, but none of the scenarios came close to how I really felt: nothing but anxiety.
Now, before I am judged too harshly, I need to make it known for those that don’t know Rachel or me; we lost our son in our first pregnancy. He was born early at 25 weeks and only lived for two days. You can read more about that story here. I really wanted to be happy and I wanted to re-experience the joy that I had in our first pregnancy, but I just couldn’t. I was consumed by fear. Fear that it would all happen again. This fear quickly gave birth to exhaustive anxiety.
The few weeks that followed were, by far, some of the worst days and played out as acid reflux, sleepless nights, and anxiety. It got so bad that I had visited the ER twice for experiencing high blood pressure and a weird pressure in my head (come to find out later that it was a symptom of my acid reflux).
With all of this anxiety looming over my head, I spent a lot of time in prayer. Praying that the anxiety would just be removed from me, praying that I could understand why I was even feeling this way, praying that I could overcome; simply pouring my heart out to the Father. And each time I prayed, I was reminded to “Be still and know that [He is] God” (Psalm 46:10).
Consider those words. “Be still” is a command. Stop what you are doing. Stop what you are thinking. Stop everything; and be still. Until your mind is quiet, until your body is motionless, until you are willing to consider a thought, you cannot move on to the next part of the verse: “and know”. I have a lot of knowledge, but this “know” is more than just knowledge. It’s more than just trivial facts that are stored in your head. This knowing requires understanding. Know what? Understand what? “Know that [He is] God”. For those in the faith, this phrase might make you think, “Duh, I know that God is God. It’s in the name”. But what does it mean that He is God? What is God? God is an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (in all places simultaneously) being whose very character is the definition of love. God is the creator and the author. He transcends time and space and all laws of physics. He is also absolutely sovereign. This means that He can do whatever He wants whenever He pleases. This means He is in absolute control. With a resume like that, who am I that I think I should be able to instruct Him?
God loves the whole world and desires that everyone know Him (John 3:16). For those that love Him, He sometimes allows bad things to happen, but ultimately His goodness triumphs (Romans 8:28). And ultimately, God cares and loves as a perfect Father so that we don’t have to be afraid (Romans 8:15-16). Ultimately, for me, being still and knowing that He is God is realizing that I’m not in control and I need to stop trying to be. When I realize that I’m not the one in control and that God is, and that I need to trust His plan, my anxiety just disappears and is replaced by peace.
Being still and knowing didn’t come immediately. It took me a long time to consider and understand what that meant. We lost our first son at 25 weeks and, so, as that 25 week milestone approached, both Rachel and I became anxious. I would constantly find myself waking up at odd hours of the morning. My brain was on full alert. The slightest noise was waking me up. “Was Rachel having a seizure?” I would find myself asking each time as I reached over to see if she was convulsing. Rachel later told me that every time she fell asleep, she wondered where she was going to wake up. Would she wake up in an ambulance?
Every Day is a gift
Our Sunday School class had been doing a study on the letter to the Romans and I was listening to a study by Chuck Swindoll. On one of his sermons he detailed a simple prayer and challenged his congregation to learn it: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.” After we had passed the 25 week mark, I started to consider this prayer. “Lord Jesus”: Jesus, you are Lord of my life. You are master over sin and death and all creation. You have authority from God. “Have mercy on me”: Jesus, you have the authority to have mercy on me as a sinner. Forgive me of the fact that I do sin constantly.
Each night, before bed, I would pray “Lord Jesus, please extend your mercy and grace on us. Please provide your protection over Rachel and our son for just one more day” and each morning I would wake up praising the Father, “Thank you God for sustaining us through the night. Your mercies are new every morning”. It’s a truly different and wonderful experience to recognize that each day is a gift from God. It helps to keep pride out of the way which, in turn, helps to draw closer to Him.
Each and every day after 25 weeks carried less and less fear and more and more joy as Rachel progressed in her pregnancy. God was taking care of us and was having mercy on us. There is no reason we deserved such mercy and grace with all of the things we both have done, yet God graciously gave us day after day.
With each new day, I learned to trust God more and more and with each new day my anxiety was disappeaering more and more. I want to be clear that this was not an overnight process. It takes time and a close relationship with God to have anxieties and fears melt away. Little did I know that not only did I enjoy the peace of God, but that He was preparing me for what was yet to come.
Side-story – Blessed With A Vehicle
I’m going to take a brief detour. I promise, this comes into play in the end.
Rachel and I had sold her car way back in December of 2017. The car had problems and we wanted to get money out of the car while it still had value. Our plan was to buy her a new car closer to her due date at the end of May as the car we were borrowing from my parents (a 1995 Ford escort) was great as a Point A to Point B car, but didn’t have A/C and was thinner than a sardine can. I hardly felt safe with Rachel driving it let alone with a newborn.
I had no idea what kind of a car we would get. All I remember is praying just that, “God, I have no idea what kind of a vehicle to get or what is right for us, but I believe that you have a car set aside for us somewhere. Please provide for us and lead us to that car.”
I can’t even remember why I started, but for some reason I started looking at vehicles and let my dad know. He sent me a text, one day, letting me know that there is a car for sale that matches my criteria. It looked like a good deal: it looked clean, was around 100,000 miles, and fit my budget (we wanted to pay cash and stay debt free; be Dave Ramsey approved). We started shopping and tried to get a list of vehicles elsewhere that we would also like to look at. We decided to try all of the other vehicles on our list first. We test drove and drooled over some other vehicles, but they just didn’t feel quite right. Saving the one vehicle for last, we test drove it and loved it for all of the above reasons. With our first car as a married couple, we went all out and heavily into debt. Before we decided to purchase that first car, we had prayed about it, and pretending as if it were God’s will for us to buy the car, we bought it even though I had a terrible feeling, manifesting as pain in the pit of my stomach, that we shouldn’t buy the car. We lost over half of the money we put into that car due to depreciation and had nothing but problems with its transmission. And now that we were wanting to buy a new car, we wanted to know God’s will for real this time. If He said “No” we were ready to walk away. However, this time, it really felt like this was the vehicle for us. It wasn’t perfect as a new vehicle as it had some flaws that I had to fix, but it just felt like the right one. I had no pain in the pit of my stomach like I normally do when I know I’m not supposed to buy something. And so, we bought it.
Trials, Considered Pure Joy
Time passed and I started to get more of a yearning to watch less TV and study God’s word more. So, one day Rachel and I went to the Christian book store and picked out a study on James and began to study the book of James each night rather than watching TV. The study moved slowly and was dense. We really only covered the first few verses of chapter one before everything happened.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are faced with trials and temptations knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But, if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:2-6).
This passage is simply stating that, for a Christian, trials (tough times in life) can be looked at as a good thing because it gives us an opportunity to ask for God’s help and to trust in Him to carry us through. If we don’t know how to handle a situation, “if any of you lacks wisdom”, then James tells us that we should ask God for wisdom, and He will give it “generously and without reproach” so that we know how to handle each situation. Additionally, and importantly, once we ask for the wisdom, we need to believe that God will provide us with the wisdom needed for the situation. Quite simply, we need to “be still” and wait upon Him.
Rachel and I always pray before we begin our study, but for the very first study, I specifically remember asking God to help make His word real to us so that we not only know it in word, but also that we can practice and live it. I’ve been told to be careful what you pray for as God never directly gives you the fruits of the Spriit, but gives you opportunities to allow for those fruits to grow. The following is proof of the truth of those words.
One Saturday morning, I tried to pick up our little miniature dashschund off of our bed and set her on the ground so we could begin our morning duties. However, as I began to set her on the ground, she yelped in pain. She has had bad back problems in the past where she requires crate rest and isolation to give her back time to heal. We had a wedding to photograph that day, so we put her in her crate while we were gone and hoped that she would get the rest she needed in order to heal. After a long day, we finally returned home and let both of our dogs out. Only to our dismay, our little girl came out of her kennel, excited as ever, but her back legs weren’t able to remain standing. She was walking as if she were drunk. Rachel recalled that the vet had told her if anything like this happened we needed to get her to a vet as soon as possible. We took her to an emergency vet where they told us that she required surgery or she wouldn’t be able to walk again. Surgery would cost something like $5000. There’s no way we were going to be able to get the surgery. They sent us home with pain meds and steroids, but neither seemed to help. She was in severe pain. I remember thinking that maybe buying the car wasn’t in God’s plan, because had we not, we would have been able to pay for her surgery.
The next business day, we took her to her regular vet who told us that it was possible that she had damaged her spine so bad that her spine had basically turned to mush. If that had happened, not even surgery would help and our only option, if we loved her at all, would be to put her to sleep. This crushed both Rachel and I. However, the vet wasn’t going to give up. He gave her a cocktail of pain meds and a high dosage of steroids and told us that if she didn’t sleep significantly better that night, then we were probably going to have to put her down. At first, she seemed to be doing better. But, as we drove her home and let her rest for a few hours, her pain returned and she was absolutely miserable.
For those that don’t know us, our dog Ginger is our little girl and we call her “Whiddle Baby” as she has always acted like a little baby and a princess. And honestly, we treat her as such. After the loss of our son, our two dogs became more than just pets. We loved them before, but after, we loved them way more than we thought we could. They became our children. It tore us up inside to see our little girl in so much pain.
Slowly, we realized that this night was probably her last. We started saying our goodbyes, recounting all of the memories that we could think of. I decided that since we were probably going to have to put her to sleep anyway, we might as well dope her up on pain meds to try and make her comfortable. Afterward, she was finally able to lay down and go to sleep in a more natural position whereas before, she was only able to stand up in a weird and unnatural position. A little bit of relief came to us that she seemed to be in less pain. We continued crying out to God the whole night drifting in and out of sleep, praying for a miracle. I continually remembered James, “Consider it pure joy…”, and constantly asked for wisdom and strength for this terrible situation.
The next morning, to our amazement, she seemed to be doing much better. She had slept from 9PM the night before to 7AM the next day and didn’t seem to be in as much pain. After taking her to the vet again, he prescribed a high dosage of steroids and we continued on with the pain meds. Because the high dosage of steroids can cause stomach problems, he also gave us an acid reducer.
That night our dog was doing much better. By now, her legs were fully paralyzed in the rear. Along with that, she was also unable to urinate for herself, so Rachel and I would have to express her bladder by first trying to locate it (a very difficult task!) and then squeezing the urine out of it. On top of that, she would defecate in her cage as the stools would just fall out. We were sleeping by her cage in the living room as she didn’t like being left alone and there was more room to sleep on the floor in the living room so that I could sleep right next to her. We laid down to go to sleep that night and Rachel was sleeping on the other side of Ginger’s cage. Then, sometime around 9PM, Rachel told me that she had one of those weird deja vu episodes that she had had in her first pregnancy. They are like weird, yet vivid day dreams. I acknowledged what she had said and told her that we should call the doctor in the morning and ask about it as I somewhat drifted off to sleep. In the back of my mind, however, I thought that it was possible that she could have another seizure that night. I found myself praying. And then, it happened again.
It sounded like Rachel was trying to get my attention by saying something as I sat up and looked at the couch where she was laying. She slowly sat up looking sort of at me and then lurched toward the back of the couch and started convulsing. I sprang up to the couch and turned her to her side while calling 911.
The paremedics came and took her to KU Med. I tried to gather my mind as I started to pack things. I was completely exhausted from the last 4 days with being concerned for Ginger and it was close to 2AM, so I wasn’t thinking clearly. I made sure to grab Rachel’s phone charger, but I completely forgot to grab her phone… that kind of exhaustion.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I discovered that they were already planning on inducing her. The baby was coming.
Poor Ginger Gets Worse
Our poor little girl gets anxious when we leave the house and even moreso when we have to leave her in her kennel. Throw in the fact that 6 or 7 strange men were just in the living room followed by my sudden disappearance and, oh, did I mention that we moved her to a knew (hopefully more comfortable) cage the night before? Needless to say, the poor girl was pretty badly shaken up. While I was at the hopsital, my mother went to the house to pick up our dogs. She tried to take care of her (including trying to express her bladder), but the poor girl was so anxious in addition to the effect of the steroids, she couldn’t keep down food or water and was constantly vomiting.
There I am at the hospital with my wife waiting for the arrival of our second child and our little girl was at home broken and sick. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was how she was going to die: paralyzed and without us. Eventually, I told my mom to call the vet and explain the situation. They instructed her to bring Ginger in. It must have been a wild story seeing that 33-weeks pregnant Rachel was literally standing in their office the day before appearing happy and healthy. They told my mom that they would take care of Ginger while we were in the hospital.
I Can’t Imagine How You Feel
The whole time thoughts of Peter loomed through my mind. I had various thoughts about how it was possible that Rachel could have a stroke from eclampsia or that she could hemorrhage during delivery, or that Michael could somehow die during delivery, or that he wouldn’t be able to breathe; the list goes on and on. I remember some people using the phrase “I can’t imagine how you feel”. That is the main reason I wanted to write this post. I wanted to let everyone know exactly how we felt during this whole time because it’s how we felt that stands as a testament to how great our God truly is.
No matter whether I would lose my wife, no matter whether we would lose our son, no matter whether I would lose both, God is still in control. He loves my wife, He loves our sons, and He loves me. And it’s knowing that He is in control and that He can use any situation to bring others to Him and His love that brings peace. It’s knowing that at the end of it all, we will all be united again forever that brings peace.
I can tell you exactly how I felt with our first pregnancy: I was scared out of my mind. My entire world was shaken. What I thought was certain was only a vapor changing and blowing in the wind. However, this time, I felt peace. While I had all of those terrible thoughts going through my mind, I felt peace. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God was going to take care of me. I knew that, in the eternal sense, He’d take care of my wife, that He’d take care of our son, and I knew that He’d give us the strength to get through the death of our dog if that was in the plan.
I wanted to write this post because it’s all real. God is real and I’ve felt a peace that just doesn’t make sense and I want everyone to be able to experience such assurance when massive storms are rolling through your life. I honestly believed that my God would carry me through and He has. All I had to do was sit back and watch. All those months before with all of the pain and anxiety that I was experiencing, God was preparing me for this moment so that I could make the choice to trust Him.
On April 5th, 2018 at 10:09AM, our son John Michael Boman was born. A healthy baby boy at 4 pounds 7 ounces and 18 inches long. He had to live in the NICU, but instead of the 3 to 5 weeks like we were told, he was there for only a week and a half. There were hundreds of people that were praying for him, not only on the day of his birth, but also in the months leading up to it and I know it’s their prayers and God’s hands that made him so strong. Today, at 37 weeks, he is over 6 pounds.
On top of that, our dog Ginger has been doing much better and is back home with us where she is on strict crate rest. She has been lately showing signs of strength in her rear legs. Her tail has been somewhat wagging, she is able to hold her bladder and instestines, and, with some help from me, she is able to stand on her back legs for very short periods of time. Her pain is gone and we’re tapering her off of her steroids. We’re still praying for a miracle in nerve regrowth. She most likely will never walk exactly the same, but I believe she will be able to stand on her own again.
I had mentioned the purchase of our car. I now know for sure that the car we chose was the car that God had picked out for us. We bought that car literally two weeks before our son was born. Had I waited, like my original plan, I’d have to be currently looking for a car while trying to care for a preemie, a paralyzed dog, and a sleep-deprived wife. I absolutely believe that the car we got was the car that He set aside for us and we really didn’t have to spend much time looking for it.
Everything just fell into place and I didn’t have to worry about any of it.
Lastly, I wanted to briefly mention yet another trial we had experienced during the first week of Michael being in the NICU. With all of the vet bills we just accrued and with various other expenses from the month, we were already running low on money in the checking account and we only had a couple hundred dollars to get through the week. Thankfully, though, I was to be paid that Friday. While we wanted Michael to come home, it was a blessing that he was still in the NICU because we didn’t have to buy a bunch of baby things immediately. So the money would be spent on gas, food, and vet bill for boarding Ginger while Rachel was in the hospital. However, that same week and that same day we were going to pick up Ginger, Rachel’s debit card was compromised and all of our remaining money was taken from our checking account. We were literally sitting at $0. I’m not going to lie, I felt extremely frustrated at this point. But, I was reminded of everything we had just gone through and decided to let go and let God also take care of this one.
Rachel and I give ourselves an allowance of money to spend on our own wants and desires each month. Thankfully, I had instructed Rachel several months before to go to the bank and withdraw cash so that we could easily keep track of how much each person had. It was this money that we used to take care of Ginger, but we were still going to be short for tithing. Amazingly enough, without telling anyone of the predicament we were in, God provided us the exact amount we needed to give tithe that Sunday and to also support various ministries that we donate to.
I see so many people hurting with problems, worried about situations, facing trials of life all on their own and it hurts me because I’ve been there and I just want to scream at the top of my lungs “Listen! You don’t have to live that way!” Please, consider our story.
If you are struggling, if you are tired, if your are facing problems, if you just need a friend, turn to Jesus. Do research on Him. Ask others about Him. I wrote this account so that, hopefully, our story will change the life of at least one person. Cast all of your cares on Him and He will carry you through.