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A Zombie Story

I have been working for a while on this other blog… I have been sick a lot this year, and we finally found out I have a tumor.  Yikes.  But it turns out I will be able to avoid surgery.  Hooray!

For anyone who is interested, please follow the link below to my quirky, fun-loving, authentic blog on the subject.  Thank you for reading friends.

HelloTumor.wordpress.com

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Pioneer Life: Part One

Once upon a time, I knew a brave woman who lived a pioneer lifestyle in many ways (God rest her soul).  She told me I would have hated it.  Maybe she was right.  I disliked her for saying it, anyhow.  Part of me wrestled with the fact that she may be right:  about the life being hard, or me not having what it took.  I wasn’t sure which she meant, and I was too afraid to ask.  Maybe both!

I have come to believe that we are all potential pioneers, if we have the guts to wake up and look at life with a new set of eyes… then, to stay awake! and press in to that pioneer mindset.

For the past year and three months my family has been embarking on an incredible set of adventures.  I will tell more later about how and why, and what spearheaded each part of it.  Some of the story is powerful and moving to myself — a “Thin Space” even, when I look back, though I could not have told you that in the middle of it.  From health and wealth to hearth and home, we have been working like true pioneers, walking foot by painful foot, or heaving our hungry hearts and harshly hewn wagons over wintry ruts and winding rivers.

Did I hate it?  Oh yes, certainly, parts of it.  Was it worth it?  Oh… my…. a resounding and reverent “Yes!”

After this intro I will share with you an adventure both life-giving and life-taking.  An ongoing journey that is most incredibly God-centering.  I am humbled, yet more built up than ever.  The shallow parts of me that remain have been drained and dredged out into deeper pools which are being refilled, and I know God is not done yet.  I may yet be a reservoir someday.  I dance in thankfulness and rejuvenated hope.

More to come… and apologies (kind of) for the long wait between posts….

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Well-Worded Advice

God has seen fit to bless me with a five-year-strong marriage and three beautiful children.

Along with these areas of great blessing, I have had moments of great need — for support, prayer, help, and advice.  Over time, I have found the more incredible words from friends and my heavenly Father building up into beautiful inner dialogues, sometimes battling or encroaching upon my more negative dialogues, even eradicating them, but always consistently energizing me and keeping me going.  Praise God.  These words are as refreshing as a Texas water canal, filled to the brim, gushing into a vivid-green rice field in the middle of our dry, reddish-brown countryside.

Let me share with you some of these reverberating cheers of my soul.

My Mother-in-law: “Leave the crumbs where they are.”  She said this right after my toddler son dumped something all over the floor.  We were all having to walk all over it while trying to serve dinner.  I loved her for that grace, that kindness, and that relaxed attitude about the mess.  I try to extend it to myself when I have chunks of food on the floor, etc. and have so many other things to do…

Our marriage mentors: “Intimacy is not the icing on the cake, but rather the yeast.  And intimacy is not so much about a goal, but about being together.”  How much effort and stress that has saved me in the past few years!  I could say the idea of being together applies to any activity I am doing with my husband, or my kids!  The goal is being together, not just to do whatever activity I have planned.  It helps me to keep that in mind!

My sister in Christ: “One thing I wish someone had told me when I was a new mom… take 5 minutes every so often, and stop, and rest, and breathe.  It’s okay, and the kids will be fine.  I flew around everywhere trying to take care of everything.”  Enough said, right?

The Lord (direct tap): “Trust me.  And ask me first when you don’t know what to do.  I will help you.”  More recently, he also told me “It IS good enough, and so are you.”  I have this posted above my sink now.  Thanks God, for taking my inabilities and making things happen supernaturally.

The Lord (through Scripture): “You are blessed beyond the curse!”  In frustrating, hormonal, or tired moments as a parent, spouse, or woman (pregnant or not), this speaks to me deeply!  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 — “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Blessings, Friends.  Thanks for reading!

Rehearsing the Good

Being content with what you have is a very tricky thing.  All too often, I try to “beat myself into submission” by saying: Darn it, won’t you ever be happy? or  Hey you selfish whining $@#%!*, just take what you’ve got.  or You got what you wanted, now you aren’t happy?  Be thankful!  What’s it going to take?!?  You’ll never be satisfied, will you!

There is a possible chance of needing an attitude adjustment.    But more and more, I choose to look to God about it all.  He is much fairer than I am.  (I actually told my whole “inner dialogue” above to “Shut up!” the other day and it was nice.)

Anyway, when I find myself in the mindset of complaining, I am learning to stop trying to discipline myself, and turn to God for “disciplining” me as he sees fit.  He promises to do the work in me to change me, right?  After all, I am unable to attain perfection.  But amazingly enough, he is so quick to respond with love and not impatience.  So unlike many of my earthly authorities, so unlike myself… but then, that’s what makes him so amazing.  How much more perfect could he get?

So… when I turned to him about my messy house and my frustration (still) with the “new normal” and wanting things “better,” I found my Daddy-God ready to sit me on his knee and… well, confirm my frustration: “Poor Baby,” he says… and then he shows me how to have a contented heart anyway.  Here’s what came out of it.

1) What I think I have: A very messy house.

What I really have: 1) Two really big projects going on that will help my family.  2) Two beautiful children. 

  

2 ) What I think I have: Dark circles around my eyes, hair not done, no energy or time to do makeup.

What I really have: Children that know I love them and love playing with me (and taking pictures together).

 

3) What I think I have: Trash and clutter all over the place.

What I really have: Tokens of God’s provision (including receipts for gas and bags from fast-food meals we were able to buy during a trip to the country) and our family’s love (belated Christmas gifts), as well as the blessing of enough energy to clean out the car.

4) What I think I have: A cluttered desk after I worked so hard last week to organize it.

What I really have: A reminder of my husband treating me with Starbucks, after I did his chores so he could go to bed early.

5) What I think I have: An unmade bed.

What I really have: A comfy mattress my husband bought in our first year of marriage, and a reminder of a good snuggle this morning.  

6) What I think I have: Messy changing station.

What I really have: DISPOSABLE DIAPERS!  What a gift!

7) What I think I have: A big pile of mess needing attention after our trip to the country. SIGH…

What I really have: Treasured tools my husband used to take down a giant wild boar that will fill our freezer with enough meat for months.

8) What I think I have: Filthy dishes piled up beyond reason.

What I really have: Filthy dishes piled up for a perfect reason: family needing us.

9) What I think I have: An unexciting meal.

What I really have: The pot that Grandmother Moore gave me at my wedding shower, making a very healthy chicken soup that we need due to cold and flu season.

10) What I think I have: A neglected, overgrown yard that needs our attention.

What I really have: A (neglected-for-a-darn-good-reason) yard which is overgrown due to all the RAIN!  Thanks God, for the RAIN, after months of drought!

  

So…. dear readers, I guess you might see where I am going with this.  I think I feel like all these things define how well I am doing as a wife and mom.  It’s as though all I see when I look around me, is failure, failure, failure.

But I am slowly learning, on my Daddy-God’s knee, how to rehearse the good things and not the bad things.  (This is something I’ve learned about lately at my women’s Bible study).  This is not a pushing down of my sorrows or hurts, though.  God merely helps me to address them appropriately, all with a good sort of snuggle with that ever-present Spirit of His.  The result is a favorable and uplifting slant of the “Truth” rather than a discouraging, downcast and condemning one.

Thoughts?  …and thanks for reading, Friends.

Delight in all my Labor

It is easy for me to forget in the daily grind that I am cherished.  Treasured.  God’s special girl.  A princess in the kingdom.

We’re not talking “positive self talk” here.  We’re talking true healing from the frustrating day yesterday, and knowing (and feeling) the tender heart with which God views all my mistakes, trials, and heartaches.

My husband has taught me this phrase: “PROGRESS, not perfection.”  I love it, but it is hard to really step into sometimes.  I do want to be good at my job, my life, you name it.  So, when even PROGRESS seems unattainable, I can be easily and understandably…. erhm…. emotionally constipated or… erhm… runny.  Either one.  Ha!

What I am realizing is that this enemy of my heart works to not only steal my self-worth, he also seeks to steal the joy in my work with this mentality.  I am suddenly just working away for nothing, not appreciated, not worth being appreciated.  The voices start saying: You should never have signed up for this.  You made a big mistake, and you will pay for it for the rest of your life (if you want to be a good wife and mother by not quitting).  

or

Look at the mistake you made.  You shouldn’t share about that with anyone.  They will just look at you sidewise and not want to be your friend.

Then I start filling in: I should quit — to be rebellious against all these voices!

or

I must never make that mistake again.  Let me be as hard on myself as I can so I will learn this time.

These are all tricks of the enemy of our souls!  I know God wants me to just rest in the identity HE has created for me…. it’s all there, in the Scriptures.

I am beautiful.

I am His treasure.

I am His bride.

I am not alone.

There is joy for my work today.

There is new mercy and grace for every mistake I make.

…It just goes on!

Ecclesiastes 2:10b — “My heart took delight in all my labor,  and this was the reward for all my toil.”  Even though the purpose of everything is to know and be known by God, and is meaningless otherwise, I seek to rest in His perspective of today.  I choose to look to Him for the joy and delight in all my labor… as a friend, mother, wife, homemaker (I loved seeing that on our IRS return!), and daughter of the King.

Overshadowed by Grace

‘…the power of the Most High will overshadow you… For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 
— from Luke1:34-37 (one of my Christmas/Advent readings)

After having my first baby, there came a season of  mental “re-training” — I had to realize that it wasn’t going to be so hard anymore to do things.  My body and brain started coming back, and I had to relearn how to use them in a non-pregnant way.  Anyone hear me on this?

With my first post-partum, I had no idea this issue even existed.  I just did not remember anymore what it felt like to be interested in cleaning, or maintaining some chore. I didn’t know it could be easy anymore to flirt with my husband.  There was no hope for our front porch or any other area which I had signed up to take care of in our married life.

Granted, that is not everyone’s pregnancy story (I don’t want to scare people away from having kids).  Nevertheless I think Snow White’s brain made a much faster return-to-normalcy after her coma than mine did.

It cracks me up: there were moments upon moments of “Aha!  It only took me five minutes to _________, and I’m not exhausted!”   Make some tea, put dishes away, clean an area, play with my child, whatever.  You name it.

So, the second-pregnancy-around, I came prepared.  (I thought.)  I talked myself through decisions to stop caring about my shaved legs by saying: “In a few months, I will do that again, but for now I won’t worry about it.”  I knew that I would return from the ride and eventually be myself again.

Uh…. yeah….. I forgot that this time I would have: “Two!  Two precious angels!  Ah – Ah – Ah!”  (Please tell me you get that reference.)  It’s not that I’m complaining.  I actually, if anything, would complain that I can’t seem to get over the change to two toddler/babies and keep smacking my head like a moron into the wall of “what I WANT to do.”  Again, anyone hear me on this?  I know I’m not alone or stupid in this, but dang.

So… here we are…. seven months in and I am finally getting some progress on my mental switch.  Anyway…. here’s to learning to taking it EVEN EASIER on myself and accepting the new normal.  My Father-God seems to know just how to embrace me in it, too.  I have to work a little at listening to His Voice instead of the inner-critical one that likes to play on me.

So… Proud-a-me?  Yes.

Is progress really that important?  Not always, no, not really.

Is it perfect?  Definitely not!

Is it still good?  Hell-to-the-yeah.

So, thanks, Lord, for helping through this next reprocessing/readjusting phase.  Thanks for helping me figure out the new normal.  And thanks for friends and family (and an amazing husband) who help and encourage along the way.  Help me to rest fully in Your overshadowing grace and love and excitement about my life!

Thanks for reading, Friends.

A Good Plan

People have often said to me “I don’t know how you do it,”  with a wide-eyed look at my two-under-two as though I have a brave — or insane — spirit.  I used to do the same thing.  I used to think it was all about having easy pregnancies — the lucky — or insane? — ones who enjoy pregnancy are the ones who are brave enough to keep going.  HA.

I definitely have my moments where I just want to scream and cry.  I love having children, and they are so beautiful to me, but when they bounce back and forth on who is screeching or fussing, or when they won’t go to sleep, or when they must have MAMA… I can feel a little too spread thin and too tired and… how does that line in the book ‘Captivating’ go?  “Too much and not enough, all at the same time.”  Something like that.  My emotions and needs are too much for me to handle, and I am not enough.

Bless her heart...

So as I have gone forward into the fray, I have asked God more and more how to handle these moments.  I have gotten prayer… it’s been a good journey and an exciting one too.

I find there is always one card I can have in my back pocket.  Say I can’t think or I can only cry or I just want to sleep… as happens as a Mommy, especially one who is still not quite fully recovered from pregnancy/birth: I can pray.

When all the ideas on the web and all the Scriptures in the Word and all the great advice FAILS to come to mind, because, let’s face it, MY MIND IS TIRED and refuses to cooperate a lot of the time, I am learning to sit back, relax, let the children scream or fuss or myself be overwhelmed or whatever it is, for a moment, and start to pray.  I go “God, I don’t know what to do.  HELP!”  In the words of Joyce Meyer, “I am such a mess! HELP!”  And I wait.  I don’t act until I hear from him.

It works.

Inevitably, a few moments may pass or a split second, but God shows me the next step.  It’s amazing.  I can calmly try that, and sometimes I have to repeat the process.  Other times, I find myself crying first before I can try anything.  But it works.  God clears up my heart, and fills in the blanks so I am no longer “too much and not enough at the same time.”  He heals my hungry heart for that moment, and walks (or carries) me through it.

It’s amazing.  You should try it.  I bet it doesn’t work for only new Mommies.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

That's Better...

Birth and the Great Beyond

I wanted to write more about my VBAC.  I say “My VBAC” realizing that, to some, it makes it seem like I am focusing on the childbirth experience.  There are so many more things that this was about, for me.  I will admit, I struggled some with feeling like it was more about the experience, much like a wedding…. but ultimately, my husband’s and my childbirth decisions were very closely tied to wanting our baby and me to be safe.

My Daughter and I

For my husband and me, the “curse of childbirth” (in the Bible) is real.  Ain’t no way around it.  We live in a broken world, with sinful people and broken bodies and an imperfect earth.  My husband and I don’t trust the human aspect of this equation as though it is some sort of all-perfect religious equation that can be left alone to work perfectly at all times… and I am not a cow or a dog, able to have the baby in a hall closet and unfortunate to lose if I die.  I am a human, much more important by our standards, and the risks are not just physcial — there are spiritual and emotional ones involved, for my husband and me.

Hubby and I with our Son

I wanted what is best for my baby, and for me (this addendum had to be taught me by others before I would admit it…. I used to think just the baby was important… but I am too).  “Healthy Baby, Healthy Mama,” as the saying goes.  So… my husband and I quickly found ourselves in the midst of a cultural upheaval, to say the least, here in the states, about childbirth.

From the homebirth/natural childbirth side: Many parents are turning to homebirth in the midst of legal-hassle-led and OB-oriented hospital-childbirth.  They want to be able to relax in childbirth (which lends itself incredibly toward healthy childbirth).  They want to know that something will not be pushed on them in the middle of labor or even toward the end of pregnancy, all too common, which could ultimately lead to complications.  Many parents are faced with completely unnecessary surgical deliveries, which can interrupt the nursing process and endanger the incredibly important bond between babies and mothers or lend itself to even other complications.

With my Baby Boy

From their parental standpoint, there are so many things which could go wrong and not be in their control due to the hospital’s or OB’s interference… and if these can be avoided, then childbirth will likely go better overall for the mother and the baby.  Sure, some folks get wrapped up in the childbirth experience itself, but not everyone does… I hope.  But what’s wrong with wanting the best experience possible, sans the risk factors?

Then there’s the doctor and hospital side of things:  they are doing their job with the advanced ability that medicine has to offer!  What could be seen as unnecessary, they still do not have the luxury of taking the chance over — because they have seen and do see the few times when that small percentage of risk became a reality.  Save the Mama and the Baby — that’s their job.  By the way Doc, don’t get sued: cover your rear end.  The risks are likely not to affect THIS patient, so forgive them when they get in your face about your interference, but if something DID go wrong, you are the one to blame.  Poor doctors!  No wonder some of these human beings — because that is what they are after all, not automatons — get into a mode of “do it my way or the highway.”  Why shouldn’t they?  Same goes for the hospital.

Our hospital/church friend with Baby Girl

But in many cases the pendulum swings too far, and before it can come back, the damage is done to hundreds of thousands… parents endure awful birth experiences.  Doctors find themselves incredibly liable — yet many still take that responsibility even if it means they can’t do some of the next advancement of medically proven childbirth.  So there are losses on both sides.

SIGH.

In the face of our first pregnancy, after the debate and the research (which we wanted to make sure was not slanted one way or the other by the source… and we don’t just read stuff on the internet!!!) we decided we did NOT want to take the risk of having a child at home.  Say something did go wrong…. did we want that on our heads if we had to get to a hospital and couldn’t get treated in time?  No way.  So hospital birth it was, and we asked the Lord for a good doctor.  We found one.  He was on the cautious side, but he was a good captain to have for this ship.

Waiting for the end, on bedrest, #1 pregnancy

Labor began.  I happened to go into labor already exhausted from hypertension-watch and intense swelling.  After hours of waiting, painful labor, epidural, more waiting… sleeping and rest, what a gift!  Nothing happened… we crossed the line of time where infection was now a risk… more waiting… our doctor was very gracious, trusting us not to sue his rear end should something go wrong because we asked for more time… finally, a decision was made.

Me and my Doctor

And I ended in c-section for my first birth.  Was it a failure?  No.  My baby was born, healthy,  alive.  I walked away, healthy, alive.  Why did it feel like a failure?  Thinking over a situation to see how you could have done it differently, for future reference, can be good.  However, my thinking over it instantly became a menagerie of second-guessing (as though we didn’t do the best we could with the time and awareness we had).  Add to that an incredible disruption of my bond with my baby due to infection and surgery recovery.  Then it took three months to get him to nurse properly and get him off of formula.  The c-section was hard to recover from, and we moved, which made it harder to really rest.

With my Son after c-sect.

I became obsessed with the fear that my friends who believed in childbirth at home or even just natural childbirth would think I was a fool and caused this all to happen.  I was afraid to talk to them about it, the very people I should have been able to open up to for support.  My fears became supported by their sidelong glances as they discussed their natural childbirth experiences or plans.  Even though they might have just been acknowledging we disagree on the subject, I immediately felt as though I had been condemned to walk a lonely path of never talking about the subject in their company since they could only assume (in my perception) that my c-section was my problem since I didn’t listen to them in the first place (as though any of them even thought that).  Never mind that if they truly felt that way, it was their problem and not mine!  I had a hard time drawing that line.

Working with Baby Boy

My body felt a natural loss over the physical anticipation of childbirth.  Like being told I would be climbing a mountain only to find my leg broken and being carried over it instead.  I didn’t know how to still feel the victory of the summit and descent when my body hadn’t done anything the way I had expected it to do.  Or a better analogy: I learned chess as best I could, sat down to play, made the best choices I could, and still “lost.”

There was this overhanging feeling that somehow I could have been a master of the situation and had a different outcome.  I believe now that is a lie from the pits of hell.  Childbirth is no different than any other situation in life: we do the best we can, learn from our mistakes, roll with the punches, and play the hand we’re dealt.  To think we have some sort of true ability to avoid all mistakes and control the outcome to any extent is fallacy.

Sleeping Prince

Older and wiser women as well as the folks we turned to as experts, all encouraged us that we had done our best and the baby and I were both fine.  But my heart wondered.  I struggled with wondering whether I could have done a better job with my infant if I hadn’t had to recover from a c-section, maybe I could have tried to push harder, maybe the hospital and doctor weren’t really looking out for me, maybe I could have this or that or the other…. and after a year I was still hurting, lost in the maze of disappointment and confusion about what was really best.  I went round and round about it emotionally.

Why do doctors and natural birth folks disagree so much?  I wondered.  Why can’t they work together?  Why couldn’t I be stronger, smarter, more able, more confident, more decisive, you name it?  Add to that the hormones, my God the hormones!!!  Add to that the guilt about struggling about all this, when my Baby is Healthy!  And So Am I!

Still waiting to heal -- inside.

So…. when my next pregnancy came along (yes, we dared try again!!!  Even with all that on my emotional plate)… my husband and I thought we would approach the same safety desire with as much care as we could.  We decided to talk with our doctor, get his feedback, hear his side, and discuss our concerns.  He talked about how he’d done a lot to set me up for a healthy recovery and thought I’d be able to do a VBAC.  He was quick to support my desire to try for a more natural birth.  I wanted to have more support to handle labor, so we hired a doula who believed strongly in natural childbirth but supported our desire to have the safety factor of a hospital.  We asked the hospital and our contacts there for help with managing the post-delivery, no matter what happened.  We asked for prayer.  We got counseling for me with my fears and hurts about the previous experience.  We decided to put it behind us and trust our doctor and ourselves to do the best we could.  And we did.  Thankfully, the VBAC was successful.  I felt incredible, and had a renewed sense of confidence in myself, let alone my body.  The process was very healing this time, even though I think it would have been even if we’d had a c-section again.

With Baby Girl, post-VBAC

We did all of this in the face of many people throwing more info at us about how homebirth or natural childbirth could be the best thing for us… but we stuck to our instincts (which is what they would do in our shoes, right? Even if they chose something else?) and ultimately our decisions.  We even did this in the face of others telling us we were putting too much emphasis on this part of it anyway, that a planned c-section would be better.

My Mom, one of my prayer supporters

As I went through this process, I learned a few things.  I learned that God cared about how I felt.  Even if there are worse things happening in the world!!! I learned I had so much more to learn about birthing, and how births really are all so different — like fingerprints!  Even though I had learned so much in advance of my first pregnancy/delivery, I learned again as much or more this time.  Picking up things here and there, I found my first birth actually, really, indeed, had likely NEEDED a c-section (what an incredible thing to be able to learn, even though I felt I had been able to put it behind me already).  Thank God I was able to have a c-section, then!  I learned how wonderfully my hospital and doctor performed, considering some of the stories out there.

Resting at Home

I learned to come to grips with the fact that there could always be things which I could second guess or have go wrong that I could not control.  Including death.  I learned that the controversy lies far deeper than just a discussion here and there… it will take some very brave people, like me, trying to help blend the middle line so that these two worlds can come together and truly start working together.  I learned how unique that makes me.  I learned how awesome it can be to completely disagree with someone else about birthing choices and still have a great friendship.

I also learned how thankful I am that we DO have the choice to have a hospital birth if we need it, a sterile one, a controlled (to a certain extent) one, a safer one than so many women/parents have had for centuries.

With my Son, one month after Baby Girl was born

I learned how God was there all along, working to comfort me and help heal me of the hurt that this process did to me (here in His originally-beautifully-designed-world which has fallen to brokenness of all kinds).  I drew closer to Him because of it.  And last, but not least, I learned how I can trust Him to help me through the future struggles I may have in childbirth, or in life, just like this, or even if they’re harder.

Thank you, Lord, for childbirth!!!

With my Daughter

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Thankfulness

Today I sit here, one day short of having a beautiful 5-week old baby girl.  I am so thankful I can hardly stand it.  I am healthy and so is the baby.  My VBAC was successful, and this girl was nowhere near May 20th, 7 lbs. 3 oz.  Ha, Ha!  Try several days overdue with a month of false labor, and a startling 9 lbs 6 oz!  Crazy!  More on that at a later time, perhaps.

Two Littlest

Many say, Oh, that we might see some good!  Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord.  /  You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than [they know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly.  Psalm 4:6-7, Amplified Bible.

At the times when I am so stressed I just want to lose it, or at the times I wonder, was I crazy to have two children under the age of two (my answer is no); when the laundry piles up and I can’t find anything… when I just want to watch an adult’s program on TV… when I just need to lie still and sleep a little longer… at those times, the verse above speaks to me.  I might find myself saying the first part (the complaint), and can then hold on to the truth in the second part (the rejoicing).

Six years ago, I thought I’d NEVER get to have kids.  I believed I would never meet anyone and be able to marry; that I would be alone so long that parts of my heart might embitter themselves permanently.  Even the Scriptures say “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12), and I felt pretty awful at that point.  I rooted down where I could, with a community of people who seemed to have some goodness and godliness, but all the same I yearned for more.  I could go on, but if you’ve been there, or are there, you don’t need me to, now do you!?

When I remember where I was then and see where I am now, I know I am truly blessed.  I see the health (in spite of the semi-chaos or hormonal upheaval) and I see the beauty.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t walk around in constant negativity.  I’m just processing the difficult moments and extreme satisfaction I am experiencing!

There is a baffling bittersweetness here: experiencing stress, but also deep peace.   Frustrated, but also overwhelmed with incredulity, joy and humble thankfulness.  This always reminds me of that scene in 50 First Dates where Drew Barrymore’s character wakes up to find herself married with a beautiful child and incredible view out her window.  She’s at once both scared and intensely thrilled.  That’s me.  I just have to work at the fresh perspective sometimes, while she gets it naturally each morning.  🙂

Thanks for reading, friends.  Thanks for this life, God.

(Warning: small adult humor moment at the beginning.)

…You Make Me Strong

My Baby Girl was finally born on June 8th, 2011, at 7:34 in the evening!  Praise the Lord, my princess is here, the false labor is over, my recovery can begin… and we can officially start this new chapter as a family. This was an incredibly healthy birth, from start to finish — successful VBAC, healthy baby girl, healthy mama… amazing adventure.

Beautiful Baby Girl

What was also incredible to me was, in fact, that I still did not escape the traumatic birth experience.  My first child’s birth was emotionally traumatic… I struggled for months afterward to cope with c-section after laboring all day and night.

First Birth - Transition to Surgery

I worked hard to hand the real control of this pregnancy over to the Lord… to honor Him in my stewardship over this young Baby Girl.  I felt He put her in my life because he knew the way I would strive to take care of her was just the way she needed to be cared for.  I did as much preparation as I could, research, asking questions, making decisions, prayerfully considering what I needed.  I began to deal with all my fears as well.  I know that birth is just the beginning, but in my family’s background there have been a range of scary and unsuccessful experiences.  My first birth had shattered a lot of my confidence at being able to handle a second birth, no matter which way things went.  Something meant to be so joyful instead became a sour and hurtful area… a place of isolation in fear rather than celebration.  Yeah, Satan really got in there… for a while.

My Baby Boy

About a month before the baby was due, I was feeling a confidence and strength that has lacked up until now.  I began to look forward to this experience instead of fearing it.

Now, here I avoided making this pregnancy about any of those first-birth things, went all the way to vaginal birth and beyond, and still — this birth proved to be just as traumatic in its own way.

This go-round, my pain was mostly physical.  There was some emotion to it, but more than anything else was the shock to my body.  I have never done anything as hard as this.  Ever.  Not even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can compare to it.

Thank you for praying for me and with me.  This has been an emotional, and physically traumatic, month or so for us.

I am so pleased and thrilled and thankful that the Lord saw fit to bless our VBAC attempt.  I had so much support while in labor.  When we finally got to the other side of delivery and they weighed Crystal in at 9 1/2 lbs, I was shocked.  There is nothing quite like knowing that the concerns about her size and health were not only in the hands of the Lord but that he took us to the opposite end of the spectrum from where we asked her to be (born May 20th — around 37-38 wks — at a dainty 7 lbs) to where she ended up (born June 8th — around 41-42 wks — at a hefty 9 1/2lbs).  It just goes to show that what we want and what God can do are often two very different things… and just because we don’t get what we ask for doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be incredibly blessed and wowed by the outcome.

My Hubby and Doula at Crystal's birth

I know that birth happens every day, and many of you have seen it or done it over and over in your lives or your families’ and friends’ lives, but for myself, this was a harrowing experience and I want to share about it as a testimony to God’s grace, sufficiency, and healing in my life.  I am so glad to be on this side of the whole ordeal, but knowing what Satan stole from me the first time around with Clay, how he invaded my sense of womanhood and confidence in myself, how he snatched a lot of peace from my family as a result, I now reclaim that — not with the VBAC, but with the process of leaning into God as I faced those fears and hurts again this time around.  I am so thankful that God is returning those things which were lost.  Again, not because the VBAC was successful, but through everything he did in me in the process.

Thanks for reading, Friends.  Hope it is an encouragement to you.