Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ways of Boys


I am number 4 of a total of 5 girls. My childhood home was all estrogen, all the time. Due to this, I've had a Ripley's Believe It or Not-style fascination with the ways of boys in general. As if males were an anomaly. Because in my family they were. What do they do? More importantly in this case, why do they do it?

Jesus answered my lifelong curiosity with some boys of my own. Well, I guess it really started with getting married, but that's different.

Side bar: Let's just quickly qualify the point that I am differentiating within the general topic of "males" based on relationship. I had friends, cousins and other outside male relationships like that. And I willingly married one but, qualifying it on relationship, my definition included "man" and "romance" and "flowers" and "love notes", etc., in other words, its biased.

All that to say, my everyday understanding of boy begins with my 6 year old, especially non-verbal son. So, as I have questions like "is this a personality thing or do all boys NOT talk EVER?" - my son isn't the one to ask for insight into himself. And this comes into play especially with school. And here is where I thank difficult circumstances for the much better outcome: I got book on the library about boys and their brains!

No, seriously, that's the punchline. Author Michael Gurian had done years of brain study on boys and men and the male brain. THANK YOU, SIR! And has come out with some books to talk about what makes boys so unique and great (because, frankly, they get kind of a bad rep if you think about it).

I've read through (ok, skimmed for the pertinent parts) 3 of his books about adult male relationships, how boys and girls learn differently and the need for boys to have a higher calling. Very, very interesting stuff. I've changed some of the ways I relate to my son, but especially in the ways I try to motivate my son or give him greater meaning. My 9 yr old daughter has even come back to me to tell me a tip or two she has used in her relationship with her brother. Bottom line: useful.

So, do you have a boy in your life? Go out to your library (of which I'M SURE you already have a card, because you support your community) and get The Wonder of Boys.

[End Public Service Announcement]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birthday Holiday

9 years ago I was much dumber.

I was surprised by a pregnancy. And 9 months later, after a long, difficult labor and emergency C-section delivery, I had my first baby in my arms. A little girl who was more beautiful than I deserved. I was happy. I was NOT ready. And like most new moms I was starting down a road of low levels of consistent stress. Everything was a 1st. I didn't have much experiential understanding. You know that gauge inside every mom for her child that reads "Happy & Healthy" on one end to "Dangerous & Life Threatening" on the other? My needle was all over the place. Was that fever ok or terrible?

Thank you, God, for your graciousness. Its a gift, not a reward.

My daughter turned 9 yesterday. In some ways, she is someone I want to be when I grow up. If I were her age, I'd want to be her friend. She's THAT great.


6 years ago (and 2 weeks) I was a bit more ready for baby #2. It seemed there actually WAS room in my heart to love another baby! And yet, I loved this little boy uniquely. Probably because he was a whole new, unique person. I was also more relaxed. It was easier to just love without caution. I found that I loved my little family and I wasn't sure that I would. I mean, I really really love them. They are still my favorite people. In the whole world.


But something unlocked in my heart with this last baby.

I don't just appreciate new life now, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

I am deeply moved by the face of a newborn. Its not just "hope" or "the future" or "life", its deeper and stronger and bigger than those words. Its bigger than any of the words I know or have used before. I feel...intense about new life. Its become a cherished gift to me.

Which makes children an incredible honor.

My baby is 1 today. (yes, I have all September babies, go ahead and giggle)
We tried for more than a year for him. A very long, sad year. And the other two had been praying for a baby longer than that (before Mommy was even ready!). He is cherished by this family. I don't think we've ever been upset with him. Frustrated, sure, but we are just so thankful for him and his whole self that spilling, hair-pulling, lego-wrecking and the demand for Mommy's attention is all worth it.

Bottom line. They are all so worth it. All the babies. Everywhere. And that's smart.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Put Your Hand To Something, Honey!

Inspiration! (I love that the word for a creative light bulb over our heads is the same word for breathing in - genius!)

I'm a creation creative advocate. Ignore the grammar issue and stay with me, we're going somewhere.

If God's first handshake to us, the first impression, in Genesis was "God created" (Hi, I'm God. I'm so creative I am The Creator), then I'm guessing that the creative element of being human is a big part of the "image and likeness" tag we wear.

That established, I'm a real cheerleader for creative endeavors.  

Put your hand to something, honey!

Do something new. Create something. Do a craft or bake a cake or install flashy rims on your car but do something with your hands. Write. Imagine. Because (and here's where we put the big equals sign) it will yield (or =) the reward or fruit of a certain...nearness...to God. (there's gotta be a better word out there, but I'm in a rush - the baby's asleep)

In my opinion, it opens up the doors to greater knowledge, understanding and emotional connectivity to eternity since the greatest concentration of image and likeness would seem to be found in our spirits and thus tapping our creativity means tapping into our spirit.

So. This is a super article about writing.

Go on. Get started.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who's The Boss

I homeschool my children.

Homeschooling is a weighty lifestyle and value choice. Its deviant in that it breaks from a cultural norms and like other deviations requires great effort.

My sister does not homeschool her children. She weighed and considered and chose to use her local public pre-school. And while it would seem that we are odds on a very deep, lifestyle value level, we still manage to remain friends.

I love her very much. She loves the Lord, like I do. She loves me. In this case, while I am beyond convinced that I am making the better choice for my children's education, I do not pretend to know what's best for her children. Though, believe me, sometimes a voice in my head tells me I do.

In caring for each other, we will challenge each other's choices and thus, values. And while, there must be a peaceful medium between hands-off neglect and judgmental control, I do not claim to know where it is.

And so I wrestle with the Lord and His ultimate purposes for others and myself while in between those two places. I wrestle with people who are right all the time and those who can't make a decision. And I have no hard and fast answers. These are just things on my mind these days. But I still want to know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Separation Anxiety


I dropped my daughter off at camp this week.

She's 8. It was the first time she was going to an all day event. It was only 5 days long.

But sure enough, day 2, I dropped her off on my own. No family in tow, just her and I. I kissed her sweet braids and she trotted off (she's has the funniest, floppy run. this one'll never be an athlete). I went back to the car. Lonely. I went grocery shopping. Lonely. I bought more treats that I usually allow. Lonely. John noticed the treats and figured it all out.

I reflected like I haven't reflected before. Probably because I haven't had that much quiet before. I saw each of my little ones getting more independent as they get older. Then the day where they love some stranger more than they love me or their dad, for the first time. They'll marry that stranger and then my job will be....over.

I mean, I get that it won't be OVER over. Just different. But, let be honest, it'll be over. Being mom is my job. I love this job. I have other passions and callings that will probably become more of a primary focus at that point, but still. That's a big transition.

So, for a while there, I missed my little ones. And their little kisses, hugs and affections. I missed their little laundry and the way they fit on my lap.

Camp's over. She's back. I HAVE little ones now. But I was grateful for the vision of the future to help me live very much in my today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Forgive You

I don’t know what it is. Getting older. Having children. Or something else just outside the reaches of my comprehension. But more and more these days I’m quickly reaching the end of my shiny fa├žade and facing the desert of what I am not.

I have a sin-nature.

I know that you’re probably thinking, “get in line, Patsy McPityParty”, but let me expound. If I pause, I can almost see my sin nature. Like a grumpy old lady. Like Debbie Downer meets the Cat Lady from the Simpsons. She’s snarky with a raspy voice. Probably from decades of smoking…metaphorically speaking.

And since today’s episode is about forgiveness, I’ve given you that background so that when I use a phrase like “forgive yourself” you can see her exaggeratedly mimed violin-playing, and her voice saying, “Go sell your snake oil somewhere else, Dr Phil!”

I was minding my own business in church, right? I was in and out with the baby. I was only catching the highlights of the message and none of the more interesting nuances – half listening. There is an altar call regarding unforgiveness.

Me: “I’m cool on this.”


There is lingering and its not moving on very quickly. So I have a quick chat with HS (Holy Spirit) making myself available to whatever He may want to show me about unforgiveness. Because, in general, I’m a good girl and I try.

So here’s what happens: it starts quietly and gently with…why can’t I get over what that person did? I can’t even seem to hang out with them anymore. I can’t even be in a conversation about them without the conscious choice to hold back mean words.

But I’ve prayed about forgiving them. I’ve tried. And its not working. In other words, I’m so angry with them I can hardly be around them. Why?

In the lingering altar call people get up and share promptings from the Holy Spirit. I hear someone mention “taskmaster”. And I think about the taskmaster in my head that criticizes me at every turn. So I run down a list of authority figures in my life. Is it their voice? Nope. It’s a tormentor. Like a spirit. Like a religious/control spirit or something.

Then I realize that its not a religious/control spirit. At least not one outside of me. Its me. I’m my taskmaster. When I do something careless, I can’t let it go. I don’t like me. I’ve said about myself, “I can’t stand me sometimes.” It was in the form of a joke, but it doesn’t make it less true.

And maybe the first time I was stung by criticism it was from an authority figure or someone I respected. Maybe I heard it first from someone else. But no one is saying it to me now. No one is verbally abusive to me. Except me. Even if it had begun somewhere else, I had taken the reins now.

I was my cruel taskmaster.


So I got prayer. I joined a line of other people who were asking for prayer in this area and just dialogued with the Holy Spirit. In this case I didn’t have to do anything weird or tell all my stories. I just received prayer and forgave myself and gave me grace to be me. I felt warmth all over me and then I felt full of love.

I felt ok with my weaknesses. But mostly I was glad to realize that I now loved dearly those ones that I had struggled to even be positive toward.

Now I haven’t put a lot of scripture in here to support my experience. And while I’m still not into Christian Self-Help, I gotta tell you: freedom from bondage feels good.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Living Like An On Call Firefighter

As Disney's Johnny Appleseed can attest to "Oh, the Lord is good to me..."

This week my 8 and 5 year old homeschool shut-ins have followed Daddy to his summer art class job. He has the precious (and monetary) opportunity to teach elementary age children at a local performing arts school/non-for profit. Just two hours a day having fun with Modern Art techniques (I think, I get the eras mixed up sometimes. He's saying things like "Pop Art" and "Lichtenstein" and no one should ever have to spell that.)

When they get home, I hear about their new friends and how much fun they're having. John comes home busting with pride at our children. This is the equivalent of them taking interest in the "family business". They are having so much fun and I'm so happy for them.

....Oh, what am I doing with all that time? Nice of you to ask.

I'm bored. I'm home alone with the baby. I mean, we ARE laughing, napping and cudding a lot together which, honestly, I really don't mind because this guy is so friendlly that sometimes I feel I need to remind him, "listen fella, I'm your favorite person, remember?" But its very remniscient of having a first baby. We're glued together until he naps and then I scramble around doing everything I have to do at a furious pace at which I drop it all becasue he's crying. When did I get so bad at this again?

I had to try to take a shower twice yesterday. And by that I mean, I got in, got soaked, did 2 of the 50 things I do (don't judge, its only a rough estimate), whereupon the baby began to cry (yes, I take every opportunity to use the word "whereupon") and I had to get out, dry off and tend to him. I had already acively procrastinated this shower a day (or more, don't judge) and it took that much more will power to get back in later.

This week: food is not getting cooked. Laundry is not being washed. The house is not getting clean. Now, these don't automatically happen in my house anyway (don't judge, Jesus is watching you), but they are especially non existent this week. It could also be due to the fact that as soon my family walks in the door we are shoving food in our mouths WHILE shouting orders to get an activity bag together because we're late for the babysitter and all the full events this week WHILE we walk right back out the door. I agree, that doesn't help the disorder of my house.

But it sure does remind me a lot of when I was home alone with my first baby with the schedule and lifestyle of a Firefighter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mom, This Is For You.


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There’s a long-standing joke between my mom and my 4 sisters. She claims that we have never written anything about her. In all our years of composition classes and papers, she claims, we have never written a glorious ode to her virtues. (I have proof that in preschool I wrote some very heartfelt things about her popcorn on a block of wood with my handprint on the back. But I don’t think this is what she’s talking about.)

This year, unlike the past years, I spent Mother’s Day away from my mom. On its own, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. My mom doesn’t make a big deal out of the day; she’s not really into “Hallmark”. But for a variety of reasons, I spent Mother’s Day weekend away from my mom yet reminded of her at every turn. And so, the following is a brag sheet on my mom and how I walked into (and subsequently knocked myself out Three Stooges-style on) the bar she set as a mother. Ok, the list is as follows:

  • I made a 4-hour car ride with my little family. John drove our van. I sat with the 7-month-old baby. Eight-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother played in the back seat.



- My mom (and dad) moved to Florida when the youngest were 7 and 8. That’s a car ride. But then there were car trips back and forth to visit family in St. Louis. If that weren't enough, we moved to Guatemala when the new baby sister was just under 3. We drove 3 cars through Mexico and it took 5 days! I know! I was there! Subsequent trips got more efficient and we made the trip 4 more times through the years and got it down to 3 days through Mexico. THROUGH MEXICO! Ohmygosh.

  • I made dinners for 5 adults and 6 children during the trip. It took planning and forethought. Mostly, I asked my mom for her advice. (She said ‘crock pot’ and she was dead-on!) I impressed the others by trimming the fat off a roast.



- We moved a lot; to Florida, to Guatemala, to Moscow, to Latvia. Every time she would have to find the grocery stores. In the lesser-developed countries she would have to find several markets (markets!) to get everything we needed. I know that Moscow was especially tricky. There was a meat store, a different bread store, a different home supply store, etc. And shopping was needlessly complicated (thanks, Communism). She could only shop for one day at a time and we didn’t have a car. So everyday she would get seriously bundled up and pull a rickety rolling cart over ice and snow to buy us food for our meals. What a nightmare. I can’t believe she did that. On top of it, they didn’t butcher meat the way we do, so she would buy a big hunk of meat, get educated on cuts and do her best dividing it up into different parts. Yeah, she ground our own beef. Because there was no ground beef. Just fill-your-table sized chunks of beef.

  • There were two families and the grown-ups were almost outnumbered. Order hung by a thread.


- My mom has incredible kid intuition! She has a gift from God for young children. She has background early childhood development and it shows. She’s the child whisperer. She instinctively knows how to respond to the varieties of children behaviors and she has decades of experience managing little persons. If things are starting to get hairy, she not only brings peace and order, but she’ll have them playing a game. For the past 18 years we’ve always had a grandbaby around and there’s only a 6-year gap between the youngest daughter and the oldest grandchild. She “gets” children. They’re never a nuisance, rather they’re tired, or hungry or just need some attention. She’ll have your kids eating out of her hand in no time. It’s a gift.

Overall, I don’t consider myself an exaggerator. I don’t feel that I flatter unduly. I tend to choose my words carefully so as to not say something I don’t mean. I won’t say the pants make you look fat, but I might compliment the design on the pockets instead.

All that to say, my mom’s the best.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Blog,
Hi. How are you? I'm doing well.

I'm sure you're all "you MUST be doing well considering how you've neglected me these past few weeks. Sheesh." You're right to be angry. Its been quite a while.

So this little note is to let you know that I'm making plans to catch you up on a few things. So, in the future, be ready to hear about My Mom, Forgiveness and Who Does John Think He Is?. And if we get through all that, then I'd love to talk more about Belief. That one really jumped out and surprised me.

Blog, I know this isn't an answer. This is chintzy at best. But we go back, Blog. I'm relying on the strength of our relationship to get us through this distance.

Yours,
Bizzy

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Weird (And Terrible) Story

In my last blog A Gift and An Honor, I talked about my infant son and I mentioned having a weird story to share. Its not a funny story. It'll likely be long, but this one isn't about readability. Its something I need to tell.

*Deep Breath*
Have you ever done a Marketing Survey? The kind where you go to a business and they pay you for your opinion?

I'm on a calling/emailing list for a company and I've taken part in surveys on diapers, litigation, radio shows. The routine is always the same. You show up with a mob of other people, spend 3-4 hours answering a few rounds of questions, comment here and there, and that's it. You walk out with a check. Its clear to every paid participant that we are nameless and faceless; we're a demographic for an outside marketing company to practice their enticements upon. But I haven't gone back since the last one. I've been avoiding their potential $75 invitations.

When you arrive, you're not quite sure what the particular survey is about but the initial line of questioning that got your foot in the door is a good clue. This particular time it was an election year and based on the questions I had a pretty solid idea it was related to someone wanting to be elected.

I was in a really big group of men and women, young and old and practically every conceivable race. We were crammed into a little room where we watched a video of a political style debate. We each held a sliding, circular dial in order to dial in our negative and positive responses in 'real time'. A computer recorded our answers and matched them to our demographic.

The video was a little silly. There were actors that portrayed candidates. One guy was young and snotty with country accent. One was older, nonplussed and sophisticated. There may have been a woman in a pant suit - I don't remember exactly, but I'll never forget what they were talking about.

Abortion.

Mr. Country was snotty, pro-life and all about morality. Ms. Pant Suit was snotty, pro-choice and all about rights. Mr. Cool was sympathetic and for women's health. It wasn't hard to match these stereotypes to the candidates up for office at the time and I felt it was pretty clear who was paying for this survey.

Here's where it gets hard to proceed with the story:

Like many surveys, at the end of the group portion they might call a few to stay later and answer more specific questions. For once, I just wanted to go home. It was late. I was tired of thinking about someone campaigning with a pro-choice platform. I'm a homebody. I missed my little family. Keep your extra $50, send me home.

As you've probably guessed, they called my number to stay.

After all the shuffling around, I was left with a group of about 7 other women of different ages and races. We were just one of 4 groups of women to stay behind. We grab a snack, we make chit chat and get into a circle to talk. There is a camera behind our moderator. We are less anonymous.

And the moderator begins with "You were chosen to stay based on your responses as women who are pro-choice."

WHAT?! NO, I'M NOT! Should I say something and get out? How could they think that about me? My responses! Oh no. Am I? Am I too sympathetic? Am I not pro-life enough? I didn't know.

I looked at the faces of "pro-choice women". According to my prayers, my voting record and the conferences I frequent, I was solidly at enmity with the very thing that identified these women as a cohesive group. No matter what the dial said about me, I was not pro-choice, but I was surrounded by a discussion group that was unashamedly so.

My heart raced. We were all strangers. They didn't know me. They didn't know that I didn't belong. They didn't know that I was the enemy in this situation. Right or wrong, I didn't correct the moderator and leave the room. I was scared and dishonest. I kept quiet and resolved to keep out of the discussions but I wouldn't go so far as to lie - if asked I would give my real opinion.

First we talked about the different candidates. Easy. I could do that. We talked about how we felt about requiring abortion doctors to give a woman an ultrasound. Easy. Absolutely yes, each woman needs to know about her own body and be informed.

Then as the time went on I saw the conversation move, as women so often do, onto more personal ground. They began to speculate and say about what they would do 'if' their daughters were faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I looked in their faces while they told stories about friends driving their own daughters to the clinic. And moms telling their daughters that the girl has too many kids already and should get an abortion. They also told stories about friends refusing their daughters to get an abortion no matter what their much older boyfriend said he'd pay for. Mothers raising their daughter's kids.

Then I saw them talk about getting their own abortions. Here is where the moderator began to get uncomfortable. I don't think this is where she meant for it to go. There was one woman talking about it openly. As she talked about the degree of counseling and care a clinic offers, her flippant tone seemed to become more forced. Another woman admitted to getting an abortion, but it was so long ago she couldn't recall some details. To me, her face looked like she just didn't want to go there.

Oddly enough, it seemed that 'abortion' still felt like a dirty word even among these pro-choice women. But this wasn't an enthusiastic conversation for anyone. It wasn't a funny conversation. I got the impression that an abortion was not a first choice for any of them. I hurt for the women I saw around me who felt like they had no other choice but a bad choice.

The moderator steered it away after that. Her objectives were not about these women's stories, but about voting which is much more conceptual.

The group lasted about 45 minutes. More was said. I eventually had my moment to say that I would vote for Mr. Country because I agree with him more, though he was portrayed very snottily. And that was all I said. And it was over.

I walked to the parking lot, pulled out of my spot and drove as far as the next parking lot before I was crying so hard I couldn't see. I pulled over and cried some more. I had heard so much. I had looked in unashamed faces because they thought they were in a safe environment. I cried for them and their stories. I was conflicted and confused about myself. More crying.

I called my husband from the parking lot. I couldn't carry it alone for the car ride home. I told him everything I could remember. I told on myself. I asked him if he thought I had done the wrong thing. He said he couldn't give me a convinced 'yes' or 'no'. I felt the weight and chastisement of his answer but I understood.

That night is still hard to think about. But I'm putting it out there with its flaws and glories. I tried to not overly defend myself, but be honest to what was going on in the moment. I, absolutely, wish I could do it over. I probably still wouldn't take the opportunity to preach or make a scene, but I would acknowledge that I didn't consider myself pro-choice. I wouldn't trade their stories or faces for the world. I saw something very few people in my circle would ever see - candidness. I will never forget and will probably never stop wrestling with what happened.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Gift and an Honor


Oooohh!

I got so angry when I read the news today. I would quit 'news' altogether if I didn't think it would be irresponsible and an emotional cop-out. Good thing the baby cried and I had to leave and go look into his perfect little face. *selah*



Ahhh. Ok. His big brown eyes helped settle my soul. And I mean soul, as in, the seat of my will and emotions. That's where all the noisy fuss was coming from. My emotions get all stirred up and I slip out of the restful peace in my spirit (made possible by Holy Spirit) and I stand on my 'fist-fighting ground', my 'hold-my-gold ground', aka, my soul.

[A bit of advice: don't fight from there. You'll fight dirty. You won't listen to reason and your heart will harden a little in the process. Its Thunderdome and that's bad.]

Ah, flesh; ah, old man, when will you finally be under the authority of the spirit? But it must be. It must be overcome by my spirit.

Now, my sweet, open-faced, unashamed 6 month old is unreliable as a mechanism for my inner peace, but for today he fit the bill. I just can't help but feel connected to God and eternity and God's original intent with mankind when I see the face of my infant son.

And for that moment watching his face, it was all possible. All those jerks in the news, and all those jerks making the news will come and go. But this baby represented another generation coming that COULD make a difference if they so chose.

And while I entertained typical fears with my 1st daughter because of the ruin and lawlessness and suffering on the earth; I see in my 3rd son the possibilities of training up a generation in the love that is Jesus. And all they could change and all they could bring. My son is a gift and an honor.

Children are a gift and an honor.

- remind me to tell you a story of something that happened to me. its pretty weird.

*Selah = a biblical reference from the songs of Psalms. The writers would write in a "selah" in the songs to signify a musical break, like a rest.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Struck

It begins and ends and is all about Jesus.

I'm struck again at its simplicity, its complexity, its beauty and how, bottom line, its all about this one man.

I was in a serious conversation with John. It was a typical just-in-from-school/work-catch-up. We were taking turns talking about what had happened during the day and weighing in on insights and things discerned.
John and I had decided a while back that life is equal to ministry. If we're walking through our day in places of darkness, we should be intentional about bringing the light of Jesus in visible and invisible ways. My parents were missionaries when I was younger, so we just treat it like that - being missionaries to wherever we are.

During a recent conversation we were weighing out certain...obstacles. We had mentioned work, school, our children, 'the church', local and national government - issues both personal and more abstract - and had not hit upon many hopeful situations. There seemed to obstacles as far as our eyes could see. Insurmountable obstacles. Obstacles due to the contrariness of the world to the ways of God. Destructive people. Destructive cultures. Destructive legislature. How would there be change if people didn't think there was anything wrong?

Typically, I feel this direction of thinking can be a bottomless pit. We look in as far as we can see, get overwhelmed by the vast darkness and then begin to throw in solutions as fast as we can. But I feel like I'm living in the days where the shiny and new solutions are now rusty and crumbly and overgrown and the people are cynical and hopeless and gun-shy of shiny and new solutions.

And while the impulse is to go to our bag for an even better, shinier, new solution it became increasingly clear - the only real solution is Jesus.

I need more of Jesus in me because I've been using faulty solutions in my home and in my children and I need real, lasting change in my home and children. The people we love need more of Jesus, not more ideas or books.

The kind of change we need, across the board, is the change that comes from the inside out and it comes when Jesus increases and we decrease - in every direction.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Renaissance: Art and Culture Reborn

Alright, I have a roast simmering in the crock pot.

(Shredded Italian Beef: 3-5 lbs cheapy roast; 1 dry onion soup packet; 2 dry Italian dressing packets; 1-2 cups water. Toast some buns, top with white cheese. 8 hrs on low. Easy and yum!)

I have a fresh cup of coffee in my hands.

Baby is with bigger children who have already finished Math and Reading today. I'm ready to write.

To be fair and honest I should list all the things I'm not accomplishing by stopping to write (kitchen counter clutter, low on homemade baby wipes, never ending laundry issues) - pah! Onward!

My husband is wonderful and crazy. He is putting on a conference. (huhwhat?!)

I would be even more incredulous if he had not done this very same thing when I first met him.

Not long after I met John, who had bright pink hair at the time,(in his defense, he was an art major and the original color had been red before it washed out to a vivid PINK) he and some friends put on a worship conference for high school/college age Christians in the area. It spanned about 5 local churches and had a pretty good turn out (several hundred).

So I have this knowledge in my back pocket when he began talking about an arts conference over a year ago.

Plus, I get where he's coming from. He loves art. He loves making art, talking about art, teaching about art (his job) and seeing the fruit that comes with expression and art appreciation especially in the context of worship and intercession. But, unfortunately, he has found that many times in Non-denominational church circles he spends quite a bit of time building his case for the arts as valuable, important and practical NOW.

He talks to God about art. He has dreams about unity in the Christian artistic community. I can safely say that John has asked for and received a portion of God's heart and desires for the arts. Its beautiful to hear him talk about it. I get excited. But its too much to go into here.

So let me point you here.

And also here.

Go ahead and 'Like' the conference's fan page and it'll automatically keep you up with his updates and his heart and the scriptures he hears God speaking to artists in this very hour.

Its surprisingly easy and reliable - if you ask God to reveal to you His heart in an area, He will take you up on it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Birth

If you're a mom then you probably love a good birth story. I know I do. They tend to go long and into the details of what a mother was thinking at the time, etc., but you have to admit, as common as birth is, it still falls into the category of "mystery". I am so drawn to birth stories. I'm currently reading the birth stories of a dear friend and fellow blogger as she tells the birth stories from her 10 birth children (she has one adopted daughter, too, and you can also read her birth story on the blog). Its fascinating! Plus, isn't there a cable TV show that deals only in birth stories?

Well, I was wasting time on facebook yesterday when I came upon a note I wrote last year detailing Flint's birth. So, for posterity, I thought I'd include it here as well. Here you go:

Before we get started:

Disclaimer #1: Its a long read.

Disclaimer #2: I'm assuming that if you're even interested in reading a birth story that you're not put off by terms like "mucous plug", etc. Even so, fair warning.

These are the emails I sent to my mom and sisters Monday evening. I knew if I didn't pass on word, ANY WORD, regarding labor to the women of my family, NO MATTER HOW FALSE, that there would be dire results. So here's the emails:

"Had a rough night last night. Woke up with contractions through the night. I wasn't bothering to time them because I didn't want to know if they were close or not. My sleepy way of saying 'no!'.

They continued through the morning, going from 8-12 minutes apart. Some of them were doozies, too! John went to work (our prearranged plan, though it secretly made me mad at the time) and I laid on the couch sipping water and trying to get comfy enough to nap and wait and see what would happen. Around 11, I woke up from a nap feeling better with contractions noticeably further apart.

I'm dressed now, but we're skipping school today so I can do laundry and dishes in my sweet time. We have a bday party for Scout with Kathy [John's mom] tonight, so I'm trying to preserve cake and pizza making energy. I'm still feeling a few contractions (30-45 min apart), both gentle and strong, but I'm hoping they go away and give me at least another week.

I'm chalking this bout up to bad nutrition, low water consumption and overall exhaustion from yesterday [wedding shower for my little sister followed by a big Sept. bday party for my side of the family]. They're valid reasons which is why I'm so relaxed about it. So, I'm doing lots of water today and trying to take it easy and saving the jobs that John can help with for when he gets home.

I'll see my midwife tomorrow at our appt. and I'll tell her about it and ask my questions, etc. Just thought I'd let you guys know.

B"

Then 4 hours later I sent them this one:

"Well, the contractions have slowed down some more and definitely lessened in intensity. I drank a lot of water today and took another 1 1/2 hour nap this afternoon.

Then I lost my mucous plug!

So I called my midwife and she said to keep her posted, but it doesn't necessarily mean that things will happen right now. She said, especially in the case of "subsequent" births, there's a chance that my body might be going about it a chunk at a time, dilating a few cm at a time but still be 2 weeks away. That sort of thing shortens the eventual labor and delivery. So, I have my regular appt with her tomorrow and I'll catch up on birth supplies, etc. But it seems like he's coming earlier than the due date, doesn't it? (my feelings, not the midwife)

As rough as it would be on "my schedule", I'd be DELIGHTED for you, [older, out-of-town sister], if you could meet him while you're here.

Welp, I'll keep you posted, but I hope I have an uneventful week!

B"

Well by 8 pm that night, after party festivities had settled down a bit, I was exhausted and wanted to go to bed. This time I chalked it up to...exhaustion from Sunday's parties and Monday's party. I felt bad for not being my best host to my mother-in-law. I had contractions through the evening and was walking around slowly, but still figured I just needed to rest.

That night I had contractions through the night again only this time they were strong enough that I needed to "vocalize" through them - aka, make noise. I would sleep in between, but by 6 I was done being in bed and just went to the couch to try and be my most comfy through the contractions.

I was still second guessing EVERYTHING. Two weeks just seemed too early. Who does that? So, John got up and we talked it out and decided to send him to work - his off days are precious so we didn't want to squander any. But as the time got closer to go to the midwife appt I decided that I didn't think it was a good idea to drive over so I called to tell her so.

Now, a quick nod to my mom - as I would text and phone to keep my family updated, I have to give her credit for telling me things like "I don't think you should even try to find a ride to your appt. She needs to come to you. I think you're in labor". And it was because of her insisting that I even had the midwife come to me.

Excerpts from our phone calls:

Mom:"If you're having contractions so strongly that you have to hang up with me, you probably need to take this seriously."

Sister:"You said your contractions are 7 minutes apart, but we've been on the phone for 4 minutes and you've had two."

Little Sister was on her way to drive me to my appt, but with my mom's advice it she instead picked up my children to go back to my Mom's. The midwife was coming over and I texted John to come home - and I still was in denial about being in real labor.

Little Sister left with my little ones. Scout was crying when she left - she was just feeling a little unsure and nervous. The midwife arrived 15 minutes after they left. As soon as she walked in the door, she began unpacking her bags and putting up her birthing stool (gasp!). She checked my vitals and I asked her if she thought it was the real thing - she chuckled and said 'yes'.

Then started a frenzy of calling John and asking him to pick up the last minute supplies I didn't already have on hand.

Me: "Honey, I didn't have breakfast yet and [midwife] suggested apple juice. Can you pick up some apple juice?"

John: "Some what?"

Me, getting a contraction: "APPLE JUICE!"

Until John came home I was the only one to show Midwife where things were, so I would slowly go to the basement and get the Chux Pads, peri bottles, etc. [Thank you Paige. Thank you Sarah]. Then 15 minutes after Midwife arrived, John came home and I would just sit and labor while they scurried all around me.

15 minutes after that I told Midwife that the baby and contractions felt really low and she asked if I wanted to try the birthing stool. So I went ahead and 'sat' on the stool. I began to feel very unsure and asked if she would tell me when to push and she just said, "you'll know". And pretty much the pushing began after that. I called John over to stop doing whatever he had been doing and Oldest Sister walked in shortly after that. She was there for Justy and is an irreplaceable support person.

It felt like forever. In retrospect, it felt like transition emotions and labor were all rolled into one. I was so emotional and hated every contraction. I was whining and saying how it hurt. I was apologizing for the whining. I wanted to be stronger. Midwife wasn't rushing this part either. She would take the times I would push and alternately apply olive oil and a warm compress, as well as massage and stretch out...whatever it was she was stretching. And it hurt, too. I even asked her at one point between pushing, "what are you doing!?".

Eventually, my emotions got the better of me and in between contractions I couldn't settle myself down. I was breathing erratically which was making me even more nervous and emotional. But right about that time Midwife said that if I reached down I could feel the baby's head, so I did. Oddly enough, it was squishier than I expected. But then I knew, only one more push. And sure enough, the next time a contraction came, I pushed with enthusiasm and 'bloop, bloop', she was handing me my son!

He was noisy and mad from the get go! Feisty guy! And I was elated, but I'll be honest, it was equal parts 'that terrible pushing is done' and 'my son is in my arms'. All the events are blurry after that. He was tiny and skinny. I laid down on a nearby bed that John and the midwife asst. moved into the living room and rested with the baby while they all did other things. A bit later they helped me get to the shower and clean up.

I felt great. Sure, some of that was adrenaline, but also I wasn't working against medication and, due to Midwife's patient work, I didn't tear at all. I was hungry and ate. My sisters brought their families over right away, which I love! My children were home by dinner time and some of us even stayed long enough for pizza and a movie together. These are a few of my favorite things and one of the real perks of homebirth for me.

I don't have many pictures of our first minutes. It all happened so quickly that pictures were one of the things that fell through the cracks. But my mom has some good ones that I'll steal eventually. I also threw in a picture of a birthing stool because I know I was curious before I saw one, but never thought to ask.

example of a birth stool
first visitor, Dad, and my beautiful labor supporters: big sister and John.

siblings