Sunday, February 19, 2017


This was my fourth pregnancy, and the first time that we knew the gender of our baby, which was very exciting! It was also the first time that I tested positive for Group B Strep (which made things a bit more complicated with this labor and delivery).

My due date was December 10th, 2016 but at 41 weeks I was still VERY pregnant! Gideon’s Birthday is on December 15th so we wondered if they were going to have the same Birthday. Well, December 15th came and went, and still no sign of labor! Then, on Saturday, December 17th, around 6:45PM, I started doing some deep squats, in hopes to get labor going when, suddenly, my water broke (basically, it felt like I peed my pants). Robbie was in the middle of making dinner so we ate, got the kids in pajamas and packed up the van to drop them off at my Mom’s house. Once we got them all settled into bed we left for Ste. Genevieve Hospital.

It was a freezing cold winter night. In fact, the night prior there was a terrible ice storm that had cars stalled on the roads for hours. Highway 55 was shut down so if I would have gone into labor we wouldn’t have even been able to make it to Ste. Genevieve. I was thankful that my body held off going into labor until the next night – this night.

On the drive down my contractions picked up and started feeling deeper, but they were still random and inconsistent. Upon arrival at 12:00AM, the nurse checked me to discover that I was 2-3 cm dilated, 75% effaced. They hooked me up to a monitor and my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. I decided to sleep while I was still able. I wanted to let my body rest through the night in order to store up enough energy for labor.

I woke up at 5:00AM and started walking some laps around the hospital.  I did side lunges up the steps.  I even used the breast pump in hopes to get my contractions going. And while the contractions would start up and even feel pretty strong for a bit, they would just fizzle right back out with sporadic inconsistency. At 7:00AM, Dr. Lam came in to talk to me. He was getting concerned (because of the Group B Strep) that it had been 12 hours since my water broke and labor had not progressed. Although, it was later concluded that I had what is called a “Fore-bag of water” and that is what had broken, instead of my actual bag of water. I never had anything more than that initial leak. Which was very frustrating because, had I known this, I would have stayed home a little longer instead of going to the hospital and getting “stuck on the clock”. Of course, he advised that I should start pitocin and consider taking the antibiotic. But I really wanted to give my body a chance for labor to pick up on it’s own before using any kind of medical intervention. And I wanted to wait 24 hours before considering an antibiotic.

Fast-forward to 2:00PM (7 hours later)… still only 3 cm dilated! Dr. Lam came back to talk to me. While he respected my desire to do things naturally and let my body progress on it’s own, at this point, he strongly recommended that I start some Pitocin to help get the labor moving. Robbie and I prayed about it and we came to a place of peace about starting a low dose of Pitocin. Our biggest prayer was that I would be able to handle a natural delivery with pitocin on board. 

The nurse administered the pitocin at 3:00PM.  I laid in bed for the first hour and a half, and then I labored on the birthing ball.  After an hour, I got back in bed to let my body rest through the contractions. They were very strong but I was still able to manage them and work through the pain.  At 7:00PM I had only progressed to 4 cm. At this point, I was beginning to fight some discouragement. My Mom needed to leave to get back and take care of our 3 kids and I was so sad that she had to go. But, at the most perfect moment, one of our favorite nurses, Donna, came on the 7 o’clock shift! She walked in the room like an angel straight from heaven. She hugged me and started praying over me. I could not stop crying happy tears! Her presence was such a gift from Jesus. And Kay, our second nurse, was so awesome, as well. I felt so loved and well taken care of. We decided to go ahead and do one round of antibiotic, in hopes that I could get in the tub (because the antibiotic was required if I wanted to deliver in the water), but once Dr. Lam broke my water he discovered that there was way too much meconium so it was no longer a safe option to deliver in the water. Of course I felt disappointed about that, but I knew that God was in control so I began to mentally prepare myself for a delivery on land.

I want to interject a little back-story here. While I was pregnant, I had a friend who was also pregnant and delivered 5 months before me. And as I listened to her birth story, I had an anxiety attack. I had experienced 3 beautiful, successful, natural births, so I didn’t understand where this fear was coming from.  But, it gripped me. It was not concerning the labor itself, but the actual delivery – the pushing. God began to shine His light into my fearful heart and so clearly revealed some situations in my life where I had experienced abuse.  Situations that I didn’t even realize were abusive until I walked through the fear associated with this delivery. Why this particular delivery and not the previous 3, you ask?  Well, I don’t really know. I always dealt with a measure of fear when it came to pushing my babies out (who doesn’t really) but I just wasn’t aware that there was something behind it. My husband said to me, “Babe, I don’t understand. I have been there every time and I have seen how strong and how brave you were when you pushed those babies out. You didn’t seem scared at all.” “Maybe on the outside,” I said. “But on the inside I was freaking out! It’s like a roller coaster.” I told him. “You can ride a roller coaster one of two ways: (1) You can close your eyes tight and cringe your body the whole way in fear, or (2) You can open your eyes, throw your hands up in the air and fully embrace the ride!” I had always delivered with fear gripping me. This time, The Lord was calling me to embrace the pain and experience peace in the midst of it… to be ALL IN.  So, just as The Lord is faithful to do, He walked me through a beautiful process of healing and He brought a rock-solid peace to my heart concerning this delivery.

At 9:00PM I was still only 4 cm dilated, but once Dr. Lam broke my water, labor took off. I was determined to receive all the strength and grace from The Lord that I needed to deliver naturally. Since I was on pitocin, I decided to stay put on the bed and focus on working through the intensity of the contractions. At 10PM I was finally at 8cm. From that point forward, I didn’t have the doctor check me… I just relied on my body to tell me when it was time to push. And, to God be the glory, I was able to embrace the pain and to be 100% present as I welcomed Zion into the world at 10:42PM (with my “hands up in the air,” so to speak; fully abandoned)... It was healing. It was victorious. It was REDEEMING.

With all of my labors, each one has been a beautiful representation of the story that God was writing in my life during that particular season. So as I look back at this particular delivery, I see the story of a birth that didn’t make sense to me… Why did I have to be GBS positive? Why did my fore-bag of water have to break, causing me to be stuck at a hospital when I was 41 weeks pregnant with a labor that wouldn’t progress? Why didn’t God just answer my prayers and cause my labor to pick up naturally instead of needing the pitocin? Why was there so much meconium that prevented a water birth? Likewise, I have lived out a marriage that hasn’t made a whole lot of sense to me. My husband battled with an addiction that nearly destroyed our marriage… And so many times I wanted to ask a whole lot of “Why-questions!” But The Lord was so faithful, even through all of the pain.  And He took us through a process of healing and brought us to a place of redemption (which is why we chose the name Zion.)  So, amidst all of these questions about my birth, I could have chosen to believe that God was not in the midst of this labor and delivery. Oh, but that would have been the farthest from the truth. Instead, I kept saying, “Well Lord, You are in this so what is it that You are doing now?” He always sees past all of our circumstances through the lens of His redemption story! His strength and sovereignty were present the entire way and His plan of grace carried me through to the absolute best possible outcome, despite the circumstances. I had a healthy victorious birth and a beautiful healthy baby boy!

With my first baby, the camera died RIGHT before I pushed. My second and third were both water births, so you couldn’t actually see the baby emerge. But this time, Robbie was able to capture an incredible video of the delivery. I am so thankful for this video – A video that would not have been possible to fully capture if I had had a water birth. I will treasure this video forever.

Zion, holding your warm little body on my chest was the sweetest taste of God’s redemption power. You will always remind me of the unexpected healing that God brought to my heart through your delivery. He always has the happiest ending in mind. When we don’t see, He sees. What we don’t know, He knows.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Solomon's Birth Story

This was my third pregnancy.  We had a wonderful water birth with our daughter, Coen, and we were looking forward to another one with this baby at Ste. Genevieve Hospital.  Of course, because the hospital is an hour drive from our house the planning/preparing is always a little tricky.  Starting around 38 weeks, we had the van packed every time we left the house, “just in case.”  It was a pretty exhausting routine.

My due date was July 22nd 2014.  It’s funny looking back, because now I can say that I went into labor just 2 short days later.  But THEN… Then it felt like labor would NEVER COME.  I was feeling very discouraged because I had consistent contractions off and on for 3 days prior to actually going into labor but my body just wasn’t kicking into active labor.  This sort of thing didn’t happened with my first 2 pregnancies so, in a way, I felt like waiting for labor to begin this time around was an entirely new experience.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t have a clue when I was REALLY in labor.  I tried so hard to remain peaceful and keep a positive attitude but the waiting and the false alarms were so challenging!  I definitely had a couple of teary meltdowns.  Hormones can be so mean.

Finally, on Thursday, July 24th, I woke up at 7:30AM and had more contractions (just like I had been for days).  Only now they finally started to get deeper and more painful, lasting about 6-8 min apart.  I waited it out about 2 hours.  They remained consistent so I called Robbie to come home from work around 9:30AM.  I ate some breakfast and took a shower.  The kids stayed with my Mom and we left for the hospital around 11:30AM.

It was a gorgeous summer day.  Thankfully not too hot.  We enjoyed a beautiful drive out to Ste. Genevieve, as we eagerly anticipated meeting our new little love.  We got all checked in and settled in our room around 1:30PM.  By that time, I was officially in labor and 4 cm dilated.

There is a sweet little garden in the middle of the hospital with a sidewalk and a pavilion.  So I took my headphones and went out to the garden to labor by myself for a couple of hours, while Robbie took a nap to rest up for the real action to come.  I walked around, listened to worship music and sang praises to God.  These 2 hours, laboring alone with Jesus in this garden, were some of the most special moments I’ve ever shared with Him.  It was so peaceful… so vulnerable… so intimate.   I’m very thankful that I had that time.  2 hours felt like 5 minutes.  I felt refreshed and ready for action!

By 4:30PM I was at 6cm and I decided to get into the tub.  But after a couple of hours of laboring in the water, I still hadn’t progressed so I got out and started walking around again in an effort to get labor moving faster.  By this time, it was around 7:30PM and my family and friends had arrived.  So I went out to the waiting room and labored out there and enjoyed some time hanging out with everyone for a while.

Around 8:30PM, I went back to the room.  Labor got pretty intense from this point forward.  I wanted to make quick progress so I chose to continue walking around and standing during contractions.  With each contraction I would lean into Robbie and he would help me work through it.  I love laboring with my husband.  We make a great team.

By 9:30PM I had only progressed to 7cm. 

With only 1 cm of progress in 5 hours, I was trying not to get discouraged.  My friend Julie suggested trying a technique called “Stomp-Stomp-Squat” to take labor up a notch and help bring the baby down.  Basically, you stomp down hard with one foot, stomp down with the other, and then squat down as far as you can for as long as you can stand it.  I felt pretty ridiculous so Robbie and Julie joined in and did them with me so I wouldn’t feel so silly all by myself.  The nurses came in and started doing them with me too!  Haha!  It was pretty hilarious.  (I wish we had that part on video too.)  Well the exercise worked pretty well because contractions intensified.

At 10:30PM I got back into the water.  I was having short strong contractions.  I thought that I had to be getting close!  At 11:00PM I got out of the water and did more walking and squatting.  I was now barely 8cm.  The nurse told me that my bag of water was bulging and causing my cervix to swell.  The baby was not positioned in a way that was allowing the baby to descend low enough to press on my cervix and bring me to completion.  She said that I could try to continue laboring on my own but that if I did that it would most likely take a very long time for the baby to be born.  Or she said we could try to break my water and either one of two things would happen: (1) the baby would come down, turn correctly and I would most likely be pushing within minutes.  Or (2) the baby may not turn correctly and I would have a harder labor for a potentially long remaining period of time (the bag of water makes labor a little less intense because it is more of a cushion).  It was a gamble.  I decided to labor for a little bit longer on my own and see what happened.

I got back in the water at 12:00AM and did lots of rocks, hip circles and squats to try to get the baby to turn and come down.  After a half hour, I still hadn’t progressed any further and I was running out of energy FAST.  I had worked so hard up until this point and really hadn’t slept well in days so I finally decided that I wanted the Doctor to break my water and see what happened.

Dr. Lam arrived to break my water around 12:45AM.  As soon as he broke it I could feel the baby turn and drop… And I knew that I was about to push.  I told Robbie to get in the tub with me.  It was time.  This moment is always so intense.  This moment is one of the greatest challenges in life and also one of the greatest victories all wrapped up in one.  I had had 2 completely different experiences with my first 2 deliveries.  With Gideon, I never felt the “urge” to push.  With Coen, nothing could have stopped me from pushing!  So I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  The Lord was so gracious to wrap me with His presence in this overwhelming moment.  The song playing on my labor playlist was “Safe Place” by Enter The Worship Circle.  This was the perfect song.  It was as if The Holy Spirit was right there with me, saying, “I am here and I will keep you safe in this moment.  Just trust me.”  I was on my knees facing Robbie and holding on to him so tight.  I prayed my way through the pain and with the next contraction I started to push.  This delivery was more of an effort to push but I could also tell that I needed to.  It was, yet again, a totally unique experience.  Dr. Lam was behind me helping me deliver.  And I really appreciated the help.  I could tell that this was my biggest baby yet!  With the next contraction I pushed out the head.  While the head was out they flipped me over, facing forward with my back to Robbie’s chest.  I pushed again and out came the shoulders.  Then, with one final (BIG) push, I delivered the rest of the body at exactly 1:00AM.

They lifted our baby straight up to my chest and said it was a boy.  I was so excited that I finally guessed the right gender!  “I KNEW you were a boy!” I said.  I was so relieved and so happy to see his sweet face and embrace his warm little body.  He was 8lbs and 8 oz of wonderful.  I couldn't stop kissing him.  I told Robbie that I thought he had a look all his own.  (But with every day that passes I see more and more of his siblings in his face and expressions.)  He hardly cried at all.  He was so peaceful, just like his name, Solomon. 

Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how this labor seems to represent this season in my life so well.  Even though it was so difficult and I had to work so HARD to push through the pain, there was a beautiful security and a confidence in the journey like never before.  I had so much joy in the midst of the process.  And while there are always so many unknowns about birth, I knew that my God was in control, my husband was by my side, and my baby was counting on me.  My heart was fixed and my hope was sure. 

Solomon is a wonderful overflow… Just when I thought that my life couldn’t get any more full, The Lord came in with His glorious abundance and said, “I have even MORE for you.”  We love you, Solomon Gavriel, our peaceful strong man of God.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

{Some thoughts on process and faith.} #houstonpregnancy3

Babies sure do have a way of marking seasons and time unlike anything else on this earth!  I have spent a lot of time pondering all the changes that have taken place in my life since becoming a Mommy of 2, as well as this incredible season of growing baby #3... and I am in awe of God's "process."

In the past couple of years there have been some pretty major circumstances and events that have taken place in my life.  To name a few: SO many health issues with my husband and my kids, joining a new church body, my Grandma almost died, a lost relationship with a very close friend, pregnancy #3, breaking my foot while pregnant with #3, and more marital refinement than I can possibly express.  That is seriously just naming a few!  But God has used every. single. one. of these life-events to do some beautiful shaping in my heart. He is so so faithful!

Pregnancy is a very good representation of growth and new life.  But we don't always "see" the growing and developing that The Lord is doing inside of us spiritually quite as clearly as we can see a growing pregnant belly... However, He is ALWAYS at work in our lives.  I love this quote:

"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them." (John Piper)

For right now, at least, I'm pretty aware of 1 of those 3 in my life... And it gets bigger every single day!  Haha!

I believe, waiting for a baby to arrive is one of THE most unique and divine life-moments that we can experience here on this earth.  Because (unless you are scheduling a c-section or induction) you have absolutely ZERO control over the situation.  It does no good at all to worry or stress over it.  You can't possibly plan for it.  Well, you can try but it's not productive.  At ALL.  My body had some very strong consistent contractions about 4 different days in the last 2 weeks - All false alarms that just didn't move into active labor.  For the past 2 weeks we have had our bags packed, ready to drop off the kids and head to Ste. Genevieve hospital (which is an hour drive from our house) at any given moment.  Every day we talk about a new "game plan" for how we would handle the situation if I went into labor based on that particular day.  And this has gotten pretty exhausting.  I told myself that I would be PATIENT and wait for this baby with a joyful heart, but I have finally reached that point of impatience and frustration saying, "OKAY LORD, can we please GET. This. Baby OUT already?!?!"

Now here is the irrational thing about this waiting period for me... As I sit here and type, I am 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant; this baby is HUGE and clearly evident... But can I just be completely honest and say that somehow my brain had convinced me that this baby is NEVER COMING OUT!  How ridiculous is that?!?!  Of course I "know" that I am merely DAYS away from seeing it's sweet face and it WILL COME.  But "knowing" something and "feeling" something are 2 totally different experiences. So many days of false-alarms have sort of squashed my hope and even my joy.  I am feeling so weary.  And this kind of struggle applies to so many areas of faith in our lives... All the more when we can't physically "see" the evidence of the thing we are waiting for as clearly as I can see this baby!  So we ask, "Lord, will ____ ever come?!?!  I mean is it REALLY coming?  Do you hear me?  It's still not happening, are You SURE?"  

So what is it that you can't see?  What are you waiting for?  What are you hoping for?  Is it relational?  Financial?  Is it an addiction that you are in the process of breaking free from?  Are you exhausted in the waiting?  Ask yourself, "What is The Lord's desire for me in this situation?  What "process" is He walking me through as I wait for MY "labor and delivery" to take place for this particular thing in my life?"  Because it WILL come.  Maybe just not the way that YOU want it to come (I'm preaching to myself here, people)!

"Process always stretches us.  It is designed to.  Because we have to change our focus and our desire from just GETTING A RESOLUTION in the situation to a desire to BECOME LIKE JESUS in the situation."
(Graham Cooke)

No matter what, God's number one desire is to change our hearts FIRST before He changes our circumstances... And for us to learn the intimate fellowship that can be experienced with Him in that place, as we wait.  So I am choosing to spend these last few days keeping my eyes gloriously fixed on who GOD is.  It's not about what I WANT to happen or WHEN I want it to happen... but HIS PLAN is what is most important.  I always want to trust Him more and MORE... And I'm thankful for every opportunity that He places in my life to grow in this process.

Help me Lord.  Your strength inside of me produces good fruit.  I can do nothing apart from You.  You are with me.  Your timing is unmatchable... And in the same way that even Jesus doesn't know when He is returning to earth (Mark 13:32), help me to wait patiently and expectantly... Knowing that YOU KNOW when this baby will come.  Thank you, Jesus, that You understand my humanity and you are holding my hand as You wait with a similar sense of expectation, for Your Bride.  There is so much beauty and intimacy in the waiting... And so much JOY waiting on the other side as well.  Amen.     

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Coen's Birth Story

This was my second pregnancy.  We had a beautiful natural delivery with our son, Gideon, at Missouri Baptist Hospital but we were thrilled about the opportunity to have a water-birth this time around at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital.  They are the nearest place to us that offers the option of water birth.  They also have an on-staff midwife, which we LOVED.  Even though it is an hour from our house, we believe that it was totally worth the distance to have the kind of birth we desired.
My due date was July 31st.  On Monday, July 30th, I had my 40-week check-up.  I asked my friend, Lindsay, to drive me because I didn’t think I could stand the drive out to Ste. Gen and back without being able to put my feet up.  My feet were horribly swollen most of my pregnancy but especially at the end!  On the way home, Lindsay didn’t notice a speed bump we were about to drive over so we ended up getting a little air-time... We joke now that the speed bump is what sent me into labor because I started having contractions right after that!

Robbie and I both got home around 6:00PM.  I told him I was having contractions.  This felt like awful timing because we were in the middle of a conflict that morning before he left for work that still had not been ironed out.  I remember thinking, “I CANNOT go into labor now because we are not ok and we NEED TO BE OK!”  Well, God is gracious.  He allowed us the entire evening (in the midst of very manageable contractions) to have dinner, relax and work through our conflict.  His timing is so beautiful like that.  Our hearts were united and ready to have our baby!   Around 11:00PM the contracting changed from uncomfortable to painful.  I decided it was definitely time to head to the hospital!  We called our midwife, Kelly Donze, and told her that we were on our way.

One of my big prayers for this labor was that I would not have a miserable drive to the hospital like I did with my son (especially because this drive was much longer).  This time it was a very pleasant experience!  The contractions were about 8 minutes apart the entire drive so I had plenty of time in-between to rest and talk.  There were no cars on the highway.  A full moon was beaming from the dark night sky as I held hands with my husband.  It was kind of romantic.  I felt reassured to see God answering my prayers from the very beginning of my labor… And I was filled with a peace in my heart that spoke to my soul, “All is well.”  

Considering the fact that I had an 8.5-hour labor the first time around, we were confident that this labor would be quick as well.  But for some reason, it was NOT!  We rolled into the hospital parking lot at 12:00PM and got checked in.  At this point I had already been in labor for close to 7.5 hours and my contractions were still not picking up.  They continued to stay right around 8-10 minutes apart.  I walked lap after lap around the hospital.  I went up and down stairs.  I LUNGED up the stairs.  I squatted.  I stretched.  I bounced on a labor ball.  I walked some more!  The contractions finally started coming closer together around 2:30AM.  I asked Kelly to check and see where I was at, in hopes that I could get into the tub (you are supposed to wait until around 4-5 cm to get in).  I was about 95% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated.  Sooooo… I walked some more… squatted some more… stretched some more… I was already starting to get very tired and the difficult part of my labor hadn’t even begun yet!

Around 5:00AM I had finally reached 4-5 cm.  It was finally time to get into the tub!  I was SO HAPPY to be in the water because it was a lot easier on my body/muscles to feel so weightless and relaxed.  At 7:30AM, after 2.5 hours of laboring in the tub, I felt like I HAD to be getting close… however my midwife checked me to discover that I was STILL only 4-5 cm dilated.  I had not progressed at all!  Thankfully, I was in the kind of birthing environment where they allowed me the freedom to let my body do what it was going to do instead of trying to step in and speed up my labor.  The baby’s heartbeat was perfect.  My body was not in any kind of distress (other than just feeling completely exhausted). This baby was just taking a very long time to decide to come out!  At this point, my contractions were intense and only about 3 minutes apart so I did not have very long breaks to relax in-between.  I began to fight an intense battle of weariness.

It was in this place of weariness that I was filled with strength as my husband pulled out his phone and began reading Psalm 91 over me.  This was one of those life-moments that I will NEVER FORGET!  Robbie could hardly get the words out through the tears while he read me this Psalm.  Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  The Lord alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him…”  The presence of God filled the room, sustaining my body when it literally felt impossible to keep going.  In that moment I saw a beautiful depiction of what marriage is designed to look like as my husband pointed me towards God’s truth and filled me with faith when I didn’t have enough for myself.  I cried, surrendering everything again to my Savior, who died for me, enduring pain and hell just to be near to me.  I chose to trust Him completely for this delivery to happen in HIS perfect timing, even though I did NOT understand why it was taking forever and ever and ever.

My water was still fully in tact.  My midwife said she thought the baby’s head was posterior and that is why it was taking the baby so long to come down.  The fact that my water had not yet broken most likely was helping the baby to turn... And it was DEFINITELY helping to manage the pain!  I did a lot of squatting and lunging side to side in the water with each contraction, in an effort to get the baby in the right position for delivery.  My back was hurting SO BAD!  Robbie, Kelly and the nurses took turns putting pressure on my back and hips to both alleviate the pain and also to widen up my hips and help get the baby’s head in the right position.  I was so grateful for that help!

At 10:20AM I was 6 cm dilated.  I still had about 4 more to go!  I tried to keep a positive mindset, knowing that it is possible to move to a 10 in a matter of minutes… so I refused to get frustrated.

Well…12:00PM rolled around and I was STILL in the middle of hardcore labor!   I was getting more exhausted with each passing hour.  Suddenly, all my senses heightened and became super sensitive.  Noises were annoying.  Smells made me want to vomit.  I was getting so frustrated.  I hit a low point when I snapped at everyone in the room, telling them to shut up! Then I started to have a crying fit because I felt like a jerk.  Haha!  I just wanted to get this baby out of my body!  

I have never experienced more vulnerability in my entire life then I did at this point in my labor.  I felt completely helpless.  As I look back now and compare this labor with my first I see that the first time was much more about “my” strength and “my” faith.  Of course my husband was undoubtedly a part of it all, but I remember it as more of an experience that brought ME closer to God and deepened MY trust in Him.  However, this labor was so much more about my MARRIAGE.  I needed my husband’s strength… I was relying on HIM to carry me through and breathe faith into me.  I believe that is exactly where God wanted my heart to be.  I felt safe in my husband’s comfort.  I was so excited to share this moment of triumph with him, knowing that we truly did it TOGETHER!  

In the last few hours leading up to delivery, I kept thinking to myself, “I HAVE to be getting close!” but all of that time I felt uncertain if I should be trying to push or not.  Kelly told me that my body would know when it was time to push.  However, with Gideon I never had that “urge to push” so I felt very insecure about what it would feel like.  Since I wasn’t sure, Kelly checked me one final time and said that it was safe for me to push whenever I was ready!  This was so different than when I had my son, not having anyone at the foot of the bed telling me when I needed to push.  This time I had to trust my body and decide on my own when it was time.  Around 3:30PM, I asked Robbie to join me in the tub to help me deliver our baby.

I turned my body facing my husband with my head burrowed into his chest.  I tried to focus on his embrace instead of the pain. I was in so much pain and wanted it to be over so bad, but I still wasn’t sure that it was quite time for me to push.  Then one of the nurses put her hand on the small of my back and said, “Baby, I command you to come out in the name of Jesus.”  She should have said that a few hours earlier because, at that very moment, my water broke!  It felt like a water balloon busted underneath me.  “My water just broke!”  I said.  Then with the very next contraction I said, “Okay it’s coming, it’s coming!”  Sure enough, “the urge” finally hit me and nothing on earth could have stopped me from pushing this baby out!  
 With 2 quick pushes, our second baby was finally born at 3:42PM (on her due date!)!  I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to deliver in the water. It was AMAZING!

Robbie caught the baby and brought it up in-between us.  I reached down to pick up our baby and held on so tight.  Robbie looked down and said, “I think it’s a Coen Elyse”… He and Kelly looked once more to double check and said, “It’s a GIRL!   Wow.  WHAT A MOMENT!  I remember holding her warm little peaceful body against my chest, outside of my womb, but still connected to me.  There are not many moments in life that can compete with one like this!  My husband and I cried tears of joy, as we drank in the victory...

Coen Elyse Houston was 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches.  Time stopped while I held my daughter.  I was completely CAPTIVATED by her beauty.  She was a perfect end to all of the pain... And I would do it all over again just to hold her in my arms.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In His Grip

Parenthood, as it is meant to be, is an overwhelmingly beautiful parallel of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  I love the intimate little ways that God speaks to me, as I speak to my son.  

Gideon has had stomach problems his entire little life!  So at the beginning of each meal we give him an enzyme to help him digest his food.  It's in capsule form so we break it open and pour out the powder on his first bite of food.  Now this can be quite stressful when we have a hungry boy pulling at our legs with tears running down his face because he can't stand to wait another SECOND to eat!

One day last week, I was breaking open an enzyme but my fingers got wet, which seriously inhibits this process because it causes your fingers to STICK to the capsule... then the powder gets stuck in the capsule as well... and it just takes longer to pour out (ok, like a whole 15 seconds longer, but when you have a screaming boy at your feet 15 seconds seems more like 5 minutes).  Now let me tell you, this intense moment was full of tears, screams, and drama-drama-drama!  So in an attempt to try to calm my son down, I was saying to him, "Gideon, Momma is TRYING.  You have to wait.  I promise I will give you your food!  Calm down, it's coming.  You just need to wait."  And in the very same breath I heard the Holy Spirit speaking straight to ME through the words coming out of my mouth (I am discovering this tends to happen a LOT in parenting).

God began downloading truth to my heart... 

The Lord is ALWAYS at work to accomplish His good and perfect will in our lives.  It may not always happen at exactly the pace we want it to.  We may dramatically cry out to him in an attempt to speed along the process or even just in hopes of getting exactly what we want, but that doesn't change the fact that HE IS STILL AT WORK AND HE WILL ACCOMPLISH HIS WILL!  I had encountered a little kink in the enzyme process (which ended up prolonging Gideon's lunch time by a whole 15 seconds... LOL... Oh, I love my dramatic boy!), but that did not change the fact that I WAS still at work to give my son his food.  The same truth applies with my Heavenly Father!  I believe that there are many times when God is TRYING to work something out in my life... Perhaps He is trying to speak to someone's heart about being a part of the process and maybe they are not listening to Him... Or maybe someone is not praying... Maybe someone is being deliberately disobedient (maybe that someone is even ME)... And maybe He has to finally move on and find someone else or another solution to help Him accomplish His plan.  And this could end up taking some time. We just NEVER KNOW what He is doing behind the scenes of our lives.

Now, I laugh at the fact that 15 seconds could make THAT big of a difference, but in the mind of a toddler it is a VERY big deal!  And I believe that God looks on us with the same kind of perspective that I had for Gideon in this moment.  It seemed silly to me that he was so worked up for his food when I was standing right there ready to give it to him.  What if God is sometimes looking over my situation like this? And maybe I'm too busy crying and whining that I can't even hear Him speak over me saying, "Gina, I AM working.  It may not look exactly like you want it to but I promise that I will accomplish My will.  You have to be patient and wait."  His timing is NOT my timing.  

"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord is NOT slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you... " (2 Peter 3:8)  

Another fun stage we are currently going through at 17 months is the fact that Gideon suddenly HATES his car seat!  He will arch his back in an attempt to keep you from buckling him in.  And then... He cries... And he cries... then cries some more!  We, his parents, know that he is safe in this seat and that we are taking him somewhere for a purpose.  However he doesn't understand WHY he has to stay in this seat for an extended period of time. So there is this precious moment that happens when his Daddy reaches back and rubs his little head. Gideon grabs his hands.  And he calms down.  He knows that even though he is stuck in this seat, unsure of where he is headed, he can hold on to his Daddy's hand and trust that he is safe.  

We are called to have this kind of blind trust in our Heavenly Father... To reach up and take His hand in the middle of frustration and uncertainty... in the middle of the unknown... and to smile as we rest in this place.  Sometimes I don't understand why God has placed me in a certain uncomfortable situation.  I DO know that He is always at work.  I DON'T always know how long I will have to remain there or even why I am there.  But I trust that my Daddy knows the perfect timing to lift me out.  And, in the meantime, I can rest in the comfort of His presence.

He is always reaching down to hold me tightly in His grip. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Come Messy.

I am 7 1/2 months pregnant.  On top of that reality, I have a vibrant 17 month old to lovingly chase after each day.  Needless to say by 8:00PM, once Gideon is asleep, the day is over for this Momma.  The couch is suddenly my best friend.  Ok, who am I kidding, the bed is my best friend!

But if you know me at all you know that I am a bit of a neat-freak!  At the end of each day I like to do a quick once-over before bed and get everything in working order.  I finish up the dirty dishes, put away the laundry, clear off the bottomless pit that is the kitchen table, etc.  That way I am able to start the next day with a clean clutter-free house and it makes me quite happy.  Well, last night, not only did my daily to-do list remain only half accomplished, but every corner of my house was also in exceptional disarray.  Since this pregnant Momma was left with zero steam to make the magic happen, the disaster remained.  And I went to bed.

This morning at 5:30AM, I was wide awake and ready to take on the day (I am a morning person, what can I say?!?).  Now understand this.  I always strive to put Jesus FIRST in my day.  I'm not saying that it always ends up happening that way, but it is always my goal and my heart's desire.  So I sat down at the kitchen table and grabbed my Bible.  And then, of course, my son starts to scream (he is the lightest sleeper on the earth and wakes up if he hears a tiny creak in the floor).  So now I am (1) frustrated with the fact that my son is awake at 5:45AM screaming to get out of his bed and (2) I am ALSO completely distracted by the chaos and disorder of my house!  The mound of crusted dishes on the counter are calling out my name... The toys (and random items that my son "thinks" are toys) scattered about the house are suddenly highlighted in my brain... The 6 Target bags from my errands yesterday are begging to be unloaded and put away.  So I think to myself, I will be able to concentrate more on Jesus when my son finally decides to go back to sleep and when the house is sparkling clean... Surely, THEN I will be able to quiet my mind and be still with Him.

I get up and begin to tackle the house... The toys... The dishes... The MESS!  After 45 minutes, my son (thankfully) has fallen back to sleep and my house is beaming with order.  So I sit down and I begin to look at my to-do list, scheming over the order of operation and the probability of fitting it ALL into one day.  AGAIN, I wander off track to something other than sitting down to be with God.  Thankfully (by grace alone) it is only 6:45 and I still have some time left in the morning (since I got up so stinkin' early) so I pick up my Bible, along with the book I am reading, "A Praying Life," and I begin to read.

The chapter is called "Become Like Little Children."  As I read I soon discover that it is talking about coming to Jesus just as we are...

"The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with a wandering mind.  Come messy."  - Paul E. Miller

My eyes welled up with tears.

This message was exactly what I needed.  I had spent the entire morning busy and cleaning up the mess of life.  And I realized that all the while, my Heavenly Father just wanted me to come to Him FIRST.  In all the mess.  In the middle of all the chaos and unfinished business of my life.  Just as I am.  Just as my world existed in that moment - Even if that was with a screaming child in the background, a disaster of a house surrounding me or a to-do list consuming my brain.  Even if I am insanely distracted by my circumstances.  He just wants me to come.  I don't even have to have the Bible or a deep book to read.  I can just come and sit in His lap.  Even with all of my wandering thoughts.  I can just close my eyes and breath in His comfort.  Soak in His embracing presence.  Even if only for a moment (sometimes moments are all we have).  He just wants me to COME... to tell Him that I love Him... that I need Him... that I'm frustrated... that I'm overwhelmed.  He wants me to welcome Him into every messy moment of my day.  Most of all, He longs for me to ENJOY Him in the midst of the messiness.

This is something that I am working on.  I'm trying to find the delicate balance between maintaining order in my home (and my heart), while at the same time not missing out on the eternal things that my eyes "cannot see" along the way.  I become so easily overwhelmed with all the to-do's of life and the short hours that I have to accomplish them.  On top of it all, I worry that I am not praying "enough" or as "effectively" as I should be.  But the reality is that my prayer life will NEVER be perfect.  It was never meant to be.  Prayer is simply communication with God.  My Father just wants me to talk to Him about what is going on in my life and allow Him to walk with me.  He wants to be there when I stumble (and I WILL stumble), not to condem me but to encourage me and love me through it.  And even to LAUGH with me in the middle of my ridiculous problems.  He wants my straight-forward honesty.  Nothing hidden.  My frustration, weariness, confusion and strife are all instruments that God uses to draw me closer to Him.  And for that, I can rejoice in the mess.  

Jesus, help me to always look to You first... messy... and help me hand it all over to YOU!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking a walk in the light...

     I went on a walk this weekend with my family... As I was breathing in the fresh air and gazing ahead at the trail, I experienced a moment of breakthrough. 

     For the past 2 years, one of my greatest life challenges has been in figuring out how to do relationship with God (as a wife and a mom) in a way that comes close to comparing to the intimacy I had with Him as a single person.  On the one hand, I have a husband that I long to draw close to God WITH, not separately.  And what exactly is that suppose to look like?  Then on the other hand, I don't have a fraction of the time that I used to have to spend with God.   

    I am forever grateful that God has brought me to this new season, but adjusting to life as a Wife and a Mom has been an extremely challenging journey!  And somewhere along the way, I think I just began to depend too much on my own strength.  I grew weary.  Without even realizing it, I slowly began living in my own strength instead of resting in Him in my place of weakness.  I long to rely on God like I once did, in a way that literally sets my heart on fire!  

     So this question of "how" has remained my heart cry. 

     And now suddenly, I have felt God awakening my heart to a new season with Him.  He is showing me that relationship with Him is never going to look exactly like it once did, but that it can still be incredibly beautiful and intimate.  He is reminding me to SEEK HIM in every single moment... And to meditate on the fact that He is ALWAYS seeking after me.  "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." (Psalm 23:6)

     So on our walk, I saw this trail ahead of me, with a beam of light bursting down at the end.  And God spoke to me in this moment saying, "You have been on a detour these past 2 years, trying to get back to a place of intimate connection with me... Now you are finally arriving back to the place where my light shines BRIGHTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN YOUR LIFE.  Please take my hand.  And let's go on a entirely new walk together.  Welcome back."  

    I feel like my spirit has come back to life again... And, my soul is rejoicing in the light!