The One who Paved the Way

Leaving the care of my wonderful midwife, Barb, mid-pregnancy was one of the many hard parts of moving away this summer. Not only was Barb one of the women who helped me birth my first baby safely and beautifully at home, but she also helped start me on the path of studying and using herbs, and she has been a source of wisdom and encouragement to me in all things birth and baby for the last 2 years.

I was truly sad to leave before she was able to complete our prenatal care with baby Violet, but before we parted ways, she left me with this beautiful advice:

“Just remember,” she said, “when you’re getting ready to birth this baby, just reach down and feel the top of her head, and remember that this one [Aria] paved the way for her. Your body will remember what to do.”

Those words have echoed in my mind as I prepare and pray for Violet’s birthing day. Subsequently, Aria turns two years old in less that ten days, so I thought I’d celebrate “the one who paved the way” by reposting her birth story from our family blog.

Reading through it again so close to “birthing day” sends a renewed sense of excitement through my heart as it calls to mind some of those intense sensations and emotions –the fierce determination of labor, the physical pressure and pain that gives way to the most empowering yet truly humbling “right of passage” into motherhood. Here’s an excerpt from the story that sums it up well:

“Our first moments together were surreal. I was amazed at her fragility and her strength. Here was this little creature whom God had blessed us with. She was so delicate, so helpless, yet to be able experience birth on her end proves her own God-given health and strength! I remember so vividly taking it all in for the first time—her dark, soft hair, almond-shaped eyes, long fingers, perfect little nose, beautiful, puckered lips, the chord still connecting her to me for a few moments more. The weight of her in my arms instead of my belly was exhilarating! Nothing could have truly prepared me for this moment. I felt such a rush of love and energy and awe.” 

–Read the rest HERE

At 40 weeks, with 1 centimeter down and 9 to go, I must once again trust the Lord with this birth, as I did with the first. I hold it all with an open hand, desiring that His will would be done, and praying in faith that he would indeed bless us with a safe, natural birth again.

To Him be the glory! 

Barb with 8-day-old Aria


All the Messes Between Successes

Another profound teaching moment brought to you by my 2-year-old…..

When I stop to consider the amount of poo and other unpleasant substances that I’ve come in contact with since becoming a mom, it’s truly amazing. Indeed, as moms, we have a high calling!

What would have gagged me prior to motherhood, is now simply part of the job. A not so fun part, but a necessary part, nonetheless.

Potty training my almost two-year-old has added a new dimension to this labor of love. The amount and the “caliber,” if you will, of Aria’s “big girl” potties, and the surfaces I have had to clean them from lately, somehow make me look forward to returning to the slightly less toxic and water soluble breast-milk poo of my soon-to-arrive newborn.

And with that day fast approaching, we’ve hunkered down and stayed indoors (even in this heat wave), to practice the timeless art of “potty time.”

My reconnaissance work on Pinterest has paid off  as I’ve kept Aria entertained with plenty of messy sensory projects and games to keep her hands busy and her mind active. And with silly videos to inspire, encouraging pep talks from trusted friends along the way, treats to reward, and the timer telling us every 10 minutes to “try, try again,” I think I have managed to lay down the framework for a successfully trained almost 2-year-old.

Yet for all the successes we’ve had over the last few days, we’ve had plenty of messes in-between, and plenty of moments of frustration from both parties. But could there be a better analogy to draw from in reflecting on our own “grown-up” spiritual training?! 🙂

At one point this week (I think it was in the midst of stooping down in all my 9-month pregnant glory to mop up a lovely trail of puddles), I thought of how even though I had won my “big girl pants” many moons ago, I still have my areas of weakness and make plenty of mistakes in my actions, thoughts, speech, and heart, daily.

In my walk and relationship with God, I try and fail often. I doubt and forget what I’ve been taught. Or worse, I regress to baby-like behavior in moments of laziness or rebellion.

Yet God stoops down and patiently cares for me again and again.

He gently and lovingly “leads me down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” And even when I fall into the muck and mire of sin, even though I “walk through the valley of the shadow of death ” (Psalm 23), this truth remains:

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
(Psalm 103:8, 13 ESV)

I’ve heard it put this way: As Christians, our journey is much like the stock market with many “oh crap” moments (no pun intended) in between moments of “success.” Still, we are always moving “up and forward,” so to speak. Our sins do not make or break our salvation because of God’s mercy and grace through His Son. We can always find encouragement through God’s word to press on, and we are spurred on in faith by our brother’s and sisters in Christ.

All of our moments in the muck and mire (though they be literal as in cleaning up after a potty training child, or spiritual as in dealing with our own messes), draw us closer to God if we are in Christ, because those moments humble us and remind us of who we were apart from Him, and who we are called to be in Him.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2: 11-14 (ESV)

Home…Where My Husband Is

After a long day of last-minute packing, final moments and meals with family, and teary goodbyes, a 2 hour, overbooked flight swept me and Aria out West to finally join Greg, (who had moved out there 2 weeks before while I waited for my insurance to kick in).

With my 8-month pregnant belly leaving barely any room for my squirming two-year-old, I gratefully stepped off the plane and into my sweet husband’s arms. Arms that would be a BLESSED help and relief to me,  finally sharing the load of our increasingly heavy toddler!

But much more than just a pair of strong arms, over the last 5 years of marriage, this man has become home to me.

Five months of living outside of a physical home of our own, out of suitcases, and in and out of our parents house, has reinforced that truth for me.

That it doesn’t matter where we are. If we’re together as a family, we’re home.

But this also calls to heart the reminder that none of us are ever truly “home” this side of heaven.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 1 Corinthians 5:1

We, as the “church” at large, are under Christ’s authority. He is her “bridegroom.” This imagery of Christ and the church as bride and bridegroom is all over scripture (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 1:18, Revelation 21:2).

Therefore, we, as a collective, can say in and out of season and even when we feel the disarray of life in a broken world, “home is where our ‘husband’ (Christ) is.” We can turn to him for that “peace that transcends understanding” that Christ may “guard our hearts and minds” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Walking through the door that night into our new “home,” into an unfamiliar apartment with lots of boxes to unpack and organization to do, I felt the pang of resistance to this foreign space where friends and family were now far behind and nothing felt settled or familiar.

Except…crawling into bed, I felt the familiar weight and form of my husband beside me. His hand on my belly, feeling our soon-to-arrive daughter dancing in my womb sent a warmth through my soul.

The Lord gently reminded me of his unfailing love and provision for our family. He called us here, together, to learn to lean more on Him and to remember that in Him, even in the whirlwind of change, and the unfamiliar, and the “now and not yet” of this world, we are “home.”