Twenty years ago today I became a mother of the child I carried in my womb for 9 months. After 12 hours of labor at the birthing center, Zachary entered this world. As a young (18 years old) mother and newlywed, I entered a new season of life...motherhood.
Remembering pregnancy and his birth story brings back a flood of emotions that goes something like this ~
Mark and I were young, high school sweethearts who met and fell in love on a blind date (blind for me, but he actually saw me a month earlier and arranged this date through a friend of mine...that's a whole nother post). I finished highschool at the end of May 1989, graduated and one month later (June 27, 1989) we found out that we were expecting. Surprise, fear, excitement, fear, steadfastness ofhavingthis baby inside me ~ NEVER questioning that I would, telling our parents (that could be a post in and of itself)...fear, mixed reactions...wedding plans. We married on July 30th and entered the first major season of my life...wife.
My pregnancy, being the first one I had ever experienced, brought a flood of emotions along side of the body changes. I was very thin at 17 and my waist expanded...it was hard for my mind not to understand that I was not fat, just PREGNANT. =) I gained 28 pounds and never had the need for "real maternity clothes" although I think I did buy a pair of shorts, pants and a couple shirts...just because. My has that changed! I remember crying (for no apparent reason), being tired, dizzy early on...probably due to my eating habits and lack of iron, experiencing "Charlie Horses" in the middle of the night toward the end of my pregnancy, and being exhausted after working each day.
We started out seeing an OBGYN, however it never felt like the right thing for me. For one, I had never been to a GYN before being pregnant and then the setting just felt doctorish. Not to mention, I really did NOT want to go to the hospital, let alone deliver a baby in one. Now my upbringing was not such that would have directed me in any way other than a hospital...but I was not at peace.
Several months into my pregnancy, I found out that a friend had delivered in a birthing center. Never heard anything about them before then (okay, just remember I was young and computers were not what they are today...flood and accessibility of information at the entering of a keyword). Once hearing about her "mid-wife" (also a new concept) and the birthing center, I KNEW this was what I needed to do!
Mark and I scheduled an appointment to see the RN mid-wife and see if she would even allow me to become a patient of hers (I think I was at the end of my second tri-mester). Although, this was not 'standard' practice for her to accept someone this far along, looking back now I am ever-so-grateful that the Lord had directed our path accordingly. I finished my pregnancy out under her care ~ loved her! Gentle, caring, and informative (which helped me tremendously).
Moving ahead to February 26th...we walked around our neighborhood I believe ALL day! I had contractions and called Mark, who was working over an hour away. He left the job to come home. We walked and walked and walked. Around 5:30pm, we drove to the birthing center which was about 30 minutes away, sure that I was in 'labor'. They checked, put me on a monitor to time the contractions for a while, then said we should go home. I was determined that I was in labor (not that I really knew what that was) and was frustrated when the nurse on duty sent us home. Two hours later, pop! Sploosh! Oh my goodness, uncontrolable flow of water! Talk about uncomfortable. =)
Back in the car we got and drove back to the birthing center, sure that Zach was coming. Contractions, water flowing, excitement, fear of the unknown...I was like, "I told you that I was in labor." ;-) Mark carried me into the birthing center. The nurses on duty were curious as to why he was carrying me...if I stood the water flowed even more. Okay, no one told me what I should do about that ~ oh the things we learn as we get older. =)
Well, we got to stay this time. They assigned us a room. I remember thinking, anytime I am just sure he's going to come right out. Okay, another lesson learned...birth typically doesn't 'just happen' that quickly. We walked around the birthing center hours. I showered several times to help with pain and to help relax me. I was getting tired. Finally, as things got more intense I only found comfort laying on my side and humming through each contraction. Transition arrives and I get sick. Thirty minutes of pushing and Zach is born! What a HUGE relief! Tired and relieved that the pain of labor was over. It really IS labor (work) to have a baby. =)
Mark and I were overwhelmed that Zach was finally here (early by a few days from the original 'estimate') and a combination of each of us. He had Mark's feet and was so alert at birth. He was laid on my chest right after delivery, looked at both of us and seemed so peaceful. It was amazing ~ tears of joy! We loved him as soon as we saw him (this little active boy that I bonded with in the womb)!
We stayed the night at the birthing center and tried to get some rest. It was a long night ~ my dad drove up to see his first grandchild the day he was born...we did get a little rest and then went home on the 27th. Nursing woos, crying, sleepless nights, unexpected out-of-town relatives stopping in to visit...all set in the first few days home. So many things this first time mother didn't know!
First professional photos ~ 3 months young
BUT ~ I gladly take those days and hold them as cherished memories. Knowing how special this time was, knowing now, as a Christian, that God, even then, was directing my path. Understanding the blessing of this day 20 years ago and each day since...through so many different seasons of life ~ growing of a babe inside a womb, to the birth of an infant, to a boy, to a young man. Praising God for what He has done and will continue to do.
We love you and pray God's blessing, protection and direction for you! Happy Birthday!
"For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. You saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."
Senior picture ~ 2008
"For I know that plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
College talent show, singing a song he wrote about the regret of not sharing the Gospel ~ 2009
"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5
As I recall the events of these past few months and reflect on my days, my response to the demands and fullness of days and balance it all with the way the Lord has so quickly moved, answering prayers and going before it prompts me to write about something I believe we, as Christians, all have felt and gone through. The battle of not being anxious, but rather holding on to peace. The battle of not responding to stress and demands in our flesh, instead responding in the Spirit. The battle of giving thanks and maintaining joy, instead of being overwhelmed, fearful and frustrated when things are difficult. Now, don’t read this with the impression that things are hopeless here. It isn’t…for my hope is in Christ (Hebrews 6:11-20). This post is a sheer reflection on the days gone by…and anticipation of the days ahead.
I am thankful for the truth of those words… “His mercy is new and His grace is sufficient for thee!” I don't know about you, but some days just seem to start off challenging. Instead of that peaceful start to the day...you know the one where you wake up BEFORE everyone else does, get quiet time in with the Lord, a shower and get on to chores...the day starts hard. You don't get up on time (because maybe you were up half the night with a sick child or a baby that thinks it's the perfect time to coo and 'talk'), which seemingly throws everything into 'playing catch-up mode'. It's these verses that I hold on to...with anticipation of His mercy. Maybe, I don't get the quiet time in that I need. Maybe the shower is postponed ~ or even still, nixed altogether. Maybe the day will require some rerouting of chores, school, & meals. But it's at this point that I SHOULD choose to call on Him, to thank Him for the curve ball and to believe that "His grace is sufficient" for me. I do not have to "wait until the next day for His mercy". He extends it to me throughout the day as I walk in faith...as I take "every thought captive" by combating feelings and thoughts of defeat with the truth of His Word. Maybe the day turns in to be more than a day…maybe it is a season.
Although I seem to have many late nights and many demands, His truth does not change (praise the LORD!). =) I can’t imagine being the only Christian that struggles with maintaining joy in the midst of heavy days. It sometimes feels down-right defeating…however, it is always such an encouragement to me to have a little reminder, be it from a dear friend or from my family that it's only a day, a moment…just as it blesses me to encourage you.
Life sometimes seems like this “peak and valley” process. I remember a word picture a pastor painted that I have drawn encouragement from over the years… “Our Christian walk is a set of hills and valleys, but one that is always climbing as the Lord sanctifies us. Although there are going to be “trials” (His words says there will be if you follow Him), we are always moving forward and upward, as the Lord continues to refine us…” This is not his exact wording, as it has been years ~ but a close summary of them.
The Lord is bigger than any obstacle and He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). That maybe it is through that obstacle that He will use it for my good (my spiritual growth, the testimony He gives me through walking in obedience) and His glory, as that familiar verse of Romans 8:28 resonates in my ears. Maybe that trial or obstacle is to grow character...perseverance, diligence, learning to prioritize or to be flexible, to be hospitable or to serve others, as I can draw from Romans 5:3. Whatever the case, I know that His Word does NOT return void...that IT is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) ~ so I cling to it, meditate on it, and pray that through doing so it will shape me to be more like Him.
What do you do when things seem insurmountable? How do you handle those days when all seems muddled, seemingly unproductive, and moving backwards? How do you put to practice what you KNOW to be true and what practical application have you found to help move again in the right direction? Your comments, not only bless me, but I am sure will encourage all of us that have had “those” days.
Remembering that His mercy is new and His grace is sufficient...that He is the One directing each of our paths ~ that we plan, yes, so that when “'those days” come, we, by the grace of God, will handle them with the fruit of the Spirit.
The heart...a symbol of love, was an image used throughout the weekend. To express love and gratitude to many the Lord has put in my life, I sat down with pen and notecard. The art of actually writing words, seems to be an antiquated way of doing things ~ but one I still find most intimate and important (although not done nearly often enough). As the Lord has pressed upon my own heart these days of late, life is short as a vapor. Sending a few friends and family a short note to say, "I love you. I am thankful to the Lord for you. I have been praying for you." is something I desired to do this weekend.
Yesterday, we also made Valentines to share with the children at church & those serving in the Children's ministry ~ attaching a chocolate heart (or Miniature) and Scripture verse ~ for the children, "A friend loves at all times...Proverbs 17:17" and for those who so lovingly serve the children, "We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19".
On the homefront, we started this morning off with strawberry milk (pink) and whole wheat heart pancakes. Little gifts of love were given before heading to church. The message was on James 5:1-6 and how we should not love the riches of this world, but should be storing up treasures in heaven...lasting treasure ~ a reminder of where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21). An exhortation to use our time, strength and youth to glorify God by being good stewards likewise: provide the necessities for our families and minister to the church for the furtherance of the Gospel.
After church...lunch, then cupcakes with heart sprinkles were a treat the children helped make for an afternoon snack. Tying heart strings by investing time in relationships with our children...teaching and training that the next generation may know Him.
The usual fullness of 'back on routines' and 'recovery from the weekend'...general getting back on track from relaxed living, times of fellowship, continual conquering of laundry in our home, etc. Dad was home ~ tries to keep Mondays as 'off' days...so time spent doing business together ~ updating job calendar, working on invoices and other business paperwork & returning phone calls from the weekend. School as usual ~ Zach with college classwork, Austin - Alyssa with homeschool lessons, Graham a little on the relaxed side since he was running a low-grade fever, Kailynn played although a little out of sorts without Graham in the picture and Liz did what all 4 month olds do. =)
Dad took Logan & Kailynn with him for afternoon errands. Alyssa stayed to play with Elizabeth...Graham napped since he was running a low-grade fever. Austin was off to Orchestra practice for two hours and I prepared the remainder of dinner with Zach (Mexican Chicken, Rice, Homemade Whole Wheat Millet Muffins & Corn). Zach has become quite proficient at making all the homemade muffins...lightening the load in meal preparation during the week. =) A yummy dinner had by us all gathered around the table. Where had the day gone!
Tubs began not long after, Kailynn finished off the bottom of the Doritos (Nacho flavored) bag...a delightful little girl with orange to prove it! Zach worked on homework for his PHC online class, Austin-Alyssa listen to Adventures in Odyssey radio program, tubs were finished up with little ones. A decision to move Logan to the older boys' room for the night...just as a precaution since Graham wasn't feeling 100%. Things began to settle and bedtime blessings, prayers and then children succumb to sleep...Logan is blessed with staying up a little later to play Rummy with Dad ~ a little one-on-one time while all is still. =)
All in bed except Liz & I ~ our middle of the night feeding...such a sweet time when all is quiet in the house. Well, not all is quiet for long on this night...Kailynn starts crying,...Alyssa comes out of her room with pillow & cover in hand. A sick little girl...I wake Mark, help is needed (I have never done that kind of illness well ~ yes, I know. You'd think after 7 children, I could handle this better. :} ). Let's not forget that Doritos bag she so enjoyed earlier ~ not a pretty sight! I put Liz down in her cradle the ran a tub for the frightened, sick Kai. Mark stripped the bed and takes bed coverings outside to spray them down. Alyssa settles on the couch. I get Kai cleaned off in the warm tub then take her stained PJ's to start a load of laundry. The window is opened ~ fan on high ~ I begin bleaching her crib & mattress while Mark gets her ready for bed again. He moves to the couch, Alyssa moves to the loveseat, all begins to settle down again and I return to finish nursing Liz. You guessed it...this scenerio repeats again...more laundry, another tub, more bleaching and resettled into sleep around 3:30am.
No Bible study ~ Mark stays home until around 9am, Zach has full day of classes, all is off to a slow start. Kai seems better...Graham, too. No fever now ~ but things move slowly today for the youngest and Mom. Morning routines take place, I prepped for dinner (pressing on with a few minor alterations), lessons get done, Zach comes home after lunch, Mark gets home early...naps happen with Mom & Dad joining in on this one ~ late afternoon.
Zach goes back to campus for his evening class...we all sit for dinner (Cheese-stuffed meatloaf with marinara sauce over spaghetti, broccoli, croissants ~ okay, I didn't know that kids would be sick when I planned out these meals). Graham and Kai are both hungery now so plain pasta given with plain croissants. All is well ~ yogart later before bed. Game time with older boys...Scrabble and younger ones blessed, prayed with and off to sleep. This night would be restful...except for me. I was up (shouldn't have taken that nap, I guess), but Kai kept me company as she was up for a while with tummy bubbles.
Phew...all appears to be returning to our 'normal' routines. Chores completed and then some. School closet & bookcase given extra attention, movie bin visited to return misplaced videos ~ somehow movies seem to help little ones feel better =), laundry caught up and dinner preparation begun. Lessons are on track and Lord willing, will continue to be. Orchestra practice for later today and young ones will be kept home from church ~ don't want any other family to deal with wee hour sickness ~ even though they are full of energy and running around as usual today. =)
God is good ~ His grace is sufficient ~ Counting it all joy ~ Giving thanks for being able to be home to serve these blessings and for the working out of faith.
For this is the day that the Lord has made ~ rejoicing and being glad in it ~