Friday, September 26, 2014

Choices: Minimalism

So sometime back in 2013, I found the Hands Free Mama blog. She emphasized being intentional about putting down your devices, living 'hands free,' slowing down, looking into your children's eyes, and enjoying the moments. To grasp what really matters. She tells beautiful stories about restoring connection with her daughters and repairing those relationships after she had lived distracted for so long. I cried every time I read one of her posts for the first few months. Her posts resonated so much with my heart for how I want to live my life.

At the end of August 2013, I wrote in my prayer notebook how I felt God was calling me to simplify, to slow down, be still, create margin, and seek peace.

And right around then, a book called Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families was available as a free download. It echoed my heart in so many ways as it talked about simplifying your schedule (among other things) and learning to prioritize what is most important for your family.

And then, someone in my Facebook feed happened to share this blog post, Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids from the becoming minimalist blog. It was perfect timing! Because that blog was FULL of practical suggestions for simplifying your life and de-cluttering your home. And the heart of the blog was so in line with my heart on why I wanted to do this--emphasizing benefits like having time for what matters most, less stress, less debt, more freedom, and more time for investing my heart into meaningful things.

See, this is how God speaks to me! He plants it in my heart and it grows until I'm like, woah, God, I really want to do such & such. And then, all of a sudden I'm inundated with resources or confirmations or whatever. Ask and you shall receive, right? Beautiful. Awesome.

And even better timing, I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my second son and nesting hit me hardcore for the entire month of October! I cleared out my house from top to bottom and donated carloads and carloads of things that we just didn't use and didn't need. It felt so freeing!

One of the first places I started was the kitchen. I donated all the things we weren't using (which was a lot, because I'm a pretty simplistic cook and very rarely bake anything) and moved things off of the counter. (Because now I had room in the cabinets!) It made such a difference having all that clear counterspace! It looked so much nicer and felt more inviting and made the neat freak in my head very happy.

And from there I was hooked! It's seriously addictive. I couldn't wait to get to the rest of the house!

One of the other big things I tackled was clearing out Will's toys. Can I tell you how much easier it has been to keep our house clean since I simplified his toy bin and got rid of all the toys with tiny pieces that would end up everywhere?! And with a newborn arriving soon after, it could not have been more needed!

Since then, this mindset of minimalism has helped me to live more simply. I'm more intentional about the things I buy or bring into our home or what we might add to our schedules. I'm happy finding ways to live with less which also enables us to be more generous. I'm a big fan of ministries like Compassion International and World Vision, so this is a big bonus for me.

I can spend less time cleaning and organizing because I've cleared out so much, which means I have more time for my boys and my passions. Another really huge benefit is finding contentment with less, too. It does wonders for your heart!

This is my testimony: I've chosen the intentional simplicity of minimalism over our culture's typical excessive consumerism and cultivated greater peace within my heart and my surroundings. I totally recommend it! :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Choices: Homebirth

This is my story of why I wanted a homebirth. This is what I wanted. This worked for me and my family. I encourage you to do your research, be informed, and do what is best for you and yours. :)

With my first, I would have liked a homebirth, too, but financially it didn't work out. I ended up with a good hospital birth in many ways, but there was one aspect of it that made me determined to birth at home next time.
My care providers and I had very different visions of what birth should look like. My vision was unrestricted, free, instinctive, and natural. Theirs was controlled, restricted, timed, and managed.

Because of my preferences and medical decisions that deviated from the typical routine in most hospital settings in the US today, the on call doctor argued with me throughout my labor. She repeatedly pressed me to change my mind, attempting to bully me into accepting various interventions. She even argued with me through contractions. I said, "My answer is no. I've researched it. I know the statistics, risks, and benefits. No, thank you." Still she argued.

It made me angry. I was birthing a child. I should not have had to argue and defend myself against her medical preferences, and especially not during the middle of a contraction when I'm 6+ centimeters dilated!

I knew I needed a provider with a similar mindset next time. I wanted a provider that believed in the power of a woman to birth her baby without intervention, that believed in me, and in the natural process. I wanted someone I could trust with the safety of me and my baby and also with the sacredness of my birth. Someone that would be supportive and respectful while supervising my birth. I felt a homebirth midwife was my best chance.

Because birth is something I do, not something that is done to me.

When I researched homebirth, I learned that with a competent provider, homebirth was just as safe as a hospital birth in a "low-risk" pregnancy. Transfers are very rarely needed and most of them are not emergencies.

The first midwife I approached wasn't able to work with me because she didn't have an available assistant around my due date. I eventually ended up working with the new Morning Star Birth Center in Duluth. I met with a few different midwives while the birth center got started up and Savita Jones ended up being my midwife at my birth, along with Paula Bernini Feigal and an assistant. I highly recommend Morning Star! They were all wonderful!

During my pregnancy, I had hour long appointments with my midwife, with plenty of time to check on me and baby, discuss nutrition and how I was feeling physically and emotionally, and address any questions or concerns. I was also able to meet everyone that would attend my birth at my appointments as well. During labor, my care team monitored me and baby in an unobtrusive and non-disruptive way. They presented the options for my care and respected my choices and preferences.

My homebirth was beautiful and I cherish the memory. Everyone present was supportive, encouraging, wonderful and respectful. There was an atmosphere of love, joy, and peace as I brought this new life into the world, my second son. Unrushed, free, gentle, and safe.

Homebirth may not be the choice for everyone, but it was the right choice for us. In the hospital, I had to fight for what I knew was best for me and my son. At home, I birthed safely and peacefully, unafraid and wonderfully supported.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Captive to the power of sin? No!

Yesterday, I walked with the boys to a nearby Lutheran church because Nathaniel had our car but I wanted to go to a worship service somewhere. The structured service is not what I was used to, but I was following along as best I could in between occupying the wiggly baby in my arms and sternly whispering at Will to please not climb on top of the pew.

I enjoyed the hymns and the message from Matthew about not worrying about tomorrow. It was nice to have fellowship.

But I couldn't join in this confession...

"We confess that we are captive to the power of sin that dwells within us. We put ourselves first and others last. What we think will make us happy leaves us longing for more. Even when we want to do what is good, we find ourselves doing the opposite. Rescue us from death's grip on our lives, and raise us up day by day, that we may be alive to God in Christ Jesus."

This is the confession of saints in Christ? Did Christ conquer sin and set us free or not?! It broke my heart to hear children of God declaring these things over themselves. This is the confession of an unbeliever, and maybe it is meant to be (I'm not familiar with the Lutheran church, so my apologies if I've misunderstood), but it was the entire congregation saying it. What a defeating and untrue proclamation for a child of God!

I got a little fired up about it. I also know this isn't the only place where believers are making defeating statements like this, and I knew I wanted to write about it. I want to give truth to combat the lies, because we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) and the words we use to talk about ourselves are important.

"Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus... For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace... You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." - Romans 6:11,14,18

If you are in Christ, you are not "just a sinner saved by grace." You were a sinner and you are no longer because you have been saved by grace!

In Christ, you are free from the power of sin. Sin no longer dwells in you. Christ lives in you! This should be your confession in Christ!

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." - Galatians 2:20

"To them (believers) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." - Colossians 1:27

We used to put ourselves first and others last. What we used to think made us happy left us longing for more. NOT ANYMORE.

"For it is God who works in you to will and act according to HIS good purpose." - Philippians 2:13

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ... God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17,21

Come on! This is some good news, people!

When we want to do what is good (because Christ within us is giving us that good desire), now we find ourselves doing it! "I can do all things through the One who empowers me within!" (Philippians 4:13)

And instead of asking, thank God, because He already has rescued us from death's grip!

"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." - Colossians 1:13

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is in the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Have you experienced this freedom in your life? If you haven't, you can! 

It doesn't matter who you are, where you've been, or what you've done. Turn away from sin and turn to Jesus as your Savior! Invite Him to live in you! Ask Him to empower you to live in righteousness. Ask Him to make you a new creation! He loves to answer those prayers and He will do it. He takes all the mess and He makes you new. He loves you so, so much and He wants you to know Him, too.

Through the blood of Jesus, we are redeemed out of the hand of the devil and all our sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7, Psalm 107:2). The blood of Jesus cleanses us continually from all sin (1 John 1:7). Through the blood, we are justified, made righteous, just as if we'd never sinned (Romans 5:9). Through the blood of Jesus, we are sanctified, made holy, set apart to God (Hebrews 13:12). Our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed, and sanctified by the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, Satan has no place in us and no power over us, through the blood of Jesus. We renounce him, loose ourselves from him, and command him to leave in the name of Jesus. (adapted from the end of the message The Life Giver by Derek Prince)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Choices: A Drug-free Natural Hospital Birth

When I first became pregnant, I had a big problem. You see, I despise needles and everything I knew about pregnancy and birth told me that I would be stuck full of them throughout this experience: blood tests, glucose screening, IVs, an epidural, etc.

At some point early on, I thought, Screw that! I'm tough. I'll go drug-free in labor. Women have been giving birth for a lot longer than those things have been around, right? God created and designed me to give birth and there was nothing in the bible about Eve needing an epidural!

And so with that, I laughingly told my family my crazy plan, adding that I needed to research some other pain management methods (probably envisioning in my head that stupid labor breathing always portrayed in movies). My nurse sister suggested considering homebirth. WHAT?! I didn't even know that was an option anymore. Women give birth at home?! Sweet!

And so began my research journey into everything "natural birth." I was so uninformed. I began reading books and more books and online articles and forums on things like gestational diabetes, epidurals, episiotomies, the Bradley Method, doulas, the typical cascade of interventions (aka snowball effect), and more. I read lots of birth stories, both good and bad, but mostly good to encourage myself that it was possible!

I prayed a lot as well. In the beginning of my pregnancy, one thing I prayed for was strength and courage for the "required" blood draws. I did one early in the pregnancy which was traumatizing! I totally cried and made the lab tech wait like 10 minutes before I gave him my arm. As the time for the next blood draw came, I was really distressed over having to do that again. Then a day or two before that doctor appointment, I was lamenting in prayer over the dreaded blood draw that I "had to do" for my baby and I felt like God asked me, why hadn't I asked Him whether I had to do it or not? I immediately felt like He had given me permission to skip it and I had so much peace! From that point on, I was a peace-filled, needle-declining rebel! God had my back and that was good enough for me!

The more I prayed and the more I learned, my passion for this topic grew. I became more confident in God's design and amazed by the wonder and beauty of it. I became very skeptical of routine interventions. Do we think God needs a little help here? Did He mess up a little with this whole birth thing? No! I grew confident in my ability to birth my baby without drugs and without intervention. I was created and designed to birth babies! And God was with us! (Though there are situations when medical intervention is needed and welcome, they are few.)

Did you know that in unmedicated birth, when the baby is crowning, the mama's body releases such a surge of hormones (such as oxytocin, the love hormone) that it rewires the mama's brain to prepare her to love and nurture her baby?! When pain medications are given, that hormone surge is stunted because it is released in response to the pain. Things like this just blow my mind! The more I read, the more things like this I learned about pregnancy, birth, and babies. I am in awe at the God-given ability of women to bring forth life and nurture it! We are so privileged to be life-bearers.

Now I received plenty of comments and heard a lot of horror stories during my pregnancy. Many smiled at my plans for a drug free birth and told me something like, "well, we'll see what happens when you go into labor." More than one assured me that I would reach a point where I would break down and demand drugs. Our culture teaches us to fear birth and it teaches us to distrust our bodies. I want to assure you that God knew what He was doing when He designed us, and you don't need to be afraid! (Perfect Love casts out fear! ~ 1 John 4:18 and the Truth sets you free! ~ John 8:32) Trust in the Creator's design! You can do this! And for those of you who want to quote the curse from Genesis at me about increased pain in childbirth -- JESUS BROKE THE CURSE ON THE CROSS. He died to free us from the curse, why do we insist on keeping it?! Just sayin'.

And you know one thing makes birth more painful? Fear. The more you tense up in fear, the greater the pain. Then pain medications cut off the hormone cycle of increasing levels of oxytocin which reduces our perception of the pain. And so we medicate and spiral into intervention on top of intervention, that leads to poor outcomes for mamas and babies. The US ranks 60th in the world for maternal mortality rate and 69th in the world for infant mortality rate. In fact, our numbers are trending upward instead of downward! Our routine interventions that have led to our ridiculous c-section rates (No, one in three babies do not need to be cut out of their mother!) are not doing us any favors.

When I started this learning journey, it was all about me and avoiding needles. The more I learned though, I found that it was no longer simply about avoiding those needles, and it was definitely never about some idealized experience, it was about the health and safety of both me and my child.

So, yes, my labor was painful in a sense, but it was more like hard work that required a lot of focus and concentration. It was never too much. I trusted my body and did what I needed to. I swayed my hips. I got on my hands and knees. I vocalized through my contractions. I rested in between. I focused on relaxing my body and working with my contractions instead of fighting them. I repeated thoughts like these in my head: "Jesus help me!" "Every contraction brings me closer to meeting him" and the lyrics to a song "I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb..." Every. single. contraction.

My spontaneous routine got me through each contraction. I was not afraid. I did not scream for drugs. I did not want them. When I reached transition, I felt like I was ready to be done, but I knew I could do it. And I did! It was tough, but I was tougher.

The doctor and nurses were concerned with Will's heart rate toward the end once I was pushing. I asked what I should do. Would some upright position be better? I wanted to change positions to help his heart rate and push him out faster. They told me to stay where I was, laying on my back at that moment, and instead cut me (an episiotomy) and used a vacuum to deliver Will.

I shake my head now. At another birth, I witnessed a similar situation, but with a midwife. The midwife asked the mama to move from her back to her hands and knees, baby's heart rate improved, and baby was born soon after, perfect. No episiotomy or vacuum needed. My instincts were right, but instead of allowing me to move into a better and more natural position for birth, they did it the routine medical way. Did you know they tell you not to lay on your back your entire pregnancy, because it cuts off blood flow to the baby? But during labor in a hospital, it's the default position. Does that seem illogical to you? Could that maybe have caused Will's distressed heart tones? Um, yeah.

I knew better, but in the moment I doubted myself and allowed the interventions. For awhile after, I justified it and felt they were probably necessary. No, they really weren't, but it was easier for the doctor and nurses to use man-made interventions rather than try natural methods. So I had some disappointment about that aspect but I still accomplished a drug-free hospital birth! It is possible!

Because of my passion for all things birth, and my love of mamas and their precious babies, I became a doula after the birth of my first son and I dream of being a midwife in God's timing. My heart and desire is for women to be educated about birth. I want them to know their strength and capability! I want women to know their options, follow their instincts, be empowered, and birth without fear. I want them to know that birth can be beautiful, gentle, joyful, and empowering! Birth is something you do, not something that is done to you. If you have any questions about birth, I'd love to help you educate yourself. Two great resources on natural birth are Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Birth Partner.

I am truly a praying mama, and I am especially passionate about praying for mamas and babies. Last summer while visiting Bethel Church in Redding, I received a promise over my life that I will see stillborn babies come back to life as a supernatural midwife, so I pray for mamas and babies expecting the miraculous! Our God is the God who heals ALL our diseases (Psalm 103:3) and brings the dead back to life (John 11, Romans 4:17)! I would be honored to pray for you and your baby, too, so please leave a comment or send me a message. God has great plans for the both of you, to give you a hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11)

God, awaken women to their strength and the beauty of Your design for birth! Release gentle, beautiful, and empowering births. Release healing of scars and trauma from less than ideal or traumatic births. May women know that it is okay to grieve what was stolen from them by unneeded interventions or care providers that didn't listen or just plain bad circumstances. May all women know that a beautiful, natural birth is possible for them, too, by God's grace! Release Your truth and love that will free us from all fear. Cover us with Your peace. AMEN!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Choices: "I Do" at Nineteen

As with the last post, this is our story. Specifically, this is how God wrote our love story. In sharing this, I simply want to show that following conventional wisdom (marrying later, dating longer, longer engagements, etc) isn't necessary for a successful relationship. Only two things are needed-- commitment to God and each other. Do what's right for you and your situation.

The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD. - Proverbs 18:22

My husband and I just recently celebrated 8 years of marriage. We were only 19 when we vowed til death do us part.

We began dating the summer after my freshman year of college. Only one month in, he asked if I could see us getting married. Trembling, I told him, yeah, I could. We were engaged by January and got married less than a year after we began dating on a hot, sunny day at the end of May.

I was asked if I was pregnant by one friend and I'm sure others wondered the same. Apparently being in love wasn't a good enough reason to get married at 19. It's highly discouraged really. You're supposed to go to college and start a career and all that important stuff. Whatever. We finished college while married and it worked for us.

We dated with purpose and we were up front about it with each other. We knew we were looking for our spouse. We both prayed a lot. I spent some time doubting and soul searching. In the end, we chose each other.

We were so young and immature. We had no idea what we were getting into. We were not "ready" for marriage in the ways society thought we should be, but we were determined and committed to each other and felt no need to wait on it since our decision was made. We vowed before God, our family, and our friends, to love and cherish each other, to stick together, come what may. Eight years and two beautiful babies later, we're still here, still together. We've fought for this relationship, for each other, and made it work.

Let me tell you, it's a messy, beautiful, hard, and glorious journey, two becoming one. And it's so worth it.

We're still learning how to make this work, this laying down of our lives in love. And as we both grow and change, what that looks like changes constantly.

I've learned that this marriage isn't about keeping me happy, it's about making me holy. And there is a deep joy to be found within it, as we sacrifice for and serve each other. There is a breathtaking beauty in seeing we are not who we once were, even though we still have miles to go. We have grown and matured. Together.

God has used Nathaniel's laid back personality and steady faith to temper my extremes. His rough edges have sanded down my own. I'm a better person because of Nathaniel. His support has helped me to pursue the dreams God has put on my heart, from a simple weekend camping by myself to ditching birth control to missions trips to becoming a stay at home mama. No matter how crazy, he has backed me and encouraged me to go for it. 

We are definitely imperfect people and it's the awful truth that those we love the most can wound us the deepest. It hurts the most because the ones we love matter most to us.

So we have our bad days, or weeks, or months... Days when I doubt, when I cry to God, when I wonder what's the point, when I feel unloved, when I hate the angry words I let spew out of my mouth toward my beloved... I always come back to this, I promised. I promised him and I promised God that I was in this for life. It's a hard and holy promise and God enables me to keep it. And when I stop to remember, I remember I chose Nathaniel and he chose me. I am my beloved's and he is mine (Song of Solomon 6:3).

I remember that he is the boy who called when he said he would. I remember the nervous way he sang when he asked me to be his wife. I remember that he is the man who let me adopt an 11 year old cat for our first anniversary, then held me and cried with me when we had to put him down a few years later. He supported me through college, and then I him. He was beside me through multiple moves and various jobs. He is the man who was with me through the births of our two boys, and he is a wonderful, loving father to them. I remember he is the one that has cheered me on, encouraged, and loved me through everything these past eight years.

When I remember, I remember that I have so much to be thankful for in my husband. When I choose gratitude, my heart is tender toward him and I much closer to being the wife I was created to be, standing in grace with gentleness. 

I know this: Love is worth fighting for. We know that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) and marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride (Ephesians 5:22-33), so we can expect the enemy's opposition because he wants to ruin our testimony. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph" (2 Corinthians 2:14)!

Our society tends to have a rather depressing view of the odds of staying together once married, so let me encourage you, that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Hold fast to your faith and hold fast to your hope (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:21,23), and fight for love. It's worth it and you can do it. We've made it eight years and counting, by the grace of God, and we were just a couple of crazy kids in the shallow end of the faith pool when we began. :)


Here are some encouraging facts from "The Good News About Marriage" by Shaunti Feldhahn: The rate of divorce among church attendees is really only fifteen or twenty percent for all marriages, not fifty percent like we usually hear quoted. And eighty percent of marriages are happy, not thirty percent. (The Truth sets us free! John 8:32)


I highly recommend Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud & Townsend and Keep Your Love On by Danny Lee Silk, or following his Facebook page to see all his updates on how to #KYLO (Keep Your Love On) in any relationship. These resources have renewed my thinking in so many ways!


If you've been married for any length of time, share how long & share some encouragement for others! :)

P.S. Let me note that if you are in an abusive relationship, get yourself and any children somewhere safe! Do not place yourself in harm's way in the name of submission or love, please, to say anything else is to misunderstand God's heart. God's heart is to first keep you safe! His plans for you are for good and not harm (Jeremiah 29:11). Fighting for love will look much different for you than fighting for love when there are only disagreements, misunderstandings, and hurting hearts. Know there is hope for you, too, that God can still restore and redeem, but use wisdom and stay safe. Seek help! The first half of the book Rich in Love is a wonderful testimony of God redeeming and restoring a broken and abusive marriage.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Choices: Releasing (birth) Control

Please understand as you read, this is my story of how God has led me and brought my heart to this place where I have stopped using birth control. It is not the only way or the right choice for everyone. Let God lead you. He has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. Research all your options and seek His wisdom. God bless you!

During a season when God was teaching me to let go of fear and asking me to release control of my life, He placed a dream in my heart. A sweet dream by the name of William Thomas. A baby boy that would be mine to nurture and love as he grew into a mighty man of God.

At the time, I thought we had a lot of things we needed to do before having children. I wanted to serve overseas first. We needed to be debt free and financially ready. We needed our own place, etc. I had a timeline in my head of how things ought to be. So when God placed this deep love for my little boy in my heart, I wept at the thought of the years that would pass before I would get to meet him and know him and see his sweet face. I wanted him desperately and I prayed passionately for him for weeks.

I wanted him now with the deepest ache, but we had to be responsible. We had to do things in the "right" order. Didn't we?

God began to nudge my heart. He impressed on me that maybe He had a different timeline. Maybe He had a better plan.

That took a little while to get through, because I had been clinging so hard to typical wisdom and the way I thought things "should be done" that I had neglected to really ask God for His way for us. I was praying with such frustration for God to make my timeline happen (and feeling increasing disappointment at my lack of progress along it!), it hadn't even crossed my mind that He might have a different timeline! I had forgotten to consider that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and that the wisdom of God seems like foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 1:25 & 2:14).

God asked me to give the timeline of my life to Him. To trust Him with the details and give Him control. For me, I felt this meant letting go of hormonal birth control, allowing God to give us the blessing of a child in His timing, and trusting Him to also provide. I needed to release that aspect of my life to Him, to stop clinging to control of it out of fear.

I told God I would, provided my husband Nathaniel agreed, to confirm that it was His will. So I shared with Nathaniel what God had placed on my heart. I had assumed he would want to wait awhile for me to quit taking the pill. His response was along the lines of "Then go ahead and stop right now." He meant that day and I was so shocked! In his eyes, it was very simple: if I felt God was asking that of me, then I should do that, no further consideration needed.

And that confirmed it for me! I obeyed, surrendering all my worry and fear to Him and knowing we were in no way ready for a child! But I believed that God would make a way when the time came and trusted that once I became pregnant, He would still have nine months to get things in order that weren't yet ready! Where there had been fear, we now had so much peace.

As I prayed through this, God reminded me in so many ways that children are a blessing from His hand (Psalm 127) and assured me of His promises to provide for His children (Psalm 37:25). And if I truly believed that children are a blessing, would I really want to try to prevent God from sending me one until I decided it was time? Did I really want to say, "No thanks, God, but I don't want a blessing just yet! No thanks, God, that's enough blessings! You can stop that now!"? ;)

No! I wanted to fully surrender to God's plan and purpose for our family - in timing and in size. I wanted to gladly welcome every blessing that He desires to send to us, through pregnancy or adoption.

Within six months of that decision, I was pregnant with my William Thomas. A few months later, by God's grace, we purchased a beautiful home. We welcomed Will with joy, just over a year after God put him on my heart. Through it all, God has been faithful to provide all we need and more.

Some time after Will was born, I became convinced in my heart, convicted, that it was God's desire for me to never go back on the pill. For one, I became better educated on the health risks and concerns associated with long term use of hormonal birth control. More importantly, I learned that all pills, even pills that aren't meant to function in this way, can cause a very early abortion by allowing conception to occur but preventing implantation. Because of my deeply held convictions about the precious value of every life, I felt that I couldn't accept that risk no matter how rare. And so I never went back on the pill and I haven't sought an alternate method.

Someday, we may look at natural family planning, but, at least for this season, God has called me to lay down any attempted control and simply trust Him. He transformed my thinking on this. He took any worry or fear and replaced it with trust and faith. He took my plans of wanting maybe 3 children and multiplied it into a dream of many more, especially through adoption. He changed my priorities and expanded my vision of what my family could be. He has blessed us with two sons in His beautiful timing so far and I wait with expectation for all the other precious blessings He has in store for us.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Dream, Distraction, and Grace

About a month ago, I shared with a dear friend a small dream that has been growing on my heart to share on my blog my journey to some unconventional, definitely not mainstream, choices for me and my family. I confided my nervousness at facing some possibly hostile opinions and my excitement at sharing what I've learned in my journey.

Almost immediately I began seeing confirmations, as though speaking the dream aloud had released something. Facebook posts, messages, phone calls, books! Everywhere I looked, God was encouraging me to go for it. I was ready to go!

And then I got sick. I spent some time distracted. I celebrated when a much-prayed for baby was born to a friend (SO many answered prayers in that birth story and precious little one! Praise God!!). And then I was sick again! So for nearly a month, I had very little quiet time. I felt so disconnected.

So a couple days ago, for the first time in weeks, I spent some solid time in scripture. (I was feeling a little self-judgmental, finger shaking at myself. Shame, shame, no scripture reading in how long?!)

First I read in Isaiah and these words filled me up,

Isaiah 43:1,4 "But now, this is what the Lord says— He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine... You are precious and honored in my sight... I love you. "

and then I read 1 John,

1 John 2:1 But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

First, He assured me of His love and then assured me of His grace. I am loved. I am always forgiven. I am in awe of His abundant, extravagant grace!

Now, God willing, I will begin writing about my journey of unconventional choices in my next post. I am praying there will be no more distraction and no more sickness! Pray with me?

Thank you for reading. Leave a comment? 

May you rest in His extravagant grace and overwhelming love!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers, You are Mighty

Mother's Day Video: Mighty

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there. :)

This is Kingdom work, shaping the precious little souls God has entrusted into your care! Please know that you are beautiful, amazing and strong, and doing something of infinite, eternal value!

Thank you for shaping our future.

Thank you for loving and loving and loving.

Thank you for giving of yourself every day, feeding those hungry mouths, clothing those precious little bodies, caring for every need, kissing boo-boos, cleaning up messes, correcting and disciplining, teaching and playing.

All these daily tasks, all this daily loving and giving, all of this matters. What you do for these little ones echoes in eternity. You are doing sacred work. You are changing the world, one precious life at a time.

God bless you! Be encouraged!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Be Still. A Prayer for Peace.

Be Still - Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger & Bethel Music

The last few days, I've been thinking a lot on the phrase "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10) and this morning I was listening to the above song from Bethel. It's been in my head as I've been pondering on this verse and really longing in my heart to truly be still.

This was my prayer this morning that I wrote in my notebook and I felt nudged to share it here...

Yes, God, teach me to look into Your eyes, to be still and rest in You, to be still and KNOW that You are God alone, to stop trying to "do" it all but to "be still" in my heart and watch You work. Teach me to release my worries and cares into Your hands and let You resolve it, let You carry me through, to do my assignment only, to listen and know my part and leave the rest to You. God help me to have the wisdom to live skillfully! Let me be known as someone who can fix anything!

Jesus, HELP! Help me to release the burdens that are not mine to carry, let me put them back in Your capable, strong, loving, tender hands. You've got this. I can rest (Ps 62:1). It's not for me to do it all, but let me do my part well and then rest and trust in you. Thank You, Jesus, for Your burden is easy and light (Matt 11:30). It is what I was made to carry and You make it comfortable and easy. I can do this with You, for You take most of it, all of it really, and You support me in my tasks and lead and guide me (Ps 31:3).

Yes, let me walk in Your Presence. Let me soak and rest in Your Peace (Eph 2:14). Let it cover me. Let it fill me. Let it surround me. Let it ooze out of me and slop onto all those around me. Peace, peace, peace, PEACE. No fear, no worries, no anxiety. Just You. Just Peace. You've got this! You are with us (Ps 23:4) and nothing is too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17)! Nothing is impossible with You (Luke 1:37)! So I bind fear, anxiety, worry, and in their place I bless PEACE, trust, and rest, overwhelming and overflowing, transcending all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7). AMEN!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You are loved. You are enough.

A couple weeks ago, on a particularly bad day, I was beating myself up about not getting enough done, not being productive enough, not being significant enough, whatever. So when Nathaniel got home, I took Seth upstairs, fed him, and then just enjoyed his company, while he smiled and made his baby noises.

While I was watching Seth, teary-eyed and not liking myself much, God broke into my thoughts. What is Seth doing that you love him so much? Checking off that to-do list? Accomplishing lots? More tears. Because the answer in my heart was nothing. I don't love my baby for what he does or who he might be someday. I love him for the simple fact that he is mine. Seth is my child, and my love for him is so fierce and deep and nothing will ever change it.

In the midst of my hurt, God wanted to remind me that His perfect love is like that but even better. Not because of any good I'm accomplishing or any other nonsense that I come up with of what I should be or should do. He loves me because I am His. He loves you because you are His.

Today, rest in His love. Know that you are so loved and that you are enough, because you are His precious and beloved child.


God bless deeper revelations and greater knowledge of His great love for us. Amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My desert song...

Last week, I was listening to the free webcast of the Voice of the Prophets conference and Patricia King began speaking about being in a desert or wilderness season. A few minutes before I had changed into a Prepare Ministries t-shirt that says "Wilderness Walker" on the front. I laughed and started taking notes. God likes to do things like that to get our attention.

In that moment, I felt a huge YES in my spirit. Yeah, I am in a desert season. It's a season of relative solitude, as I stay at home with my young boys without a consistent schedule or a vehicle of my own. It's a little difficult to get out of the house sometimes.

But I feel like God is calling me to embrace it. I think this season of solitude is meant to be a personal Jesus retreat right in the comfort of my own home, in between changing diapers and feeding precious little mouths. Instead of feeling like I should be accomplishing great deeds, I feel a tugging on my heart calling me to lay that down and come away.

I have the impression that this will be an important season for my heart, refining and preparing, a time of prayer and building up and laying foundations. This blog will be my place to share what is on my heart as I walk through my wilderness season, knowing as I press in that He has promised it won't stay a wilderness.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt." - Hosea 2:14-15

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." - Isaiah 43:18-19

"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." - Isaiah 51:3