The Miracle of Birth

I have a friend who recently found out she has placenta previa. It is a situation where the cervix is obstructed by the placenta. If it doesn’t move, she’ll have to have a C-section. She has had four natural pregnancies and two miscarriages so far. I deeply admire her even though I don’t know her too well. Yes, I still call her a friend because we have the bond of the Holy Spirit.

Anyways, please join with me in praying for a miraculous change of events. I know some might think that a C-section is nothing grave and why should we pray for something medicine can fix. That’s just it, we tend to rely on medicine more than on God’s healing power. Somewhere in the advancement of technology, we began to think that medicine could do more to help humanity than God. Society began to think that medicine expedites and performs systems better than the way God designed us to do them. Now, I am grateful for these advances because it helps women who need assistance and it helps save lives. Yet we need to stop treating birth as a disease. We need to stop using medicine as preventive maintenance and revert to its original purpose—emergencies. C-sections are so common in today’s society we don’t realize that it is a major surgery! It can also present complications. It can lead to abdominal bleeding if performed incorrectly, a collapsed uterus, and scar tissue which could complicate future pregnancies.

Women were designed to give birth. Women have delivered 15 pound babies vaginally. Doctors will tell women that 15 pound babies are too big. Sometimes they are. Most of the time the hips adjust to accommodate this baby. Also, the ultrasounds used to predict birth weight are not always accurate; they can be about 2-3 pounds off.

Ultrasounds are also used to predict due dates. While ultrasounds have helped diagnose issues like my friend has, it has also been too heavily relied upon. Ultrasounds can be off on a due date by about 2 weeks. Which brings me to another issue—induction.

The medicine used in inductions, pitocin, messes with the body’s natural birth process. This is from childbirth.org:

Are there problems associated with the use of Pitocin?

Yes. Oxytocin, your body’s natural hormone, is secreted in bursts. However, when you are given pitocin you are placed on a regulated intravenous pump, to regulate the amount of pitocin to a steady flow. Therefore, pitocin induced contractions are different from your body’s natural contractions, in strength and effect.
With pitocin, the induced force of the contraction may decrease uterine blood flow (This is also done during a natural contraction, but not for as long of a period and not as close together.). Therefore, reducing the oxygen to the baby.
With pitocin you will also receive continuous electronic fetal monitoring. This is because fetal distress is more common with pitocin use and needs to be detected if it occurs.
We have also witness that pitocin can be the beginning domino in the domino effect. The IV, the infusion pump, and the continuous monitoring will confine most mothers to bed, decreasing her ability to deal with the contractions naturally. With the more painful contractions a mother is more likely to need pain medication, such as an epidural anesthesia.
Pitocin can present other hazards. For the mother these include: tumultuous labor and tetanic contractions, which may cause premature separation of the placenta, rupture of the uterus, laceration of the cervix or postbirth hemorrhage. Fetal hazards include: fetal asphyxia and neonatal hypoxia from too frequent and prolonged uterine contractions, physical injury and prematurity if the due date is not accurate.

As you can see medicine can be abused if used commonly rather than as its intended purpose in emergencies. My friend’s case is an emergency. She’s had natural births though and describes the experience as pleasurable and heartfelt. Most women I know who have undergone C-sections, epidurals, or pitocin have longer recoveries, stronger contractions with more pain, and the baby under goes duress. While it is perfectly understandable that my friend would be utilizing a C-section out of necessity rather than by selection, we need to pray that God intervenes and that if it is his will, that the C-section be avoided. I know that is her desire. So pray for miracles because they still happen in our day. (Side note: I do not think the natural process of conceiving and delivering a child, under normal circumstances, is a miracle, but that is a whole other thread that I should probably avoid discussing electronically.)

I’m grateful I’ve learned so much about natural birth from her, my best friend, and internet searches. I feel the urgency to pray for this friend’s predicament because I have learned the truth about C-sections that doctor’s don’t tell us about; I’ve learned the truth about the drugs most women aren’t educated about from their providers. Like I’ve said before, I know that in her case it would be understandable for her to have this surgery as she does have a medical condition that might require C-section intervention, but I’d like to pray she doesn’t have to endure this. Please join with me in doing so. Also, please research natural childbirth and the dangers of the drugs and surgeries we are so flippantly using today. Get aware so you can educate others too. Maybe we’ll begin to see a shift in how hospitals and medicines are used if you do become another voice advocating for natural means for most cases. It’ll be a miracle to see the placenta unblock her cervix this late in her pregnancy. While I’m reluctant to say it, maybe it’ll be a miracle to see change in how we do medicine. Pray for those miracles…

Yearning admist Clashes over Property

The strip is bombarded,
Stripping humanity’s integrity as bombs burst in the air.
Parts of beloved family members are scattered,
dismembered from the crossfires of war.
Body parts litter the soil,
dust of exploded bones crunching under soldiers’ boots.
These treasured folks all too quickly forgotten because of hate’s wages.

Why do we have the desire to birth offspring into a world with such decay, hostility, and battles? Wouldn’t the safest place be to keep the DNA halves locked inside the separate portions of Mom and Dad? I must admit that when the second blue line appeared in the window I felt a slew of emotions I didn’t expect to. I had always thought I’d be giddy with joy (and I was) but I felt a tinge of fear.

You wonder about how you’ll provide for the child, the impact it’ll have on all aspects of your life—especially as a couple and your sleep patterns, and you question how this wonder will be protected from evil and hurt. Then the news headlines cause you to fret even more. Christ says that his yoke is easy and his burden light, that those who are weary should come to him. We are also told that we can’t add hours to our lives by worrying. No matter how hard I try to trust and come to his reassuring Word I can’t seem to kick this nasty worrying habit.

I’m surrounded (although by distance, thankfully) by gunshots and blood spurts, crying relations and flag draped coffins. I fear death. I don’t fear my own though, strangely enough. I fear the loss of those closest to me, most importantly my beloved husband Frank. (We’ve agreed I’m supposed to die first—long story and I’ll engage you in that conversation if you’d like to hear it at some point, probably not here.) I fear for those left behind, especially me. (Is that selfish? Probably.) How do you forge ahead when they’ve helped define your past. Who will you be now? This life thing is delicate and infancy even more fragile.

Why would we want to bring such innocence into harsh reality? Why, even now with Ukraine and Gaza blasted to pieces, would I want to introduce a newborn into such a place as this?

I don’t know at all but the yearning’s still there.

Only in a Dream

I had a dream.

Somebody was sending me to the moon for six months. I couldn’t believe this news. Excitedly, I grabbed a phone, dialed my mom and Frank’s number, and told them. Their responses were not what I expected. Neither of them were remorseful about my upcoming trip. I wouldn’t be able to speak with or write to them for 6 months. Why were they this callous? Didn’t they want to communicate with me? Didn’t they care I’d be absent for 6 months? What if the shuttle didn’t return? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Also, who in the world was sending me? I didn’t really know.

Then I awoke.

My Freudian instincts wanted to analyze what all this meant. However, I tend to think myself far more complex than a basic sexual being as Freud typically categorized people. Also, dream interpretation has always been a bit hazy for me. I tend to think it is just my brain processing the days issues. I didn’t read anything about the moon yesterday though. I know people have said that God speaks to them in dreams. I don’t doubt he can, but I don’t believe I’ve personally experienced this. Also, if this was from him, what would he be trying to say with a trip to the moon? Is this code for Frank being deployed? The two of us moving? Our trip to Australia and New Zealand and the excitement we’ll have? I’m not sure at all.

Perhaps it is simply my mind taking an adventure because a trip to the moon would be enjoyable, because I feel I don’t have adventure in reality. However, my life would be an adventure if I chose it to be so. If I decided to count my blessings and discover how great and complex God is, even in the mundane, I’d see that every day is an adventure to be had.

Yet maybe I’m just over analyzing this like I said in the beginning. It could just simply be a dream, the firing of synapses in an active mind.

The Forgotten Children

Reports of raided orphanages have been sprawling across headlines lately. Apparently Russian soldiers threatened to invade Ukrainian orphanages if the directors of these facilities did not willingly hand over hundreds of orphans. The directors’ fear the children are merely being used as bait in a deadly war between Russia and Ukraine. It is believed that these children will be used as shields for combating soldiers.

For further information:
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/15/donetsk-orphanagerebels.html

After reading such articles, I’m plagued with frustration. Why are international adoption rates so high? Why is there so much red tape trying to adopt these beautiful children? Why should they be stuck in this war when there are thousands of individuals internationally who would want to care for these kids? I know we need to look out for their safety and that is why there are so many regulations when adopting, but are they not in jeopardy while on the forefronts of these battles? Frank and I would love to adopt, regardless of whether we have our own children or not. There are millions of kids needing homes, we’d love to help out the few we can. I’m sure if we were allowed to adopt a Ukrainian child, Frank would agree to adopting one of those children. I know I would.

How do we even begin to address the insane adoption costs and legal affairs? There are so many individuals who want children. It seems absurd to me that it should be so difficult to care for the least of these.

Level Up

A banner sprawled along the window wished blessings for the upcoming nuptials of a friend.  

The couple is quirky, nerdy.  The shower was Super Mario themed.  A talented future sister of the bride had crafted the flower centerpieces.  We filled them with fireballs, a rare treat for the seniors in the crowd.  People popped the balls into their gaping mouths with great enthusiasm.  Then tears from spicy flavor sprung inside their ducts.  Faces were wet from joy and the sweet.  

There stood the future bride with a toothy grin.  She peeled back the wrapping on all her future home decor.  Here is an excited woman racing towards that aisle.  

It had been a week since seeing my companion.  I raced towards him and we embraced in gleeful reunion.  

Life is an adventure.  You’ll have your ups and downs, but it is easier to wage through battles with a buddy to lean on.  She’s excited to get married and I’m excited to be married.  Moving to this stage was the best decision for us.  Leveling Up helped me to conquer harder levels for I have a lover’s support and that is a great win.  I pray the same for her transition.  

Wrinkles Wisdom

A bench arches its back so a hobbling woman can sit with ease.

She eases slowly into its embrace, releasing her knees strains.

I observe, eyes questioning her need for assistance. 

As she reclines her head shakes no and her hand pats the metal beside her.

I follow her suit. 

She peers up into the cloud dotted sky as she reaches to clasp my hands.

Her mouth parts and with a joyous grin she asks if I’ve looked at the white fluffs recently.  

I shake my head.  Patting my fingers she smiles and says, “Well, what do you see now?”

 

To be honest I’m not looking at the sky.  I am peering into green specs, full of wonder and awe, beset upon this woman’s face.  I gaze upon the folds of skin tracking memories.  Here sits a woman with stories, a farm girl who loves fishing and missionary work in Ukraine.  I see a woman whose experiences have led her to the cross of Christ.  

She has tested the waters of trust and she no longer wades like I do.  Instead, there she is basking in his seas of grace and letting his promises wash over her, baptized in faith.  I admire this woman stopping to study God’s artwork.  As I sit beside her, I’m filled with awe as her joy in the Lord is contagious.  I’m catching a wave of trust as I observe her allowing trust to infect her.

She’s breathing in the roses and detailing their scent.  She’s asking me to watch and see what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do.  Trust has been a process for her.  She said age has helped her do it.  

I’m admiring this mentor.  I’ve grazed upon the seeds of wisdom she has planted.  I’m grateful for her counsel and inspiration.  Her advice seems easy but not what I want to hear.  Yet she’s had the test of time and it has proved a fruitful faith.  I’ll listen to this wisdom and someday hope to have the endless river of trust and excitement for our God that this white-haired friend of mine possesses now.   

Bound in Sex

Last night I went to the midweek service at church. We discussed Prov.23:12-35. As part of the study, Pastor Jim discussed sexual perversion. I appreciated his lengthy, passion filled dialogue that we should be ashamed if the only perversion the church thinks of is homosexuality. Now he did express his views on marriage, but he did so with compassion and all the while emphasizing the flippant air Americans have with sex (a Christian couple cohabiting, adultery, abuse/manipulation—basically lust). He spoke about the fact that a majority of those sitting in the seats last night had probably engaged in acts of sexual perversion (lust). (He’s also said whenever he’s passionate and expressive it’s usually because he’s speaking to himself too.) We are all sinners. Most of us have probably experienced or engaged in sex that was not God-honoring. Again, lust.

This morning my heart broke as I thought of tragic sexual perversions. One of the most grievous assaults on God-honoring sex has been sex trafficking. Women (and a few men) have been exploited for the sexual desires of others, usually to pay off “debts” typically incurred for illegal immigration into the US. (Although this happens internationally, not just in the US and American citizens can be victims too. I’m still learning the gory details too.)

This is not a post about illegal immigration though. Like Pastor Jim also said last night (while discussing another verse), we can make the Bible say what we want when we misinterpret it. He said the Bible has been used for both sides of this immigration argument—obeying authority or accepting the illegal for we ourselves are aliens in this world. I agree. Like I said, however, this is not a post about illegal immigration or the sad state that we enter when we contort the Bible to support poles of either political affiliation. The only thing to say about this is that even if these women (and some men) are illegals, brought here usually under false pretense by deceitful business owners, sex trafficking is wrong and no individual, regardless of visa status, should ever be exploited like this.

We who profess Christ as Lord need to defend those unable to escape. Yes, I do say unable to escape. Their families or themselves are threatened with abuse or death. In such a circumstance, you bend to the whim of the captor, praying for deliverance, be it death (by God’s help, not at the hands of their possessor) or release from this horror. We need to help deliver (I mean release, not death here) these individuals. It starts with awareness of these issues. American news is saturated with the romantic lives of celebrities as these beaten individuals cry out, hoping God will have their cry penetrate at least one listening ear. Well, I’ve been deaf for far too long. I’m inclining my ear to hear. I will do my best to raise awareness and assist these individuals.

I can’t believe I want to bring a child into a world with such suffering though. I pray my children will have a heart for social justice and will be a voice for the muted. If anything, my miscarriage has sparked an interest in my soul to be a voice raising awareness. That child has spurred my feet to action. Please join me in researching these issues, in aiding awareness, and helping the causes that are fighting to cease these exploits. Also, if you know a lot about this topic, please educate me and show me how I can help these captive women (and a few men).

A good site to start is at http://www.polarisproject.org/. Donate, Volunteer in Polaris’ offices (or other anti-trafficking organizations), Pray, and most importantly speak boldly against trafficking until it is eradicated.

Dirty Laundry

Chlorine crusted towels baked in the scorching sun while piled in the trunk since Sunday.

At the advice of my husband, I finally removed the damp fabrics from my vehicle.  I knew I needed to do it, but I kept forgetting, had too many bags in my hands, and was holding just one excuse too many not to lug it inside.  Tonight, it was too unbearable.  The repugnant stench assaulted my nose.  It was not a pleasing aroma.

Since our July 4th camping trip, which besides festering tick bites and the subsequent antibiotic remedies was a phenomenal vacation, I’ve been brought to the stories in Exodus that describe the sacrifices made unto the Lord.  The calf was slain, the blood dabbed on the horns of the sacrificial altar, and burned on planks.  This smoldering heap of meat was considered a pleasing aroma unto God.  The sacrifice was made as an atonement for the people’s sins.  Jesus was anointed with oil before his death upon the cross.  Each sacrifice was a pleasing aroma unto God, the latter so much so that it paid sin’s debt for eternity, if only we choose to call Jesus our Lord.  

Anyone who accepts Christ as Lord is to repent.  I keep thinking of the things in my life that are gross, initiating a gag reflex because a particular sin is repulsive to God.  I know I am forgiven.  I am grateful.  However there is laundry that needs to be aired before him in order to experience the times of refreshing.  I can’t postpone hefting that sack outside my caravan lest I vomit and choke on my own fetor.    What buried sin needs to be dug up, brought before him, and washed by his redeeming grace?  

For me, it’s been the process of eradicating this incessant approval addiction.  Another deadly sin is the inclination to dismiss those in the body who don’t regularly agree with my worldviews or maintain a friendship and gossip about their absurd opinions when they are absent.  I’m getting better.  God is showing me how not to judge.  He’s showing me that I’m a sinner in need of anointing.  His Spirit is dwelling within, I’ve been anointed with his presence, since my acceptance of Christ, but I need to wholly submit.  I haven’t quite figured out what that looks like, but I know that fruit smells sweet and at times, especially with events such as my recent Facebook debates, my life smells more like the Fenmore (?) landfill, dung that permeates the air anywhere within a 10 mile radius, sometimes even greater.  

I’m working on sorting out the articles that need cleansing.  I’m trying to air my sin before him rather than zip it between seats of comfort that make me lazy and reluctant to remove the stinky junk.  I’m getting up the courage to bring the basket down, to let the bundles inside be washed by his blood, through repentance and receipt of grace.  It’s not easy, enjoyable, or pleasant, but in the end, I’ll be wrapped in fragrant mercy that’ll hopefully delight the senses of those around me, causing them to want a life transformed by Christ as well.  

Just Keep Swimming

The golden fins ripple the crystal waters as the creatures dart across the tank
Poking out their heads between a rock’s crevice and
pursing their mouths, begging for a flake of food.

About a year ago, Frank and I purchased two goldfish, Professor and Skipper 2. (Gilligan and the first Skipper are swimming in heaven’s rivers.) We can’t have a dog in our apartment, there are regulations. The facility allows one cat, but our mothers are more important and that nixes any chance of having cats. (My mom would wind up in a hospital from the cat dander. She has before. I’d rather have her visit than have a cat, as strange as that sounds at times.) As such, we bought fish. These are our pride and joy. For a couple that has struggled to conceive, these are our babies.

I’ve had friends lose furry creatures recently. I was devastated when we lost Gilligan. We had him for about 6 months. I’ve never had fish last longer than 2 weeks. People say that losing a fish isn’t as sad as losing a four-legged beast. For us that isn’t true. We can’t have those other pets. We’ve invested money in these gill-possessing things. You can call us strange, because frankly it is, for reading to our pets. We play tag with them by watching them swim across the tank and pressing our fingers against the glass whenever their tails graze the edge. They are just as much a part of our family as a meowing or barking friend would be. Yes we don’t have to call a babysitter because we can drop a 10 day feeding circle into the tank when we go away, but they still need to be cared for. (That reminds me, I need to feed them when I get home…poor babies, they’ll be starving!) That’s why I get upset when insensitive people who don’t quite understand our plight and tell us that losing one of them wouldn’t be heartache. It has been for us (when we lost Gilligan) and will be whenever Skipper 2 passes away, regardless of the fact that they only cost 14 cents. Cost doesn’t matter when it is a friend. I don’t get upset over losing ones we’ve had for a couple of days, but several months, yes I get sad.

I never expected them to live this long. Skipper 2 has become accustomed to Professor’s nipping. I’ve stopped scolding Professor (yes, I scolded him for antagonizing his brother). They are our friends, our children, our pets all at the same time. We’ve had them for a year, longer than the time it takes to gestate a human baby. In a few days they will have a birthday party. They helped us mourn the loss of our miscarriage. They are a source of comfort since conceiving has been so hard for us. You can think us crazy, but these scaled friends have helped us continue stroking through the turbulent waters of infertility and loss. God has blessed us with the ability to own these aides and we are grateful for their comfort. We will continue to invest in the pets that have assisted in our healing and defend their importance because of their role in our lives.

Thank you Professor and Skipper 2. I know Frank loves you both as much as I do. The world may think us strange, but doesn’t it already because we are radical Jesus followers? Why not sprinkle on a little bit more criticism because we cherish you? We won’t stop being grateful as we pray you keep on swimming, and with each tail spin keep winning our affection.

To Build a Generation of Church Builders and Christ Followers that are Meant to Last

After reading this: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/fail-jr-briggs , I thought of something that happened almost a year ago. I hope I’m not writing it out of bitterness, but I know most of it probably is. Please know that it was extremely personal and why the emotion is so raw. It is not meant to be discrediting that institution. It is a good place for some. It wasn’t anymore for me.

A family is more than the nuclear mom, dad, 2 kids (boy and girl), and pet model that has infiltrated society. Family is more about the people you live life with. The church should be a safe haven where you feel free to discuss your hurts, disappointments, celebrations, and excitements. I’ve generally had healthy church experiences. I want the same for my children. However, I want them to know that Christ always comes first. Sometimes leaving a church might be necessary for spiritual maturity.

Roughly 8 months ago, my tight knit family of 30 was torn apart. Some weren’t phased by this separation, others were honest enough to express the anger, the hurt, the frustration. All but one elder seemed distant and removed from this collapse. I guess that’s why it hurt when we, the ones who comprised that family, weren’t consulted by the church “government”.

If I’m truly honest, and forgive me for rash/cruel statements that might follow, the larger “home base” bought into one of Satan’s biggest lies. The main campus bought that numbers meant success. In digesting this lie, they neglected the family “rejects”. Our family of 30 didn’t fit into the bigger church because we felt like grazing cattle being pigeon holed to certain Bible study demographics. This tiny family broke through the mindset that a 20 year old can only meet with another 20 year old, seniors will only get along with seniors, and that children’s ministries fit the needs of all its members. We were a group of individuals building a church facility each week. We knew our family’s ups and downs. When we were told to join the larger “family” again, it is no wonder we felt lost.

I felt like I had just been used by the bigger church. They used me for 2.5 years to try and increase statistics. When I “failed”, I was tossed aside with the fabricated twist that I was meant to be grafted back into the 1000+ body of mindless, roaming believers. When I didn’t bring new folks or produce some of my own, the main church shut me, plus my family of roughly 30 people, down.

Sidebar: Not everyone in that 1000+ body is mindless or roaming but so many of them don’t seem mature in Christ. Most of those 1000+ though have spotty attendance and the spiritual depth of a sprinkle’s puddle. The same folks leading that church or are ministry volunteers within it are the same ones going to the Bible studies.

I was tired of being amongst people who think church is just about hanging out and getting a “good work” checked off, not sharing in the trials and treasures of life with other believers. That’s why I left the main campus and joined the small group. I know I fought God every step of the way until the doors were opened, but I was shown what true vulnerability in a church body looks like by joining the satellite effort.

Now I’m not perfect and please don’t take these statements to mean that I’m thinking myself superior. I just loved my 30+ family because it didn’t feel like a vacant building filled with even emptier souls. (Wow, I do sound really judgmental. I’m so sorry, I don’t want to.) It’s just that this small church lived in the “gritty” life and I was growing. In the bigger church I didn’t feel like I was feasting on spiritual nourishment. My head knowledge and heart’s desire weren’t fulfilled. I was hungry. Hungry for a place where I didn’t feel like my usefulness was to produce children or visitors, to show the world that I had created a generation built to last.

So it was really hard when the main campus, who always seemed to forget about us to begin with (thank you Jeremy Camp concert), decided to close our doors and disperse our family between 4 services. (Yeah…when a satellite didn’t work they started to implement a 4th service before closing us down. Imagine how it felt when they announced this launch and then suggested it as the service we might fit into. Yeah, the service they designed to replace their “failed” idea.)

I know some say that it was God’s intent that the satellite not continue. These individuals said we’d be used for God’s purpose. I am, just not there. I’m told we are missed, but they didn’t grieve this church loss with me. They just pretended we’d never left to be part of a different vision.

That’s why I was so relieved when my new pastor said this wasn’t easy. His eyes welled up with tears as he imagined the hurt of a barred church. I’m grateful that he expressed concern and compassion when my “family” wouldn’t. That’s one of the reasons we switched…that, the fact that I didn’t feel useful on that mount without kids, and “free” breakfast at this new joint, where prisoners learn how to truly be set free—in Christ, not statistics. My new church is about fellowship, sharing meals, prayer, hurt, and joy together. It isn’t perfect either, but it meets me where I’m at. It doesn’t make me feel like I am not productive because I haven’t birthed a child (my pastor also sent me a hand-written condolence note when people I’d known for longer nodded and said just to keep trying). It hasn’t cast me into the sea of brainless attender. In fact, they challenged me to serve. They asked me to join this family. I became adopted when my in-law church wouldn’t do so(it was Frank’s church for 28 years and I never fully felt like I was welcomed).

My Pastor says that he’ll preach it empty so God can preach it full. Pastor says we aren’t meant to see seats filled, we are meant to see lives filled with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. He asks me to be a true Christian, not for my children, my spouse, or my church, but because it is the only way I’ll get to heaven and the only way I’ll really last.