Tuesday, May 5, 2015




Today is a very special day. First it is Tuesday which means it is Gratituesday. A day set aside to give thanks. The second is, today is the International Day of the Midwife. I know there are all kinds of International Day celebrations. Some are down right silly like Lumpy Rug Day or the National Candied Orange Peel Day. But today is a celebration of midwifery.

Midwives are cut from a different cloth. We tend to be on call 24/7. Unlike the hospital routine, a home birth midwife doesn't get "days off". That means we take our phones with us everywhere. Yes, everywhere! We drive separately to church in case we get called to a birth. We are the ones if we brave a movie, keep our phone in our laps and on vibrate. We don't take cough syrup that contains codeine for fear we won't wake up when the call comes. No sleeping pills for the rough nights when you simply can't get to sleep. We are the ones who have to excuse ourselves at the Christmas dinner when the call comes.

We walk beside women when they find out they are pregnant. We hold their hands and catch their tears if they miscarry. We are privileged to witness their marriages, good and bad. We watch as mother in-laws and grandma's forget it isn't their birth this time around. We hold their hands when they weep thinking they will be pregnant FOREVER.  We answer questions about their bodies, their children's bodies, and yes their husbands bodies.

We walk with them as their bellies get bigger and bigger. We assure those new Mama's who are just sure their bellies will just pop one day and the baby tumble out. We champion the rights of these strong Mamas to birth the way they want, with out any out side influence, yes, including ours.  We remind ourselves that for us too, this birth and this baby are not ours.

When the call finally comes, we come just as we are. Sometimes we are in ball gowns, sometimes a Halloween costume, sometimes in sweats with our hair pulled up in a bun. Brushing our teeth is the only important thing we do before coming to a birth. We can fly out the door in 2.5 seconds to get there in time. How we look doesn't matter a bit.

We could be at the home for 24 hours, wiping away the sweat, squeezing hips to help control the pain, doing head squeezes to move the pain. We sing, we pray, we encourage. We use our hands to comfort and our words to soothe. We could also be there 2 minutes, running in with our arms wide open to receive a baby that is in a hurry to be welcomed into their brave new world. We get peed on, pooped on, we have placentas fall onto our new sandals or in our laps. We get covered in amniotic fluid at times. It never bothers us because it is just part of the package. We catch babies on our knees, crouched in a tiny corner of the bathroom, in the birth tub or squating in a shower, and hopefully we never ever drop a baby!

We get to witness each and every holy moment. We watch young ladies transformed into first time mothers. We get to witness the love between a husband and wife. We get to watch children witness the miracle of birth of their siblings. We get to watch as a mother of 8 turn into a mother of 9. It never gets old. We watch, we listen and we serve. There is no other "profession" that pushes us to the limits. We can be dogged tired but manage to exude the confidence every Mama needs to witness.

I am thankful beyond measure for my profession. I am so thankful that I waited till all my babies were grown and gone. I come to this with no regrets. I get to experience every day life's greatest mystery, the creation and birth of a new little soul.

Thank you Lord. You have blessed me beyond measure. Happy International Day of the Midwife



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When I am Afraid


A golden nugget from Robin

“When I am afraid, I will trust You. ” Psalm 56:3

This verse has special meaning to me. It was my anchor during a terrifying time in life. Circumstances were so overwhelming and out of my control that I literally shook with fear. Repeating this verse over and over helped me remember that my comfort and security was not based on the assurance of a favorable outcome, but trusting that He was big enough to walk me through it. I was not alone. That there was a bigger plan in place and my job was to put one foot in front of the other and just keep walking.
Max Lucado in He Chose the Nails says,
“How did Jesus endure the terror of crucifixion? He went first to the Father with his fears. Do the same with yours. Don't avoid life's Gardens of Gethsemane. Enter them. Just don't enter them alone. And while there, be honest. Pounding the ground is permitted. Tears are allowed. And if you sweat blood, you won't be the first. Do what Jesus did, open your heart. And be specific as Jesus was. "Take this cup,” he prayed. Give God the number of the flight. Tell him the length of the speech. Share the details of the job transfer. He has plenty of time and compassion. He doesn't think your fears are foolish or silly. He won't tell you to “buck up” or “get tough”. He's been where you are and knows how you feel. “
"And he knows what you need. That's why we punctuate our prayers as Jesus did with, "If you are willing….” Was God willing? Yes and no. He didn't take away the cross, but he took the fear. God didn't still the storm, but he calmed the sailor. Who is to say He won't do the same for you?“
"Don't measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it. Instead of carrying the world on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the universe on His. Hope is a look away.”
“No, what are you looking at?”
For today, 
Lord, thank you for allowing me the space to be authentic and honest about my fears. Like Peter who sank when he focused on his fear instead of on You, I will drown without you. Give me clear focused, laser beam vision on You, the source of my hope. 
I will trust you to carry me when I am too paralyzed by fear to move.
I will trust You to give me the strength and courage when needed.
I will trust, even when You choose not to take away my circumstances that You will take my fear.
I will trust You with the process.
I trust You will reveal Yourself through this situation
I will trust that no matter how bad it looks, You have my best interest at heart. 
For you ARE trustworthy.



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gratituesday



Spring is finally here in my neck of the woods. The trees are actually getting buds on them. Michigan tends to have long winters. Days go by when you only see grey skies. There is light grey, medium grey and dark grey for variety! This morning though, there are blue skies. Now mind you it is only 30 degrees but it is a gorgeous 30 degrees without a grey sky to be found.

I have lived several places where there is only one season, green. Now mind you, I love green grass, green trees and all but after awhile, green gets old. I am thankful here in Michigan we have all four seasons, even if one or two are short.

What are you thankful for today. I would love to know.
Blessings


Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hear From My Brother





I love all of my sisters, and I love Jill a lot.  Jill and I have been able to build a good relationship over the years.  I can't say I "enjoyed" reading her posts regarding our family's dysfunction but they have helped many of the readers come to grips with their own abuse and neglect.  My sisters and I all have dealt with our broken relationship with our father differently.
In Jill's "Forgiveness" post she said "forgiveness is a choice" and she is correct.  However before I go into that I wanted to say that when I was young my hero was Mr. Spock from Star Trek.  He had no emotions; he could suppress them and bury them.  I tried this approach, and in some ways it worked. When dealing with beatings and other abuse I could remove myself from the situation at least in my mind. This worked until I reached a boiling point (something not in my control) and I exploded in a rage.  To my shame, my rage usually rolled downhill to my younger sister Robin and broke our relationship.  It also ended up with a broken wrist when I punched a concrete wall in a rage. Even as an adult I have had to deal anger issues.
I read and took seriously the Commandments especially the one that reads that God is a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate him.  I knew that someone had messed up my dad, and my dad had messed me up. I did not want to pass along the abuse in any way, shape or form to yet another generation.  I decided not to have children.  I had already done enough damage.  I could not trust God that far.  I could not read the next part where it said that he would show steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his commandments.
I actually hated my father.  I could see "removing him from the human race".  Even if he knew of my hate, which I doubt, he wouldn't have cared one lick, and would have told me it was my fault.  It took many years to forgive him.  Forgiveness is not only a choice, a one-time event, but an ongoing, daily, sometimes hourly choice.
I told Jill that I liked this particular post of hers because it made me compare and contrast human forgiveness with God's forgiveness.  Humanly speaking when we forgives someone all we are doing is releasing OUR right to punish someone for what they have done.  My dad didn't care one way or the other, so forgiving him did nothing for him.  What forgiving him did was release me from the prison I thought I built for him.
Again, humanly speaking, the damage has been done, and can not be undone.  There are permanent scars, physical, mental and spiritual.  There is a broken relationship that will never be healed.  I have given up my right to hurt him back and I am free, but I live day by day in the shadow of that broken relationship and other damaged relationships.
Our father chose his own way and sinned greatly against each of us.  He broke the trust that should have been there.  He struck out against us in every way imaginable.  My father will leave this world without justice being done.
Have we not each done the same thing to our Heavenly Father?  Each time we chose our way and say God I will do this my way, not yours; we strike out and slap God in his face.  We abuse his name, we stubbornly want our way and we break the trust between us.  Justice must be done.  God is holy.  He is forgiving, he is loving, but justice must be done.  He grants us mercy and takes the justice upon himself.  His own son Jesus hung on the cross for MY sins, and yours.  Justice is complete and mercy is complete.
And here is the good news.  This is the only relationship we have were the trust can be fully restored, where forgiveness from God heals the wounds, where love remains steadfast.

 John
"The greatest sorrow in life is regret"


Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alone



 I have been thinking about my own Mom lately. While growing up, when other kids would ask me about missing my mom I said, "What would I do with a mother if I had one? I can cook, do the laundry and clean the house. What would I do with a mother?" Back then I truly had no clue what I was missing on an emotional level. It wasn't until our daughter was born that I asked myself the first little question. What did my mom think of me when I was born? Was she glad I was a girl, was she disappointed? Did she think I was cute? Did she snuggle with me? Did she ever sing or read to me? Back then, the questions were short and quickly dismissed like all of my other feelings. "There is no way to know Jill, just buck up"

I am part of a group on Facebook for Mama's who are grieving the loss of their babies. I originally joined to be an encouragement to all the young Mama's who have had to say goodbye to their children much too early. Almost every day there is a precious picture of a baby whose life was cut way too short. Then I think of my mother and think about the life she lived and how it was cut way too short. My mother had four children at the time. When she fell asleep on the couch that fateful night, she had no idea she would never wake to see her children again.

My mother was cremated after she died. There was a memorial service for her. Her remains were never picked up by my dad. They sat in a little cardboard box in the basement of the funeral home for years, with just her name penciled in. My dad hadn't had the common decency to bury her, but walked away from her remains all those years ago. When I think about the lack of respect and decency, it makes me want to hurl. My sister and I went to the funeral when we were teenagers and inquired about her remains. The funeral home said any remains that had not been picked up are usually put in an unmarked grave. He went to the basement and low and behold, there was the box with our mother's remains. It had been over ten years that they sat in that funeral home basement.

I have come to realize that there is a giant size hole in my heart that doesn't seem to go away. Every single mother's day I feel this terrible emptiness. When I hear of women who have lost their mother's I am sad for them but deep inside of me my mind goes to a dark place. They have wonderful and maybe some not so wonderful memories, when they think of their mothers. I have nothing. Not one shred of one single memory before that fire started all those years ago.

I remember as a child in school, each year our classroom would make mother's day cards. We would make flowers out of tissue paper and design sweet cards for our mommies. Each year I would raise my hand and tell the teacher I didn't have a mom and I just got a pat on the head and told to make one anyway. Now my heart breaks when I hear of a Mama who died suddenly, leaving behind little children too young to remember them. It's the loss of memories that breaks my heart.

When I delivered our first born I begged God to allow me to raise her long enough to remember me. With each successive child I asked the Lord to please keep me on the earth long enough to have them remember me. As they started to get older I would go back in the mind the age I thought they should be safe to have memories should I die early. The Lord honored that request. I was privileged to raise my children all the way through. They will remember me, the good and the bad but at least they have memories.

I never miss an opportunity to tell my children I love them. It doesn't get old for me. I want them to know, deep inside of them that they are loved by me. I watched them grow from babies to adults. I am blessed. What I wouldn't give to hear just one time from my own mother, I love you Jill.
Some final thoughts tomorrow.
Till then, In Christ Alone



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Isolation

Some special thoughts from my sister Robin today enjoy!

“I know I'm in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.”, says my friend, Katie.
I can so relate! It may appear chaotic and crazy to the rest of the world, but inside my blonde little brain, I make sense. I am brilliant, totally understood, and accepted. I am also easily entertained.
I am, indeed, in my own little world. And sometimes I seriously just want to keep it that way. It feels safer. Take yesterday, for example. HB (Honey Bunny, my significant other) and I were having trouble communicating- as in- all day. You've been there. It's painful. It's exhausting. By the end of the day I just shut down and retreated to the rooftop to look at the stars and talk to the Creator of them. Life is hard work, and relationships are especially challenging. Pain is always involved. The normal response to pain is to retreat. How quickly do you sprint to the nearest blade of grass when your bare feet are getting scorched on burning asphalt? Emotional pain brings the same response : withdraw and retreat - I'm outta here. Unless I'm nominating myself for a Darwin Award, self preservation and survival is instinctive. So when the battle is at your doorstep, what do you do? Batten down the hatches, protect and defend. Become an impenetrable island.
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel song, “I Am a Rock”?

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Sometimes I have to fight the urge to pack my bags and fly off for a little island retreat. My typical response to pain (and shame) is to withdraw and isolate. Others may fight because they're more acquainted and comfortable with anger than vulnerability. No matter how you slice it, though, hiding behind walls we've built kills relational intimacy. Most of us are experts at hiding and we don't even recognize we're doing it anymore. For example, as a functioning introvert I can act appropriately extroverted in public when called upon, yet crave the safety and quiet of being alone. Big groups and small talk terrify me. It might have something to do with my fear that I'll say something stupid, won't be interesting or entertaining enough (compared to others), that they'll see the not-so-adorable side of me, or will demonstrate my historically poor storytelling skills and embarrass myself, or worse, embarrass HB.
The opposite method of hiding looks different but has the same motivation (don't let anyone see who I really am). I didn't realize I used this method until recently when I was called out by a good friend. Don't you just love friends who will tell you the truth? Ha! Confession time. I have a tendency to ask people a lot of questions about themselves in order to understand them better. People are interesting. Everyone has a story and I like to hear them. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're a counselor, but I'm not. Without mutual sharing and discerning disclosure, it's hiding. Then of course there are the Teflon-armoured people who pretend to be something they're honestly not (aka wannabe, fake, poser..), or those who can't go deeper than a surface conversation, who are too scared to be real and let others see their true selves yet wouldn't admit it if you threatened to take away their chocolate. You know, “Them” (I say with three fingers pointing back at me!).
Being real and authentic is scary, but a challenge I'm willing to and need to take because it is something I highly value. A friend of mine once told me, “Life is too short to be phony or be around people who are fake.” Agreed. Being authentic involves risk and overcoming the fear of sounding dumb, being wrong, or sounding crazy at times. Because after all, I wasn't made to sit here like a bump on a log twiddling my thumbs all day. I was created for more. (You were too.).
Martha Graham once said that each of us is unique and if we didn't exist something in the world would have been lost. Holding onto the lies that “I can't ..” or “I'm not…” keeps me from being me and living up to my God given potential and design. Some things on this earth won't be done, some people won't be touched if I live in fear and hide. There are people to see, and things to do. Time to get off the couch and get going.
As the game is over and I hear the call, “All-y all-y in come free”, I know the gig is up and it's safe to come out of my hiding spot. There is freedom in living real. The alternative is exhausting and lonely.


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Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gratituesday


Our housing saga started almost 6 years ago when hubby got sick and lost his job. At the time we had a simple ranch home out in the country of a tiny little town in Michigan. When we moved in I told our daughter that this was the last time I would be unpacking boxes. The next move, I told her, would be feet first! I loved living in that house. It was out in the country with fields in front of me and a hot tub and gorgeous London Plane Tree out back. It was perfect. After moving 17 times for the military and full time ministry, I was putting down deep roots. I was going to grow old under that London Plane Tree. Life was good.

And then it wasn't. Rich got shingles and from there it became a domino effect on his body. After he lost his job we held on to our lovely home for six months. It became obvious I could not care for Rich alone at that point so we moved into our daughters home. There was simply no emotional energy to grieve the loss of the home that was truly a sanctuary for me.

As Rich got worse, I was thankful for the support of my children and grandchildren. I was not alone in serving my husband. As things became worse he went into hospice. Rich decided he did not want to die in his grandchildren's home so we rented a little handicapped apartment right around the corner from the hospital. As you all know,  most people don't come out of hospice alive. Rich lived to tell the story. So we lived in that little apartment for three years.

That little apartment fit our needs at the time. We were right next to the hospital for all his doctors appointments. It was tiny though and as Rich started to get a little better we wanted something a little bigger that we could call home. So last October began the saga of trying to buy a home again. We have bought multiple homes over the years without drama or fanfare. Apparently, this time was not to be the case. After 7 failed attempts I have cried "Uncle" We were within 4 days of closing on the last house when our bank closed the loan because the seller did not even attempt to do the work that was agreed upon.

We have been house sitting for a sweet friend since the middle of January. It is a lovely home. The windows are large, the sun shines in brightly. I have had an office upstairs to work on my school. It has been bright and sunny, everything that little apartment wasn't. But all good things eventually come to an end. It's time for our sweet friend to come home for the spring. Since the last house fell through last week we have been scrambling to find a place to live.

SO, we are now going back to renting, this time a double wide mobile home in a town not far from here. We have signed a one year lease. Obviously it was not the right time or the right house to buy. It is time to sit and wait again. What does the Lord have in mind for us? I have no clue. I do know that I am tired of looking at countless houses and none of them working. I want to spend the next year waiting on the Lord. I will be in a nice comfortable place to do that now. We will move next week and for that I am thankful.

What are YOU thankful for? Let me know.
Blessings



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".