At Home

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Our girl

Our daughter was born at home. We planned it that way, though as it turns out, it would’ve happened whether we wanted it to or not.

Just a day or two after her due date, we were eating pizza out in a restaurant. I felt some contractions, but didn’t think much of them. We went to bed that night about 11:00pm, and just before I went to sleep, I felt another one, stronger. But, being nine months’ pregnant and a mom to a two year old,  I was tired, and I fell asleep.

Another hour or so later, I was woken up by contractions. I thought I’d let Mark sleep awhile, like I did with my first child, because labor takes time. My first labor was 12 hours long. The only problem was that I was timing my contractions, and it didn’t take long before they were getting more painful and closer together, maybe 2-3 minutes apart. I was moving around too much, and Mark woke up.

He timed a couple contractions and called the midwife. She said I should go in the shower to see if labor was real, so I did. I wasn’t in there very long before I started to feel “pushy.” Just an impulse to bear down. That scared me. She lived half an hour away.

Mark called the midwife again, and she was on her way. Mark put the plastic sheet on the bed, while I got on all fours on the floor next to the bed, because it was the only position that was comfortable. I put my hand between my legs, and I could feel her head crowning. I said to Mark, “I can feel the head.” He said, “No, you can’t.” Soon enough though, he realized I could, because he could see her head.  He got on the phone with the midwife, and she talked him through delivering our baby girl. He had to hold her until I had another contraction because the cord wasn’t that long.  We left the cord intact until the midwife got there, maybe ten minutes after she was born.  That was how my girl came into the world. We didn’t have an ultrasound during the pregnancy, so we didn’t know what she would be. She was born with dark brown hair, unlike Nate, who was blond at birth. She was beautiful, 8lbs. 15oz.

I was glad ultimately that we planned to have her at home, because otherwise, she would have been born in the car on the way to the hospital, and that is definitely one place that seems even less comfortable than at home.  My husband was so brave. He didn’t have time to think or freak out, but he just did what the midwife told him to do over the phone, and he did it all calmly and lovingly. I am so grateful for him. He made sure that everything was ok.

Now my girl is a beautiful 13 year old, and I am blessed beyond measure to have her for my daughter. She is extremely smart, talented, funny, loves animals, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and reading. I am blessed to be her mom and watch her grow up.  Happy birthday, Rachel!

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The Gift of Friendship

My car was in the repair shop for two days because I had trouble shifting it out of “park.” The men in the repair shop called me and said that they couldn’t “duplicate” the problem, that they had no difficulty shifting it.  But if I wanted, they would replace the gear shift for $800, because that might be it.

I thought $800 for a guess was a bit much, so I went to return my rental car and pick up my car. They drove my car around, and I got in and went to shift it to drive. It would not do it. After a minute of trying, I called the mechanic back out to show him. He got in the car, and he shifted it right away. No difficulty. But he did see that my coolant light was on, and since he didn’t have the right coolant, he recommended I go to the dealer.

After trying to shift my car into drive for a couple more minutes, I finally got to the dealer. But nobody came out of the service area for a minute or so, and I had really wanted to go grocery shopping this morning.  So I thought I’d leave and come back. Again, I couldn’t shift my car out of park. Finally just as tears were starting to fall down my cheeks, a nice lady who works in the service area came over and took care of me. She handed me a kleenex. She assured me it’s not all in my head, and got me a ride to church…

There, alone, I was still a bit upset after the frustrating morning. I never got to go grocery shopping, and I never got my coffee. And I was stuck there with no car, and no one else around. So I wrote on Facebook that I’d had a tough morning and didn’t even get my coffee I’d been looking forward to. Almost immediately, a couple friends on Facebook are commiserating with me and supporting me. Another friend offered to bring me coffee, and proceeded to deliver a vanilla latte to me at church along with a cute little donut. And another friend, though crunched for time that day, gave me a ride back to the dealer later that afternoon when it was time to pick up my car. (And it was a $230 brake light switch problem, not the $800 gear shifter.)  And my sweet husband was on email and phone assuring me it’s not all in my head and telling me jokes to make me laugh.

30e07720c5d034d61ff20ab5bb6c0dceI don’t know what else to say, except that I am blessed with community. So blessed. I am used to doing most everything for myself, but my people, my friends, showed up for me that day. And I know that they would again and again if I needed it.  It’s a really amazing feeling, and it was worth it to go through some frustration to know how blessed I am.

This year has been a beautiful year for friendships for me. I met some new people that I have grown really close to, as if we have known each other for years. I have grown closer to other people that I have known for awhile, and even reconnected with an old friend that I love dearly but had been out of touch with–all because of a dream that I had about her. I am grateful that God has given these people in my life, along with a very loving, supportive, and wonderful husband for almost 19 years.

Recently, I have been reading 1 Samuel and been amazed at David and Jonathan’s friendship.  “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Wow! Those words! And how close those who love and worship the Lord together can be knit together through His gifts to us. We are more than friends–we are family through the blood of Christ, which washes us clean together and brings us closer to support each other in our walk together on the way to our true home, our life together in eternity.  In Christ, we are never alone. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We meet no ordinary people in our lives.” We must treat them gently and with the knowledge that they are cherished and loved by God, and so it is our joy to cherish and love them as well.

I pray the Lord will bless you with the gift of good Christian friends, just as He has blessed me. Thank you, Lord, for that gift, and thank you to my friends for being on this journey with me. God bless you.

The Joy of Advent

A year ago, we were headed on our way to Israel. I am thinking a lot about this trip as we start Advent. During the Pentecost season, it doesn’t come up so much. But now I am thinking about Ein Kerem, where Mary sung the Magnificat, where John was born, and Zechariah sung the Benedictus. I am thinking about poor Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. I am thinking about sitting there in the Shepherds’ Fields on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Sometimes I wish I could just fly back there myself, not having to go through any of the hassle of being on a 12 hour airplane flight, but just apparate there maybe and sit there in wonder, unnoticed. And then go home again.

Last year, we got to go and confront the history of our Lord in person. We got to see where He was born, where He lived, where He died, and where He rose again. Knowing that none of it looked the same did not take away the joy that I felt just being near to the same air that He was thousands of years ago. There were moments amid the busyness of being on that trip that allowed for quiet contemplation, though I longed for more.

The best thing about this new church year is that Advent is fresh again. I am seeing it through new joy and new enthusiasm. We are able to slow down a bit this Advent season, not go on any trips, but just be together. I have a job in the church office now, so I am in church for both Advent services every week. I am hearing the preaching of Christ promised and born for us through the mouth of a new pastor, and so it is joyful and new to me again. And best of all, I can add in the memories of our trip last year. When Pastor talked about the Benedictus last Wednesday, I was thinking in gladness about Ein Kerem, where John the Baptist was born.

So make time for quietness and contemplation during Advent. Here are some things I like to do:

  • Attend Advent services. So much joy!
  • Listen to Advent/Christmas music. Some of my favorites are on three albums: The Concordia Seminary Kantorei’s Advent/Christmas CD, “Infant Holy: Christmas with the Seminary Kantorei.” (Don’t tell Pastor Jeff this, but the only reason we called him was because he was in the Kantorei). 🙂 Also Roger Wilcock’s CD “Approaching Christmas” has great arrangements of “O Wisdom Antiphon and Magnificat” as well as “O Magnum Mysterium” and “Carol of the Bells.” I also like the Benedictines of Mary album, “Advent at Ephesus:” Their “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is outstanding.
  • Do Advent devotions, and consider studying the Antiphons, starting on the 17th. Here is a great resource: http://steadfastlutherans.org/tag/o-antiphons/
  • Eat simpler dinners, like soup, during the weekdays. Save the bigger meals for weekends.
  • Try to limit your activities during the weeknights, only do the things you really want to do, or things that involve being with your friends and family. It’s ok to say no; you can’t do every activity offered to you.
  • Read your Bible and pray. This is good to do every day, but it’s especially meaningful during Advent.
  • Try to get your Christmas shopping done as early as you can, so you can enjoy the Advent season more.
  • Read a good book during Advent, perhaps “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “A Christmas Carol,” or maybe Bonhoeffer’s Advent/Christmas sermons. It would even be fun to read the two books above with the kids.

May God bless this Advent season!