Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I am living in Birthville.

How did I get here? If you would have told me last year that I would be scheduling my life around prenatal visits, postpartum visits and birth right now, I would have been up on your rooftop shouting "BLASPHEMY!"
I probably would have jumped at the opportunity to never be around childbirth. I would have told you that I really just love adoption with my whole heart and birth is not my cup of tea.

HILARIOUS FACT: My life currently revolves around prenatal visits, postpartum visits, and births.

Jesus brought me to this place. He gave me this door to walk through and this beautiful calling to be obedient in. You see, I was in the midst of almost moving to Tennessee for the 5th, or 7th or 23rd time, when God spoke to me on the Pearce's giant blue and white couch. He turned me at a crossroads that kept me in North Carolina and had me doing something quite different than I had envisioned.
It was a typical evening over at my sister's house for tea and cookies and heart-to-heart conversations {that I am SO going to miss now that that they are moving away!} anyway, she told me a story of some missionary friends at our church who were building a birth center in Papua New Guinea. Women were dying left and right due to lack of maternal health care. They had to walk 3 days to get to a hospital if they had complications (Think about that. Who wants to walk for 3 days straight when they are not having a complication in pregnancy/labor?) The only other option would be to take a taxi which most people would never be able to afford. This birth center would save mommas and babies for the glory of Jesus in their lives and in their entire village.

It was like a match struck a small light on the flint of my heart. I had been praying nearly non-stop for the Lord to show me a skill that I could use to serve others for His glory. A skill that I could use to care for orphans and whoever else He wanted me to serve.
 I began to feel that this was it. Who was going to be there for these precious women and babies? Wouldn't I want someone to care for me? If I don't go, who will? But...really? Me? The childbirth fearer? The one who stifled small gags at the mere thought of birth?  YES. This was it. God was calling me to take a quantum leap of faith and trust Him with the rest.

A deep question in my heart throughout all of this stirring and whirlpooling was "What about orphans, God? I know you've called me to spend my life for them. How does this work if I am busy helping women have babies?" The answer came almost as soon as I asked it. "Orphans are just children who's parents have died. Keep them from having to be orphans in the first place." Oh. You're right. I guess that settles it.

 From UNICEF: "Healthy children need healthy mothers. A woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute – about 529,000 each year -- the vast majority of them in developing countries. A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developing country – the largest difference between poor and rich countries of any health indicator. "

 1 in 16 women in sub-Saharan Africa  will die due to complications in childbirth, leaving behind motherless children if they don't die along with her. I have African sisters. I would want someone to help them.

 I began googling "What exactly does a doula do? What does a midwife do? Which should I be? How do I do any of this? Am I crazy? " Google stopped answering me but God continued to lead me out on the water.

I kept remembering that I had all these random friends that happened to be Birth Doulas/ Midwives and they were SO gracious to answer my 354,098 questions. Before I knew it, I was signed up for Birth Doula training workshops and attending Childbirth Education courses and chatting about water births and cord prolapses and placentas in rooms full of midwives. I was reading childbirthing books constantly and getting wonderful looks from people that clearly said "How wonderful that you are studying how to assist women in childbirth. I don't question your character or your marital status." HA. Funny joke.

But the even funnier part of this big non-joke is that I LOVE CHILDBIRTH. How did this happen? WHO AM I?
You see, the deeper God brought me into this journey, the more I have been able to see His miraculous work. He is a magnificent designer and He is insanely good at creating life. The process of birth is one miracle after another. I don't know how one could be in the birth-world for longer than 5 minutes and not recognize that there is something much bigger at work than humans. We have a wise Creator.

 So, in the time between the last time I wrote on this blog and now, I officially became a birth doula, I'm nearly finished with my Christian Childbirth Educator Certification, I am applying to nursing school and then midwifery school after that. YAY!
I am completely in awe that I get to have a job where I constantly witness insanely beautiful miracles. I get to love, encourage and support beautifully strong mommas as they work through the process of bringing their new babies into the world. I get to be one of the first people to see and welcome a brand new person into the world and I get to pray over their lives. This blessing filled life can get exhausting but it is just SO beautiful. Sometimes I get called out of my bed and get dressed in the dark, subjecting myself to glorious surprises the next morning when I realize just what I am wearing. Sometimes the births last for days and sometimes they are one after another, but God is my strength and I count it all joy to be a part of His plan for these new families.

This is my life turning inside out. This is what happened when I surrendered my plans to Jesus and trusted Him to equip me for all that He is calling me to. I fell in love with the thing that I was deathly afraid of apart from Him. Africa, and Childbirth were two of my largest fears growing up. Now I want to mix the two together. HAHA. You can't explain Jesus out of that one. Isn't it incredible what God does to our fears when we give them to Him?

In the words of Louie Giglio this past week at the INCREDIBLE Passion Conference..." The only fear that we should have is that of living an insignificant life."

I don't want an insignificant life. I know that even if I were to do vastly incredible things in life, my name will still be eventually forgotten. I know that this life is fleeting and the only worthwhile thing to do with the time that I have been given is to live for the glory of Jesus. His glory will endure through all generations and His kingdom will never come to an end. The cry of my heart is to store up all of my treasures in heaven where thief will not come in and steal and where moth and rust will not destroy.

 My favorite head scarve is disintegrating. My guitar strings are wasting away. The tires on my car are balding. My hair dryer is close to combusting into flames. CLEARLY, material things are not good investments. Even the best of investments on earth are left behind when we close our eyes for the last time. In light of this, what will we do with our lives? What will we do in light of the coming of Christ and His Kingdom and all of those who do not know His grace?

What will we do for the men, women and babies who are dying every single minute due to lack of proper health care? What will we do about the 16,000 children that died today from LACK OF FOOD?
What will we do about the 27 million people who are living their lives as slaves?

If I was one of them, I'd sure want someone to come rescue me, speak up for me, to come feed me and care for me. Jesus makes the answer to these questions really simple. He says in Matthew 25:40 that whatever we do for those who are in need, we do for HIM and whatever we don't do for those in need, we DON'T do for Him

We have two choices. 1. Serve Jesus and care for those in need. 2. Don't serve Jesus and don't care for those in need.

I was a captive and Jesus came for me. I was an orphan and He reached out in Compassion{ A mercy that leads to action},adopting me into His family FOREVER. I was sick and He came to heal me. I was His enemy, a hater of Him and all that was His, but He loved me anyway. He left His perfect life to come and save me, His enemy. He had everything He could ever want or need, He is Almighty God for pete's sake, and YET He came for me, gave up everything and took the punishment for MY sin, bore MY shame and gave me the righteousness and holiness that He earned. Is there any other love that can even compare to this? Tell me if you have found a love that even casts a shadow on this! This kind of love is so big and so grand that my heart swells at the thought of it. How can this be true? That the Holy, Just, and Merciful God who created the world and everything in it would come to take the punishment for my crimes against HIM. If this is true, then surely I can no longer live for myself.

When I have been given so much love and so much light, I cannot sit in my comfortable life, loving only those that are easy to love and shining my light only in the broad day light when I will blend in with the rest.

Jesus came for me with a huge and tangible love. How can I do anything less?
To whom much has been given, much will be required.
Much is required of me and I pray for the grace to give all that I have for the Glory of Jesus, wherever and however that may be. Here's to bigger obedience and bigger faith in Jesus in 2012.

What fear is God calling you to trust Him with this year? 

Word from the previously fearful: give it up early, the beauty and freedom come more quickly that way.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Biltmore Bench Picture...

So sweet, yet clearly not destined to be a life long tradition. Our hips don't lie and they were screaming "NOO..." in this most recent picture. We'll have to find a meadow for next time. :)

Coming back to revive this blog soon!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gideon and I.

There is a story in the Bible  {in the book of Judges} about a man named Gideon. He had a pretty extensive army of about 20,000 men that was all set to go fight the Lord's enemies. His battle plans were probably all drawn out and their bags were probably packed. Everything was working out great and it all made sense. They were on the track to victory and success.

Until God told them to cut down their army to 300 men. He told them to check their plans at the door and trust His plans instead.

Umm..come again? From 22,000 down to 300. {Picture the intensity of Lord of the Rings here, just for a minute. Terrifying, right?}

Gideon was being called away from having everything making sense and lining up,  and being called into what seemed to be straight up madness. WHY? Because God had a greater purpose. Because he wanted His people to trust Him with the battle and not put their hope in their circumstances.

In our minds, we think that God ought to prove everything is going to work out great and then we'll step out and trust Him. When He calls us out on the water, we'd like to know that it's only 3ft. deep and the temperature of a jacuzzi. That way, you know, just in case we fall in...it will be safe and comfy and we can still touch.

Newsflash of my summer. God doesn't work this way. He works in ways that don't make sense to us because His ways are so much greater than ours. His ways seem backwards to us more often then not. Gideon had to trust that God's seemingly backwards plan was going to work. This was exactly how God was going to show Gideon that the strength of his army isn't what determined the result of the battle, but the power of God. The wisdom of man, is not the same as the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians chapter 1)

God doesn't promise that trusting Him will be easy, but he does promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He does promise that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Does that mean that everything that happens in this world will always be good? No. But He will weave a tapestry of grace in our lives if we trust Him with the story that He has given us. He will work even the confusing things out for good if we allow Him to. The ugly things, the hurtful things... the ashes. He can make them into beauty if we let Him.

Life is like a cake. or a box of chocolates. but for now it's like a cake.

When making a cake {the good ol' fashioned way} you add flour, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda, etc.

I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't eat any one of those things in their beginning state. Flour is nasty stuff to eat. But without flour, what would a cake be? Mush. Without sugar it would be bitter and with out the other things in between, it just wouldn't come out with the baker's desired result. We ought not to stop and doubt the result of the cake when we taste the individual items that are going into the process. Instead, we must trust that the baker does have a plan for the things that don't make sense. This is the part of the story where God works everything TOGETHER for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The bitter and the dry has a purpose in this story of ours and this story has a tasty end if we can trust the One who is in control. These things that we have been entrusted with have been entrusted to us by a faithful God. A God who is faithful to complete the good work that He has begun. A God who is conforming us into the image of His Son. (Romans 8:28-30)

I am labeling the past 6 months of my life, The Gideon Era. Everything that I thought was going to happen, didn't and everything I thought would never happen, did. I'm so thankful for God's faithfulness in Gideon's story so that I can trust God with mine. Guess who won the battle in the end? Gideon and the 300. The battle was the Lord's way back then. The battle IS the Lord's today. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous {made righteous by the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ alone}  runs to it and is safe.

 I know that I am beneath the tapestry being woven and the threads that seem tangled to me now, will one day be revealed as a beautiful masterpiece that bring glory to the Designer. I know that one day, my Jesus will return and set all things right. Until then, may my days bring glory to the Maker, Keeper and Ruler of all things. He knows what is good.

Even in the midst of confusion, there is no better place to be than in the fellowship of Jesus Christ, my Strength and my Redeemer. Peace that surpasses all understanding is the real deal in Christ.
His ways are higher than our ways. Sometimes so much higher that I cannot see how they are ever going to work out. However, we walk by faith, and not by sight! I am learning through this journey that my "300" surrendered wholeheartedly to the Lord is more powerful than any number of well thought out, man made, man centered, man executed plans that are not lead by the Lord. He doesn't need our ducks in a row to be able to use us for His glory. {Hello. He makes ducks. He can certainly line them up better than me.} Praise Him for allowing us to be instruments in the story He is writing.

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To HIM be the glory forever. Amen."- Romans 11:33-36

Where in your life might God be asking you to trust His plan above your own?

"If we are devoted to Jesus Christ we have nothing to do with what we meet, whether it is just or unjust. Jesus says - Go steadily on with what I have told you to do and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance. The most devout among us become atheistic in this connection; we do not believe God, we enthrone common sense and tack the name of God on to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts." - My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

P.S. I graduated! More on that to come...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

8 years of abundant life.

It has been nearly 9 years since my family adopted my sweet baby brothers as special needs preemies. The journey to get them was more than adding members to my family. The Lord used that journey to bring me to a true understanding of what the Gospel is.

You see, God had put it on my heart to pray for a baby brother or sister (preferably both and in the form of twins...) constantly since I was about 3 years old. I would often cry myself to sleep begging God to bring a baby to my family. I used to go on walks in my neighborhood hoping to either find an abandoned baby or a puppy. (There were neither in my fairly conservative neighborhood... which was so disapointing to me. What the heck kind of neighborhood has no lonely puppies or babies wandering around? Most of my friends lived in the backwoods where people dropped off puppies all the time. Apparently nobody does that sort of thing in historic downtown. anyways. no longer bitter about the lack of puppies. we had dogs. i just wanted to find one! you know?)

 I was 9 years old when my parents felt God leading them to adopt a baby boy domestically. I was overjoyed. I began cranking up the twin prayers and begging God to allow us to have two babies that didn't have a family instead of just one. {Plus, i didn't want to have to fight my other siblings over who got to hold the baby. You know. Logistics and such.}

Well, 8 months later, we got a phone call that changed our world forever. We had twin baby boys waiting for us at the hospital and we had until 2pm the next day to decide if we wanted them. There was just ONE little thing. They were born at 27 weeks gestation. {as opposed to the normal 40 weeks that babies are supposed to be inside the womb.} They could possibly be blind, and deaf and have severe learning disabilities. "Baby B" had also had a Grade 2-3 {1-5 scaled, 5 being the worst.}Brain Bleed at birth which could mean he might have Cerebral Palsy. They were also supposed to have Asthma, severe lung issues, etc.

God gave us overwhelming peace about bringing them into our family and my parents went to pick them up at the NICU where they had lived the first 7 weeks of their lives.

It was exciting and lovely and amazing for me for the first few weeks. Our living room became a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and we learned to chart cc's, work apnia monitors, heart monitors, oxygen machines, etc. We learned how to remind babies to breathe as they turned blue while drinking their bottles. We grew and they grew.

However, after a few weeks of machines {that sound similar to the screeching eels in Princess Bride} beeping every two seconds because of a loose strap on a baby's foot, it started to get old for me. Really old. You see, when I prayed all those years for a baby brother or sister, I meant the kind that you could hold without having to remain within three feet of the wires that they were strapped to. I meant the kind that I could play with and not have to wonder if they would ever be able to sit up and see me play peek-a-boo with them. I thought that God had chosen a pretty rude way to answer a kid's prayer.

That's when He spoke to me.

You were helpless and I took you in.

You had nothing exciting to offer me, but I loved you anyway.

You had no hope of survival, but then I cared for you.

You were an orphan that was outside of my family. Now you are my child.

Love these babies the way that I love you.

With Agape Love.

A love that is not self-seeking. A love that hopes. A love that perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4- 13
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
God gave me such a deep love for them through this revelation. So much so that I wouldn't take all the healthy babies in the world for my two scrawny baby brothers. They may have been sick. They may never be able to talk or play tag or ride a bike, but they were hand picked for my family and hand delivered in answer to my prayers. Loving them didn't depend on whether or not they could play with me some day. I need only love them because they were created by God and given to me to love.

I was to love these babies that He decided I was to be a sister to. I was to trust Him with whether they would ever be able to understand anything that I would say to them or try to teach them. Those things were too big for me to deal with. God would handle them for me. All I needed to do was trust Him and trust that His plan for them would be a good one, no matter what...



God taught me who I was and who He was through two sick baby boys. I was an orphan and He was a Father who loved me past my unloveliness.

He has taught me more about His Love through this journey than anything else. Everything else will pass away but His love is what remains.

Today these sickly baby boys are running around outside with perfect health, catching lightning bugs and talking to me about going to the pool tomorrow where they will swim underwater as long as they possibly can. Holding air in the little lungs that were never supposed to function properly. With funny little goggles on their eyes that were never supposed to see properly and listening to each other laugh and say funny things with the ears that were never supposed to hear. Praise Jesus.

    James-"Baby B"- Is the family thinker.

 We call him "The Director". He analyzes situations faster than anyone and before you even know what's going on, he has three possible solutions to the crisis at hand and he's telling you about them. He thoroughly enjoys swimming, cooking, playing with his brothers in the woods, building with legos and memorizing Bible verses for AWANA.

He memorized all of Psalm 23 last month with the brain that was not supposed to function properly. If you need help with something, ask James. He's a smartypants with a servant's heart. He is also hilarious.

His life verses are James 1:22 " Do not just be hearers of the word, but do what it says." and 1:27 "Pure and faultless religion in the sight of God our Father is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself unpolluted from the world."
 He shared his testimony of how God healed him with a Sunday School class a few months ago and asked that they all pray for orphans... Then He shared about how He ran into the wall and got a brain bleed and had to have stitches on his forehead...that was a little bit of blending of events but the kids seemed to get the point. Haha.

                                                  Jeremiah -"Baby A" is compassionate. 

He is funny and so sweet and He has a smile that brightens up your entire day. He loves to read, go to the creek, swim, slide down the water slide and play Monopoly. He has a heart for the Congo and we've never even been there. {He got to meet a Congolese man at Disney and He was so excited.}

He loves to build and create things.

He loves serving others. He has a quilt that I made as a youngin'  that has a pocket on the back for books.{ you know, for late night emergencies when you can't sleep but you're supposed to sleep.} He can often be found with a flashlight and a book far too late at night.
{Ok, so maybe I used to hide him in the pocket too. tiny man. haha.}

He told me a few weeks ago that he read the entire children's Bible to James the night before and then He showed me the page where there was a picture of Jesus on the cross. "We both cried when we got to this part." Their hearts for the Lord as so precious and I am so grateful for the gift they are to our family. I can't wait to see what the Lord does in and through their lives that were predicted to be so very different than the life that God had in mind for them. Jeremiah's Life Verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

These verses were what God used to lead my parents to adopt. They were going to name one baby boy "Jeremiah James"...but then my faith filled prayers sabotaged their name and we got two babies! Jeremiah and James.

Had they not been sick, I might not truly know the Lord.
Had they not been sick, they would not have the story that God has given them.
Had they not been sick, the three littlest kids would never have been adopted. The Lord used a special needs tax credit from Jeremiah and James' adoption to provide for the other three Littles to come home 4 years later.

God worked the hard things together for good.
God is a God of miracles. He is Jehovah-Rapha. The God who heals.

But, even if they were still sick...God would still be good. He does not make mistakes. He IS trustworthy. If Jeremiah and James were never able to communicate or do the things that they are able to do today, God would still be mighty and His plan for them would still be good. I know that with all my heart. God's love is not based on what we offer Him. He chose to love us and that is what makes us lovely. That is what gives us the ability to love others. The season of sick babies gave me a bigger glimpse into God's glorious Love than any other season of my life so far. If they had remained sick, God would have been just as faithful.

This week, 8 years ago, these precious Boys were born. I can't wait to see the next eight years, and the next, and the next. My Boys, may the Lord bless you, and keep you, and make His face shine upon you. I pray that He uses you for His glory in the nations and that He blesses you with a long life of service to Him. I know that He holds every day in His hands and He has a good plan for you. I'm so thankful I get to know you and be your big sister. I love you so stinkin' much.

In the words of Meshach Shadrach and Abednego as they faced the fiery furnace for refusing to worship anything but the One true God...(Read full story in Daniel 3)

Daniel 3:17-18
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They were thrown into the furnace and the men who threw them in were even killed by the flames, but Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego were seen within the furnace, walking around with one who appeared to be 'of the gods'. They came out without even a hair on their heads singed. This is the response of the King who sentenced them to the furnace...

Daniel 3:28-30
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 

When we obey the Lord and trust Him to carry us, even through the fire, He works in ways we could never imagine. Disobedience results in consequences as well as missing the blessings that God has in store for those who wait for Him. When we choose to worship Him instead of ourselves {or any other thing that we may put first,} we get to see His faithfulness to us come out in ways that we could never expect or even imagine.

Be encouraged if you are facing the furnace today. Seek the face of God and follow Him. He is the only one worth following and He will see you safely through. Trust Him and He will be glorified. It might take a while to see any fruit, but obedience to the Lord's calling, even when it's hard, always results in blessing. Maybe it won't be the blessing you were hoping for, but always blessing. Just you wait and see. God's ways are so much higher than our ways. We don't have to understand His ways, we just have to trust and obey. He will show us His good will in His good timing.

Beyond thankful for 8 years of incredible life with these treasures. I'm so glad that God knew better than I did.

"God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption..." 1 Corinthians 1:28-30

Jesus is with the lowly and the brokenhearted, the sick and the orphan. The "things despised by the world" are the things that God loves and uses for His glory.

May He grant us all His eyes to see what is truly precious. May He give us the grace to love with Agape.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby Rapunzels

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus LIVES!

 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. {1 Peter 1:3-7}