Category Archives: Our Story

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Penicillin Allergy

It had been a full holiday season and all of the Christmas gifts had been opened and played with. My sweet 3 year old son had come down with an ear infection and we went to the Pediatrician to get our routine prescription of penicillin. A few days later, he had full body hives and we discovered he had a penicillin allergy.

My trusted Pediatrician informed me that there are two types of allergies to antibiotics: mild or life threatening. She determined my son’s allergy was life threatening and immediately removed the bottle of antibiotics from the room. He was to never have another dose of penicillin or any of the other forms of penicillin again because it could trigger anaphylaxis shock.

This was serious, and I knew all to well how serious it truly was. Three years prior, my husband went into anaphylaxis shock as he entered his local Dr’s office.anaphylaxis shock We were both clueless that he was so close to death at this point that I was driving him to the clinic, not the emergency room. He was posting on Facebook.

I walked out of the Pediatrician’s office feeling panicky because I never wanted to relive another event like that. Up to this point in my motherhood, I had always relied on antibiotics to treat common childhood illnesses like ear infections. I knew there were other antibiotics on the market he could use, but they were stronger and scarier. They were unknown. None of the other mommies I knew had dealt with this and I was at a loss.

Fast forward one year to an essential oils class that my friend had invited me to. I was interested in holistic healing, I had been visiting a naturopath myself recently and wanted a more natural approach to illness and disease.

Up to that point, my son had not experienced another ear infection, or anything else that required antibiotics and I was grateful, but I felt like my luck would run out at some point.

As I was sitting in my first oils class and learning about all of the benefits of using essential oils, I knew that I had found my answer. The relief was palpable and I didn’t have to secretly sit and worry about when the next ear infection was going to hit. I had new tools in my tool belt.

The words penicillin allergy were no longer a threat in my mind.

This is the number one reason why I choose essential oils to treat my family’s sickness. It’s #mywhy; my motivation for teaching others and sharing them with friends. Even this week as I fill out the medical forms as school is starting, I still have to mark down “penicillin allergy” on my son’s forms, but it serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come.

If you’ve never tried using them for yourself, what are you afraid of?

Email me today  ddeirdre (at) yahoo (dot) com and we can find a class together for you to learn and ask questions in. You won’t regret it!

penicillin allergy


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Natural Family Planning

The Natural Family Planning Method

Natural Family PlanningThe Natural Family Planning method of birth control has been our first choice for the past 10 years of childbearing. Why?

  • hormone free
  • cost effective
  • flexible- the decision to prevent or plan a pregnancy can be changed instantly
  • foster’s communication between the couple
  • creates an awareness of the female’s natural cycle
  • adds an element of empowerment for individuals
  • long term effectiveness
  • no known side effects

What are some of the known side effects of taking synthetic estrogen often in the form of a Pill?

  • increased risk of breast cancer
  • increased risk of blood clotting
  • migraines
  • gallbladder disease
  • increased blood pressure
  • weight gain
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • benign liver tumors
  • breast tenderness

These known and documented side effects are often subtle at first, but the more women I talk to, the more I hear about the dangers of using hormone therapy as a form of birth control. Before you put something in your body that you are unsure of, learn about all of the options available to you. If you have suffered the effects of synthetic birth control, I would love to talk to you as well. I offer birth control counseling for free. Please contact Deirdre at:

stretchngrow (at) yahoo (dot) com


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From Maleficent to Big Hero Six: A Memoir

Category : Our Story , Parenting

The movie Maleficent was released in May of 2014, but in true Hopkins’ form, we did not go to opening weekend. We waited until August after it had been released to the dollar theater. As we were driving home processing the movie and the story line in the car, it hit me; our new puppy’s name was Beasty. We had adopted him from a litter where he was the runt. Still projected to be a big guy once fully grown, he was 5 weeks old when he entered our house. We had toyed around with names and every family member had their own favorite but none of them were sticking and I knew we needed to agree on one fast.

In the movie, Maleficent nicknames the baby girl Beasty. It’s a bit of a play on words as Maleficent is a fictional creature in form and this human child a beast. She begins her relationship initially detesting the baby and wishing it dead by placing a curse on her. But after time, Maleficent’s heart softens and the little girl makes a place in her life. Much like my relationship with our new puppy, I fought it hard. I never considered myself a dog person, nor did I want more responsibility. But, eventually my kids desires and my husband’s prodding won out and the pup made his way into our home. I could relate with Maleficent’s feeling for the child in the movie and his name became Beasty.IMG_1910 IMG_1912
And with that the 2014 school year began.

 

 

 

 

He schooled us. I never thought we could learn anything from a dog, but he taught us about ourselves. We found new areas of self discipline and compassion and love in our hearts.  He was there for the first day of school and the first family camping trip that we took. He celebrated Christmas with us.IMG_2031 IMG_2242  IMG_2245    IMG_2534 IMG_2602

After a particularly normal week, Beasty woke up with his left arm paralyzed on a Saturday morning. As he limped out of his kennel, Jesse and I thought he had injured his paw. We carried him outside to his food bowl. But as the hours wore on, we noticed his fever of 106 degrees. We urgently took him into the only vet clinic open on a Saturday afternoon and hoped for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were told it was neurological. Blood tests were inconclusive and they recommended we check him in overnight for intensive care. We chose to take him home and give him the round the clock care he needed. We gave him cold baths to keep the fever at bay and kept him hydrated via syringe feedings. No one wanted to leave his side.

IMG_2614 IMG_2613He withstood all of the prodding and discomfort because he was a fighter. We could tell he wasn’t done yet. We held out hope but the pain was too unbearable. Anytime he laid on his left side, he would whimper and holler. The antibiotics weren’t working and the anti-inflammatory pills would wear off within the allotted time. I even resorted to using essential oils to try and find some pain relief for him.    We were trying to buy more time to find an answer.

After 2 weeks of fighting to keep him alive, we faced the reality that had been staring us in the face the whole time. The vets were perplexed and we didn’t want him to live in pain. As we said goodbye to our 7 month old puppy, it was clear to me that he had made his way into all of our hearts with his unending loyalty. IMG_2620 IMG_2619 IMG_2625 IMG_2624 IMG_2626Ainsley made paw prints for us to remember him by and she took his collar off to keep in her room. We all drove to the vets office together on a Friday night to say goodbye. As we drove away, I had to count my kids twice to make sure we had everyone because it felt like someone was missing. We all cuddled upstairs together to watch Big Hero 6, a movie about loss and grief. It was fitting and comforting all at the same time.

They say it’s good for children to experience grief because it won’t be so foreign for them later on in life. They say that kids bounce back faster and move on quicker. I’m not sure if I agree yet. Ask me in a few years. I am learning a lot about grief and the different ways my kids express themselves. There is no right or wrong way to go about it and everyone does it differently. We will often share our memories of Beasty when they come up because they are always good ones. He gave us an adventure filled with lots of laughs and we will forever be grateful.

 


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Word of the Year 2015

Every year, instead of resolutions or goal setting, I focus on finding one word.

Just one. A word of the Year.

It’s a word that I want to guide me through the year. Something I feel the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me, for me, about me. When I come to a decision, or a rocky place, I often go back to my word for the year and contemplate what to do form there. It’s been very helpful for the past 3 years.     201220132014… and this year’s word is…

Choice

images-7How many choices in a year do you think a person encounters? How many choices of those, are life altering? I’m 34 years old and I have finally come to the conclusion that my life is the sum of the choices I have made. Marriage problems? I chose the man I married. Health problems? Excluding genetics, I made food and wellness choices that have affected my body up to this point. When I feel overwhelmed in parenting and I wonder how I have 3 kids living under my roof, I remind myself that I chose this. Sex makes babies. I’m a doula, I know this. When I’m stressed out because my calendar feels too full, it’s the reality that I choose what gets added onto that little screen with boxes on it. These things are what represent and make up my life. And they all have a common thread; my choice.

images-6You always have a choice. Stop the pity party and the blame game. Take responsibility for the choices or lack of in your life and recognize the opportunities everyday to make new choices. Today is a new day and it doesn’t have to look like yesterday. The Bible talks about this in several places. But when you look up the word “choice” in the Bible, it is most often referred to as an adjective. The choice meat. The choice offering. The best of the bunch or carefully selected in other words.

Proverbs 21:20 NIV

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
images-8In order to take leadership of your life, I believe we have to grasp this concept of making wise choices. There’s always options and curves in the road and it’s hard to know which choice is the right one. My remedy for this is to give my first consideration to Jesus. Just by simply asking Him what He wants is the best first step. His leadership is perfect. His ways are higher than our ways and he’s altogether wise. Jesus? It’s a simple question.
In 2015, may I inquire more of Him and realize that my life is the sum of my choices.
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Welcome Home, Hopkins Family!

Three weeks ago, we closed on our very own house! This is the second time we’ve ventured into this process of mortgages and commitment, and even though it’s a huge debt, I have an abundant amount of peace this time around. It feels like a gift from Jesus, straight from his heart. Have you ever just been blown away by how He loves you? Here’s the story behind the bricks….photo 2

For 2 years I’ve been admiring this house, or maybe more specifically it’s twin. For the past 2 years we have been in limbo; moving to a new city with our three kids and renting until we had more direction for our future. I can’t even remember how many conversations Jesse and I have had about moving. Where do we want to live? What do we ultimately want for our kids? What are the consequences of being nomads?

It was exhausting, but it was a good lesson in learning to live in the moment.

Living with intention, being wholeheartedly content with the limbo was a challenge and I had my days, but we’re all human. I had thoughts that we were going to stay in limbo forever, forgotten by God, without vision. I even scanned for an oil called Into the Future. The zyto never lies! But in the midst of it all, I had to believe God had it under control. He hadn’t forgotten us and I had to praise Him in the middle of it all. If He can move mountains, He’s totally got this.

About 2 months ago, we came to a cross roads and had to make a decision. Stay or go. For various reasons, we decided to stay. We have to believe that there’s no wrong decision when Jesus walks by our side. He’s there and He will guide us faithfully. We can trust His leadership because it’s perfect.

So for 2 years I had been investing into my relationships; meeting neighbors, beginning to trust people, integrating myself into community. I had been in my neighbor’s house a few times and fell in love with it. Prefect floor plan, gorgeous floors. And every house I toured with our relator I compared to my neighbor’s. The problem was I didn’t find anything comparable. My neighbor and I had a deal; if she happened to move, I would buy it, but we both knew that was a long shot. Or so I thought…  In our neighborhood there are lots of similar floor plans, trust me, I think I’ve looked at every single one. But there was only 1 house that looked similar to my neighbor’s. As we were nearing the end of our lease, I secretly contemplated knocking on the door to the twin mystery house and asking if they would consider selling. I did feel a bit crazy and talked myself out of it.

No less than 3 weeks later, the mystery house had a Coming Soon sign in front of it. I almost screamed when I noticed it, but decided to be patient because they obviously weren’t ready for showings. That weekend I was talking to my neighbor about it and she said, “yea, that’s the twin house.” That WHAT?!?

Two twin sister’s built twin houses, seven years ago. TWIN houses; like same flooring, same cabinetry, same paint colors. TWIN HOUSES. The house I had been coveting admiring for the past two years was finally for sale! I could hardly believe it. She encouraged us to knock on the door because she knew the owners as she had bought the other twins’ house via For Sale By Owner. The very next day, we walked over to the house and knocked on the door, mentioning the sign and asking for initial information. We found out that the owners were very sweet people who also happen to go to our church. An insta-friendship developed and we ended up buying the house via For Sale By Owner.

Two identical twins, building identical houses, selling them in identical ways. Wow!         And can I just tell you, this has been the easiest, most pain free process I have ever been apart of? Almost as if God had been preparing my heart for two years for this, and the sellers have expressed the exact same thing. Even agreeing on a purchase price has been simple. No back and forth negotiating, no stress, no worry. Thank you Jesus.

Over a decade ago, I remember a conversation Jesse and I had with Pastor Mark. We were talking through the verse in Psalms 34:7. “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.”   His question to us was, does God give us our random desires when we delight in Him, or does He plant those desires in our hearts when we delight in Him already knowing they will come to pass? It’s an interesting idea to grasp.photo 3

Either way, we feel planted, home and at peace. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know who is in control of it and I trust Him. I’m learning to grow where I’m planted.

Welcome home Hopkins family!

 


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The Benefits of Probiotics

Fermented foods are termed the “missing link” in the American culture according to Dr. Mercola. He believes that if Americans would start to embrace fermented foods and probiotics in general, we would see exponential turn around in our health crisis. Why are fermented foods so necessary in our diet? I’m still learning, so let’s learn together.

Cultured (fermented) foods are traditional foods:

  • Plain unflavored yogurt (not store bought)
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi and
  • Kombucha tea

They are commonly used throughout the Eastern world, but we as Americans have really lost our heritage when it comes to the foods our ancestors used to eat. In fact, as I type those names, my spell check doesn’t even recognize them as words! Somehow I don’t feel we have progressed as much as we think we have.

“You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet.” There is no doubt in my mind that this is the next step for my family and I in becoming healthy. No mater your weight or body shape, your true health and vitality are in your gut. Your digestive track holds 80% of your immune system’s strength and effectiveness. Simply put, if your digestive track is not healthy or is damaged, the rest of your body will begin to show the signs of weakness. Anything from auto immune disorders to consistent skin problems (acne) can be good indicators. Also, IBS — a hard-to-treat condition that can have a range of intestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, eczema (an early sign of allergies), psoriasis, abdomnial fat and obesity are all indicators.

Fermented foods contain healthy organisms called probiotics. Probiotics are the army of good guys who fight off the army of bad germs we encounter. Antibiotics, the prescriptions we get from a pharmacy, usually kill off the bad germs, but what we must keep in mind is that they also kill the good guys. They wipe out the entire digestive track which is why it is soooo important to replenish your gut with the good guys. If you have ever taken an antibiotic, you are a candidate for probiotics.

Prior to listening to this interview, my family ingested the probiotics via the pill form. I had heard of the benefits and wanted in on the action, and the pills form you can buy at the store seemed like the easiest option for us. What I learned after listening to this interview, is that the pill form of probiotics simply are not as effective. Once I learned this, I felt like I had been wasting my money. $35 on a bottle of good probiotics that weren’t really making a difference? In the interview, Caroline explains that in order to get the full benefits of probiotics, we need a wide range of fermented foods. Kumboucha’s benefits are different than kefir’s, and also that fermented vegetables do a better job than the liquids at detoxing the body. All are necessary for digestive health. So what are the benefits of taking probiotics?

When the gut is healthy, it absorbs the vitamins and minerals you are feeding yourself. Imagine taking a vitamin for years, without seeing any results. That is what happens when our digestive track is unhealthy. Cracks begin to develop in the intestinal lining and nutrients are not absorbed properly. Frustrating to try and eat healthy, without seeing any change. Also, up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of the good bacteria in your gut. Energy! What we all strive for more of throughout the day. Researchers at UCLA found that brain function improved among healthy women who regularly consumed probiotics. They also may reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Oral and dental health can improve. (see sources below)

The best and most profound benefit of probiotics are that they detox your body. They bind themselves to the toxins, heavy metals, and other junk in your system and make a quick exit. Awesome! There are so many benefits to detoxing, trust me.

My advice is to start SLOW. 1/2 cup of kefir for the first week or a spoonful of sauerkraut to start off with. Then gradually work your way into more servings and higher quantities. Ideally, the goal is to have 3 servings of probiotics in varied forms in each day. If you start to feel a bit yucky, that means your body is detoxing too fast. Drink lots of water and slow down a bit. Detox signs are a whole ‘nother post!

I’m excited to see the results from daily probiotic usage in my family. An update will be coming soon!

To listen to the full interview:

Caroline Barringer’s Interview with Dr. Mercola

To order a jar of fermented foods to try yourself:

Cultured Vegetables from Immunitrition

There is also a brand of fermented sauerkraut that I absolutely love: Bubbies! I have found it at many health food stores in the refrigerated section. Bubbies also makes fermented pickles & dill relish. Great for these upcoming summer BBQ s!benefits of probiotics

UPDATE: All 5 of us have been drinking kombucha everyday since this post. In my own body, I have seen an improvement in my skin. It’s softer, more supple and less dry. My kids have had less problems with constipation and diarrhea and the best news of all is that we have NOT had any symptoms of seasonal allergies yet! THIS IS HUGE! It’s now April; the trees have bloomed and by this time every year I usually have purchased an over the counter bottle of allergy meds for my husband and I. We usually are sneezing and miserable but I have yet to have even 1 symptom. AMAZING. My kids have been allergy free as well. I’ve even gone as far as to ask my friends who are allergy sufferers if their allergies have started because it’s almost too good to be true. They have all said they have started their normal allergy routines. I am so far, a big believer in the power of probiotics. My husband, daughter and I have also been snacking on fermented sauerkraut as an added bonus to our probiotic regimen. My plan from this point forward is to continue being disciplined with the probiotics and then try to add some other varieties into our diet. I also plan on beginning a batch of continuous brew homemade kombucha. More to come on that!

 

*Please note: This is not an affiliate link and I am not making a profit from these foods. I just simply want you to be healthy.

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264721.php;  http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/fact-sheet-probiotics;  http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml;  http://www.immunitrition.com/


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Heaven Come

Category : Jesus , Our Story

Never once have we ever walked alone because He’s been faithfully by our side. Even in the hardest of times, when life gets turned up on it’s end and death seems louder than life, He’s there. Every step of grief, is matched with grace. God is so faithful.

It’s been a year since my Grandpa died. This is the first time I’ve ever come toe to toe with death and grieving. The brain fog that encompasses those first few days.  As I process the feelings that this week holds and the memories of last year, I can see God’s tenderness on the tough days and I’m thankful.

We weren’t meant to walk around in this world alone and I am so thankful for the friendship I have in Jesus. Oh, what a friend I’ve found. As we stood there trying to honor a great man, my hands were shaking and I couldn’t quite make sense of the words as they were leaving my brain. The only comfort is that I wasn’t up there alone. IMG_1244

Jesus says, “I am ever so near you, hovering over your shoulder, reading every thought. People think that thoughts are fleeting and worthless, but yours are precious to me. I smile when you think lovingly of me.” -Jesus Calling

I’ve learned so much in one year. My eyes have been opened to the reality of Heaven. When you have a loved one who’s there, it becomes so much more certain, so palpable. No one lives forever, and when I think of my final destination, my heart is filled with joy. Eternal peace is with Jesus. When we finally see Him face to face, it will all be so worth it.

If you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus, and would like to ask me some questions, feel free to email me. You don’t have to walk through this life alone anymore.


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Mile Marker 31

Jesus take the wheel” by Carrie Underwood may just be the song I woke up to this morning. I never this listen to country ya’ll, and I never say ya’ll but as I lay in bed thinking, it dawned on me that today marks one year of living in Tulsa. So ya’ll, is fitting now more than ever.Jesus doula

A year ago, I was saying good bye to some of my most dear friends in this world. There were tears and hugs and kind words spoken and acts of service given. As they packed our moving truck, a bit like Tetris, I wondered what was on the other side of the state line. Would Jesus really be enough? Can he really fill the hole that’s left? As I followed the moving truck down the one lane highway for what felt like an eternity, I prayed. One of those long, 5 hour conversations where words don’t exchange, but hearts connect between me and my Savior. “Jesus take the wheel,” I prayed.

I’ve learned by watching and listening to others’ stories, that we mark our lives, the timeline of before and after with specific, life changing events. We will catch ourselves referring to our history with, “before the accident” or “after he died.” And as we should. Life changing events are meant to be just that, are they not?  “Jesus take the wheel, cause I can’t do this on my own.”

I find myself writing some of those same old scripts in my head, and then I catch myself. I give a little nudge to the, “before Tulsa” feelings and remember that He makes beauty from ashes. When we begin to see the beauty from the pain, we know we are on the other side of the lesson. So I allow the lesson to be just that, a moment He teaches me from. Jesus whispers the memory of mile marker 31 into my heart and I pause, because He’s reminding me of all He’s carried me through.

Mile marker 31, is an identity lesson. My identity is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. It’s not about my culture, where I’m from and what kind of accent I use. It’s not about which home team you cheer for, or all of the back roads and short cuts. It’s not about how comfortable you feel in a crowd at church or who you can wave at from across the room because you know everyone, and their mother. Identity should be, with Christ because

“It ought to be the business of everyday, to prepare for our final day.”

On that final day, when I say goodbye to those I love most, the comfort of being found in Christ will be the only thing that matters. So I “praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.” Mile marker 31 is only restoration, as we take one step closer to home.

 


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Birth Story {2nd addition}

Dear Ashden,

My sweet baby boy; as we waited in the living room for the line to show on the pregnancy test, it was decided that your Dad and sister would look at the test and deliver the results. I was much too nervous. You were a surprise from Heaven, a gift from above and I was a wreck. At that time in my life, I didn’t know how to take the present God had graciously gifted to me and unwrap it with care. I didn’t know how to receive good things from the Father; but I know now that the Father only gives good and perfect gifts.

As Daddy and Ainsley emerged from the bathroom, I tried to read their faces and listen to their words but I was in shock. This wasn’t according to plan, I was not in control. As the news sunk in I revealed my true feelings to only those most trusted in my life. Processed. Absorbed. And then the bleeding began. Within the hour my heart had accepted this precious gift from above, I was facing the reality of loosing it: of loosing you.

As I raced to the OBGYN, I prayed my guts out. Only a momma knows what it’s like to pray for her baby. This literal life growing deep within you, wholly dependent on you. That’s when I knew I had finally unwrapped the gift from God, as my prayers for your body and soul drenched my cheeks.

The 10 week ultrasound showed an intact gestational sac and a strong little heartbeat. I was relieved. The bleeding was a result of a placental abruption; partially separating from the uterine wall resulting in blood loss. Miraculously, the bleeding stopped and the placenta remained attached to the uterus. I had bonded and wanted to meet this little life on this side of Heaven. So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed for a little boy with blue eyes and that’s exactly what God gifted. You are fearfully and wonderfully made my son.

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7 weeks

As delivery time neared, I realized your due date was Easter weekend. A beautiful time of year for a birthday; the trees are budding, the grass is greener and flowers have emerged from hiding but Easter weekend also meant that my OB was out of town. So at my 39th week appointment, she routinely swept my membranes to get the party started. Her office called and asked if I wanted to schedule an induction, in order to avoid going into labor while she was out of town so that I could stick with my trusted Doctor. My gut said no. My mind and my logic said yes, it was the best thing to stick with the person I had trusted for 9 months. After much deliberation and prayer, I decided against the induction and I am so thankful I listened to my gut. I had possibly just avoided the largest risk factor for an unplanned C-section.

As the weekend began and Easter preparations were being made, I knew the slight cramps were the beginning of labor. After coming very close to an epidural free delivery with my 1st labor, I knew that was the goal I wanted to set my eyes on. As the cramping became heavier and Good Friday became dark, I found myself on my bed, unable to talk through the contraction and unable to yell to my husband to announce, “it’s time!” The hospital was an hour away and the drive to the hospital was excruciating. Folded into the front seat of a Honda civic, we arrived at the hospital at midnight. Good Friday had passed, but my thoughts were continually drawn to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The amount of pain I was experiencing, I knew, would be the closest I would ever come to empathizing with my Savior. As He hung on the tree for me, and endured the cross out of love, the parallel of a mother’s love ran deep.

After being admitted, I was at 5 cm dilation. Praise the Lord for those contractions! They had been doing the hard work of opening the cervix and for that I was grateful. It had not been for nothing. The on-call doctor had been advised, and I was scared. My trusted advisor was out of town and I felt like I was flying solo. My husband was helpful, but also tired and we were not educated well in pain management. If I had chosen a midwife and a doula to accompany me on this journey, I believe the rest of the story may have been much different. I needed more support, more advice, more knowledge and more encouragement in those wee hours of the morning. The nurses were only so helpful, and the on call doctor was no where to be found until the pushing began. And so as any woman who enters the transition phase of labor, I began to believe I couldn’t do this anymore.

Transition As the body adjusts to accommodate the last few centimeters of dilation, just before you begin pushing, the hormone levels are so high that you will see undeniable physical signs. The major emotional marker for this stage is giving up. Another physical sign is the inability to relax or be comfortable. A woman who was handling labor well may suddenly find that she has no idea what to do and nothing is comfortable any more. At this point, it is the job of her coach or labor partner to assist her into various positions in an attempt to find the one that will keep her most comfortable.  –www.birthingnaturally.net

At 2:40 am I had felt defeated and asked for the epidural. I was 7 cm dilated with very strong contractions. The nurses wanted me to stay on the bed, but I was very uncomfortable. I was hooked up to an IV and they did not want me to walk the halls or get into the shower, or try anything to manage the pain naturally. I had wanted this birth to be different from my first. After the epidural had taken effect, I tried to sleep, but was overly anxious. I couldn’t feel my toes, legs or abdomen. I literally was so numb that wiggling my toes was impossible. This was the very thing I wanted to avoid and it had happened again. As I told the nurses that I couldn’t move my legs, my complaint was dismissed. The out of control feeling I had felt during transition, did not go away after the epidural was administered. I still felt helpless, numb, paralyzed, without a voice.

At 4:10 am, my baby’s heart rate dropped. I faced the possibility of an unplanned C-section yet again. As the nurses rushed in and rolled me over because my muscles were too numb to do so on my own, we listened intently for the little heart beat to rise again. I breathed the oxygen, praying silent tears alone as my husband slept on the couch. I felt helpless, paralyzed, without a voice and so I spoke to the One who I knew would listen to me. I prayed for my baby again just as I had done at 10 weeks. I asked for health, protection and sovereign grace.

As the heart beat raised, so did the back of my bed. I had dilated to 10 centimeters and was ready to push, or so they told me. I needed help from the nurses to raise myself up, to get into the stirrups, to bring my bottom forward. Still overly numb and paralyzed, they each had to hold a leg in order to keep them from falling out of the stirrups. Dead weights, I felt like an inconvenience to them. At 5:00 am I started pushing, but with little feeling in my abdomen, bottom or legs, I couldn’t tell if I was pushing right. How hard? How long? The ring of fire was absent. Feeling very inadequate, watching the doctor’s face as he waited impatiently and on-call. Knowing in my head that it did not take me this long to push out the first. At 6:32 am my sweet blue eyed baby boy was born with the routine episiotomy preformed. My husband and I had objected, firmly stating that in our birth plan; routinely missed by our care providers.

The baby was born and I was relieved, but even as they whisked him away for the routine newborn procedures, I struggled with my sense of loss. Still feeling a strong lack of control, numb from the waist down and unable to voice my concerns. I became the patient in the recovery room who stayed too long. Can you feel your legs yet, they said. Are you able to walk? Do you need to use the restroom? Longing to get out of bed, but still paralyzed, the patient who stayed in recovery for 6 long hours. I finally regained feeling in my legs and was able to transfer to the new room with my baby.0077What I learned from this birth I took into my next. Just as I had gained experience and knowledge with my first birth to bring with me this Easter weekend. My redeeming grace was that my sweet baby boy latched on like a pro and had a strong suck reflex. Thankful that the breastfeeding problems I had with my first baby were not repeating themselves, I began my new adventure in mothering a blue eyed, sweet baby boy. IMG_1337


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A Wandering Heart

images Indecision is the most heated debate that happens within this little head of mine.

Right or Left God? Which way? Yes or no?

And it’s with this indecision that we get stuck. For 5  l.o.n.g. years I’ve been inquiring of the Lord. If you’ve been a part of our story at all, you’ve watched us and probably listened to these questions burn in our hearts. Thank you to those who have walked this l.o.n.g. road with us. Transition & change are both faithful companions by now. I must admit that the desire to settle has been a strong one. A pull at my heart for security, peace, roots. Who wants to wander the desert for 40 yrs? Certainly not me. Just ‘give me the map and I’ll follow’ I say.

images-1Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the One I love.

So I hold on, but barely. I hang out for one more day, just to see what it is He has to say. I feel forgotten. I believe the lies. And the broken clock ticks on. Stuck I’m barely breathing. My hearts still beats through the pain because I know there’s healing in Jesus’ name. I try my best to be guarded, but I’m an open book. I’m just looking for purpose. – Lifehouse

images-4 I hold on because Jesus is the only lifeline that I know of that works. He leads us beside still waters and restores our soul. I ask Him to bind my wandering heart to him because I’m prone to wander.

The reason he hasn’t let you settle down to grow grain for bread or grapes for wine and strong drink, is so that you would realize that it is the Lord your God who has been caring for you.” Duet. 29:6

For 40 years the Lord led His people through the wilderness and the Bible says their clothes did not wear out nor did their shoes. He’s in the details.

“After the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentacost, people “were cut to the heart and said…’Brothers, what shall we do?'” (Acts 2:37) The first church responded with immediate action: repentance, baptism, selling possessions, sharing the gospel. We respond with words like amen, convicting sermon, great book… and then are paralyzed as we try to decipher what God wants of our lives.” -Crazy Love, Francis Chan

So for years, I ignored the majors and focused on the minors by asking God for specific, miniscule, minute details. We each get a lamp’s worth of light on our path. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe, instead of settling down outside of Him, we are supposed to settle down within Him. He’s our resting place and vice versa. He has sent His Holy Spirit to rest within us. We are His resting place. Test this thought against these scriptures:

Benjamin: “God’s beloved; God’s permanent residence. Encircled by God all day long, within whom God is at home.” Duet. 33:12

In John 15 Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

And so this intense desire to settle will only be quenched by abiding within Him. It’s not a quest for direction, or answers or a map for the journey. It’s a journey into the very heart of God. Christ in you, the hope of glory.

And so the questions still remain, right or left? The answers are found in the heart of God. His Covenant signs, His charted directions are all throughout scripture. The majors:

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

How can I expect the Holy God to give me more than a lamp’s worth of light when I have not been faithful in these broad instructions? I repent and turn my face, and take the next logical step. And once we have surrendered our lives to the majors, he will be faithful to instruct us in the minors, the specifics, the miniscule.

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.  Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.  He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25