Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jesus Loves

My oldest son. Man, it still blows me away that I have duplicates of any gender much less two boys. My oldest son is very willful. This is going to be a great asset to him as an adult.

At least it will be if we can harness willful behavior into strong willed behavior. The difference, as Charlotte Mason explains so well in her books, is that willful behavior is doing what he wants when he wants it,or throwing a fit. Strong willed behavior is doing what is necessary even when he wants to do something else. In other words, it is when he uses his will to control his desires. Being a strong willed person will help him in life. It will allow him to conquer challenges and overcome problems.

We just have to get there first.

Things are getting better. Slowly. But we have made a minor change in our morning routine. After a 90 minute complete loss of self control, I decided something needed to change. I am used to long tantrums from this child. But this one was horrendous. Nothing, not tv, food, a car ride, time in his crib, hugs, NOTHING helped him get a grip. 90 minutes of tantrum was brutal - for both of us.

The next morning I picked him up from his crib, sat him on my lap and prayed with him.Very simply we say something like, "Dear Jesus, please help Ian be nice with his hands, and keep his self-control. Jesus loves Ian. Mommy loves Ian. Amen."

While I do not believe in a push button God, I do believe that prayer helps all of us. If nothing else, we were remembering where to go when we need help. And boy did we need help!

Jesus has helped us as I have noticed incremental progress in this area. But the biggest confirmation came just the other day. My husband found an Advent ornament that Hallmark is putting out right now. Every day you turn the bottom and a verse or two of scripture play. Beth was looking at it and said, "it's baby Jesus." because the ornament has a nativity scene on it. Ian came running shouting, "Jesus! Jesus!" Our prayer time of "Jesus loves Ian" has created in him the sense that Jesus love him. I cannot think of a better introduction between my son and his savior than this. I understand anew the power of Jesus' love.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scriptures for my kids

One would think, based on my background that we would be the type of people who do the major research for names, which we are not. You would also think that we would spend months finding the perfect scripture for each child. But we don't. In fact the only reason my kids have individual scriptures is because pregnancy hormones make me extremely anxious. There is no reason for my anxiety. I have had three perfect pregnancies without even a hint of problem with any of them. Yet, for months I have anxiety that I will miscarry, then that the baby will have a deformity, and then that something will happen in delivery.

So I learned with the first pregnancy to get a grip, tight, on a verse and use it to keep the anxiety tolerable. Beth's verse is from the New Testament, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." Phillipians 4:8. This is such a common verse. When picking verses one wants something perfect and unique, but here I am, with all three kids, picking very common sections of scripture. I used this one because the anxiety about miscarrying was strongest with Beth. I suppose that is common with a first pregnancy. I finally at about 14 weeks had to grab this verse and remind myself to think on what was true. What was true was that I was pregnant that day. I needed to focus on that.

Ian, poor boy, got very well known Psalm 23. I selected it because it gave me plenty to meditate on. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want, or worry about this baby and his health and so on. I would repeat this Psalm aloud every day at nap time as part of Beth's routine. Before I knew it and without any effort on my part, Beth had it memorized and was putting her toys to bed by saying Psalm 23.

Xander got Psalm 91. I was busy and not as anxious this pregnancy. I almost did not choose a scripture at all. But The Fall changed all of that. Psalm 91 is a perfect protection psalm. I worked on memorizing this one with Beth those last few weeks. We almost got it too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's in a name

I have friends who take naming very seriously. They research find the perfect meaning and christen their child with all that name entails. Then there are those that just have names they love and use them. Then there is us. We like a good meaning, but also just like certain names. Let me show you:

Elizabeth Anne

So named because we had settled on Serena Joy until we had the ultrasound and I panicked. I decided that name was "used" now and we needed a new one now that we knew she was a girl. Great logic huh? My smart man decided not to argue with this and said okay. I spent the next several weeks picking a new name everyday until he came home and announced her name was Elizabeth Anne. Elizabeth means "Consecrated to God" and Anne means "grace" or "favor."*

Ian David

I had a girl name all picked out and did not even consult my husband. As a consolation, I decided he could pick the boy name if we had a boy...which we did. So Ian which means, "God is gracious" and David after his maternal Grandfather which means, "Beloved."

Xander Gil

Now clearly we like classic names, so how did we end up with Xander Gil? It really is a good question and starts two weeks before my due date. I fell. Straight onto the right side of my pregnant belly. I have never been so panicked and afraid. I called my midwife who told me to calm down, drink something sweet and when I was calm to drive to her office. So I did, everything was fine. Thank God. But I felt strongly that I needed to find a boy name that showed my thankful heart for the protection over this baby. I would have done the same thing with a girl name but we already had one selected. If not I would have named her Chesed. So I started the search. I wanted something that meant, "God protects" or something like that. I searched and searched and Xander was what I liked the best. It means "Protector of Men." Gil is the Hebrew word for Joy. No I did not give my boy a girl's middle name. Gil is used for boys in Israel. So my poor little surprise man has a whale of a name to live up to, but it fit the situation for I am indeed thankful that nothing happened during the fall. Besides it fits the Psalm I picked for him which is Psalm 91.

*The meanings come off of a website so take them at that value.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Xander Gil - homebirth

He's here! Finally. I know I only went nine days post due date, but it might as well have been nine more months. It felt that long. This was especially true since there were five other women I know who were due within days of me and they all went early! Felt like salt in the wound every time. My midwife thinks my date may have been a little off, but in the end he is here and we are all doing well.

By the way, HE is here. I was convinced I was having a girl. They had to tell me twice, show me and it still took about an hour to sink in.

The basics: born 9:59 am October 21, 2011. 7.11 lbs 21 inches long. Only 6 1/2 hours of labor (1/3 of my last one).

After three false starts, lots of encouragement from my midwife, and an extra ultrasound to check on baby's health, labor started at 2:30 Friday morning. Because I had the false starts I did not get Elliott up and was not sure myself that this was really "it." I cleaned the kitchen, and was getting ready to make a huge pot of oatmeal, when Ian woke up. Normally he is a great sleeper so if he fusses at night something is wrong. With my contractions needing my attention, I woke up Elliott to get Ian. He wanders sleepily through the house and then pops his head out of Ian's door to inform me that Ian had thrown up. Ugh. It was all over him, and the bed. Elliott took him to the bath (at this point I don't think Elliott knew I was in labor yet) and I stripped the bed. In between contractions. Ian was put back to bed, and I hopped in the shower. Elliott pokes his head in after a little bit and tells/asks me if he should call the midwife because they are around every three minutes. I agreed, but was a little cranky about it. My whole get up and have the house to myself while I decide if this is "it" or not plan was ruined. It all worked out though. The midwife showed up and checked the baby's heart rate. All was well. She ran me a bath which felt like heaven. Unfortunately, it slowed the contractions so much that I only got heaven for around 45 minutes. By the time the kids woke up everyone was ready and we were all just waiting for the sign that it was time. This labor was more intense then the others in that I never went into my zone. I seemed more conscious the whole time. So I labored, and labored and felt like the baby would never come. I think no matter how short your labor is it feels like a long time, at least for most women. I loved that I was able to do what I wanted to do. I moved around, I stayed in my bedroom, sat, stood, squatted, bounced whatever seemed like it would feel the best. Periodically my midwife would check the baby or make a suggestion. Finally, she said that she thought I might be ready, but stuck because of the amniotic fluid that was still intact. She checked me. This was the only time I was checked during my labor. I was ready to push so she, with my permission, broke my waters. Still I did not get that massive urge to push. SO, we had to push him out. For those of you who have had a great fetal ejection reflex, let me tell you this is a lot harder. For those of you who haven't had the reflex, you know what I am talking about. Here is where I am so thankful that I was at home with a midwife. She had me try pushing squatting, then on my side, then on the toilet, then on the birthing stool. All the while she was talking me through it. She, her birth assistant, my husband, and my friend, all got me through this pushing phase. I did not think I could do it. Every time I would get to where I would be making progress it was so intense that I would back away. They really had to help me get him out and they all did led by my midwife's confidence and experience.

Then he was there. And we found out why he had been slightly off to the side in my uterus and why everything seemed held up at the end. The cord was around his neck THREE times. Pretty snug too. But, here again, I am so glad we were at home. My midwife unwrapped him, let the cord pulse, and put him skin to skin with me. Then we were loaded up with blankets and a heat pack and allowed to be together. He was fine. In the hospital they would have cut the cord and raced him away for who knows how long. But since we were at home, there was no panic, no distress on his part or mine, and alert attention on the part of my birth team. He did have to be suctioned, but that was taken care of and he was given back to me. He did the whole crawl thing where they find your breast and that was neat to experience. I was fed (something that did not happen at the hospital births) watered (also something that never happened), showered and given back my newborn. It was such a calm amazing experience.

With the cord the way it was, and how much intervention occurs just by going to the hospital (checks, IV's, checks, monitors, lack of freedom to move) I really think that Xander's birth would have been troubled at the hospital. He was monitored at home and never showed signs of distress. But would he have gone into distress if I hadn't been upright for most of the labor? When I struggled to push him out, would they have insisted on pit? If so that would have put him into distress and caused a C most likely. Or they might have stuck their hands up in me and "helped" him come out. In the end, I am thrilled with my home birth. I feel like it was the safest and best way for him to be born. Not to mention, we are here at home, comfy, cozy and learning to be a family of five. There are not any late night vitals (though we did have to do them ourselves), strangers wandering into my room, out processing paperwork or anything like that. I loved it and am happy to have my little man safe on this side of my body.

Okay, after re-reading this, I know it is a bit stream of consciousness, but the best I can do for now and I'd rather do it now versus in three months when I could craft an epic tale of birth.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not the exception

While I normally curb my movie habits in a pretty strict manner, I watched "He's just not that into you" with high enjoyment and finished it feeling that its message of "you are not the exception, but the rule" was one most women needed to hear. In typical fashion, I have decided that this message is important to all Christians as it relates to living a life of holiness (being good).

Many times, if I monologue for long periods at all to your patient ears, I will mention my visit to the holocaust museum in Israel. This is because it changed my life in a fundamental way. This visit comes into play here because it caused me to have a problem with theodicy (God and evil). I never used to struggle with this issue though I know many people find it an impenetrable barrier to belief. I struggle now, not in believing God or Jesus exist, but in accepting the platitudes many Christians offer as a solution.

Many people in Christianity approach the difficult things in life -controlling a temper, or your appetite, or your mouth, or your libido- with a helpless shrug of the theological shoulders, as it were. They know that God is sovereign and can do anything, so if they fail...let's pause for a moment while I pull out the really BIG word...when they sin, they assume that God just didn't do what God could have done. Or that they are not really "saved" or that it is a "Besetting sin."

Now, I am still a theology student, so please do not use this post to lamblast your pastor about how wrong he (or she) is, or to prove to yourself, or someone else, that sin doesn't really exist, or that forgiveness isn't real or important. This is simply a snapshot of where I am in the process of theology right now.

Perhaps a better way to look at this "God is sovereign so why do I still sin" issue is that we are the rule not the exception. God works miracles. I know because I've experienced one myself. For the most part though, living a holy life consists of lots of little steps. Learning to pray, learning to trust God, wanting to do good, seeking forgiveness and offering it. Living life and loving.

I love that my pastor more or less said this on Sunday. Sometimes our big issues are immediately cured, and that's called a miracle. Most of us, on many issues are the rule. We work, live, love, and pray. And we watch and see God's hand at work in being able to substitute that bad word for a benign one. In not losing your temper at the 20 millionth whine from a preschooler, or in canceling home internet because pornography has become an addiction.

This is our hope that things can change. Our hope that "The Word (meaning Jesus from the gospel of John), through whom all things were made is now the Word through whom all things are remade. So far from being a sign of what God could do if he chose but normally doesn't, Jesus's resurrection is to be seen as the beginning of the new world, the first day of the new week, the unveiling of the prototype of what God is now going to accomplish in the rest of the world." N.T. Wright Surprised by Hope 238.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What are you doing?

First, I am reading two things right now, one is a book a friend wrote that explores some of the themes that contribute to tragedies like the Rwandan genocide. The other is N.T. Wright's book on the Resurrection.
Also, I have 7 more months until I turn 30. I’m not concerned, in fact I am finding clarity and strength of resolve as an adult in ways that I have never had before. This also means that I am shifting developmental phases as an adult. One of the notable differences in this phase is that I am more in tune with what is going on in the world, that it should not be happening and that I am both equipped and powerless to deal with these issues.
Now that you are up to speed on my life, this will make a little more sense.
I recently explored adoption a little more in depth. When we adopt, we will go through the state. This may be problematic with all our moving and stuff, but eventually I hope to expand our family this way. One of the things that the state of Florida does is put together a photo gallery of adoptable children. I checked out the sibling sets, many of which feature teenager siblings. One set caught my imagination and I have been thinking and praying about them since. Are we going to pursue these two young men? No because we haven’t even started any paperwork much less are we prepared to suddenly parent teenagers when we want another biological baby. I honestly believe that my prayers for them will be answered in regards to their future so all is not lost.
But it did make me think. Both books, my awareness of sociopolitical issues, and this recent exploration have made me think. Where have all the idealists gone? I was one of them, and am more tempered now. Perhaps I should say I was an idealist wannabe. Having met some true idealists I must decline being part of their ranks. I do not have that much passion for an issue.
Here is what I realized – they get lulled to sleep. Somewhere in trying to accomplish goals that will change the world things happen. They fall in love, have kids, get pulled into ladder climbing, and cling to a dead end job because they have to support the family. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but adding in all the electronic entertainment, relative wealth of America, and glorification of sex, people get lulled to sleep. Their ideals suddenly cost too much. Helping the poor means giving up Sunday football (they do have games then, right?) because that is when the soup kitchen needs help. Because we are unfulfilled, we get lazy, and won’t give up that which we claim helps us “relax” and “restore.” Meanwhile we miss the blessings and challenges that following our ideals will provide.
Let me give a concrete example. One thing I realized reading about those teenage boys is that it would really stretch us in many ways, but all things being equal, we could adopt them. I know some of you parents are clutching your chests feeling those palpitations and thinking, “they might molest your daughter.” Yes, this would be a risk, but one that could be addressed and would be a concern in evaluating whether they would fit in our family.
But lets explore the underlying thought of that statement – it says that you think every teenage boy that is not raised from birth in my house is likely to molest my daughter if given the chance. Do you really think that teenagers are just waiting for an opportunity to get alone with a child? I do not. Let me rephrase, I will not let every potential risk hinder me from doing what God calls me to do in loving my neighbor.
I will not be afraid because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. God’s kingdom is here and I am a part of bringing it on earth. Please don’t question me on this just read Wright’s book because he is much better at explaining all the intricacies.
I will not sit down and watch things deteriorate because I cannot change everything (like the TSA). I will work in the world that I have. I can plant flowers to encourage biodiversity and helps the birds and the bees. I can forego a latte so that I can have $3 extra for the poor. I will stretch and grow some day because I know there is a child(ren) for us to adopt.
I will leave you with one question; it is from VeggieTales the Story of St. Nicholas. At one point Nicholas asks a nun, “What are you doing?” To which she replies, “I’m feeding the poor, what are you doing?”
This new year, what are you doing about all those ideals you used to have?