Friday, April 22, 2011

Giving Birth to Life

I watched a handful of women labor during my nursing school labor and delivery rotation.

But, I only remember one of them.

She gave birth completely naturally, and her birthing experience changed me somewhere deep inside.  I remember going back to my dorm room and rereading the verses in Genesis where God handed out this curse.  I pondered it all, replaying her experience over and over in my mind and solidifying my desire to one day give birth naturally.

Without medications to numb the pain, I wanted to feel it, to know it in its entirety.

I watched this woman filled with pain, agony, actually. She yelled out, said she wanted to quit, wanted out, but there was no way out.  And, then as the pain escalated, her cries at their peak. . .

the baby came. . .

And, the room full of pain and tension instantly gave birth to peace and joy.

Husband relaxed and cried and rejoiced.

Worn completely to the end of herself, the mother's pained expression turned instantly to a face beaming with beauty and love.

I was drawn to something in that room.  It wouldn't let me go.  For weeks I thought of her ~ the beauty I had witnessed in that delivery room.  I longed to one day experience it for myself ~ to birth beauty from agony.  To give all of myself so that another could live ~ to feel it deeply, fully, to hold nothing back.

As God allowed me to experience this all over again one more time just a few weeks ago, I was taken back to the first time I witnessed it as a young student standing with my back to the wall fighting tears.

And, as Easter is upon us, I began to wonder. . .

Maybe that is why I am so drawn to this experience?  Doesn't everything point to Him?  To the One Who gave His all for us?

To the One Who walked that angry hill for you and for me. . .

To the One Who so beautifully suffered excruciating pain, agony unimaginable. . .

To the One Who gave Himself over fully...

To the One Who held nothing back. . .

To the One Whose pain birthed Life for us Who are in Him. . .

He Who suffered greatly, suffered to give us Life. . .

To me, it is such a picture of what Jesus did for me, and therein lies the beauty.

When I finished giving birth to Jack, my young curly, red-headed nurse came back into my room after the doctor and other nurses had left, and looked me in the eyes saying,  "That was so pretty.  You've inspired me."  And, I thought to myself, "It wasn't me."

We are all drawn to Him, to His love.  He is all around us, in our daily experiences ~ if we will open our eyes and see all of life pointing to Him, to the cross, to life and love abundant.

And, I thank Him today as we celebrate the day of His agony.  I thank Him that the pain was not in vain, but gave birth to big, beautiful, abundant LIFE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Glory in the Mess

Two phrases that meant the world to me in college (and still do today) are. . .

#1 "Bloom where your planted."  It wasn't a particularly spiritual phrase, but it worked for me.  I was a homebody far from home.  And, I wanted more than anything to live out the life God called me to live, but I just could not figure out how to do it.  What exactly did it mean?  That was my searching journey of those four years of my life.  (And, honestly, it continues as I journey on. . . ) Wherever God placed me, I wanted to live fully there.  To, as Jim Elliot put it, "Wherever you are, be all there."  Don't look to the left or the right.  Look straight into the eyes of Love.  Blooming has everything to do with focus.

#2 "It's not about me."  I learned during my second year of college, for the first time in my life, that life was not all about me.  Somehow I misunderstood this all the years prior. It was all about me.  But, God began to break it to me, gently, sweetly, bit by bit, piece by piece, that life was about HIM, not me.  And, so that simple little phrase, "It's not about me," got me through one of the most tumultuous, lonely years of my life.  Example:  I'd say to myself. . ."All I've ever wanted is to be a wife, mother, and homemaker.  But, what if I don't meet Mr. Right?  What if God calls me to be single?"  Then, I'd answer myself, "Remember, Erin, it's not about you.  It is about Him, about Him being glorified through your life. Die, die, die.... even to this, you must die."

Most days I am completely enamored with the life God has given me.  He has chosen to give me the desires of my heart ~ to be a wife, a mother, and a homemaker.  But.....

sometimes I am such an ingrate. 

There are moments when little boys are sooo loud and sooo busy.  They are so everywhere, and all over and around me, on top of me, and, did I mention, LOUD, so LOUD!!!  And for a girl who thrives on peace and quiet, this can be a challenge to die daily!  Loud, busy, full court basketball games in my living room, a quarrel here, a mess there, counters cluttered, laundry stacked high, a bottom needing wiped, a baby with a blowout diaper, spilled milk, a broken toy, 5 boys with 5 needs ~ all thinking theirs to be the most urgent.  And, my head spins, and the dog tears through the house barking and running full speed because he sees Mr. Cole walking Belle across the street.  And, he knocks my two year old flat on concrete floor.  And, my ears are full of screaming child, cries of hungry baby, squeals of little boy laughter, and loud barks of large angry territorial dog.  And, it is at these times that I remind myself, once again, that it is not about me, and I must bloom where I am planted ~ even in this. Some days I love the chaos, I embrace it.  Other days, it is an act of will.  God has called me here, to this place, and so it is here that I am living, fully.

Can God be glorified through the changing of dirty diapers, the filling of hungry bellies, the cleaning of spills, the walking of an old dog, the laundering of a family of 7, the teaching of math and science and history, the training and correction of disciplining boys, the cheering on of small victories, the knowing smiles of mother and child, the hugs, the lullabies, the books read, the holding of little hands, the peacemaking, the night waking, the daily grind?

I suppose He can, but the real (honest) question my heart asks is. . .

Can He be glorified when tired mother loses her temper?  When I am selfish, and try to smile at sweet boys, but really I just want to lock myself in closet with a cup of Bifferdoodle and a good book?  What about when I expect too much from them, and I am angry that they can't remember certain historical dates or math facts quickly enough?  When I snap at them rudely?  Judge them unfairly?  When I complain and nag and allow my heart to be full of negative thoughts?

Can He be glorified then?

I'm not so sure, but I know one thing.  I never knew how sinful my heart was until I started having little ones.  And, the selfishness deep within my heart was pulled to the surface.  And, He is using these sweet little ones to sharpen and chisel away at their mother.  And, I can honestly say that I am different.  I am not the same as I was last year or the year before, and I am thankful.  And, so as I walk, day in and day out, some days soaring and some days failing miserably, my prayer remains that I would be who He called me to be, that my life would in some way glorify Him.

"Glory to God, glory to God, Fullness of wisdom, 
He writes my story into His song, 
My life for the glory of God."
How Emptiness Sings ~ Christa Wells

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sweet Jack

 I cannot wait to find the time to share Jack's birth story.  He came in a very unexpected and unusual way ~ for me, anyway.  All my other babies have come when they were ready.  But, we had to force sweet Jack out early for his own good.  My doctor caught me completely off guard.  I didn't see it coming...

But, it, or "he," rather, did come, and all was well and good.  He came safely and was healthy, and we are so thankful!!  I went in for a regular appointment and left the office with a dead cell phone and a promise to meet my doctor again in a few hours in a labor and delivery room.

Now, little Jack is home.  And, slowly but surely, we are learning what our new normal looks like.  Today was my first day home alone with 5 boys.  I am happy to report that we made it.  It was not without its challenges, but we made it.  Jack is an angel.  He sleeps, eats, squeaks, smiles, and lays in his moses basket with wide eyes taking it all in!

His brothers adore him to no end!!  They are happy helpers ~ especially when the helping involves their littlest brother!  I have busy, active boys, so it amazes me how they can calm down and be so gentle and sweet with their baby brother.  They are such good big brothers!

I have two phrases that I am repeating to myself these days...

At night I say, "I can sleep when I die, I will only be able to hold my newborn baby Jack for a short time." (If I've learned one thing in my 8 years as a mama, it is that they really do grow up fast!  Everything is a phase, merely a phase, and soon it will be but a memory. )  I am trying to soak up the opportunity to hold my sweet newborn!!  He is still frog legged and tiny, but, oh, how soon, and he will be plump and full and sleeping all night!

And, during the day I say, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."  I used to sing that to myself when I worked as a night nurse, and I am needing those words again now!!  I do fine playing outside with my boys.  I even played one on one basketball with Joshua outside today.  But, don't make me sit still and listen to a little boy read!  Please!  If I sit still, it hits me like a ton of bricks!  I do much better on my feet!!

But, all in all, we are doing well.  And, if I can make some progress on my mountainous list of thank you notes that I need to write, I will sit down and write Jack's birth story before I forget it!  Ha!  These are happy days!  They are sometimes hard, sometimes stressful, but they are always good.

I am thankful for:

* Flowers blooming everywhere
* For little boys who play together underneath bushy trees out back...
* For the opportunity to spoil silly my favorite three year old on the planet!!
* For the squeaks and grunts of my newborn
* For a moses basket filled with life and love again!
* For early mornings with a hungry babe
* For dwindling Dogwoods and Lilies of the Valley pointing to Easter
* For a Savior Who loves without condition
* For a selfless husband, with eyes ever outside himself, who sees, who notices, when his wife has given all she has to give, and who faithfully, time and time again, comes to her rescue....
* For the anniversary of the day I gave myself to a man who points me to Jesus by living example day in and day out, year after year....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blackberry Farm

This post is one year late.  We went on a special trip for our anniversary last year. I never posted pictures ~ only a video.  So, here are some pictures...

We stopped in Chattanooga on our way.  When we dated this was "our place."

Then off to Blackberry Farm...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Warm Welcome. . .

I've been a wee bit busy lately. . .

With a wee bitty blessing. . .

Straight from God and into our lives. . .

5 weeks early. . .

A warm welcome to our sweet baby. . .

John Andrew Chapel

Born on April 1, 2011
at 4:17 a.m.
6 pounds, 11 ounces 
18 inches

We can't wait to get to know you, little man!!!  We love you so much!!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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