Monday, October 28, 2013


Back in 2007 (ish) I first heard the song How He Loves. (If you've ever felt really, really angry with God, you should totally check out that link by the way) It was during this song that I prayed to receive Christ for the first time.  I was moved to tears by the lyrics, by the imagery, and by this verse in particular - 

How beautiful a concept is that?  

Todd and I try to make it a priority to see the ocean once a year, and I am never more in awe of God's creation as I am when I stare out at the ocean.  The vastness, the expansiveness, the beauty of it  - it's magnificent and inspiring and awesome.  

Hearing that verse, and imagining God's grace in that way was - and still is - an incredibly powerful way for me to view Him.  To know that He is a God that offers all encompassing love, all encompassing forgiveness, all encompassing compassion.
English theologian Richard Sibbes once said, "There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us."

Don't you just love that?

It's easy to keep score.  In our own lives, in the lives of others - to pull out that invisible little checklist we all secretly keep in our heads.  To record a black mark when we screw up, when our friends screw up, when people we trust screw up.  And if you've been immersed in a religion or culture that pushes works as a value over grace, that's a hard habit or thought process to get past.  

But the truth is we ARE all sinners, each and every one of us.  And the even greater truth is that God knows us intimately and He still offers each one of us that all encompassing, as big as the ocean kind of grace, love and forgiveness.  

One of the things I love most about being a parent is the real life glimpse I get into what God's love must be like.  

I've held, nursed & cared for 3 newborns in my life and here's what I know.  Babies need their mothers. There is something primal about a newborn's need to be held close by a mother.  In the last 10 days of Declan's life, I have observed - again - how he is most easily calmed simply by me stopping what I am doing to nurse him, tuck him inside my shirt for a little skin to skin time, or wear him in a wrap close to my chest.  

In Isaiah 49:15 it says:

       “Can a woman forget her nursing child
           And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
           Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
16           Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
          Your walls are continually before Me."

I love the imagery in this verse - how God compares His love to that of a mother and then takes it a step further by explaining that even if a mother's love fails her child, His love will not. His love never fails, He will never forget us and He will never give up on us.  

How powerful is that?  How incredible a promise to consider.  It's hard for me even comprehend that, because the love I feel for my own children is a crazy big kind of love and God's love is bigger.

There aren't many times in life that 'sinking' could be thought of as a positive.  If you're sinking, it's usually a bad thing.  But sinking into God's grace, into His love can offer you peace and rest.  It can and should calm your fears, your uncertainty and your guilt.  Sink into it and embrace it.  Offer it to those around you.

And remember the promise that God has given you - He knows you more intimately than a nursing mother knows her child and He has inscribed you on the palms of His hands.  He will not forget you.  


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Declan is here!

It's been awhile!

Things have been kind of crazy round these parts, but we are settling into a new normal and I gotta say, loving it.  There is a quiet peace that has enveloped our house over the past month as we have focused on preparing for Declan's arrival and this week, welcoming him into our home.

As my due date approached, I started to feel a little depressed.  This is par for the course with my pregnancies - I have never suffered from post partum depression, but the weeks leading up to my children's births have always sent me into hibernation mode where I lay around, cry and feel overwhelmed.  There was no exception this time around, and when my due date came and went, I started to feel really sorry for myself.

Although my pregnancy had been easy for the most part, the emotional toll it was taking on me - fearing another loss, worrying about his health and wondering if I would actually get to hold a healthy baby at the end of it all was getting to me.  And carrying an 8 1/2 lb baby inside of me was taking its toll on my physical well being.  I hurt from head to toe. I couldn't sleep, couldn't roll over in bed without tearing up at the pain.

Honestly?  In the effort of full disclosure - I started to get a pathetic little attitude.  I even scheduled an induction on Thursday, October 17th - only 2 days past my due date because I convinced myself that I just couldn't do it anymore.  I was uneasy about inducing though - after all, I let Beckett cook an extra 9 days because I felt so passionate about not putting myself through it.  So after discussion and prayer with my husband, and a toddler who was slightly under the weather, I cancelled my induction first thing Thursday morning.

I'm so glad I did.

Honestly, it amazes me how God has things all worked out without us even knowing.  I had been praying so hard for Declan's arrival, for the timing to work, for the labor to go smoothly but I also knew that praying about it doesn't mean it will happen.  Let's be honest, I've had a lot of requests for things these last few years.  Some of them God says yes to, and some He says no to.  Todd & I joked that with our luck, Declan would pick the most inopportune time to arrive.

After canceling my induction, I decided to just go with the flow.  To wait on God to bring my sweet baby into the world on His terms.  I couldn't sleep that night so I took a hot bath, cleaned my living room and kitchen and bounced on a yoga ball.  (true story)  Around 2am I dozed off on our couch and woke up at 3 to a gush of water.  Never have I had my water break on its own in pregnancy so I laid there in a daze for a second, trying to figure out what was going on.

Would you believe that even with me being overdue, we still weren't ready for the hospital trip?  I assumed this labor would be much like my last two.  Long.  Labor with Logan was 24 hours, and even with Beckett it was 17 hours from the first contractions to his arrival.  I assumed I'd have time to finish packing, get the car seat installed, take a shower...

Not so much!

We rushed off to the hospital and I realized on the way that this baby was going to make a very quick entrance into the world.  Contractions were coming very close together!

Todd and I arrived at the hospital at 4:20 am and he was born at 6:43am, weighing a healthy 8lbs 9oz and blessed us with rosy cheeks and healthy screaming.

The entire experience was - dare I say - enjoyable almost.  At least as enjoyable as labor can be!

The timing was perfect.  Yes, we were hoping for perfect timing with this delivery.  Balancing 4 other kids, family out of town, Todd's writing and work schedule - we were praying for perfect timing.  And God delivered.  Everything fell into place, obligations were all met, and a healthy little boy made his way into our world, our hearts and our family.

We are so grateful for everyone who stopped by the hospital to see us and love on our little one.  When Beckett was born, he went immediately into the NICU and we never got to experience the stream of visitors that come with a new baby.  It was such a fun and amazing few days of sharing our joy with so many of you.

And now that he's here, a week old tomorrow, I am soaking up every second of this newborn phase that I can.  I was created to be a newborn mama.  I love it.  Curling up on the couch with a sleepy little newborn on my chest, scrawny little chicken legs tucked underneath, tiny butt high in the air, I am in my happy place.

The kids have all adjusted well to the littlest.  I knew the older kids would be fine, but even Beckett has taken to his new role with enthusiasm.  He gained an independence in the 2 days I was gone that continues to surprise me.  There will be ups and downs for sure, but I am in awe at how smoothly this entire week has gone.

It was impossible not to feel some sadness in those first few days in the hospital about Lilia.  As can be expected, everyone who found out about our growing basketball team asked if we would try for a girl next.  People told me over and over again how fun it would be to have a closet full of girly, ruffly things.

I don't know why we weren't able to make a place in our home for our daughter.  But, during a nursing session early this morning, I was quietly asking Declan if he knew he was the baby that I prayed for.  I whispered to him that I had prayed for him - specifically for him - and was so grateful to be his mama.  His little eyes locked on my face and a sleepy newborn smile stole my heart.  You can tell me it was gas all you want, but I'll forever believe that in that precious moment Declan was telling me he knew how hard I had prayed to be his mother.

God is good.  Really, really good.