February 2017 archive

seeing God in political messes

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A lot of people are upset about politics right now.

It’s time to shine, Christian.

We’re feeling caught in political crosswinds ourselves, and I want to share God’s comfort and direction. Because it might be a word for you.

First, why can I talk to you about this? Vitaliy is Ukrainian, you know, and we’re planning a big trip to the States this fall and into next year. So, he goes to renew his visa two weeks ago, and lo and behold, it’s refused. I re-do his application, and he goes again. We have mega-loads of papers that are not even looked at. Both times.

It’s just “No. Perhaps you should try getting a religious visa. Or a Green Card.”

Is it Trump? Is it just an evolving political situation where governmental preferences about international personages morph?

I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, but I do know the answer to a more imoprtant question– that it’s ultimately God and His purposes.

There’s no guarantee that Vitaliy will get a Green Card, you know. So I’ve been laying myself down before God. Just laying down. Trying to listen.

And He speaks. He spoke through a Bible study I’m doing– that in this crisis of belief, He is acting out His plan, and I need to join it. Will I see all these next steps as Anne-sized jobs that just need to get done? Or will I see it as a God-sized work that will get done no other way unless He does it?

I’m shooting for the second option now.

And He spoke through Matthew 14– the beheading of John the Baptist. Sheesh, what a swirl of earthly whims and factors. A vengeful wife, a dancing daughter, a proud ruler who won’t modify his word.

It doesn’t even say in the text, “It was God’s time for John to die, so…” Nothiing comforting like that. Nada.  Just the sinful motives and actions of three humans colluding into John’s demise.

Jesus was told pretty immediately what had happened, and He went away to be alone, of course, like all of us would want.

But in the giant will of God, refreshment and comfort came in an entirely different way. Through amazing miracles and acts of God.

All in the same chapter, on the same or next day, look what happens: Jesus healed sick people all day, then fed thousands with five loaves and two fish. Then Jesus walked on water and so did Peter! “Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Then they landed, and it was another day of miraculous healings.

So, this visa. Or Green Card. Or nothing. This being caught in political whims, morphs, and crosswinds….

Help us refesh ourselves by seeing the work You have prepard for us.

If you’re feeling angry and frustrated with politics, I highly recommend lying yourself down before God. Lying down before news articles, angry people on either side, drinking down the wisdom of the age …. no. Lie down before God. He will raise you up to shiine.

memories

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I love storing up memories. It’s one big thing I wanted from my births– good memories. So here are some more! These days of small children are starting to flee by so quickly, I want to keep posting memories.

Una is a cute, cute, cute two-year-old. She is in the stage where she loves dressing and dressing up.


She also loves her little babies, wrapes them, rocks them, shushes them to sleep:

I also have grown to love the hours spent cooking in the kitchen with my kids, and here we are today cleaning together.

Skyla watched me getting a manicure, and right away she wanted to do it herself, so we bought a few supplies and here they go:

So those are a few happy  memories of these years.

Happy sigh.

giving up my rights

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Years back, I did quite a bit of reading and writing and rolling around in thoughts about gender. It’s, you know, an issue today. And being placed in this time of history, it’s something I’ve had to wrestle with in my current culture. So, I have my own thoughts, opinions, and things I’ve worked out for myself.

But what I realized yesterday, was that I also have sin in my heart about this issue. I was in a (Russian) conversation yesterday online, and a guy was joking about women’s “nerves” and “hormones.” It was belittling. And immediately, my gender red light started flashing internally.

I tried to jokingly say that maybe war is also a result of men’s hormones, no? Well, hormones may be involved, but so are our sin natures.

Anyway, I think I did an OK job of controlling my words and not getting in to the issue deeply (talking with someone who’s just going to defend his own point is pointless). But I felt yuck about the conversation. And I was praying and asking God, why do I feel this way? I don’t see wrong in my words.

But it’s in my heart, I think. Irritation and inflammation in me rose up.

and that’s a signal.

That I have let this question become more important to me than it ought to be. Because why would I even consider hurting a brother over it?

And so I’ve been thinking about that, about how our culture teaches us that we have to fight for our rights. But God teaches us to follow Christ, who laid His down and died.

And here’s the thing. It’s not until I lay down and die to my right (my right to speak the truth about this), it’s not until I die to that, that I will ever be able to speak in a way that touches this guy.

If I have defending my rights/truth as the higher value of my heart, they will all know it, and my words and tone will show it.

But if I have laid down my rights, taken on the humility of Christ, then God, if and when He wants, will make a moment for truth and love to be spoken, maybe through me, maybe not, and to touch this brother in a transformative way.

It may never happen. There may be other issues God wants to talk to him about and not this one.

But I will lay down and die to whatever rights I think I have to hurtfully speak truth, so my own heart is not poisoned and my well of love polluted by valuing this truth in the wrong level of priority.

So help me God.

Unassisted Birth: some pros and cons

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I’m personally a big fan of various forms of unassisted birth. For our third pregnancy and baby, we had a midwife we Skyped with in the the States with our questions. We called her once or twice during the pregnancy, once during the birth, and once for the birth of the placenta.

Our fourth birth, we didn’t really call anyone, though I’d talked with some midwifes in the States when we’d been there, with some questions. The birth, I don’t remember that we’d made an agreement with anyone to call with questions, though I guess I had general options if we really had needed it.

Here’s a section from a handout I made about Unassited Birth.

As Pamela Himes-Powell points out in her lecture (at a birth conference), we don’t have to put birth into a box. It doesn’t have to be “unattended” or “unassisted.” There is a wide range of expression for the role of the midwife and the parents in the realm of “Family Birth.”

Let me explain some of the terminology and abbriviations used in the unassisted birth culture.

Unattended Home Births (UHB)—“Childbirth without the presence of trained or experienced attendants.” No lay midwife, just parents, family, friends. (Definition given by Tonya Brooks in “Unattended Homebirths” chapter in Compulsory Hospitalization, vol.2, 1979). Also called Do-It-Yourself (DIY).

Unassisted Childbirth—A home birth where a midwife or “friend” may be present but doesn’t “assist,” per se. (This distinction is elaborated on by Pamela Himes-Powell in her talk from the Trust Birth Conference, 2010)

Family Birth—Coined by Carla Hartley circa 2011 as a more positive expression of Unassisted or Unattended Childbirth

The scary thing for most people about birth is the sense of responsibilty for the outcome. Hospitals give the feeling that they are taking responsibiltiy for your birth and its outcome. And legally, because in America you can sue them if you have the means, I suppose they are taking responsibiltiy on some level, to act according to their guidelines and make sound medical decisions in the moments. It’s similar with legalized midwives, and with anyone who technically “practices medicine.”

But here’s how I’ve come to understand it: You can hand away the power/authority over your birth, but you can’t give away the responsiblity for it. And no one, no doctor, hospital, midwife, no one can guarantee the outcome of your birth. As parents, you gather the information you can, you make the choices you consider best, but in the end, you cannot guarantee the outcome of your birth. However, having said that, I will emphasize that the choices we make during pregnancy and birth do greatly influence and affect our health and the type of birth we experience, to say nothing of the people and parents the process of making these decisions encourages us to become.

So that you can further explore if unassisted and/or unattended childbirth is right for you, here are a few pros and cons I’ve gleaned from listening to others and my own experiences:

Pros and Cons 

Why some couples prefer unassisted childbirth

Some pitfalls couples might experience with unassisted child birth

We are addicted to experts rather than learning to take responsibility for our own choices and listen to our own bodies. Also, we live with the illusion that babies don’t die in the hospitals and that if a baby dies there, the doctor is not responsible, it must have been the mother’s fault somehow or unavoidable. (Panelists, “Why Women Stay Home Alone.”) Tonya Brooks points out that while most births are straightforward, easy for parents to learn to handle themselves, it is usually during labor that problems arise and can be diagnosed, and this ability to diagnose/”see” a difficulty comes with experience, not just textbook study. (p.520)
Women don’t want the interference and discomfort and possible subsequent complications that doctors and even midwives may cause, and they believe that their bodies and their babies will work together to birth smoothly and naturally solve most problems that may, on rare occasions, arise. Tonya Brooks points out that some parents feel the stress of being both the parent and the birth attendant. Rather than being able to relax, experience, and feel the birth as a parent, the parent may feel the need to be present in a more attendant-style, objective, non-emotional role. (p. 520)
Fathers tend to be much more truly involved; they also can make instinctively “right” actions for the baby during the birth, and the parents are not mis-focused on the caregiver but are more intensely focused on the birthing process, the baby, and each other. (Pamela Himes-Powell, “Unattended Vs. Unassisted Birth”) We personally experienced this in our UCs. One factor that was a little hard for me with our unassisted birth was that my husband tended to worry or be concerned about me unnecessarily during our pregnancy. If a midwife had been there to say, “oh, that’s just so normal,” it would have helped him be able to support me without worry. Also, not all men are comfortable with this perceived level of responsibility during birth.

One caution for couples: Sometimes one partner is ready for unassisted birth and the other is not. This can cause resentment and frustration. Remember that you each have your position as an expression of love toward the other and the baby, it’s not that disagreement in this area means that one doesn’t care about the other! It’s not a war where one must win. Focus on building intimacy in your relationship, keeping an open mind, and listening to the other person’s perspective as if it were your own.

Sources:

  • “Unattended Vs. Unassisted Birth;” Pamela Himes-Powell; Trust Birth Conference, 2010.
  • “Why Women Stay Home Alone,” Panel session, Trust Birth Conference, 2008.
  • “Unattended Homebirths,” by Tonya Brooks. Compulsory Hospitalization, volume 2; Chapter 39 (pp. 517-521); Stewart & Stewart, eds; 1979.