birth is safe: perspective

“Birth is safe” is a controversial statement.

But, generally speaking, especially in basically-well-fed countries, birth is safe. There are a small number of births that need intervention to be safe.

In some ways, how we are able to release birth into the normal process that it usually is, is based on our context. Look at this clip, at minute 2:00.

“Aw, don’t worry, child. There’s nothing to bringing a baby,” says the doctor in a huge field surrounded by dying men.

I got to thinking about this with Covid-19, and women thinking about switching to home birth. What happened? The “risks” of birth at home sink down in the face of the “risk” of contracting Covid-19? Apparently.

I am also doing some midwifery assignments where I write a little instruction sheet for parents in case the midwife doesn’t arrive in time. So I’ve read two little “Emergency Childbirth” booklets.

Oh my. Maybe they should be our textbooks for normal birth.

  • “Don’t hurry.”
  • “Don’t push on the uterus.”
  • “Don’t pull the head out.”
  • “Make the mom comfortable.”
  • “Remain calm.”
  • “Don’t cut the cord.”

I just wanted to point this out. I’m not saying we want to live in “emergency childbirth” mode, but there are some elements of it that we need to remember and return ourselves to.

Dnevnik: cmireniye

Вчера утром я скопировала в свой дневник эту цитату из книги Эндрю Мюррея «Смирение».

 Брат![Аня!] Ничто другое не может вылечить тебя от желания принимать славу от людей или от сверхчувствительности и боли, и злости, когда ты ее не получаешь, как только если ты предашь себя тому, чтобы искать лишь славы, идущей от Бога. Пусть слава Всевышнего Бога станет всем для тебя. Ты будешь свободным от славы человеческой и от себя самого, и тебя будет полностью удовлетворять то, что ты ничто. Из этой нулевой отметки ты возрастешь в сильной вере, воздавая славу Богу, и ты обнаружишь, что, чем глубже ты окунешься в смирение перед Ним, тем ближе окажется Он, чтобы исполнить любое желание твоей Веры.

И размышляя над этим, я молилась…

О Боже, пусть будет желание моей веры смириться перед Тобой – Боже, освободи меня от поиска славы от себя или других. Пожалуйста. Пожалуйста, даруй славу – Твою славу – чтобы я искал ее один. Господи, это напрасно – совершенно напрасно искать славы у людей или у себя. Мы переменчивы, забывчивы, ложны. Так помилуй меня. Научи меня, как оставить все это, оставить это и искать только Твою славу.

Я думала, что конкретно это значить “искать только Его славу”?

Мы поехали в Макаровку, чтобы взять наши велосипеды. Я не хотела ехать, но Виталий хотел, чтобы я была с ними, и я понимаю, что он чувствует – мне тоже нравится, когда он со мной.

По дороге домой мы остановились у моста, чтоб гулать пару минут на природе. Такая усталость и я не хотела остановиться, поэтому было искушение выразить свое раздражение. Но я, по милости Божьей, молчала и погуляла с ними.

Позже, когда мы приехали домой, я опять испытывала искушение быть раздраженной с Юной, чтобы защитить себя и позаботиться о своей собственной усталости. И когда я сидела на своем стуле, думая об этом искушении, я вспомнила, что написал Эндрю Мюррей: Оставить себя и свою славу и, вместе этого, позволить Божьей славе быть моей единственной заботой.

Я в своей усталости думала, вот, момент. Я могу освободиться от мыслей о своем собственном состоянии и желании. Прямо сейчас я могу просто позволить Божьей славе быть моим единственным желанием и позволить Ему наполнить меня, чтобы я могла бы сделать то, что Он хочет в этом моменте.

Я так и сделала. Это не было захватывающим, но этот земной момент был сверхъестественным. Это был шаг. Шаг конкретного отворачивания от моей славы, в поисках славы Божьей.

coronavirus, midlife, sacrificing, resentment

It all comes together somehow, doesn’t it??? Ha, ha.

So I was sitting downstairs, in the spacious living room, in my glider rocking chair, drinking my lovely tea, and reading morning prayers/Scriptures from The Divine Hours. I copied into my journal this prayer:

Pour your grace into my heart, O Lord, that I … may by His cross and passion be brought to the glory of His resurrection….

Somewhere in this time of prayer, Vitaliy mentions that he’ll possibly be going out to drive folks to work– this is civil/medical employees who are required/allowed to be at work during this very-strict quarantine– the government’s making it tighter every day.

And this surge of anger, irritation, and resentment began to rise up in me. You know, coronavirus exposure, he’s bringing it home. Him, me, four kids. He’s breaking my bubble of perceived safety. On and on my mind fumed. “He is so nuts. Why do we all have to bear the consequences and suffering for his risk level?? Ministry, ‘my eye’ (as Marilla fumed in Anne of Green Gables).”

That midlife angsty feeling about why I have to give up continually, pout pout. The struggle with aging and safety and knowing it all can happen to me, which youth seemed so blithely unaware of and untouched by.

I guess one nice thing about my fuming is that I do it all internally. I make a few silent signs of my struggle, but have to work it all out inside before I put it into words.

(And, now that I’m back in my right mind, I want to say that Yes, Vitaliy has a higher risk level than I, but he also is a very careful person even in his risker actions. Like rock climbing (serious rock climbing, like on the cliffs by the sea)– he carefully uses all the safety ropes and stuff. So it’s not that he’s recklessly risky. His risk-safety balance is also what makes him good at his ministry, too.) So, I generally appreciate all this.

So I fume to my journal, and that is what I want to put out here, in a more ordered form.

I will write it out as in prayer form, as I wrote it:

God, help me to make my sacrifices joyfully, not grudgingly.

And I started to think of all the sacrifices in my life that still hurt me.

God asks of me sacrifices, and I need to be able to offer them without resentment. [My mind roamed through Scripture.] Abraham offered Isaac. God offered His Son. Jesus offered everything.

What’s the key, God, of making sacrifices without resentment?

Incorrect sacrifices are to offer the worst, to offer what is invaluable to me–these are not sacrifices; we don’t notice or feel them. A sacrifice, by definition, has to cost me something.

Somewhere in here, the pharmacist in our church that Vitaliy had offered to drive replies that she doesn’t need a ride, so Vitaliy settles into the couch. (Read the end to know how this turns out.)

So what is the purpose of a sacrifice? God doesn’t need it, so its purpose is in my heart. He wants my heart, my love.

But He’s not sadistic, taking from me a sacrifice just to cause me pain. Pain is involved in sacrifice, but it’s not the point of the sacrifice.

There is always a greater point, sometimes we don’t understand this. Is it that, with the sacrifice, we’re choosing to hold something greater? ‘We’re redeeming something? Like with giving up a certain career to stay home with my kids– it caused me to serve other people (kids, current other ministries), possibly in a much greater way that I cannot sense now.

Jesus’ sacrifice fulfills God’s great plan of redeeming people for Himself in a love relationship. It brings enormous returns, or does it? Not for Him, but for us, the ones sacrificed for.

God’s sacrifices are not necessary for Him but it is the nature of His love and character to do them.

But what about the death of a child? Is that a sacrifice we make, to accept that?

The sacrifices for our sins in the OT. Well, our “sacrifices” are not atoning, they don’t help pay our sin debt.

So how to become willing to sacrifice something for the good of others? We sacrifice to obey God.

Our sin natures want to grudge and resent. We find some evil pleasure in feeling that we have a right to be angry at God (or someone else) for taking something that was rightfully ours.

So maybe the key to un-resentment is not the idea of being willing to make a sacrifice but thinking that we had a right to the valuable (to us) thing that God or someone else takes from us.

Or we feel it was an unnecessary sacrifice, like the death of a child or spouse. Is that rightly a “sacrifice” or just a loss?

God asking David to wander in the wilderness hiding from Saul– God could’ve done that deal a million other ways. Why didn’t Saul die as soon as David was anointed. Why did David feel compelled that he had no right to kill Saul? Did he struggle with being stuck in the wilderness with uncouth men for so long when he could’ve been having a good life on the throne? Was that a sacrifice for David, or is it in another category?

So what’s the key to no resentment (sacrifice or not)?

TRUST.

That God has my good, my best good, in this, His plan.

Trusting in people, even well-meaning ones, we learn that they can make mistakes. This can lead to suspicion and resentment, even when they’re trying to do something good for us.

But with God, part of the no-resentment giving-up is realizing the truth–that I have no right to that thing in the first place. That career. That feeling of safety. I have no right not to get sick with coronavirus. I have no right to have a nice apartment or van. I have no right to have a husband who stays home 24/7 when God has put him in a position of serving. All those things might be given to me, but that’s their nature– gifts. Health, career, possessions. They are gifts from God. Not my rights. Not permanent states of being.

So that talked me down off my high horse of resentment. And the pharmacist called again and said that she can’t get a taxi for the life of her, so he’s driving her to work even now.

midlife crisis and growth

So I’m continuing my series about this. I want to say up front that I can’t share everything God is speaking to me because parts of relationships are wrecked if we make them public. But I want to share some things I can share.

First, I realized the Blah I wrote about in my last post also characterized my Bible reading and my feelings about God.

So when I realized this, I committed to God to not allow this to happen, by his grace. I wouldn’t let my relationship with him continue to stagnate or feel Blah.

God’s Word and God are not Blah. But God is showing me that I make them Blah. And He wants to enrich the way I relate to him.

I’m also learning how tired I am, and how I’d slipped away from refreshing myself in the ways I really need– because I feel a little guilty about *doing things for myself* and not always doing things for other people, I think.

My focus this year is Spiritual Disciplines, and you know, I thought that would mean exerting more self-effort to keep chugging along doing all those great expectations of things Christians are supposed to do.

But it’s turning out to be the opposite. Spiritual disciplines, when understood correctly, actually expose our self-effort. They actually begin with acknowledging that I can’t. I can’t transform myself. I can’t do all the right things and thereby make my life passionate or worthy. I can’t be fulfilled by doing good, wonderful things.

Spiritual disciplines are about humbling myself away from striving. It’s placing myself in positions where I stop talking and doing, and allow God to draw out my soul and create the relationship He wants. Only he is capable of being the leader and doing this.

This is one of the books that I bought about spiritual disciplines. I was feeling resistant to this book for a while, but I recently picked it up, and I’ve sucked it up like a vacuum, and now I’m going through it again. Her life experience meets mine, and she’s a few steps ahead– meaning, she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be in this stage yet (where I am), and she’s passed through it in a good way.

This is the part where I can’t share things God has done in my heart, but He did speak to me once again his word to me this year “Seek My Face.”

Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

midlife crisis and comfort

Yes, I’m still talking about this. Actually, I process this a lot more with Vitaliy because I’m embarrassed to keep writing about it! I’m like, sheesh, can’t I get over it already? So we are discussing together the experiences of middle-aging.

Lately, the feeling of middle-aging manifests itself as “blah.” Blah about ministries and stuff I used to have Big Feelings and excitement about. Now it’s just …. blah. Why did I care about this? Can someone help me care again?

I’m tempted to quit things and start something new, something that surely will be exciting like things used to be exciting, right?

That’s probably Wrong.

And I had a revelation today. If you remember, the first part of my middle-life “crisis” was reconciling my unrealized dreams with the life that I have.

And I realized today, that if I had realized those dreams, I would now also feel Blah about them, too.

I’ve been groping about for God in this weirdness. And today He gave me some specific comforts.

I turned to Isaiah 40 because I wanted to re-read this passage:

He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Because I was feeling a different kind of weariness. Not the physical-exhaustion weariness, but the Everything-is-Blah feeling of weariness.

I had written in the margin by this verse an earlier date and a note like: “I feel like this having little kids.” So today I wrote in the date and “I feel like this with middle life.”

But what I noticed, in my groping about for God in this weird experience: verse 27

Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do I think that, too? Do I think God is actually far away and distant, not seeing, not caring, turned off by my naval-gazing? or … is His hand specifically leading me through this experience?

Then, I was going through today’s Leading Little Ones to God lesson with Andre, and we read together verses from Psalm 139, and they also amazed and comforted me. Such familiar thoughts, but I forget to apply them in this context.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me. …   
If I take the wings of the morning  and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Also, HA! I read some articles about middle-life-aging, and I’m like, sheesh, so I want to record the wonderful things I like about my personal middle age.

  1. I have a wonderful marriage.
  2. I have wonderful relationships with my children and my relatives.
  3. My life is filled with things that I *value* doing, though some things, though I value them, I don’t *like* the day-to-day actual doing of it.
  4. I take care of myself, and my body is serving me well. I keep my stress levels in check.
  5. Our kids are at the ages and we are in the phase of life (middle age phase?) where we can travel for educational and ministry purposes, which I just lovelovelove.

So, here we are. Middle Age. Like Middle Earth??

Ha ha, just a little corny LotR humor there….

Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland

missionary trauma

So, I don’t know if it’s missionary trauma, or pastor’s wife trauma, or just being alive in a sinful world trauma ….

It just kind of builds up, the shocking things one has to hear, witness, face. I think I handle all this pretty well; I don’t struggle with depression or sink into despair or bitterness or hopelessness. I have struggled with forgiveness, with not withdrawing emotionally.

God once convicted me of cynicism towards our rehab center, and He helped me turn from cynicism to having His hope for souls.

But it does build up.

So something cultural/personal was shocking me a few days back, and I was examining this with Vitaliy, and in a follow-up conversation, I said maybe I’d like to talk to a counselor and just make sure I’m not becoming deformed by shocking things.

And in the conversation, I was thinking about how Jesus had seen many shocking things. And how did He deal with it?

And I thought: When Jesus was being beaten, tortured, and crucified, He wasn’t feeling shock at people’s sinfulness. He just didn’t feel that. He was ready to offer forgiveness, do God’s will, and see the glory of God in what was really happening.

That insight has given me a great new level of insight and freedom. Jesus didn’t feel shock at people’s sinfulness. I personally tend to get a little bowled over by this. And I start circling back around to this topic–feelings of being shocked. And that’s what starts layering up on me–my own reaction.

But this is showing me that I can just skip the feelings of shock. They don’t serve me. I can look at that person’s life, no matter what they have just brought out of their hearts, and see that God is working in them–that they have not done worse things already, that they are God’s children and have, as such, made many good decisions, too, etc. That is seeing His glory instead of their sin.

Answered prayer in 2019

God is bringing to a close my midlife “crisis.” (I just turned 44, by the way, so, great timing!) I would describe this experience as: Parting with all the possible lives I could have lived, and discovering in a new way the joy and greatness of the life God has planned for me.

Early in 2019, I wrote this commitment/prayer in my prayer notebook:

This year, I want to receive from God joy and contentment . I will refuse to entertain “what if,” “could have,” “might have.”. . . I will live with thoughts of thankfulness for each aspect of my life and God’s leading, will, and blessing.

There were days and days I would repeat this prayer and commitment.

And then, I stopped even noticing it. I started enjoying my life in a new way, a way free from comparisons of what my life could have been.

And now I look back at it, and it is an answered prayer. A lived commitment.

And I need to move on into living this life with even greater acceptance and openness to what actually He IS DOING in this life He’s made me for.

Den blagodareniye, 2019

День благодарение, 2019

В этом году Бог «усовершенствовал» несколько огромных проектов / дел / желаний, и я хочу снова сделать паузу, чтобы поблагодарить и выразить свою уверенность в Его делах, Его руководстве, Его сердце, Его совершенстве.

Во первых, Он сделал «Зеленую карту» Виталия и ускоренный процесс гражданства США. Это включало очень много факторов и заняло больше года.

Во-вторых, строительство / ремонт этой квартиры и покупка новую машину. Мои родители и фандрайзинг, через который Бог усмотрел эти средства… Просто удивительно.

В-третьих, крещение Скайлы и то, как она и Виктория расцветают в этом году. Они оба начали играть на инструментах для групп (гитара, барабаны, пианино), помогают в AWANA и иметь собственную небольшую заработанную работу вне дома.

Также стали легче путешествовать всей семьей и просто наслаждались семейной жизнью. Дети замечательные и удивительные.

Thanksgiving, 2019

This year God ‘perfected’ several large projects/deeds/desires, and I want to pause again to give thanks and express my confidence in His deeds, His leading, His heart, His perfection.

First, He completed Vitaliy’s Green Card and expedited American citizenship. This involved so many factors, and took over a year.

Second, the construction/renovation of this apartment and buying a new van. My parents and the fundraiser through which God supplied these funds …. simply amazing.

Third, Skyla’s baptism and the way she and Victoria are blooming this year. They’ve both started playing instruments for groups (guitar, drums, piano), helping in AWANA, and having their own small money-earning jobs outside home.

We’ve also started traveling as a family more easily and just enjoying our family life even more. Kids are rewarding and amazing.

Sozdana dlya svoye zhizni

Создана для своей жизни

Бог напомнил мне сегодня, что Он создал меня для своей жизни, для работы (дома с детьми), которую Он мне дал.

Я слушала проповед об осуждении и уверености, а затем читала несколько книг о материнстве.

И Бог напомнил мне, что быть мамой – роль, которую я чувствую больше всего в моих неудачах, некомпетентности, неподготовленности и т. д. – что это то, для чего Он меня создал. Он точно создал меня быть мамой. Он подготовил меня к этому.

То же самое с домашним обучением детей. Это работа, от которой я не смогла «сбежать»; Бог заставил меня сделать это. Это не значит, что я идеален для этого, но Он – мое обеспечение – Ему достаточно, чтобы выполнить эту работу. Он усмотрить все, что нам нужно для обучения, воспитания и подготовки наших детей к служению в Его Царстве. На самом деле, Он очень в это вложен – даже больше, чем я!

Прекрасное напоминание!