Tuesday, February 26, 2013

little update on little one...

25weeks seems like quite a hefty little chuck of pregnancy in the rear-view mirror.
It's an interesting thing being able to look back on 17 years of pregnancy and childbearing... seeing what things have changed for me, what things remain the same, how i do pregnancy, how my body has coped with age and wear and tear...
i feel like i have this really cool perspective - and i'm so very grateful for it.
The other day, my teens had some of their very best friends over. i knew my pants were riding low and i thought... 'i'm going to look awkward if i stand up and have to yank up my pants...." so i lifted my bum from my seat, leaned back and tugged the back of my jeans... Cai caught my eye and burst out laughing... and i thought to myself, that it sure is a funny thing for teens to have the memory of their mama in the vulnerability of this pregnant state.
i gain roughly the same amount of weight with each baby... even though the babies have varied wildly in size. i generally struggle mightily with morning sickness for the first 18 or so weeks - although i had one who landed me in the hospital, violently ill - and one who never even made me queasy. i get low blood pressure and struggle with dizziness. My breastfeeding issues are their whole own post... i have never carried any baby as high as this little one. As a matter of fact, my midwives noted that my uterus was several centimeters higher than dates would suggest - maybe he will be tall, like his daddy.
But over all... i have so little to complain about... i genuinely enjoy pregnancy (especially the second two trimesters). Labours and deliveries have each been their own wild ride - but they've all been amazing, natural births that leave me wondering how i get off so lucky in that regard...

me at 24 weeks

As far as ageing - even though much of pregnancy feels old hat and familiar... sometimes i'm reminded by some little weakness... that a couple of decades have passed, and there might be wisdom in being gentler with my older self...
And so i admit tenderness, i sit when i need to sit, i know that breastfeeding will be gut wrenchingly, agonizingly painful... and so i make allowances in my life so that we will succeed. i try to eat healthier and be aware of my own health - as my body cares for the health of the little one growing inside.
i guess i figure God knew what he was doing when he sent me each little one over the past 17 years... i trust Him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

love encounter

i blogged this entry over on the 40 Days for Life blog today. Will you pray for us? God is moving - and i want to be so sensitive to His voice as i do my best to serve Him...

If you haven't checked out the blog yet, here's the link: www.calgary40dfl.blogspot.com We're on day 8!


My midwife is over in the same corner of the city as the abortion clinic.
And so... knowing i had to make that trip, i made plans to go pray at the clinic after my appointment was over.
My midwife had another midwife assisting who is in the process of getting certified in Canada - she's fresh from Nigeria - and her long dark fingers palpated my tiny son in the womb. She wore a smile on her face as she told me with her thick accent, "He's wiggling..."
They took forever to find his heartbeat - and it took both of them - sighing over the inconvenience of my anterior placenta - and i couldn't help but grin at my tiny son, knowing he had nothing to do with it's placement but thinking it would be funny if he did. When finally they did find it, my midwife gave a wry laugh and said, "Oh! It's actually a girl!"
And i laughed too, "i won't cry either way..."
i grabbed my paperwork for my third trimester blood work and walked quickly to my car. i pulled on my gloves, scarf, toque and zipped my jacket to my chin... it was cloudy, and the cold felt like it wanted to seep through every possible route straight to my chilled flesh.
i pulled around the final bend - and found the sidewalk bare - like my Father had cleared the space for an intimate gathering of just us two. i parked my little car and grabbed my sign out of the back... it's my testimony and it reads, "i was scared too... she was worth it." And if i tuck a 40 Days for Life sign underneath it, i can hold them both at the same time...
i grabbed my earphones and plugged them in to my ears - i sometimes listen to worship music as i pray - to help keep me focussed and soft.
i don't know that i could describe what followed as anything other than a love encounter... Anyone familiar with Jesus Culture (the band) - or just my JESUS -  might understand what i'm talking about... i felt Him there and i spent time meditating on the scripture verse that had been given to me by two different people in as many days....

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

And then the one that i am learning seems inextricably linked...

1 John 1:19

(If that's too succinct for you, go look up the surrounding verses... powerful stuff...)

So, i'm standing there on the sidewalk... and i'm realizing that the only reason i'm capable of love at all... is because of Him... and He is faithfully showing me how... and i'm listening to Kim Walker belt out, "He loves us - oh how He loves us!!"
And i see women - dropped off - walking through those doors alone...
And i know that as much as i want to encounter God... God wants to encounter them...
And for this same reason, i must want to encounter them too, to love them, to reach out to them... because my presence here means nothing without love. My testimony is just ink on posterboard without love. My reason for love is inescapable, unchangeable, irrevocable - because that's how God is... He loved me first & His love never fails...
Just as i was finishing my hour, a man pulled up in a nice car. He parked by the curb instead of in the parking lot and fairly ran inside. He was well dressed, with a suit and tie - he looked to be at least my age - far beyond the typical "crisis pregnancy" age. Soon, he came out again, helping a woman who was as well dressed as her husband. Her pretty dress coat was buttoned to her neck and she looked as prim as any woman who sits beside me in our little white collar suburban church on a Sunday morning... except she was obviously in pain. It took them a while to make it to the car, and gently he opened the door and helped her lower herself carefully to the seat. And i watched - and ached - and loved from across that street.
Abortions happen all the time in our city - all for different reasons, and under different circumstances. The only thing that never changes is death. Abortion masquarades as a cure all for so many circumstances: a special needs child in the womb, a poverty stricken family, yet. another. female child, a single mother, a highschool pregnancy, an abusive relationship, a terrifying rape... But the secret is that abortion does nothing to cure the roots of these "problems"... the result of abortion is not a cure all, it's a dead child. That's all. An abortion doesn't change the circumstances or turn back time... it just kills.
And i ache as i watch woman after woman leave that clinic in 'hour one' of their new reality. There is no judgement - there is only mercy on our side of the street... As a mother myself, i know the incredible transformative, overwhelming love that a mother feels for her child. The day that the realization of what she has done hits - i can only imagine the agony, the remorse and the grief that these women bear... i've seen it on the faces of women who have told me their abortion stories... even decades after they happened. It's not a pain to be wished on anyone.
Yes, i want to be a sign of hope to the families that book appointments at the clinic. My dream is that they'll turn around and not go through with the scheduled abortion. But for the ones that do go through with it... i feel it deep in my soul... *we need to be there as a sign of mercy*. We need to be there even more for them. My Father loves them...
And so do i.

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
Isaiah 35:1-7
Dear Lord, I pray these verses from Isaiah for women who have suffered an abortion. They know the desert. Their souls are parched, their knees give way, their hearts are fearful. Do for them, Lord what you have done for {others}. Open their eyes and ears, quench their thirst, fill them until they are bursting with your life and shouting for joy. Use me, Lord, in whatever way you will, to invite them to your streams in the desert. Amen. (prayer is an excerpt from book, 40 Days for Life, available on amazon)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


This Sunday, i needed encouragement.
It felt like... i was walking with my Dad.
i was walking and my hand was in His... and i glanced up into His face - & He, looking down into mine - saw my need without me saying a word.
i went to say hello to my friend - and her dad walked up to us both.
"When i see you... i see my mom..." He spoke thickly to me... this ancient man giving what was obviously a compliment to this middle aged mama...
And then he layed his large hand on my head - and prayed a blessing... an anointing... on me. Little ones twisting around in my skirts paused - and i closed my eyes and received this word of Truth from my Father.... tears pricked my closed eyes and i stood - accepting this baptism of prayer like a child under a water spout - eager for a soaking
It reminded me of other words spoken over me - poured like a venom.
And i remember being certain that they weren't Truth.
And if i weren't walking hand in hand with my Papa... could i tell one from the other? Would i have received one with the same reflex as the other? Would i have allowed that poison to seep into my pores... through my skin and bones... right down into my very soul?

Monday, February 18, 2013

his wife

i sign most notes or emails to Neil with 'wife'...
i like being his. Wife.
It has been 16 years that we've been married. 16 years and 9 months. We're creeping ever closer to that half way mark of our lives - when we'll be able to say we've been married longer than single.
And it hasn't been easy every second of every day. Some seasons have felt like marriage has been refining me - burning away parts that are broken and are hindering... and awakening grace when a vicious selfishness would rear it's head in grace's stead...
And i don't know about you... but i get tired.
But i realized something the other day as my husband grabbed my face - and his lips felt soft and sweet and lingering on mine before he left for another business trip...

i love him.

i felt that, "ohhhh, don't go..." words that don't even need to be spoken anymore - they're so old and worn both on my lips and in his ears.

My parent's divorce devastated me this year... it shook me to the core - and a friend recently made me realize that now i'm a pioneer... i'm a newcomer breaking new land for my little ones - sowing seeds for my children to harvest, working long hours with uncertain skies - unsure of the seasons in this unfamiliar place, and hoping and trusting that our homestead will flourish.
And i understand that sometimes we're powerless against the brokenness that would come and take what we thought we owned. i understand that "unbroken" isn't something that can always be chosen. i understand that the sweetness of family comes in many different packages - but as much as it depends on me... this will be the season of the Unbroken Family.
This past week, a sweet friend - one of the bridesmaids at my own wedding - aching and broken from a fresh divorce of her own, wrote me a note telling me that she wondered if maybe marriage was just a cruelly perpetuated myth that in reality was just a form of slavery that brought only heartbreak to women. She wanted release for having been a part of so many weddings - mine included - wondering if her involvement in something so messed up had in turn messed her up.
i'm gonna be honest here and tell you - that i read her note with a really heavy heart. Seems every rejection of marriage feels personal these days... i thought of closing the message and declining response.
i am so very tired after all...
But i didn't. i couldn't. And so i let my fingers thickly type truth...

j, i love you :) & not sure what kind of "release" you're looking for, but i want you to know & understand that my marriage is the single biggest blessing in my life. It is a gift from my loving Father - and i count it as such. There are times when marriages don't reflect the beauty of the relationship they are supposed to - & those times are hard (trust me, watching my parents divorce this year has been devastating)... but far from enslavement, marriage has been something God has used to draw me closer to Him, it has been a purifying, sanctifying work in my life for which i am grateful. :) Take from that what you might & consider yourself 'released' from any guilt you may carry for taking part in a ceremony that means little to me compared to the bond that has been watered & tended & is fiercely protected in my heart...

And on the heels of my small declaration, he left... this husband of mine. And when he had only been gone only the first four hours of a two week trip, i cried. Yeah, i know... i'm a middle aged mother with children to raise and bean soup to reheat. i have baths to give and spelling tests to administer. And this man of mine is a go-er... he's home then gone in a breath - and this good life that i carry on in his absence is ours - with so much to be grateful for. i should know better.
But the heart wants what the heart wants.
& mine?  Wants him.

Friday, February 15, 2013

so, i'm blogging...

It's that time again.
40 Days for Life is here again, and once more, my Father has so gently led me to be a part of this transformative journey. i'd love if you'd follow along over on the other blog!

Here is my blog post for today, (day 3):


At our last organizational meeting, our campaign director asked a couple of new faces to introduce themselves and explain a little bit why they were involved in prolife. It's an interesting question - one that i ask myself constantly, 'Why this little bit of the battle, Father? Why the littlest ones? Why such an uncomfortable, controversial place for me to stand?'
These are common questions for most people involved in prolife work, i've found. Most of us understand the delicate place we've been asked to stand, and the vulnerability of all those involved in the battle. The scripture and prayer included in the book, 40 Days for Life for day three speak directly to that questioning of a gentle Father - who so tenderly leads us...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

"Father, never let me doubt your power to accomplish your will. And remind me to not try to limit the breadth and grandeur of your vision. My dreams and aspirations may be modest, but yours are sweeping, majestic, and awe-inspiring. Give me the courage to dream big along with you. Amen."

The stories that unfold from the question, "why are you involved in prolife work?" point to the obvious leading of a Holy God who has a plan, and a deep love for human kind. He longs to see the prolifers engaging in this issue changed by their involvement and prayers. He longs to see reconciliation, salvation, lives changed... lives saved.
We all have a part to do - if you listen carefully, He's giving you your instructions...

Monday, February 11, 2013

spreading the love

The other day, a friend called me and asked me if i wanted more bread. She has a friend who gets a store's excess and it's too much for her to handle so she spreads it around - and every crumb that ends up at our house ends up consumed by all those ravenous little tummies around our table. i peeked in the bags of buns and loaves of bread before tucking them gratefully in my freezer. With Neil gone so much, it's such a treat to have something handy for those days when i'm just a lump of mama - good for reading books, and snuggling little ones - but pretty negligent in the grocery shopping department. Then a couple days later, another friend called me, "Hey, we're going gluten free at our house, would you ever be able to use all of our pantry items that we're not going to be able to use now? Would opened boxes bug you?" Our grocery budget being the impressive thing that it is these days, i assured her that nothing would go to waste at our house!
It felt a teeny bit like Christmas as her and her husband lugged shopping bags through my door and i put each item away in my own nicely rounded out pantry.
But still, i felt kind of shamed by my bounty, and the generosity of friends who think of me in moments of giving...
Then today, with my husband back on the road and life awhirl in the new week, we had our little extra honey here - a little girl who comes to our house before and after school - and she was hungry after her snack... so i pulled out a box of fancy crackers from my newly stocked pantry and she grinned at me as she tucked in. Then at supper, i pulled out some frozen buns to make garlic buns from one friend to eat with the organic spaghetti from the other and stirred up a huge batch of home made meat sauce, knowing i'd have a couple extra lanky teen legs under my table - just like we do for most meals. (i love feeding extra teenagers - they'll eat whatever you've got and they never raise an eyebrow at a meal's presentation or variety...)
And it made me smile - because i felt like a sparrow under my Papa's watchful eye... He knows we have a pretty open door... and rather than feeling guilty for the provision of my Father... i felt seen, and cared for - and ready to spread some love of my own...
On days like today, i feel the bonds of my extended eternal family - and i understand that i am under the tender care of a Faithful Father who feeds us all.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


i've always been a lover of the water.
As a little girl, i'd dive deeper in the lake - deep enough that i could feel the subtle change in temperature as i reached for the bottom and could feel the pressure of the water around me. It blocked out the noise of the other children's laughter, the blaze of the sunshine, the necessity to breathe, my desire to open my eyes . The only sense that seemed to accompany me with my sun streaked blond head to the bottom of the deep, was the sense of being.

i was.

And the seam splitting on the side of my worn pass-me-down bathing suit mattered little. My 9 year old matted hair could wait to be brushed. My big sisters and my parents wouldn't miss me in those moments beneath... and then finally i'd break the surface and hurriedly gasp, cheeks exploding with hoarded air as i submerged once again to the peaceful depths.
Now, i'm a mama with matted hair blondies of my own.
Seven of them... well... eight if you count the tiny son growing in my womb...

And i do.

The house we live in is a smallish one in the suburbs of a bigger Canadian city. There are no delightful depths here during the harsh winter with all those little bodies laughing and shrieking - slamming doors and needing mama. And so i have had to learn how to create that space - that peace of only needing to be.
It happens each time we see those double lines on a pregnancy test. My husband and i look at each other and wonder, "Where will we put this little one?" And as this little son grows - i grow - both physically and spiritually... to accommodate him in my body, in my life, in our home, in this family...  and we carve out a small space for him in this house of ours too...
"We don't really need this, do we? We can get rid of these things to make room for a tiny person, can't we?" And through this physical purging - i dive a little deeper. Fingers outstretched, i feel the cool of the water beneath me.

People... not things...

We'll buy less - and i'll read to them more. We'll need a bigger fridge - and have a smaller bank account. No more bedrooms - who will bunk up this time? Those tiny frayed blue jeans have enough wear left in them for one more son's babyhood... don't they?
The space isn't literal - but the freedom from possessions, from the pressure to have and to look and to own - offers a peace all it's own.

i am.

And it's enough.


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