Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life Lessons From Birth

I recently re-read the following blog post that I wrote after Jed, my 6th baby was born.  This particular morning I had been talking to the Lord about the stresses in my life and he was talking to me about how to find his peace in those moments. And I remembered the analogy that God had shown me about surrendering to him just like I surrender to the birth process.  So I re-read the blog post and it was just what I needed....not only as I prepare once again to give birth, this time to my 8th baby (who is "due" to come in 1 week), but also as I strive to trust, rest and surrender more and more to Him each passing day.  I hope you are encouraged as well!

Originally posted January 2, 2010

It's been a week since my little Jedidiah was born and I've had some time to reflect on his birth. Being my 6th birth (5th without pain medication or medical intervention, 4th home birth), I've learned a few things about how to get through the pain and difficulty that birth naturally brings. And it seems that each experience keeps getting better and more manageable. This is not because of anything special in me or that I am some sort of supermom. Not at all!!! What I have learned is this: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matt. 19:26) I've come to wonder how anyone can birth without Jesus!

Having experience as a doula (childbirth assistant) I have helped many women find ways to make the pain of childbirth manageable. There are lots of ideas and helpful information out there! But through personal experience I have come to believe that it is only when we rest in Jesus that we have the kind of joyful, God-honoring birth that He desires us to have.

So what does this look like? Here's my experience with Jed's birth. As labor intensifies the contractions feel like a tight band wrapped around my pelvis with strong cramping all along the front radiating around through my lower back and even down into my thighs. I imagine the giant, powerful, loving hands of my Creator God wrapped around my hips squeezing the baby down further and further with each contraction. This beautiful imagery helps me to relax and surrender my body over to Him to do His work in my body and bring my baby to me. I trust the wisdom of His perfect design when He created my body to do this work of birthing this baby. I think about how He has secretly fashioned and formed this baby in my womb all these months and has known my baby which only His eyes have seen. He is now working in my body to bring the baby and reveal His special gift to me!

As the contractions intensify the only thing I must do is surrender more to my Creator's hands, relaxing my whole body and resting in Him. This seems opposite of what I want to do. It seems the natural tendency in response to pain is to tense up with fear and worry. But instead I must respond with more trust and surrender and completely relax my body. When I do this the pain begins to subside. When I fear and tense up, the pain intensifies.

The morning I went into labor a friend of mine gave me a verse that helped me so much through my labor. Isaiah 26:3, "He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee." With each contraction I would whisper this verse or pray, "Jesus, bring the baby," or sing praise to Him. We listened to worshipful music in the background. Steven was there helping me, he would sing to me about Jesus. It was peaceful, restful, worshipful. This was Jesus' work. And oh how beautiful, as He brought the reward out of my body and into my arms. Oh the joy! A beautiful baby boy! I am always overwhelmed by the goodness and love of my Father to give me yet another amazing love gift! I am so undeserving and it truly overwhelms me.

As I have reflected on Jed's birth and the things I have learned, the Lord has shown me how these lessons apply not only to birth but to all of life. Birth is just the beginning! I've heard it said (and have said it myself) that birth is the hardest work you'll ever do. I've come to see things differently. The work that comes after birth is the most challenging- raising these little ones day in and day out, teaching, training and disciplining them so they will know, love and follow Jesus! The pain a woman experiences as part of the curse continues through all of motherhood. And the natural tendency of our flesh in response to these trails and "pains" of life is to tense up in fear, anxiety or frustration. But just like birth, this is Jesus' work! He will do it in and through us if we let go, surrender and trust in Him. "He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee." ( Isaiah 26:3) The more life hurts, the more we must trust and relax. "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6)

We must fight against our natural response and train ourselves to respond in trust until we are totally surrendered to Christ, letting go of our fears and worries about the future and rest in perfect peace in Jesus. He is the Creator God who not only designed a woman's body for birth, but also designed and planned every day of our lives before there was even one of them! (Ps. 139:16)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." Prov.3:5

No matter what you are going through in life right now, remember "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Mt. 19:26) As we trust in Him in the midst of the trial or "pain", God can transform our experience into a peaceful, restful, worshipful one. And oh how beautiful, when He brings us through it and we see the reward of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives! It makes me wonder, how can anyone live without Jesus?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Learning To Love by Learning His Love


...that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Filled with all the fullness of God....God is LOVE.  To be rooted and grounded in LOVE, to know the LOVE of Christ, to be filled with GOD, strengthened with power through his Spirit, with Christ dwelling in our hearts (vs.16-17).   This all equals LOVE!

The more we understand God's love & KNOW it, the more we love Him and cling to Him and seek Him (We love Him because He first loved us. 1 Jn 4:19).  And to the extent that we seek Him and pursue Him through His word, we are filled with Him.  He draws near to those who draw near to Him (James 4:8).  He strengthens us with power, He indwells us, filling us with all the fullness of God....and we overflow with LOVE...for Him...and for others.

I need so much more of His love.  I mean, I have His love.  He has poured it out on me and into me.  But I need to KNOW it so much more.  I need to LIVE it so much more.

One thing I'm seeing....LOVE takes TIME.

Time in His word.  Time in prayer.  Time thinking about Him, recognizing His presence all through the day.  This is the way we know His love....and grow our love for Him.

LOVE takes TIME to GIVE..

Like when Abel woke up too early this morning and needed to go back to sleep.  I rocked him for a minute and put him back down...there were other things to do...like finish having my time in the Word (that's important, right??).  But as I stood at his door listening to his sad little cries and hearing his call for Mama, I remembered LOVE takes TIME.  So, I went in and sat next to his crib and stoked his head and his face until he fell asleep.  He kept opening up his eyes to make sure I was still there.  My presence spoke love and comfort to Him.  Hmm...sounds familiar.  It's the same with me and my Father.

Like yesterday when I needed to be in the Salsa Kitchen making hundreds of salsa packets for our market next week, but I knew I had planned to take dinner to my sweet elderly neighbors...to show them the gospel in action (LOVE).  So, I took the extra TIME, finished making the dinner and went over and sat at their table and listened to them talk for a good long time.  What a blessing.  And do you know that God gave me plenty of time later to make salsa packets?  He's good like that...He GIVES LOVE BACK.

Like when the kids are fighting and and I feel like saying, "ENOUGH! Just knock it off and go sit in your beds!"...but instead, stop what I'm in the middle of and sit down with them and listen to each of them tell what happened and help them work it out....and THEN, go on to show them from God's word how He wants us to live and how His ways are always the best.  This can take LOTS of time, but is truly the most LOVING thing I can do for my children.

I need so much more of Christ's love...so much more of Christ!  Lord, fill me with all the fullness of God!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Isn't it amazing that God can do so much more than we can even dream...through HIS power working through US!  This amazing work that He can do, He does through US!  He strengthens us with power through His Spirit (vs. 16)...power to KNOW His LOVE and to GIVE His LOVE.

Can you relate?  How is God showing you His love?  How is He working His love through you?  Share with us in the comments below!