Birthing Babies

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He was born in the summer of his 27th year

Coming home to a place he’d never been before.

He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again

You might say he found a key for every door… John Denver

Up till a couple of years ago, the above lyrics wouldn’t have meant much to me. But now, I identify with John Denver’s song. My heart echoes his refrain… a Rocky Mountain High, Colorado. However, the song of my heart sounds a little different. “She was born in the winter of her 41st year, coming home to a place she’d been before. She left her yesterday behind her, you might say she was born again. She found a key for every door… a Blue Ridge Mountain High, Virginia.”

John Denver used the term born again. That’s an expression I would have avoided up till a couple of years ago. Because despite my claiming to be a born-again Christian, I don’t think I had any understanding of that title. Not till recent years. Not till recent revelations. Recent mountain high experiences. And this past August, the birth of my baby girl gave a vivid picture of being born-again. New birth. But not just hers… mine.

At first, Annabelle was just a thought. A whisper of God. Hidden and formed in the dark. Quiet and still. And as my body provided what she needed, she grew. She flourished inside me. And the miracle is, no one could really see what was happening. All this went unnoticed. Aside from my growing belly, Annabelle’s progress was unseen to the naked eye. A real person grew inside me. It’s truly awe-inspiring. A miracle.

As the time of her delivery drew near, there were contractions. Small and irregular at first, but with more frequency towards the end. And then the big day arrived… it was time. When my water broke, it was more significant to me than my own baptism which occurred seventeen years earlier. No, this was a picture of cleansing. Of healing. For as I was pierced, water and blood escaped. A dramatic picture of what took place upon a cross some two thousand years ago…

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34

And then came labor. Before long, a little discomfort morphed to full scale pain. It hurt. For hours. It was work. See, making babies comes easy… but birthing babies is a different story. It’s not an easy process. It took hours. My husband and mother-in-law were with me the whole time. And there was a screen we could watch… it monitored Annabelle’s progress. Every contraction was recorded. Every twinge I felt was reflected on that screen…

Susan, my in-law, took great interest in that screen. Because we could see other readouts, too. She’d study them… “Oh, there’s one… she’s getting ready to deliver.” And sure enough, we’d hear a baby cry. Then again, “Oh, this one will be soon…” And again, another baby cry. All around me, babies birthed left and right.

Me and Annabelle? We took a bit more time. Though we arrived early in the morning, and my water broke at lunchtime, delivery didn’t come till later in the evening. And even then, they had to take her out of me. She wasn’t budging. Such a picture of my own spiritual journey.

Funny thing about those screens, though. I looked at one yesterday and what I saw about floored me. Those labor pains, well, they look like a mountain range. Up and down. Once more, the act of having a baby imitating one’s spiritual trek. Up and down. Ascending the mountain and descending the mountain…

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If you look at the mountain of a labor pain, you’ll notice the baby’s heartbeat slows with each contraction. And the higher the contraction reads, the more pain is involved. As delivery progresses, the contractions are more frequent. Longer. I find this to be true in my journey today. Well, with life in general.

See, we’re busy creatures. It’s our default. We hit the ground running. And our spiritual heartbeat becomes more frantic and erratic with our hectic pace. Before we know it, we feel some pain. Something may slow us down. A forced sit-still, if you will. That’s the contraction. It squeezes us and as we stand still, our spiritual heartbeat slows. But before long, something beautiful occurs. Our heart begins to beat alongside His… slow and unrushed. A holy hush. And this happens at the peak of the contraction. At the tip of the mountain. And it’s there lasting change happens. It’s there, the internal is reached. When you’re quiet. And still.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15

You’re regenerated. You’re refreshed. Made new by the Creator Himself. But eventually, life sets in once more. You have to descend the mountain and reenter reality. And before you know it, your pace picks up. You become busy yet again. And life rushes by until… you have a contraction. A forced sit. But again, something beautiful happens inside. Unnoticed by those on the outside. Unseen to the naked eye… you’re changed. You develop. As you grow up spiritually, the contractions may come with increased frequency. But as you progress, your heart begins to recognize more quickly when it’s not beating in sync with His. That’s when you stop. You listen. And when your heartbeat aligns with His, you’re ready to move on. Once more.

See, she was born in the winter of her 41st year. At first, she was just a thought. A whisper of God. Hidden and formed in the dark. Quiet and still. And as He gave her what she needed, she grew. She flourished with Him inside her. And the miracle is, no one could really see what was happening. All this went unnoticed. Her progress was unseen to the naked eye. But she was made over.. a new creation. It’s truly awe-inspiring. A miracle. For she who was born was born again. On a Blue Ridge mountain high… Virginia. That’s my song.

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Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”  John 3:3-4

Too full to see

The below content was written on June 23, 2013. Somehow, in rereading and updating, I’ve turned it into a draft again. It’s disappeared from my published blogs and I don’t want to lose it… thus, I’m going to publish again.

Maybe this is God’s plan, though.

See, it captures exactly how I feel this day, over four years later. I look at the eyes of my little boy and ache. Because he’s not so little anymore. And I ache because the lesson didn’t take with me. Instead of stillness, I became busier. And I missed so much. And not just the wonder of God’s creation. Sadly, I missed the wonder of my sweet boy.

Sigh.

Anyway, I read this about a week ago. Not sure why, I just did. And lo and behold, the Psalm I used within this blog came up not just once but twice this week.

First reading was yesterday at our breakfast table as we discussed Romans 1:20. That verse inspired me to turn to Psalm 19. Then this morning, coincidentally (not really a coincidence), both Psalm 19 and Romans 1:20 were referenced in a book I’m reading. When I saw those words, I was once more awed at the complexity of God and how He weaves together life to get His message across.

The message being stillness. A caution to slow down.

In fact, I heard the same from Him last week as I did laundry with my daughter. She’s three now. I had thrown socks and underwear into the bottom of the basket but laid out other items across the top so as to avoid wrinkles. In my daughter’s haste, she kept trying to get to the stuff underneath, threatening to mess up the smoothed out clothing on top.

I cautioned her, “Wait.” And then again, “Wait.” But she didn’t listen. That’s when I spoke sharply. “Wait! That means stop doing what you’re doing! You’re going to undo what I’ve already done!”

Perhaps a little more wording than Annabelle’s toddler mind could ingest, but most assuredly those words were not intended for her anyway. No, they were for me.

Yep, to my soul I believe God was cautioning me through my own lips.

“Wait,” He said. And again, “Wait.” But I wasn’t still enough to hear Him. That’s when He got firm with me. God issued His warning…

“Wait! That means stop doing what you’re doing!”

The fact is I’ve been busier than I should be. Always in motion and always going too fast. Because see, He’s doing a work inside me. A work that will require a little more time and a lot more stillness. And if I rush the process, I may undo all He’s already accomplished.

And so, I believe the message in the below blog – Too Full to See – will really take this time. I believe what God has been trying to tell me for so many years has finally – finally – penetrated my dull ears and hardened heart.

Yes, Lord, I hear what you’re saying. You want me to stop. To stand still and see. To observe. You want me to recapture the wonder of You. But also, You don’t want me to miss what’s right before me…

There’s wonder #1 and wonder #2. And their names are Levi and Annabelle.

Yes, Lord, I hear you now.

I really, really do.

Too Full to See – June 23, 2013

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The past two weeks have been full… so full. It was last Friday when I came home to a full sink, a full hamper and a full inbox. And today, I sent well over a hundred emails for work. In my kitchen, I have four full buckets of produce for canning. That’ll be my task for tomorrow. And right now, I am bone weary.

All I can see is what lies before me…

And tonight, honestly, all I feel is tired. But this morning, I felt differently. It was then I tasted a bit of God’s word. And it was what I read at daylight that’s been hovering on the outer edges of my brain all day. It’s what I’ve been wanting to simmer in all day. But I couldn’t stay there… in His word. No, I had to move on.

Chores to do, job commitments, and a son to raise. Life entered the holy hush of the morning, and it hasn’t been quiet since. Not till now.

I’ve come to the conclusion the way we live our lives today cannot be part of God’s plan for us. Our daily schedules are much too full. And for the life of me, I cannot seem to find the exit ramp from the fast lane. Try as I might, I cannot seem to eliminate the busyness. And thus, my days stay full. Thus, I can’t see!

Because life is too full to see, I don’t glimpse the wonder of a holy God.

No, all I can focus on are the dishes, and the paperwork, and the dirty clothes. And sadly, I lose the wonder of life. Because life is a blur. I move way too fast to behold the glory of each moment. And so, I’ve decided. I want it back.

I want the wonder back in my life.

The past few months, I’ve watched at least 150 Andy Griffith shows. And it’s awakened a hunger within me. It’s the call of simplicity I hear in the distance and it’s what I crave. Episode after episode, I watched Andy Taylor sitting on his front porch, slowly strumming his guitar. I watched his friends join him in song. I watched him take time to explain things to his son. I watched, and ached, for that life-style. And unfortunately, it’s truly a thing of the past.

Not often will you find people sitting around the front stoop singing songs and enjoying life. No more can we stop and smell the roses… or more importantly, the Rose of Sharon. Simply, we’re much too busy.

It was parade night last week and even that awakened something deep inside. Sadness, perhaps? Or nostalgia… because a parade is not what it once was. At least not in our small town.

See, I eagerly looked forward to the carnivals when I was a child. And parade night was the best. So many people, so many smells. Lights and sirens. And the best part of the parade was the thumping of the drums you could feel inside your chest. But the last few parades I’ve attended had no high school bands. And not many majorettes. This type of parade is becoming extinct.

And so, I’ve lost the wonder of it.

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But my son… he still has it. His eyes sparkled and shone with anticipation. He could hardly contain his giggles and ran around in circles when it was time for the parade. Yes, my son still holds the wonder of life. He still basks in the pure pleasure of each day. And this is what I want… what he has.

I want to bottle up how he feels and drink deeply. I want to remove myself from the fullness, and the busyness, so I can see. Oh, God, please help me to see the wonder of it all. In the midst of each day, help me to stop. Help me to gaze upon Your creation with new eyes. Help me to see – to really see – the wonders of this world. And the wonder that You are…

In Habakkuk 1:5 we read, “Look at the nations and observe – be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” And that’s it right there. Look. Observe. But this takes time.

See, we can hear about something all day long. But when we have firsthand knowledge of it (whatever it may be), it changes us. If we want to live fully and abundantly, as He so intends, then we must look and see and observe. We must pay close attention to this thing called life. Otherwise we may miss it all. And that would be a shame. That’s not what God has in store for His children. No, He wants us to be like our very own offspring… full of wonder.

God doesn’t want us to be so full of busyness that we miss His awe-inspiring works. He wants us to witness just how majestic and holy and wonderful He truly is. But first, we must pause our hectic lifestyles and drink in what lies before us.

His creation.

If we stay still long enough, and open our eyes wide enough, just maybe we’ll see what He wants us to see.

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The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 (NKJV)