Friday, November 6, 2015

The smile I didn't want, but needed

While Nev and I were out and about today, I decided to make a quick stop to Walmart on the way home.  I decided to wear her throughout the store since she just can't quite sit up in the cart yet.  A few people complimented her or my wrap as we walked through the store.  One woman stopped me to ask me how I made something to wrap her like that.  I explained that I bought the wrap, but gave a quick one-liner about baby wearing.  English was not her first language, and I don't understand thick accents very well, so it was taking all of my concentration to have a conversation with her.  She asked me several questions about wrapping.  About a minute in, though, she abruptly changed the subject to why she *really* stopped to talk to me.

A church group in which she is involved has started a Bible study and she was out to recruit members.  She asked where I go to church and I told her.  I was in a part of town very far from my house and much farther from my congregation.  I explained that I appreciated it, but I didn't think that would work for me.  She went on to tell me how much I needed to study with her about "God the Mother - the female image of God."  She gave me a whole spiel about how we have only ever been taught about God the Father and that we are missing who God really is since we were made in His image - men and women alike.

I told her that I didn't believe that the Bible referenced God in that way.  I said I had been studying the Bible since I was a child - not to "one up" her or anything like that, but to explain that I wasn't basing my reasoning on my own thoughts.  She said that 2000 years ago, Jesus brought a new teaching that most didn't believe because it isn't what they had been taught.  It took 12 men to be open-minded enough to listen to what Jesus had to say.  She went on and on about God creating everything and that we as women were made in His image, as well.  I started to wonder if maybe they were using a shock factor to get people interested, but ultimately just want both men and women to know that they are children of God... maybe?  I mentioned that maybe my disagreement with that concept is just semantics, that I might not disagree with the basic principles she was referencing.

Honestly, at this point I was just trying to end the conversation.  Nev doesn't have much patience for standing still, and we were testing her limits as she kept reminding me.  I had already told this woman that I was not interested, but I was *not* going to be rude to her, either.  Here's where the whole conversation changed.  I was trying to dismiss her while being respectful and polite.  She said that it was the end times and now is when we need to be studying about God.  I jumped in and said, "Yes, I understand, but I am a saved person.  I have a wonderful relationship with God."

Then she smiled.  It wasn't a sweet smile, it was a smile that I knew all too well.  It was a smile tinged with pity and a hint of "if only you knew the truth..."  It made my stomach sink in my gut, but that was a moment of clarity.  See, I have been on the other side of that conversation a thousand times.  For a large part of my life, I talked to people about the Bible and salvation and when they told me they were saved, or about their relationship with Jesus, I gave them "the smile."  It's knowing that the conversation is over because the poor, sad person you were talking to wouldn't listen to your superior knowledge of what it means to be saved.

It made me sick.  It made me sick to think that this woman thought she knew more about my salvation than I did.  And then it made me sick to know that I had been on that side of the conversation most of my life.

I am ashamed.

With as much genuine sweetness as I could muster, I told her that I appreciated her talking to me and that she might get better reception with people who don't already have a relationship with God.

I know I could have handled the situation better.  I know there are a thousand things I could have told her.  But honestly, I think God used that situation to teach me a lesson that's been a long time coming.  If nothing else, it's that I should be humble when talking to others about their relationships with God.  I can not assume I know more about their salvation than they do (but be willing to talk to them about it if they are unsure).  And I hope to never make someone feel inferior by giving them "the smile."

Have you been on either side of that conversation?  What would you have done differently?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventures in Mommyhood: Our (very detailed) Birth Story

What a whirlwind it has been!  Baby girl is 2 months old now, and I am just now feeling like I have a few extra minutes in a day to get on the computer.  Being momma has changed my life completely... and becoming momma was such an awesome experience!

My last bump pic - 5/12/2015

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Jake and I were anxiously waiting for the moment I would start having contractions.  We were planning a home birth.  We hired two doulas, we had taken a hypnobirthing class, I was seeing my midwife once a week, I was getting weekly chiropractic adjustments to make sure baby was in a good position - we were READY!  After a few days of very very mild contractions, I finally woke up on May 13th at about 2:30 in the morning with serious contractions.  They weren't very painful, but I could tell this was the real deal.  They were strong enough to wake me up, so I got up and waited through a few more contractions before I woke Jake up.  Jake was so excited, he wanted to call the midwife and doulas right away. :)  I told him we should time the contractions for a while before we alerted everyone and he reluctantly agreed.  We were going to time them for an hour, but Jake gave in after about 40 minutes.  I was having consistent contractions about 5 minutes apart and he called to let everyone know.

My cousin, Jennie, was coming later to take pictures of the birth so before anything got serious, I put some makeup on and did my hair so that it was up and out of the way.  It had been months since I'd had sugar, so part of my birth plan was to start making a dump cake as soon as I went into labor so I waddled to the kitchen and got started.  Mom arrived during that process and took over for me.  I could still do it, but my adrenaline was pumping at this point!  The doulas arrived around 5 a.m.  I honestly wasn't sure how I was going to utilize a doula, much less two, but it seemed to be part of the home birth process.  One of the doulas took over timing my contractions.  I was pretty amped up, but they both thought that it was going to be a long day (my contractions were less consistent, but were getting stronger).  They were suggesting different positions, we went for a walk, all trying to get my contractions to be timed more consistently.  I felt like I needed to stand up all morning, but they thought I needed to get some sleep since it would be quite a while before baby got here.  At some point, they called my midwife from the other room to tell her that it was going to be a long day and that they were here too early.  The midwife called me and told me that.  I even had a contraction while I was on the phone with her, but apparently I am not the screaming type, so I just breathed through it while she was talking. She suggested that I send the doulas home and all of us get some sleep and just to call them later when things picked back up.  After we hung up, I cried.  Not because of the pain, but because this laboring thing was getting intense and if this wasn't hard labor, I wasn't sure how I was going to do when it got real.

Well, one of the doulas left, but the other stayed because she felt bad since I cried.  She talked me into sitting down and resting.  I did that, and closed my eyes between contractions, but they were so intense, and my adrenaline was still going strong.  I wasn't sitting long that I had a contraction and heard a tiny little "pop."  I thought I had peed a little, so I got up to use the restroom and clean up.  Looking back on it now, we think that is when my water broke.  I came back to the living room and she said I needed to eat something.  Honestly, eating at that point sounded awful.  Even if I had been offered cake, I would not have wanted it!  I took a bite of yogurt and felt like I needed to go to the restroom.  (Sorry if this part feels like TMI) I finished and went back in the den.  I was only in the den about a minute when I felt like I needed to go again.  So, I went in the bathroom and sat on the toilet because that felt the most comfortable.  All of the sudden my body was pushing and I could not stop it.  I still thought I was pooping, though, so it was all very confusing.  Jake came in there with me and I was making these moaning sounds while my body was doing the pushing thing.  The doula heard that and came in the bathroom.  She sent Jake to start filling the birthing tub (that was a miscommunication, since I did not plan to have the baby in the water - it was just there for laboring!) and she looked to make sure there was not a baby head coming out of me.  She stepped out to call my midwife.  Looking back, it seems silly that I didn't realize what was happening, but I really didn't realize I was pushing a baby out!  I thought this was just a different kind of contraction or something.  With each contraction, I couldn't stop the pushing.  The doula kept trying to talk me through it, breathing through it, but my body would only push!  She talked me into getting off the toilet (I definitely needed some convincing, since it felt like I was pooping with every push!) and onto the bed.  Jake was back with us at this point because there was a problem with the tub.  I climbed onto the bed on my hands/knees.  At this point, it was real.  I knew what was happening, and I could tell that the doula was doing everything she could to help postpone it until the midwife got here.  I wasn't scared, though.  Even though I was confused, my body was not.  It knew exactly what needed to be done and it was doing it!  The doula was praying over me and had me breathe through one contraction (instead of pushing) and it was literally the hardest thing I have ever done.  I was only able to do it through one contraction!

There was a ring at the doorbell and Jake went to answer it.  He knew we were getting close, but had no idea just how close we were to meeting our baby!  The assistant midwife was at the door.  He calmly told her that we were back in the bedroom and led the way.  This woman I had never met before walked in and I guess you would technically say that she checked me, but that consisted of getting a look at the situation and seeing my baby's head!  She got out the doppler to check the baby's heart rate.  Meanwhile, I started to have another contraction and the baby was making their way out!  Three contractions later, I felt our sweet baby enter the world as daddy caught her and handed her to me.  Since everything happened so fast, Jennie did not make it to take pictures before little missy got here, but the doula snapped this - which turned out to be my very favorite picture ever. (Excuse the obvious nakedness, but the edited version of this pic just doesn't make me nearly as happy!)

A few minutes after baby girl arrived, my midwife got to the house.  She was so disappointed that she missed it, but everything turned out just fine.  Hopefully she'll make it to the next birth - I'm thinking that I'm too independent to really get much benefit from a doula, so I'll be the only one telling my midwife how my labor is going.  I definitely think that will be a good thing!

So, there's our birth story!  I love telling it and I love reliving it as I do.  I can't wait to do birth again - it was AWESOME!

Oh, P.S. I totally ate a big piece of dump cake as soon as I was ready for food! It was amazing! :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A new perspective on church

I am 35 weeks pregnant right now.  Jake and I are so excited to welcome our first baby!  Pregnancy has been pretty easy.  The first trimester was hard because I spent about 5 weeks of it on the couch and nauseated constantly, but after that it's been smooth sailing for the most part.  I mean, there have been a few nuisances along the way, but nothing major.  My blood sugar was higher than my midwife liked, so I have been on a high-protein low-carb diet for the past 6 weeks.  And she really encouraged healthy eating the whole pregnancy, so before the new diet, I was already eating well.  Because of all that, I haven't gained much weight.  Yes, baby is growing well and will probably be a big baby anyway, but thankfully I won't have a ton of extra weight to lose once baby gets here.  I do have to keep reminding myself of that when I get tired of not having any sugar. :)

One of the things that we want to do before the baby gets here is to find a church home.  We left our former church almost a year ago and have been visiting another pretty regularly since then, but neither feel like "home."  Since looking for a church home, Jake and I have both learned that although actual worship is such a big part of feeling comfortable in a church, what happens after church is what makes us feel at home.  Right now we are just really struggling to find a balance between the community we feel with people after church and edifying worship.  Several years ago, I was blessed enough to be part of such a place, but, well, things change.

I feel like this could be a lesson for many of us.  Making worship something spectacular can be a beneficial thing, but it doesn't matter if the people in attendance don't feel like part of the family.  The song service might sometimes be "off," the preacher might be boring, I might get distracted during communion, but if the final "amen" is said and I spend the next 30 minutes or so feeling like part of a family - loved, wanted, appreciated, etc. - then I can leave the building saying "This has been a great day!"  When we start bringing our new bundle to church, we want him/her to be in a community that really focuses on the "after church" experience.  Because that is what will make him/her feel like part of God's family.