Light the Candle

This wee one is coming. Please help me light the way.

I am like a flag unfurled in space,
I scent the oncoming winds and must bend with them,
While the things beneath are not yet stirring,
While doors close gently and there is silence in the chimneys
And the windows do not yet tremble and the dust is still heavy –

Then I feel the storm and am vibrant like the sea
And expand and withdraw into myself
And thrust myself forth and am alone in the great storm.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Nesting

The birth box is fully stocked, the birth area has been decided on, the baby has flipped head down, and Mom has arrived. We are cleaning floors and counters, making playlists for laboring along with, and washing newborn infant clothes the size of a dinner plates. The energy is high (figuratively speaking for me…) and the anticipation is real. It is still early and we all realize that we might end up waiting weeks for this little one to make the big entrance into our lives. But even so, nesting is in full swing and it feels like I could be holding this new little life in my arms sooner than later.

So pull out a candle and set it aside to light when the moment comes, light the way for an infant making his way from one world to another.

 

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37 weeks

I try to take photographs of life here but I can never capture what I’m after: wet rubber boots on the wrong feet, clouds dropping rain in the distance, blond hair flying in the evening’s still cool wind. The strong, scarred man’s hands milling log after log into beautiful boards, the never resting mother’s hands wrapping around a steaming cup of coffee, the red clay smears on knees of dresses and jeans. The glow of sunshine on shoulders, the wood deck warm with May day heat, the blankets pulled tight around children snuggling in arms at the embers of a bonfire.

 

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I went for another ultrasound which shows no low placenta at all. The baby is breach and doesn’t really seem interested in being turned but this babe is still little and there is time. The fear of hemorrhage or c-section is pretty much gone and the idea that I might end up birthing a breech baby in a hospital is easier to accept now.

I am thankful for this good news. I don’t know if it’s a miracle or the fallibility of man that first I had placenta previa and now there is nothing close to it, but I am thankful all the same.

I keep thinking about the verse in Jeremiah, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” I am a little saddened that my heart was so torn by the bad news last weekend. I want to stand firm. I want to compete with horses. My faith is so small but I am hopeful that it is being built through these experiences.

Thank you to all of you who wrote to encourage me and who prayed for me. I feel quite blessed to be a part of this lovely community stretched so far around the world!

In the afternoons when I lay down with my kids for a nap we listen to the song birds outside our windows and Ayden can’t help but smile as they call one to the other. He told me he likes that the days are hot and the nights are cool then asked me why it is this way. I tell him it’s because it is springtime in Virginia. We are happy in the daily life here.

Thriving

It’s been a long break, I know. Thanks for sticking around.

We made it to The Farm in Virginia and it’s quiet. It’s wide open space. It’s walks through the woods and down by the lake. It’s meals on the deck in the day’s dying light. The children play and fight and swing on the tire swing. Christy and I laugh and scold, cook meals and dry tears, fold laundry, drink coffee, and talk, talk, talk over the four little voices of our children. We talk about nourishing food and books we’ve loved. We talk about child rearing and birth. And now there are two daddys coming home from work in the evening to their turn at reading the same book for the third time, changing diapers, separating fighters, and cold beer served with a welcome home kiss.

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The Farm is the haven we have been looking for. The place we’ve hoped for with room to rest and breath. When the sunshine streams through the windows and lays like ribbons on the wall it feels like joy. I snuggled down under the warm covers with my love beside me and my kids wide awake and waiting for permission to start their day, way too early. The new little life inside moves and kicks and makes me change positions.

But this perfect place couldn’t stop the bleeding that sent us for an ultrasound at the hospital. Our little one is safe and growing well but the magical birth that I’ve been hoping and dreaming for – the miracle of a new life coming peacefully from deep inside to the safety of my own bed – may not happen the way I have imagined after all. It appears that my placenta is low lying at best and may be actually covering the cervix somewhat. The baby is in a breech position since there isn’t really space for him to relax into an optimal, head down position. For the last few days I have been trying to picture a peaceful, monitored hospital birth that doesn’t end in hemorrhaging or a c-section. But it’s hard.

It feels as though the brick wall I’ve been crashing up against over the last couple years has followed us to this secret place. Now I wake up in the morning and remind myself of all the things that should get me out of bed but I can feel that same old friend come close and grip my heart and it’s hard. I spend the first minutes of my day fighting for control over the depression that is so easily slipping its way in close.

And, of course, I carry the guilt that, as always is the case, there are so many individuals in much worse situations and somehow they bear up and even thrive. I want to thrive. I want to push up through the stones and blossom! I read a quote yesterday written by Walter Brueggemann that I hate but I know it’s true: “Holding on grimly is an act of atheism.” I am actively trying to unclench my fists, push away that old dark friend, to thank and praise a God who I know – I. KNOW. – is good.

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Loss

I just looked up into his smiling face yesterday morning and this morning I was told that he is gone. Is that possible? How can life be such a force and yet so fragile and temporary, so quickly gone? It has left me inwardly grasping at the faces and words of those people I see here everyday whom I have come to love; what if they don’t walk in tomorrow?

The loss of a friend who was healthy, strong, and had been playing his harmonica only minutes before his heart stopped is jarring. The tears sprang to my eyes and I felt the loss tangibly in my gut. I will never see his smiling face again and the loss of just those few seconds is enough to break the heart just a bit.

~~~

Ayden lost his first tooth this week. He was sitting at a cafe table in the early morning sun playing with legos then in an instant he was in my arms crying and telling me he’d broken his tooth biting a lego. It took a while to reassure him that everything was fine, his tooth didn’t break it was simply coming loose, making space for a better tooth. Within the hour he’d pulled the hanging tooth the rest of the way out and was walking around the cafe proudly showing off his treasure.

The loss of a baby tooth is a milestone in the growing up years. I have that first little tooth now on my shelf in a ziplock baggie to remind me in the decades to come of what a little boy Ayden once was. I feel sure I will never forget that singular quality in Ayden that I will only ever be able to describe with the idea that he’s really just one of the lost boys from Peter Pan and somehow he stumbled out of the fairy tale and into our family. I hope that when I’m 65 and bouncing his babies on my knees I can look across the room and still make out that little lost boy look in his face.

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Family

A new baby boy was brought into the world yesterday. My beautiful, strong sister birthed a handsome little man and all of us have fallen in love already! It’s amazing how fast love happens…

I sat in front of a quiet computer screen, waiting for the words: “He’s here!” And as I whispered prayers of strength and health and hope over one child coming earth side I could feel my own squirming about, safely wrapped up inside my womb.

The sister who sent me the joyful news of a new life from thousands of miles away is waiting to feel the first movements of life within her. It won’t be long now and she will also be experiencing the miracle of life moving within her.

Every baby comes as evidence that God still dreams of Eden. Calvin Miller

 

 

Reflections

I’ve been reflecting on this past year, waiting for some illumination that will allow me to see what it all meant and how to take the next step into 2016 gracefully. As of yet, I have not been given that gift.

It was the most difficult year of my life. That much I can say. It was a “run of bad luck,” a “difficult season.” But what was it all for? Someone asked me recently if I feel that I’ve totally recovered from the stress and I felt the tears sting my eyes. I still ask “why” and wait in the silence. I know that I am recovering and that I am still living with doubts.

There are other things that I know.

I know that the songs that I clung to through the months still sing out truth: You are a good, good Father. I know that I came to know Jesus in a way I didn’t before. His silence slowly became a presence instead of an absence; one that held me. I know that the prayer I prayed in June, when I was calling it a year of blessing – before the miscarriage, before the loss of the roaster, before the anxiety, depression, loneliness, despair – is still true.

Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is. ~ Elizabeth Elliot

I don’t have any new year’s resolutions to write out tomorrow. I learned this year that all my carefully laid plans, all my best intentions, my hopes, desires, dreams are not in my hands at all. That trusting is way more than I ever imagined. I know now that walking in grace is not always a comfortable thing. Sometimes it’s like giving birth: painful and joyful and a hell of a lot of work.

It’s not that I am not dreaming anymore. In fact, I know no other way of living but with dreams and plenty of them. It’s just that my heart got wrung out this year and I feel more like slipping into 2016 through the back door, quietly.

When I float my paper lantern out over the ocean tonight it will be with a quiet soul. I am not celebrating the end of this year, even if it was a difficult one. I feel I am moving away from something that is a big part of me without really realizing what that something is; maybe that’s why I’m hesitant to just move on, look to the year ahead.

When I light the candle in my paper lantern and the breeze carries it over the wide ocean I will remember all that this year brought and all that I tried to push away from me with my puny strength. I will remember that it takes constant attention to keep my hands outstretched for whatever God gives. I will remember that I have no idea what 2016 will bring and I will trust that there will be a Presence with me all the way.