Look Up

IMG_7839Westport House, Connemara, Ireland

I read this great little story in our church’s magazine the other day: A woman who had recently lost her daughter in an accident woke up early one day in an attempt to see a sunrise.  She and her husband were hoping that a glimpse of a beautiful sky would help lift their spirits and give them hope during their devastation.  They waited, facing east, yet as the sun rose, it failed to break through the clouds.  The woman felt disheartened and turned to go back inside when her husband said, “Look!”  She turned to see him facing west where they witnessed a gorgeous reflection of the sunrise in beautiful shades of pink (her daughter’s favorite color, btw).  She felt that God was sending her hope for the future and a reminder of His love.  She then went on to say this:

“I have thought often on that beautiful moment and the new perspective it gave me. Who looks for a sunrise in the west? And yet that is where my miracle was waiting. How many blessings and miracles do I miss because they come from unexpected places? How many times do I focus on what I think should be and miss the glory of what is?”

Whoa.  THAT was something I needed to hear.

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That saying was so good it needed a meme.  And I need a hobby, apparently.

While my anxiety over caring for 6 little ones is nothing compared to this woman’s tragedy, her words helped me recognize all the good that exists amidst the stresses of everyday life.

It seems every time I turn around, someone is telling me to “enjoy these years because you’ll miss them when those kids are gone!”  A saying which is most likely true, albeit not extremely helpful to hear as that frazzled mother in the checkout line with a kid screaming for a toy, another licking the shopping cart and a 3rd snorting stolen pixie sticks.

The fact is, however, that the very act of enjoying any stage of life usually means ignoring the messes and inconveniences that come with it all.  A bit of a catch-22, if you will, but pretty much applicable to anyone, anywhere.

Enjoying life = ignoring messes (literal and figurative)

IMG_7901The Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Ireland – see all those teeny tiny people up there?  Adrenaline junkies.

One more story: yesterday, on the radio, the lead singer of a Christian band was talking about visiting Disneyland with his little nephew.  At one point, the kid threw a massive temper tantrum because his sister wouldn’t let him push the stroller.  The guy said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Here was my nephew, in the middle of the happiest place on earth, throwing a fit about something totally insignificant and I realized how often we do the same thing.  We focus so intently on the small problems that we forget to simply look up!  We’re surrounded by blessings and beauty and wonder, we just need to lift our eyes to see it.”

Right on, man.  Right on.

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Lest you forget my life is no longer all green grass and rainbows, here’s a shot of me “looking up” amidst the chaos and laundry.  Although I probably should eventually look down cause my kid’s not wearing a diaper here.

 

 

The spiritual side of birth

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Baby Finn, just minutes old.  Also, my cleavage. 

I’m super thrilled to share a book review as a part of the  Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life!  I virtually befriended one of the authors a couple of years ago and I am so grateful to have found this incredible resource for mothers and mothers-to-be.  It’s written by women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (some of us Mormons :), but any woman of faith will appreciate the revelations contained within.  I believe that this book’s potential to transform our ideas and conceptions about birth is unimaginable!
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First off, this book is HUGE, over 500 pages!  It’s organized by well-written and touching essays on an array of topics concerning birth and motherhood: from infertility to homebirth to the heartbreak of loss.  Besides these amazing essays, it’s chock full of birth stories that will leave you in awe and in tears (good ones!). If I had all the money in the world, I would buy a copy of this book for every mother and woman I know
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Here I am 41 weeks pregnant with Finn.  Did I mention he’s 11 MONTHS today? (wha??!)
It’s evident that the birthing community talks a lot about being physically and emotionally prepared for a baby.  Carrying and nurturing a baby inside of you and then delivering that baby takes a toll on every woman’s body and emotions.  But rarely do we hear that we ought to prepare spiritually or even that birth can be a spiritual event!  This is part of why I’m so passionate about women being informed before birth and taking back some control over their birthing environments.  We all recognize that witnessing someone pass from this life to the next can be profoundly moving and deeply spiritual.  I believe that welcoming a new life into the world should be just as meaningful, and much more joyful!
I couldn’t possible be able to choose my favorite chapter or story in this book but I can say that The Gift of Giving Life completely changed the way that I see and process everything about motherhood.  I know that the role of Mother is so important and so sacred, that every part of it has a spiritual aspect: making the decision to conceive, intimacy, pregnancy, labor and of course, the birth itself.  (There’s also plenty to read for adoptive mothers, grandmothers and others!)  As mothers, we are guardians of the gateway between heaven and earth.  We have been given both the power and the inclination to create life, with husbands and God as our partners.  We can come to know the special connection mothers have with Jesus Christ as we give a portion of our bodies and our blood to bring new life into this world. If we could communicate the importance and sanctity of these truths to the next generation, we could undoubtedly change the world.
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Thanks for reading my review and be sure to visit the Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour page for a chance to win some great baby-related prizes!
Now go buy a couple copies of the book on amazon to give any new moms in your life.  It’s my favorite baby shower gift!

Faith and fear, hope and doubt

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I’m kind of obsessed with color so this last Christmas I challenged myself to decorate with only white, silver and gold just to prove a point.  See!?  I did it!  I can make neutrals look pretty!  And it felt surprisingly good, especially considering I usually have all kind of wacky colors going on at Christmastime: I usually switch between hot pink/green and bold blue/purple color schemes :).
I was just looking at the quote in this frame (from the LDS general conference in October of last year) the other day and felt it resonate with me once again:
“Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In the last few weeks, so much sad, sad news has reached my ears: a local family lost a special needs child when he escaped from their yard and drowned in a nearby canal, my friend discovered serious abuse happening to her children right in her own home, and I learned of several other traumatizing stories that happened to parents and children of families I admire or follow online.
I bring this up because as a mom of little children I occasionally find myself contemplating the dangers and accidents and evils that could befall my family and honestly, the thoughts are paralyzing.  I almost can’t breathe when I think about all the things that could bring calamity to my sweet little innocent children.  I’m not a naturally anxious person at all, but I find myself having mini-panic attacks at the possibilities!  Is it even right to bring children into a world so full of hatred, prejudice, violence, accidents and danger??
I contest that YES.  Of course it’s right…and good and necessary and worth it all and here’s why…
Once or twice, after feeling these crippling bouts of fear for what the future holds for my kids (or me…the thought of losing my husband is equally unnerving!), I’ve felt a supernatural sense of calm.  I know it was God speaking right to my soul and saying that yes…bad crap happens (um, but not in so many words….I mean, I’m sure God would never use the word “crap”…this is just me paraphrasing).  Life is full of danger and sin and accidents and really, really awful stuff that even the best people in the world can’t avoid.  But you know, the bad stuff in life does not have to define you. 
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I usually avoid even thinking about the awful possibilities out there, but in these spiritual moments, I’m able to imagine them, in all their seriousness and possibilities, with very little fear.  YES, one of my children could fall seriously ill, one could die.  I could get cancer; Luke’s plane could crash.  Any one of us could suffer abuse or be abducted.  A child could drown.  A child could choke, I could have a severely handicapped baby that would never talk or walk or speak.  But once those thoughts passed through my head, it was made clear to me that I would move through.  Tragedy doesn’t have to be a brick wall which halts our progress forever.  It can sure feel like a brick wall; we can slam into it and get bruised and battered but if we look closely enough, that wall will have chinks in it.  Little holes and pieces of masonry sticking out just big enough for us to grab hold of, and, eventually, we can scale that big old scary wall of tragedy and come out on the next floor up!
During an amazing discussion about this recently, a friend described a family she knew who endured an unthinkable accident that left their son paralyzed and severely handicapped.  The mother of the family had (something like) this to say about it all, years later:
Not only CAN good come from bad, but it MUST.  That is part of the plan of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes the greater bad that occurs, the greater the good that will result from it.  Even when the bad things are your fault, there is always a way for good to triumph. 
I believe that God is the Father of our spirits, which makes him the literal Dad of billions of people.  The same people who lie and hurt each other, who steal and murder and commit hideous crimes.  Something tells me that because God loves more purely than any of us, He likely feels pain more acutely than us.  If He gave us the choice to make these mistakes, even when these mistakes will hurt His other children and hurt Him (probably most of all!), then what does that say about the importance of our freedom?  Surely the freedom to screw up must be one of the most important gifts in the whole world!  (Um…thanks??? 🙂  And then I realize:

Surely more good can come from our tragedies, our mistakes and our learning from them, than from never enduring hardships at all.
THAT is why we’re here. 

Wow.  What a thought.
Here and here are two of my favorite online examples of mothers enduring trials beautifully.  And I interact with more of them around me every single day…

Welcome Baby Finn

I thought baby Finn’s one month birthday would be a good time to finally blog about his birth.  But, it was also his older brother Toby’s 6th birthday…so today little Finn is 1 month and 1 day 🙂  I still need to get some cute sleeping pics of him but here are some great birth shots.  I was lucky enough to have my little sister Nancy at the birth so she got lots of fun pictures.  I wish I would’ve assigned someone to do this at all my births!

In case you missed his stats, here they are:
Finn Patrick Wiscombe
June 1, 2013, 12:38 pm
6lbs 13 oz, 19 in
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I’m one of those weird people who enjoys seeing the in-progress labor pictures.  I think it helps me to think back on it with perspective and realize how miraculous labor is.  It’s kinda hard to appreciate it when you’re in the middle of it all.  Can’t imagine why 🙂DSC_0005
The birth story goes a little something like this…
At 41 weeks 5 days, I decided I was done being pregnant and wanted to take castor oil.  I’m always telling pregnant moms to be patient with their babies and let them go into labor on their own but I was mighty impatient myself this time.  Not sure why, but I did know that if I made it to 42 weeks we were gonna have to have a talk about whether or not my midwife could continue to see me.  AZ statute says that “overdue” moms are out of a midwife’s scope of practice. That might mean a homebirth would be out of the plan and I’d have to change everything.  So glad he came when he did!

My midwife gave me permission to take castor oil Saturday morning so at 8:30am I took 4 oz of it (the whole bottle!) in a milkshake.  I started having cramping (um, as in the bathroom variety.  Castor oil is a laxative which means it “stimulates” the bowels which in turn stimulates the uterus.  I think you can all deduce what kind of side effects this stuff produces) and was slightly uncomfortable all morning.  At 11:30 I was laying on the couch talking to my sister (Luke was running errands) and my water broke.  That’s the first time it’s ever broken without me being in full-blown intense labor.  I went upstairs and Nan called my mom and Luke.  By noon the contractions were intense and luckily my midwife showed up not long after.  We emptied the hot water heater into the tub and it was still only half full…I hopped in anyway cause I needed some pain relief.  30 minutes later my contractions turned into the pushing kind, and he came out just a few minutes later.  By FAR my fastest labor (1 hour!) but that’s probably because of all the maddening practice labor i had during the previous few weeks.
Fast and dirty…that’s how we roll over here 😉
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Let me tell you, if you haven’t actually caught one of your own babies, I highly recommend it.  Super cool experience.  The first pic is me unwinding his cord and the second is me finding out the gender of the baby!
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Favorite shot ever.
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Don’t you wonder what is running through little newborn baby heads at birth?  Something like “It’s bright and loud and cold and scary out here.  Hold me, mom!”
P.S. I love newborn pouty lips!
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See?!  I was smiling just moments later!  Can’t have been that bad, right??DSC_0034
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What a precious little munchkin.DSC_0039
Love how he’s already got a hold of my sports bra 🙂
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Daddy/Baby pics are THE best.

I realized that Baby Finn is special lots of ways.

He is the…
1st baby we didn’t find out the gender of until birth.
2nd baby born at home.
3rd boy in the family.
4th birth with no drugs or medical interventions.
5th VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
6th sweet baby to come to our home.

We just love him!!!

Sunday Thoughts

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View from the BYU-Jerusalem Center

If you have kids, and you go to church, then you know that listening to a single sentence all the way through is nearly impossible in that setting.  Crying and fighting over crayons and bathroom breaks and trips to the mother’s room…you get the picture.
But every now and then we get a good Sunday.  One where, for some reason, you actually hear stuff.  When it happens you know it’s a miracle, and that’s when you really listen up, because God doesn’t keep a bunch of little kids quiet for just anything.

We heard words today from a sweet boy preparing to leave on a mission to England and from a lovely couple that I just admire like crazy.  The general theme was our relationship with God and His concern for us.   I wanted to share what made an impression on me today and why.  Maybe it’s what you need to hear too.
How often do we forget that we are literal sons and daughters of God?  That means that he feels towards us what we feel towards our children…only to a MUCH greater, more perfect degree.
The young missionary reminded me: “Compared to God we are nothing, but TO God, we are everything.”  I think sometimes, as good Christians, we dwell too much on the first bit…but we can’t forget that God’s love for us is divine and perfect and beyond what any of us can even conceive.

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An olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane

The couple talked specifically about times in their lives when they knew that the Lord was watching out for them.   Working through trials and hard times using faith was a topic of one of the talks.  Specifically, when times get tough we should take comfort in 3 facts:
1.  What is happening is God’s will for us.  Even if that means God is respecting another person’s will.

God cannot force a person to do something.  He will always respect a person’s choices, even if those choices are causing someone else pain.  God does not cause bad things to happen to us, but He allows them because we must be free to make our own choices.

Example: If you have never been hurt by someone else’s poor use of agency then congratulations, you’re a hermit. ALL of us know what it’s like to suffer because of another’s bad choices. Whether that’s because they’re abusing us or simply because we care for the person and we can’t stand to see them destroy their own chance for happiness. Every parent knows this feeling acutely.

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A tomb likely very similar to Christ’s

2.  God’s will is always what is best for us. This is where we must have faith.  If we are being abused, mistreated, dumped on, overworked, made miserable and hopeless, God will see us through.  Perhaps the trial itself will not end (see #1), but our belief that God has our best intentions at heart will have us looking forward with hope, finding the lesson to be learned.
I’ve got oodles of examples of this one: I didn’t want to move my last year of high school, I wanted to marry someone before Luke, I wanted to go to graduate school, I wanted to kill a crazy lady I worked closely with…we’ve all had LOTS of things that we want and don’t get.  But each time, when I’ve accepted that God’s will was other than mine, the result was a happiness that I could never have anticipated.  Specific to these examples: seeing a friend find happiness in the gospel, marrying the perfect man for me, staying home to raise and teach my babies, and understanding a lonely soul who became a friend for life.

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Jerusalem

3.  We must submit ourselves to His will.  That means we must stop fighting.  If we really truly believe the principles above, then this step will not be hard.  But most of us like to think that we know what will make us happy.  We persistently and stubbornly fight for our own agenda even while God is trying to give us something better.
My favorite example of this was when God needed to teach me some humility.  I had made a decision about my future years and years before I actually acted on it.  It was a GOOD decision, one that would help people and cause me to lead a better life.  When the time finally came, I didn’t even ask God what I should do, I’d already made my choice and heck, it was a good choice so why should I even ask, right?
I finally did ask, simply to show that God that I wanted Him directing my life.  But I didn’t get an answer.  In fact, I prayed for a long time without answer.  It wasn’t until I finally became able to accept a “no” that I got my answer.  And guess what… the answer was “yes.”  God just needed to know that I was fully able to submit myself to Him, even though he was going to to give me what I wanted all along.

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The pyramids of Giza

Wow, that was a lot of rambling.  I’m so thankful for these words that pierced my heart today.  I hope it made some sort of sense.
Kinda hoping there will be more stuff I need to hear next week at church, I could certainly get used to my kids behaving!