Sunday, February 5, 2017

Be an Encourager

I published a blog earlier on the topic of encouragement that was true and well written but failed to really capture what I was trying to say. I have been simmering on the topic of encouragement lately because I have witnessed its power on both the giving and receiving ends. Encouragement is potent because it is able to discharge discouragement of its strength. We have all experienced the potency of discouragement and all of the after shocks it can bring in our hearts. However, encouragement not only dominates discouragement, it has the potential to reinvigorate our souls with strength we did not know we had. It is for this reason that I think it is necessary for us to sharpen our skills at delivering effective and meaningful encouragement.

First, it is important to note that encouragement is not flattery. Flattery has at is deepest core a desire to get something from the other person. At it's worst, flattery is the desire to use your words to manipulate an outcome from another person. Whether that is some sort of transaction or just the desire to convince them that you are a nice and likable person, flattery is about you, not the other person.

Encouragement on the other hand is always about the other person. The motivation behind encouragement is to confer strength upon the recipient. Encouragement results in a sense of invigoration, fortitude, or renewed confidence. Encouragement has the power to take an idea and make it an action. It is a propelling word or deed that advances the spirit of another person. True encouragement makes a mark on the hearts of people.

If this sounds weighty and rare, it is because so many people have the intention of achieving encouragement but fail to consider how or what encouragement actually is. Below is an encouragement outline that helps distinguish flattery from encouragement and improves well-intentioned compliments to become compelling encouragement.

1. The Thinking Test- Does this word or action pass the thinking test? What I mean by that is, does it pass the guide we are given in Philipians 4:8?  Is it pure, lovely, true, noble, right, praiseworthy, or excellent? If not, then, it is likely not a thought that we ought to share.

2. The Helpful Test- Is this word or action helpful? Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, except that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." This one is harder because we don't always know the needs of others. However, this verse does show us that if we are working to be helpful in our words of encouragement, we need to ask ourselves about its effect. Will this word build up or tear down? I have known a good number of "nice Christian" folk who undoubtedly thought they were being helpful but failed to consider the destructive effect of their words. Discouragement and encouragement can be distinguished by considering their effect.

If our words or actions pass those two tests, I think there are some ways that we can elevate the impact of our encouragement.

1. Be specific- Vague compliments will not result in lasting encouragement. "Hey, great job today" fails to help the other person see the impact of what they did or said. For all they know, you are just being nice. A non-specific comment can easily be dismissed or forgotten.

2. Draw out the significance- Help the other person see that what they said or did was important or meaningful. Situating your specific observation into a larger context, helps the other person recognize the role that what they did or said had in your life. If they said something during a conversation that really impacted you, tell them why. I don't know how many times I have had someone say to me, "Hey, thanks so much for being vulnerable in that conversation. I always thought I was the only one." That kind of comment helps me know that the risk I took in that conversation was worthwhile because it helped someone else become more open and feel more understood.

3. Consider the delivery- Public praise is sometimes appropriate. However, if what you feel led to say is intensely personal or maybe really significant, consider taking the time to go to them one on one or even write it down. I am a hoarder of well written notes of encouragement. They are stuck in every nook and cranny of my home and office. We may get this one wrong sometimes but these are the kind of mistakes I am ok making.

And Finally, my regular motto...
4. Say the good thing- I can't tell you how many times someone has sent me a text at just the right time to tell me that they are praying for me. Or when they have said something that was exactly what I needed to hear. Unfortunately, I don't think we do this enough with one another. I think we get intimidated or dismiss the nudge to text someone because we don't think it matters or sometimes because we don't want them to think we are being cheesy spiritual. We rob one another and ourselves when we hesitate to say the good thing. I have become more regular in just being willing to risk it and say the good thing and it seems that God keeps giving me opportunity after opportunity to be a strength giver to the people in my life.

Encouragement should not be bound up only in the closest relationships in our lives where we feel the safest to give love. Rather, we need to be risky encouragers. Notice the good in others and say it. Make it meaningful if you can and say it. Sometimes it really is not much at all. If your server is young and doing a great job, tell him so. If the checker at the grocery store seems stressed out by her day, offer her your patience and say something good to her. Say the good thing.

This world is long on downheartedness and short on cheer. We can be agents of change if we just consider how to offer relief through love in the form of an encouraging word.

"Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always." -Unknown

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hey Girl, Give yourself grace...

I ran this morning for the first time in a very long time. It was slow and short but it was movement. Marathons and half marathons used to be my thing because my mantra was, "I do hard things." However I have realized something lately, the way I motivate myself has really changed. Gone are the days of self-domination. The old me would have been angry with my apparent laziness that must have been keeping me from lacing up my shoes. Quite a bit of shame and frustration would have accompanied me out the door. But not today. The inner voice has changed tones and taken on a grace-feel. I ran today because I wanted to and because it was good for me. As I was running this morning, I was thinking about the old me, and all my sisters out there who are like me. The purpose of this post is to issue a challenge for the other women out there who are working hard to make it all work but may be doing it in an unhealthy manner.

Goals are good. Health is good. But can we all just agree for a second that self-domination is bad? What I mean by self-domination is the tendency to issue high challenge with very little support or grace for ourselves in the process. Self-domination sounds like this internal monologue: "If you would just stop eating so much, those pants would look better." "You did it again, talked to much in that conversation. You are such a blabber-mouth." "Good grief, what is wrong with you? Your house is a disaster, your relationships are drama, and your kids are out of control. Why can't you just get your life together?" Grace on the other hand, is giving something that you don't think you deserve. Grace is a higher-good that out-pays self-domination every day of the week.

Self-domination is a cycle of ugly self-talk accompanied by negative emotions or a period of giving up. And if we will be honest, it is so normal for many women that we don't even recognize it as a pattern that can be broken. We don't know that there is a better, healthier way to live. For some of us, it is such a built-in, unconscious defense mechanism, we don't realize we could make a change. For me, self-domination was such a habit of mind that it took a wise older woman asking me a simple question for what was happening to become clear.

I was describing a situation in which I needed to make a change in my leadership behavior and going through all of the things I "should have" done or "needed" to do differently, voicing frustration with my lack of perfection. This wisdom woman said to me, "Why do you feel like you have to do it without help? Why are you dominating yourself like that?" At first,  the question didn't even make sense to me. Dominating myself? This is how I have learned to be successful. This figure it out determination is how I keep myself (and others) on track. You see, I felt like the lecture I gave myself was a necessary part of making progress toward my goals. I was worried if I adopted a different way of being, I would lose my ability to motivate myself toward achievement. It seems silly typing it now, but I thought being angry with myself for what I had not yet achieved was the fire I needed to complete all the things I needed to do. But I was wrong. There is a better way and I want to share it with you.

1. Stop the negative self-talk. It is ok to recognize what needs to change and be different in our lives but we should not allow the internal dialogue to ensue that we would not allow in our most treasured relationships. Why do we talk to ourselves in the most hateful of tones? If you would not say those same words to your dearest friend, don't say them to you. [And good grief, moms can we lay off of this for the health of our motherhood?--another day, let's have coffee]

2. High Challenge, High Support.  It is ok to set a high bar of challenge for yourself. I am the kind of girl that likes to do hard things. Not to be impressive, rather to prove to myself that I can do more than I think I can. It is a way of reminding my mind and body that the need to keep growing, to keep being alive. However, when we only give high challenge, we are being self-dominators. If we are really going to be alive and free, we must also allow ourselves some support. Do you need to lose some weight this year? Great. Decide what is doable, set that goal. But also give yourself a realistic time-table and the tools that you need to do it. It is not selfish to set your schedule up around being healthy. That is good support. Leave the office on-time, don't feel bad, and go to the gym. It is good to take care of you. High challenge is a good, achievable goals with high support is feeling good about doing what it takes to get there without the burden of all of that inner, negative self-talk.

3. Speak the truth in love. The bible talks about speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) as if one without the other is just non-sensical. If we are going take out the negative self-talk, we need to insert something else. The inner monologue must be retrained to speak a different language. Did you miss your gym time this morning? Negative self-talk would tell you it is because you are lazy and fat. The truth is that you missed your gym time. That's it. It is not a moral statement about who you are. You may need to set your clothes out the night before to have a trigger for yourself  or put your alarm clock across the room. But you are not a bad person who cannot achieve goals. Love yourself enough to tell the truth to you.

The biblical definition of grace is to give something that we don't deserve. I would argue that this post doesn't fully land in the biblical definition grace, unless we alter the definition to read, "to give something that we *think* we don't deserve." Stop believing a lie my friends. You don't need to dominate yourself. Life is meant to be one of, well, life. Be alive and free today. Give yourself grace.

Love You.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gospel Shoes

She gave me her shoes...They were the exact shoes I had in mind. They came with a string and a blessing attached. That's the end of the story. 

And here is the beginning. 
I met this angel woman recently. She was the kind of woman who is a bit effervescent, even from afar. I sat right behind her in a training, to which I was a late arrival. At the break, I complimented her shoes and asked where she got them. ALDO. I stored that away for later so I could find them online. You see, I had been mentally looking for this same pair of shoes. A little bit trendy and a little bit classic, because that is who I am. She had the exact shoes I was searching to find. 

This angel woman and I made small talk and moved on to learn what we needed to learn in our training sessions. I didn't know her story, but she had a shine to her that I liked nonetheless. I thought, I hope I give off that kind of grace vibe as my soul begins to mature. 

A day passed and we had another chance encounter in the hotel lobby. I rattled off a bit about a soul wrestling that is current, on the topic of flexing through the various demands of mothering, ministering, writing, and leading. She gave me words from her experience that eased some of my burden. She spoke life to me as a mother gives to a daughter. She encouraged me in my wrestling and strengthened my heart. That's what mother-people do after all.  I left her lighter. I thanked God that he had answered another prayer for me. On my way to this training I had prayed that he would give me someone to talk to about my stirring. He did that.

A day passed and it was time to leave our time of retreat. My soul had been filled up by so much goodness, rest, encouragement, and inspirational/applicable ideas. I hugged several new friends goodbye, including my encourager, and headed to the airport. When I arrived, I found out my flight back to OKC had been cancelled. The airline paid for me to return to the hotel and I headed back to relax and enjoy another day in sunny Florida. I thought to myself what a gift it was to get an extra day to recharge in a beautiful setting. 

When I got back to the hotel, I spent time in the hot tub and hung out with a few other new friends. At dinner that night, I bumped into my encourager again. She was surprised to see me still at the hotel and I explained that God had gifted me with an extra night in Florida. She beamed, asked me what shoe size I wore (8),  and told me to follow her. In her room, she had me try on her shoes. She said she wanted to give me her shoes and I tried to say no. But she replied, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace. Your feet are fitted with the Gospel of Peace. I want you to take these shoes and pray for an important person in my life who needs to come back to the Lord." 

I was stunned. We prayed. I left. 

You see, I have never considered myself to have an unusually effective prayer life or a "prayer ministry." There have been distinct people in my life for whom I have been able to pray with particular fervor. But this dear, encouraging, generous woman may have unleashed something in my heart on that day with a simple pair of shoes and request wrapped up in a blessing. I have woken up every day since her request with a fire in my heart for not just her person but several other people and situations. 

I learned something that day. What God has for us is better than what we hope for ourselves. He gives us better things than we would give us, if the roles were reversed. The normal me would be tempted to over-spiritualize that statement. But I have some very cute, suede booties in just my size from a generous encourager to remind me, that sometimes God gives us the silly desires just to remind us that he sees our smallest details. 

I'm thankful. Filled up. And just needed to write it down. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hey Introverted Mamma

Hey introvert mamma, this post is for you...

I disappear sometimes. Not physically of course. I have too much responsibility for that.  But if you look me in the eyes...there are days you would know that I'm soul is shriveling. It has always happened to me. My mom has told me for as long as I can remember, that I do "too much." It's my pattern. I adopt full and busy patterns of achievement. And I always run out of energy. I'm not afraid to slow down, anxious about boredom, or nervous about silence. Rather, it is just a way that God has made me. That is, driven and introverted.

There is widespread misconception about introverts. Introverts get stereotyped as quiet, snobbish, shy, hard to get to know and most of all, not people-persons. Extroverts, by contrast, are fun, talkative and outward. These stereotypes lead to misunderstandings and mislabeling by others and also by ourselves. Some people assume that introverts truly have less to say and are on some level less interesting than the more outward counterparts...but there it is again, the tendency to see only extroverts as outward. It is this one mis-conception that would cause most people to mis-label me as an extrovert.  In the past year, I have been learning about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the tendencies that come with the 8 letters that identify different preferences related to personality types of people. There is always a danger of putting people in boxes when using diagnostic type personality profiles.  However, with proper use of something like the MBTI and regular reminders that no personality type is identical to another (even when letters match), these types of indicators can be helpful to understand general personal tendencies and lead to greater self-awareness. It has been a really helpful exercise to raise my own sense of awareness of how I operate in my relationships with others (family, friends, co-workers, the team I lead, my boss). 

One of the most helpful things I have learned is how important it is for introverts to find a way to re-charge. As Jeremie Kubicek puts it, extroverts are solar powered and introverts are battery powered. While extroverts re-charge by being with people (this too has a limit for most), introverts re-charge by plugging in. This means retreating to an internal world which can be sleep, exercise, a great book, a quiet trip to Target (alone)...or pretty much any life-giving (fairly solitary) activity. And here is the kicker, introverts need to do this every single day

One of the books I read this year is called 5 Gears. The topic of the book is how to be present with people while maintaining productivity. One of the bedrock principles of this book is that in order to be both present and productive, I must be charged every day. If I think about my emotional/spiritual/intellectual capacity as a cell-phone battery, I have to plug myself in...every single day, just like I do my phone. The author argues that it would be lunacy to get mad at our cell phone and simply demand more from a dead battery. However, this is exactly what we do with our souls. No matter if you are a stay at home mom or a leave to work mom, there are demands that you do it all. We are under insufferable pressure to give to every person and every task in front of us. Therein lies the temptation to demand more from our battery than it was designed to give. 

When I was single, my under-cover introvert survival tactics worked out well. I lived by myself and was completely in charge of my time. Therefore, when I needed to re-charge, I simply went home to the bliss of restorative quiet. I'm not even sure I was consciously re-charging. It was just the way I had structured my life for as long as I had remembered. When I was dating my husband, I remember one of the legitimate thought processes I had about the goodness and longevity of our relationship was that I enjoyed being with him as much as being by myself. (Hmm, I really like this guy, and I don't ever really want him to go away...romantic right?). 

But mothering has brought about a beastly task for me to navigate as it relates to battery management. With kids, there seems to be no time at all for quiet. No time at all for solitary soul care. No time for re-charge. The survival techniques that allowed me to retreat as a single person or a young married just don't exist in the reality of motherhood. There are always sweet little hands to hold or bottoms to wipe. There are questions to answer and lessons to teach. There are clothes to fold and stories to read. All the spaces that used to exist for me are taken up...with almost all good things. It is hard to see my own soul as one that should be tended. However, I'm looking into the tired eyes of a woman who desperately needs to know that she has permission to refuel. 

I don't have this re-charge/motherhood thing figured out yet. And I still crash sometimes. But I know the issue and I am finally giving myself permission to fight for my own highest good among the priorities of my life. I know that a dead battery and hollow eyes are not a gift I give to anyone. And I'm learning to give myself permission to care for me so I can be a present kind of mamma that I want to be. Maybe someone else needed to read this too. Go ahead introverted mamma, plug-in to a life-giving space, you are worth the investment. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

An Ode to my Mother

Like most major holidays, I get reflective on the meaning of the day. I don't think that I am a particularly celebratory person by nature but holidays help with the habit of celebration. Mother's Day, however, doesn't require much reminding. The more minutes I spend being a mother propel me into thankfulness for the investment of my own mother-friend.

Mom, In the earliest moments of becoming a mother, I know I made you laugh with all of my wonder and amazement at the process of growing a human and in my frantic grasping to gain some mother skills during the first year of being Myles' mom. Here are a few of my thank you's and hopes for my own journey in light of you mom. 

The Sibling at my wedding, 2008
1. I hope I can support like you. You are a quiet kind of support. Not the kind of over the top personality that makes a big to-do. Instead, you are the kind of quiet strength that makes it look like we are the strong ones, when all along it is you who are infusing us with confidence just because you show up. I pray that I will give this same power of presence to M & M as they grow into who God has created them to be. 
Pregnant me...Spring 2012
2. I hope I can "favorite" like you. We always give you a hard time that one of the people in the below picture is your favorite and your reply is always the same...A little bit of a laugh and some definite annoyance..."You are all my favorites in your own way." Even though this sounds like a major "mom" thing to say, it is completely believeable from you. Somehow you make all four of your kids feel like we are worth being proud of and that we contribute importantly and uniquely to the world. Thank you for loving us into that kind of particular and special security. I think your attraction of our differences helps us like ourselves without competing with each other.
Mom and Sisters circa 2011---Sarah's Graduation party
3. I hope I can let-go like you. I remember the great dread that filled my heart when I looked at tiny little Myles knowing that I am only stewarding his child to adult life and then he will leave me. I don't know how a person invests all of themselves with an open heart, only to send that love out into the world to find a different center and a new home. I hope I can do it like you have done it. Your transition to mother-friend was so seamless. And maybe you were just tired because we were a heavy bunch to carry...but I think no. It was your selfless, life-work that you had dedicated to the Lord so long before you had to send us off. Thank you for modeling the let-go so well. It makes our coming back so voluntary. I want that for my littles.
Leah's wedding---September 2011

4. I hope I can celebrate like you. You know each of us and try to make sure that you have all the details just right for the way we best celebrate. You know that Leah loves cherry sours and Terry is all about the sour patch kids. You make sure to get something different for my Christmas sock because candy isn't really my thing. You worry that you will get a detail wrong and not because you are worried about you. You genuinely want us to know that we were considered in every aspect of your plan. How do you do that? I hope I can have that kind of mother-love eventually. Kids deserve to feel the way you still make us feel. 
Prayer time at my wedding

Happy Mothers' Day Mom! Thank you for hanging with all of the high-demands that we put on you. We hope you get as much joy as you have made possible for all of us. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Too Perfect

A little while ago, a friend of mine told me that I seem too perfect. I give off an air of impermeable strength. It's not the first time someone has put this label on me but it is certainly not a tag I would hang on my own. The exchange reminded of a time when a girl walked up to me and informed me that I'm "intimidating." That one comment from an innocent 18 year old haunted me for a while.

The most recent comment by my friend started a new internal dialogue for me. What is the right amount of vulnerability to display? When someone asks how I am and I'm rushed to a meeting, should I stop and let my heart fall out? "Hi! How are you?" is not a true invitation to tell you that I'm struggling.  There does not seem to be a quick way to tell the truth and so often the truth is not as simple as the answer to such a short question. Perhaps the reason we get perfect images of one another is not so much because we are pretending but because we ask perfect oriented questions in places that are designed for passing not pausing.

We live in a filtered image or a let it all hang out kind of world. One extreme tempts us to make our lives look more attractive than they are. The other extreme is one train wreck story to the next in an effort to just keep it real. I'm not sure that we serve ourselves or our relationships well when we live in either extreme. I'm more unsure of hyper-perfection or drama as a good glimpse of an authentic life. 

How can we live lives that are intentional and real in a world that is insta-published and snap-documented? I don't know that the answer is for us to all just stop applying retro filters or to get off social media in order to get real with people. Perhaps a solution among many is to live real life with people... To remind ourselves that people do present their best selves at work and online...and that may be okay. Our real pain and struggle should happen in the context of friendship conversation. We should embrace the expressions of one another's faces in the space of our homes and coffee dates or on a long-run with a treasured friend. We should ask questions that elicit real answers and then wait long enough for the life of it all to hang over the edges. 

PS. Keep on posting your cute kids and your happy couple photos. I love seeing your vacations and smiling dog pictures. I love seeing your best days and I cheer on your good. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The story of Maris’ birth: An unexpected entry

A few weeks before Maris was born, I began to have a sense that I may need to have her naturally. The thought first entered my head after reading the blog of a friend who told about the birth of her third son. The labor was completed without aid of any kind of medicine and thanks to the good work of a mid-wife, his head came out perfectly round, mother un-torn. (TMI? You did read the title of this blog right?!) Now I have always known this mama was a rockstar and this was baby two of three that had come along without drugs. It was not the facts alone that caught my attention. It was something else, unidentified (even still) that caught my heart. I read the story with tears in my eyes. Pregnant woman crying? No shock there. The story, however, lingered with me and then a thought burst through my otherwise stubborn head. “What if I went natural?”

Now, you must know, I have really had a sense of dumbfounded confusion at these people who in this place in history would choose to have a baby sans drugs. Truly, I did not even want to know why someone would entertain the notion of willing pain. When there is relief from pain offered…particularly when facing the feat of pushing something the size of a small watermelon out of….well you get the picture. My feeling was, at the end of the day, natural, c-section or the (God-Blessed) Epidural, we all ended up with a baby. Given my strongly held belief about the value and important nature of drug relief from pain, the thought of going natural was not something that interested me in the least. So the entrance of the little question….”What if I went natural?” was something of another world.

January 31, 2015
On Saturday, Jan 31st, my sis and I had planned to get our nails and toes done at a cute little place in North OKC. My son was staying with grandma and time alone with my sister is not a frequent occurrence. I got  my 39 week self ready (sort of) and set off to our 11am appointment. People were looking at me with that sympathy look. You know, the one that says, “You poor (HUGE) thing, you could probably drop that baby out in this pedicure spa.” The lady doing my toes asked (with wide eyes), “When are you due?” The question was repeated by sympathetic patrons and other nail techs. “I would just smile and say, oh, next week but it will probably be a couple more, my first one was late.” I fully anticipated returning to work on Monday and had made meeting appointments for the upcoming two weeks with people.
When our nails and toes were done, about noon, I waddled (in a dignified manner) to my car. Terry called and asked if I could pick up Myles from his mom’s house. A few minutes after 12pm I arrived at the Big Rimmers and was greeted by a bouncing toddler who excitedly asked me to eat grilled cheese with him. I sat down with him and ate my grilled cheese…and his (I was 39 weeks preg, give me a break). Just before 1pm, I asked Terry’s sister to help me get Myles into the car because something didn’t feel right in my back and the thought of picking him up was somewhat overwhelming. At 1pm, we got in the car and drove home to get Myles to sleep for his nap.
While I was driving I felt what seemed like it might be a contraction. I looked at the clock. 1:04pm. At 1:09pm, I felt another probable contraction. That can’t be right. Five minutes apart with no previous warning is unlikely. I quickly downloaded an app to count my contractions and started timing them. By the time I got home, about 1:30pm, my contractions were close together. “Terry, I think my contractions are two minutes apart.” (In true Terry style) “Well, that is quite frequent,” he said. I asked him if we should go to the hospital and he said that if I wanted to have natural labor, it would likely be more comfortable at home.
I sat down to read a book to get ready for my staff meeting the next day. I was breathing through some pretty good contractions at this point. I asked Terry to download a movie. He said, “From the sound of it, you are not going to make it through the download.” He went to clean the kitchen instead. Feeling guilty that I wasn’t cleaning but knowing that I needed to stay put, heating pad in place, I tried to keep reading. A couple of pages later, I asked him to call his mom ‘just in case’ we needed to go to the hospital. While he was on the phone with her, I let out a blood curdling scream….”YOU GOTTA HELP ME!!!!” He came quickly. It was clear to both of us at that point that this was not labor that was going to back off. Our baby was on her way.
(In distress) “I can’t wear this to the hospital…my shirt and pants don’t match!” Torn between helping me and loading the car, Terry got me back to our bedroom to change, where I proceeded to scream my head off because the contractions were coming right on top of each other. At 2:27pm, we were in the car, pulling out of the garage. Myles was still asleep in his room and we were two steps away from getting the neighbor to come sit with him until someone from Terry’s family arrived. I called my mom (Totally losing my mind) and let her know what was going on. At first, she was concerned that someone may have been in an accident from the hysteria. They she calmly said, “This is labor.” (The woman had four children naturally) Now on speaker, I hear my dad say, “We will pray for you.” I hung up before I could hear the prayer. That was the only call I mad before I threw my phone to Terry so I could concentrate on losing my mind.
It was a rainy Saturday and people were out for their leisurely drive. This pace simply did not work for a man who had a normally controlled woman absolutely going ballistic in the seat next to him. I was screaming, “Jesus, Help me!! You gotta help me!!” Perhaps the most sincere prayer of faith I have ever uttered. Terry began dodging cars in a race to I-40 and then raced down the interstate to the hospital. By the time we reach downtown, he was running red lights. About Western and Reno, I hit a decibel of screaming that unnerved by darling husband and he was ready to jump in with his medical training. “Do we need to pull over?” he asked. Waving frantically for him to go, we drove on.
At 2:48pm, we arrived at the hospital. We parked in physician parking (perk!) and buzzed in at the door. Terry calmly stated, “We need to be checked for labor.” I was doubled over. They went to get a wheelchair and we were rolling. I am not sure how I ended up on the hospital bed but they got it as low as they could and started trying to help the screaming lady. With one fistful of Terry’s jeans and the other hand gripping the hospital bed, I labored, signed paperwork, got checked and screamed for drugs. Upon arrival, I was an 8, probably 20 minutes laterI was complete. I began having the urge to push and let everyone on the wing  know that she was about to come out. They held me steady. My doctor was still on her way. Not really knowing where I was or how much longer I had to endure the pain I caved and got a spinal block. 2 minutes after my spinal block, my doctor walked in the room and we were ready to push.
Spinal blocks are kind of a weird thing because it literally seemed like someone else’s legs were in front of me and the control of pushing was completely gone. I did the best I could with my mind telling my body what to do but ultimately we had to use the vacuum. My doctor later told me that we would have had to use the vacuum anyway because the cord was wrapped around her neck. She indicated that a vacuum with no meds to help can be pretty brutal.
At 3:47pm, only an hour after our arrival at the hospital, Maris Grace Rimmer entered the world. Upon first sight, [after getting over the shock of how much she looked like Myles] I loved her. I felt like she had already been mine forever. Everything about her was perfect to me and ‘skin to skin’ was heaven.
I know now that the strange premonition that I needed to go natural was just God preparing me to labor without aid. It is interesting how he takes care of all the details, even the ones we don’t know we need.