Feel the Extreme Love and Power Available to Women

October 23, 2014 in Book reviews, Motherhood by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

  This book and the editors website have helped me so much this past year–with preparing for birth, for motherhood, and recovering from post-partum depression, PTSD and anxiety issues. I have gifted it several times because I want other women–mothers with children or without–to feel the extreme love and power available to women when we trust God and build strong friendships with each other. You will absolutely love this book, there is something for everyone within its hallowed pages.

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

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Robyn by Robyn

Are you in the Wilderness?

October 22, 2014 in Adversity, Faith, Fear, Midwives, Motherhood, Pregnancy, Rebirth, Robyn, Thoughts, Uncategorized by Robyn

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I have had this passage on my mind for quite a while now,

And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.

2 And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

3 And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.

4 And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness. (1 Nephi 17:1-4)

I recently moved a few months ago from a home that I had lived in for thirteen years. Going through the  process of relocating has had me thinking about the last time I had moved.  I had just had my first baby.  We were living with my parents in transition after leaving our apartment before our house would be ready for us to move into.  We were experiencing a lot of change all at once. I know I’m not the first woman to move while in the childbearing cycle.  I have actually noticed a lot of women doing this.

I come in contact with a lot of women and families as they have babies through my work as a childbirth educator, doula, and midwife assistant. And over the years I have noticed a pattern of change, transition and rebirth as women go through the childbearing process. There is usually more than the change of a new life coming into a family that takes place.  I have also noticed a lot of families move during this transitional period either right before or after a baby comes.  This is actually not unusual, even in the scriptures as noted in the scripture passage above.

Nephi talks about the women of his family bearing children in the wilderness and being in the process of moving for “the space of many years, yea even eight years” (1Nephi 17:4). That is a long time to be have your life up in the air. I thought moving was difficult but I am sure it would it have harder for me to be doing it for eight years.  Why so long?  Nephi explains that they did “wade through much affliction” however, “so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings“ (1 Nephi 17:2).  The process was intended to make them stronger and to bring them to a place where they no longer complained.  I’m sure they had plenty of reasons to complain, these women had left comfortable homes with servants.  They would likely have had midwives to attend them. Here in their journeys, they became each other’s midwives and did all of the menial tasks their servants would have done.  God was in the process of teaching them. This transitional period became one of rebirth and refinement.

Have you beared children in the wilderness? Or in other words, have you ever moved while pregnant or with a newborn?

What tips would you give mothers who are moving while pregnant or with a newborn?

I came up with a few ideas. Please add to my list!

  • Reach out and make friends. Create a circle of support. Find online groups and in person play groups. The ward, or even La Leche League are a few ways to get in contact with other mothers.  (Don’t forget those more seasoned mothers and grandmas nearby.  They are often aching to hold a baby for a few hours or engage in meaningful conversation while taking a walk.) Shortly after we moved we became friends with a family who had four children already.  The mother became the one I went to with questions and watched her example as she patiently raised her children.  I still look up to them and try to model many of their parenting choices.
  • Ask for help or accept help when offered. If you are pregnant or still healing from birth you have to be aware that you should not be doing it all. Physically it is different for a time.  I was healing from a cesarean birth and felt blessed that my mother came with me and helped with unpacking and setting up our new home.
  • Take your time. Your house does not have to be perfect yet. It takes me months (or more) to get pictures on walls.  I didn’t have a newborn this time and I’m still working on that three months later. First things first.  Take care of you, baby and family and the rest will follow.
  • Let the process refine you. Just as God reached out and blessed the women of Nephi’s camp, God will reach out and help you. It is your promise.  He is aware of you and wants to help you while you transition.  In this last move I felt very emotional. I had become so attached to the home itself, five of my children had been born there, along with many other treasured memories. While we were not moving all that far, it was far enough. It was a different neighborhood, ward, and stake.  I loved my neighbors and ward.  But we felt “called” to go elsewhere.  We knew it was where we were supposed to go and we are seeing the blessings and tender mercies that have come with this change.

What has helped you in the process of moving?

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changed my perspective about pregnancy and child birth – in the best possible way

October 16, 2014 in Book reviews, Pregnancy by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

 Can’t say enough good about this book. It totally opened my eyes and changed my perspective about pregnancy and child birth – in the best possible way. I already had a couple of kids when I read it and felt like I learned so much still. I have read it through with each new pregnancy and it energizes and inspires me every time.

I liked that this book had a general philosophy of honoring and trusting birth and also had stories from many different people’s perspectives and experiences – hospital birth with epidural, home birth, natural hospital birth, c-sections, stories from women who struggled with infertility, who adopted, who had multiple miscarriages, etc.

I very highly recommend this book as a MUST READ for all women. Love, love, love it!

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

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Lani by Lani

God Keeps His Promises, part 2

October 15, 2014 in Adversity, Depression, Fear, Lani, Personal Revelation, Priesthood blessings, Waiting by Lani

Back in March I wrote a post called “God Keeps His Promises.” Feel free to click over and read it. The main part I want to draw your attention to is this:

I wondered, “Will I need to take this medicine for the rest of my life?” . . .

In another priesthood blessing, God answered my question: “You will be able to be happy without medication.” He didn’t tell me how long it would take, but I was satisfied with just knowing that someday I’d get there. And so I went on, taking my medication, feeling grateful for my rescue from the darkness. . . .

About a year ago, I started cutting back on my dose, little by little, very slowly, adding in supplements recommended by readers and friends to ease the withdrawal. I took a dose last Tuesday, but when I was due for another dose I felt restrained from taking it. The next day I felt restrained, and the next, and the next. I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt a message in my gut: “You’re ready. It’s time.” . . .

The other night, I asked for another priesthood blessing. He said, “God wants to remind you of the promises He has made to you. He will keep those promises.”

It has been seven months. Five of those were excruciating on many levels. Once again I’m taking medication… the same medication God prompted me to stop taking in March. Once again I’m depending upon a pill to remain calm and happy. Needless to say this has been a confusing year.

For much of May and June, as I battled severe anxiety and depression and finally surrendered to the necessity of re-medicating myself, I wondered, “Why would God tell me to stop taking my medication if I was going to crash without it?” Then I stumbled on a video that brought me a lot of peace. It shares a story told by Jeffrey R. Holland…

I took a dead end. Clearly the wrong road. Retraced my steps and got back on the right road. Why did I feel that the dead end was the proper road to take if it wasn’t? When I saw this video, my heart flared with the Spirit and I felt like Jeffrey R. Holland was speaking right to me. Now I can know with a certainty that I’m on the right road for me. I also know that my dead-end detour this summer served many purposes, many of them probably unknown to me, but some of them made clear to me many times over. It was not a waste. Many lives were blessed by it, including my own.

But what about God’s promise that I would be healed and be happy without medication? When I told my (Mormon) psychiatrist about those promises, he encouraged me to re-read a couple of talks. One of them I have adored since I first heard it spoken: “Like a Broken Vessel,” also from Jeffrey R. Holland. He urges:

If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.

This message from a friend also helped me come to peace:

Through prayer, meditation and personal revelation I’ve learned that it’s possible for me to have bipolar and be perfect/whole/complete. And it’s part of God’s plan for me to be medicated. . . . That was God’s answer for me. Not to be healed. For now or for this life? I don’t know. I know I will come forward in the Resurrection whole and perfect and I cling to that hope.

We live in a fallen world. For some of our brains and bodies, the world’s fallen nature has a deeper impact. My pure immortal spirit wanted to flee my fallen body so desperately this year. Enduring the darkness was excruciating. But, for now, medication is God’s compensation to me for the disparities between my spirit and my body. For now, a pill is what is making my brain and body bearable for my spirit. For now, the healing power of God has not removed my body’s weaknesses but enabled me to thrive in spite of them. It is not the healing I wanted or expected, but it is a healing of sorts. But mortality is brief. I will spend most of my existence free of medication. Someday I will be happy without medication. Until then, I’m OK with it.

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Robyn by Robyn

Approaching the Throne of God

October 10, 2014 in Fertility, Free Agency, Nourishment, Prenatal influences, Preparation, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

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I really loved conference as always. How is it that the messages are for such a general audience but feel so personal at times?  I wanted to share a few thoughts I had while listening to “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” by Elder Jorge Klebingat of the Seventy.

He began by asking a few questions in relation to how we would feel approaching the throne of God. Would we shrink or approach with confidence? He followed this up with six suggestions that can help restore and strengthen our spiritual confidence.

I would like to expand on the second suggestion to take responsibility for your own physical well-being. This is the excerpt from his talk,

Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).

President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.

Diet and exercise are two factors that can affect fertility (source). The childbearing process is physically and spiritually demanding. I don’t think we will stand blameless before God if we put ourselves and our babies at risk because we were not willing to take care of our physical bodies.  I imagine we will give an accounting of how we valued and used our gift to give life.

The truth is we should be preparing our bodies to make and carry life long before we are even pregnant or thinking of being pregnant. Each woman is born with the eggs that will become their children. They are essentially carrying life all of their days. We are creating temples. We have a responsibility as co-creators to be in the best health we can be to carry life and sustain it.  What quality of food/materials would you use to build a temple?

I put together six ways we can physically prepare for birth. In doing so I, like Elder Klebingat, hope “to edify and not to offend.” If we are humble we will discard what we don’t need and put into action what we do need to change. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice. You should discuss any of these suggestions with your caregiver.

  • Before you are even pregnant or thinking about it, take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and a supplement with omega 3. There are a lot of brands to choose from and not all are created equal. I am not going to recommend a specific one other than tell you to look for one derived from whole foods. A prenatal made from whole foods is more easily digested and used by your body.  Some people recommend skipping the prenatal and eating a balanced healthy diet.  For most people it is not likely that your diet will supply you all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Our body needs replenish vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements.  Growing babies depletes the body’s stores of vital minerals.  I didn’t realize how deficient my body was in magnesium until I started taking magnesium.  I feel that I was able to carry my baby longer this last pregnancy because I had built up my mineral stores. It is not enough to assume your baby can just take everything from your body it needs. Your baby cannot take what is not there. This kind of attitude can put you and your baby at further risk.
  • Avoid unnecessary over the counter or prescription drugs. All drugs cross the blood brain barrier of your baby and can affect their development.  Some drugs are more concerning than others. You can be prayerful in your approach discussing the pros and cons with your caregiver and then taking it to the Lord.
  • Take care of your teeth.  You are more likely to have problems with your teeth and gums when you are pregnant so any issues you may have now will only be magnified if you are not taking proper care of your teeth. For more information see this post.
  • Begin exercising or keep exercising. It was harder to force myself to exercise while I was pregnant and tired but I know I felt better for doing it.  Research shows that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience complications specifically gestational diabetes. This link contains tips for exercising safely during pregnancy.
  • Learn exercises to prepare your body for birth. Some examples are kegels, squatting, tailor sitting, pelvic rocks, relaxation, etc.
  • Nourish your body. Eat a balanced diet.  Choose quality foods.  I am not going to give a specific diet to follow but keep in mind the Word of Wisdom and other references to food in the standard works when deciding how to best nourish you and your baby with food.  Keep a journal of what you eat.  Look for patterns and ways you can improve.

The Lord knows we are not perfect and honors us for continually striving to do better. Do not guilt yourself for past mistakes.  I love the promise Elder Klebingat closes with,

Brothers and sisters, . . . acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.

Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 

Further reading from the Gift of Giving Life:

Spirit-Mind-Body Connection page 220

Constant Nourishment to Body and Spirit page 236

Choice & Accountability page 140

 

 

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The Power of a Mother’s Blessing

October 9, 2014 in Heather, Mother Blessing, Personal Revelation by Heatherlady

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It seems like very General Conference I have my ears and heart open to, and searching for, messages about birth, womanhood and motherhood. They are topics that I can always rest assured will get addressed in some way during General Conference. This time my heart was especially touched by Elder Henry B. Eyring’s talk entitled “Continuing Revelation”. He spoke about the privilege we have of being able to receive revelation for ourselves and those within our stewardship. He gave several examples of how revelation can be received but I was especially moved by his story about his mother, and how she was able to receive revelation for him.  He said:

” The revelation of a parent has its lasting effect in the personal revelation that continues in the child. My mother must have understood that principle of revelation. As a young man, I would close the back door very quietly when I came home late in the evening. I had to pass my mother’s bedroom on the way to mine. However quietly I tiptoed, just as I got to her half-opened door, I would hear my name, ever so quietly, “Hal. Come in for a moment.” I would go in and sit on the edge of her bed. The room would be dark. If you had listened, you would have thought it was only friendly talk about life. But to this day, what she said comes back to my mind with the same power I feel when I read the transcript of my patriarchal blessing.

I don’t know what she was asking for in prayer as she waited for me those nights. I suppose it would have been in part for my safety. But I am sure that she prayed as a patriarch does before he gives a blessing. He prays that his words will come to the recipient as the words of God, not his. My mother’s prayers for that blessing were answered on my head. She is in the spirit world and has been for more than 40 years. I am sure she has been exceedingly glad that I was blessed, as she asked, to hear in her counsel the commands of God. And I have tried to go and do as she hoped I would.”

He got incredibly emotional as he spoke these words about his mother. So much that I was worried for a moment that he might break down into sobs entirely and not be able to continue with his message. He didn’t, and pulled it together to finish his address, but I was very moved by the image of an adult man– and apostle of Jesus Christ nonetheless–  sobbing as he spoke about the influence his mother had on his life.

I have been feeling discouraged in my motherhood lately, wondering if anything I am doing really matters. I yearn to change the world in big ways, and sometimes feel so limited the walls of my home and the needs of my children. Yet, as I watched Elder Eyring speak about his mother I had a powerful realization that what I am doing as a mother is one of the most important things I will ever do, and that I am exactly where I need to be.

In his talk Elder Eyring compared the guidance and direction his mother gave him, in those quiet moments on her bed, as important and powerful as the promises given him in his Patriarchal blessing.  He said that his mother  prayed with the type of power that a patriarch does before he gives a blessing, and that she received revelation and spoke words that came directly from God. That is a powerful comparison and a reminder to me that motherhood is a calling that comes with real spiritual power and authority.

Elder Eyring’s words about the power of his mother’s words in shaping and directing his life reminded me of a story about Rebekah (the mother of Esau and Jacob) told in the the pseudepigraphal book of Jubilees. In Jubilees Rebekah is a main character who was instrumental in preserving the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant by ensuring that her son Jacob received the birthright blessing. When his older brother Esau found out what had happened Rebekah and Issac send Jacob away to find a wife, and to avoid his brothers anger. In Genesis 28: 1-4 we read how when Jacob was preparing to leave his father Issac gave him a father’s blessing saying, “And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”

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“Rebekah” by James L. Johnson

In the Jubilees account it also tells how before Jacob left his mother also gave him a blessing. Jubilees 25:1 says that Rebekah “lifted up her face to heaven and extended the fingers of her hands, and opened her mouth and blessed the Most High God” and then that, “when the spirit of righteousness descended into her mouth, she placed both her hands on the head of Jacob”. It is important to note here that Rebekah was not performing a priesthood blessing. She had been moved by the spirit of the Lord to speak words of truth with power and authority, and was exercising the spiritual gift of prophecy. She spoke to her son like Elder Eyring’s mother did, receiving revelation to guide his life. This type of revelation is something that all mothers are entitled to receive for their children, because mother’s have a divine stewardship over their children before they are born, while they are within their home, and even as they grow to adulthood.

Rebekah used this spiritual gift and promised her son many of the same things Issac had also promised him. She said:

 

“Blessed art thou, Lord of righteousness and God of the age. And may He bless thee beyond all the generations of men. May He give thee, my Son, the path of righteousness,  And reveal righteousness to thy seed. And may He make thy sons many during thy life, And may they arise according to the number of the months of the year.  And may their sons become many and great beyond the stars of heaven, And their numbers be more than the sand of the sea. And may He give them this goodly land -as He said He would give it to Abraham and to his seed after him alway- And may they hold it as a possession for ever. And may I see (born) unto thee, my son, blessed children during my life, And a blessed and holy seed may all thy seed be. And as thou hast refreshed thy mother’s spirit during her life, The womb of her that bare thee blesses thee thus, [My affection] and my breasts bless thee And my mouth and my tongue praise thee greatly. Increase and spread over the earth, And may thy seed be perfect in the joy of heaven and earth for ever; And may thy seed rejoice, And on the great day of peace may it have peace. And may thy name and thy seed endure to all the ages, And may the Most High God be their God, And may the God of righteousness dwell with them, And by them may His sanctuary be built unto all the ages. Blessed be he that blesseth thee, And all flesh that curseth thee falsely, may it be cursed.’

After she ended her blessing she kissed him, and told him, “May the Lord of the world love thee, As the heart of thy mother and her affection rejoice in thee and bless thee.”

This was probably the last time that Rebekah ever saw her son, as he didn’t return to his homeland again until he was an old man. Yet, I can imagine that he never forgot this blessing from his mother, nor how her words and actions influenced and shaped his life. Through Jacob would come the twelve tribes of Israel and the carrying forth of the Abrahamic covenant to the whole world… and Rebekah’s choices and influence had a big part in making that happen.

As I watched Elder Eyring’s display of emotion about his mother and the power of her words in his life, I was reminded just what a powerful calling motherhood is . It is more than giving life to a child, it is more than cooking, cleaning, feeding, and nurturing that life into existence. It is about shaping and  molding individuals into the spiritual giants they are inside. It is about receiving revelation and direction from God that will influence and bless your posterity. It is about serving others with power and authority. It is about influencing the course of history and it is about changing the world.

So don’t be afraid to open your mouth and help guide your children with power and authority. It is your birthright and your privilege as a mother. You never know what great work God is working through you or how your words and actions will shape generations.

And don’t ever doubt that what you do matters, because it does.  More than you will ever realize.

 

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Elder Wong’s Talk on Teamwork

October 7, 2014 in Midwives, Motherhood, Pregnancy, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I really enjoyed watching General Conference this past weekend.  I especially loved hearing talks in native tongues. Was anyone else bothered by the dubbing of english over their voices?  I would have preferred to just have subtitles and hear their voice.  It was still awesome!

I loved Elder Wong’s talk.  He spoke of the story of when Christ healed the man stricken with palsy, where his friends had to lower him through the roof.  His example of bringing it into our time and how we need to have teamwork to help heal others was so meaningful to me.

I visit teach a Sister who has a daughter who has been struggling with health issues for almost 4 years.  I LOVE this family.  Indeed there is a team who serves them from the ward.  I wish all realized each little thing they did means so much.  I wish more would reach out.  I want to go and assign this talk to everyone in the ward to read!!

Similarly, members must “work together in unity and in harmony” in order to assist the Savior in rescuing others. “Everyone, every position, and every calling is important,” Elder Wong said. “We have to be united in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Of course I also thought about how it applies to birth.  How it takes a team to create, grow and birth a baby.  While really it is the Mom who bears most of the burden, as those around her work in unity and harmony her pregnancy, birth and postpartum can go so much more smoothly!

What was your favorite talk?

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Delivered {Book Review}

October 2, 2014 in Book reviews, Heather, Jesus Christ, Mary, Midwives, Uncategorized by Heatherlady

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by J. L. Van Leuven and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing her new (and first) novel called “Delivered”. The novel is set in New Testament times and is a fictional account of the midwife who assisted Mary during the birth of Jesus Christ. On her blog J.L Van Leuven writes this about her book,

” I was taking a bath one evening when a story came into my mind. It was not just any ordinary story. It was a story of the midwife who delivered Jesus Christ. The story came into my mind with complete detail from the beginning to the end. It was all I could think about for days and days. I decided that I needed to write it out… There actually came a point when I was working on the book late at night after I had gotten off of work… I went to save the manuscript when I accidentally saved a blank document on top of my manuscript thus deleting the 171pages I had written so far. I sat looking at the screen feeling sick to my stomach. I wanted to quit right then and there. I do not have time for this I thought. I cannot possibly rewrite all of this. I felt a sense of peace come to me and I knew that it would be okay. I reluctantly began writing the manuscript again the very next day. It only took two more months to rewrite the deleted portion of the book and finish it completely…. I knew in the end that it was not of my own doing and that I could not take all the credit. This was a book of inspiration. I was guided through out the entire process which allowed it to come into being. I love this story and the characters that have come forth from it. I hope to tell the world this story. It is one that has never been told before. “

I was intrigued by her comments about her book and after reading was curious to know even more. So I emailed her and asked her to share more of her experiences writing this book. Here is what I asked:

I really loved your main character, Ada, and I am wondering if she was patterned off anyone you know or where the idea for her character came. 

 To answer the first question truthfully I must be open and honest.  I wrote Ada as I was guided to write her. I honestly never thought she would come out like she did. I knew the book would be a spiritual journey for the reader but never imagined to what extent until I had completed writing it. It was as though I put on a cloak allowing me to see the world as she would. I felt as though I could see and perceive things as she did and then I wrote the book from her perspective feeling every emotion as though I were her.  I knew her name would be Ada even from the first thought of her. I knew she was a very significant person with a very special story. After writing her story I was strengthened in ways known by my spirit only. It is hard to put into words the changes that can occur in ones soul. Somehow words do not do it justice.

On your blog you mention that the idea for this book came to you while you were taking a bath and that you saw the whole story from start to finish. I am curious to know more about that experience. Which parts of the book did you start out with and how did your writing process evolve? 

The story  of Ada came into my mind one evening in the first part of January. I was listening to the Hallelujah by the Cloverton group.  I actually had listened to this song before and loved it but never had a thought about Ada until this evening. As I listened to the words in the song. I pictured Ada as a young girl growing up in Bethlehem. I could see her life in my mind. I saw her fall in love. I saw what happened to her love and the pregnancy take place. I saw her lose her child in the way that I described in the book. At the end I knew that midwifery and birth would slowly start to heal her wounds in a way that is hard to explain to people outside of the birthing world. I also knew that she would carry a wound so deep and so painful that the only way for it to be healed was through Jesus Christ. Although not as an adult but even from infancy his greatness would heal her and she would understand her destiny and purpose in this life. She would see just who he was and it would cause her to remember who she was. It was through the actual birth she would be healed in the most complete and remarkable way. Which will happen to us all at some point but at times in our lives it is hard to comprehend the glory and magnitude of it all. That is the basic story that came into my mind. As I started to write I developed the plot and surrounding story from researching the Jewish archives and the history of Herod the great. It was amazing to me that the obstetric history of Miriamne II fit in so perfectly with my story. It fit so precisely that the event of Miriamne I was in fact the same year as the birth of Christ. It was amazing to me that the more I researched the more the story came to me and the pieces pulled together making for one amazing story. The story that came to me in the beginning was just of Ada and did not include everything else.

I was intrigued by your depiction of Mary and the experiences of her early life. You depicted her in a way I’d never thought of before and I enjoyed your perspective. Where did your ideas about Mary come from and what are your personal feelings about her? 

 Mary, wow what can I say about her. I have loved every story I have ever read about her in my entire life. I have always wondered about her. I have had several conversations with my mother about her. We have researched her. I have read several books depicting her in many different ways. I pulled from all of the knowledge I had of her and created her story again in the way that I was guided to write it. I knew that Mary would know who she was from a young age just as her son Jesus Christ did. I knew that God would have a close relationship with her and that angels would most likely surround her and minister to her from a young age. I had heard a story long ago about her purity. I remembered the story saying that her feet never touched the earth because of the promise her mother had made. The more I thought about this the more it made sense to me that the reason she was so pure is because they had gone to great lengths to keep her so. The idea of her becoming a temple maiden at a very young age and staying within the walls of the temple most of her life made sense to me. These are the reasons that she stayed so pure. She was protected and guided to be a part of the greatest work this world and the worlds beyond would ever know. Again I believe she was very aware of who she was and what role she was to play. She stood through it all with grace and strength from above even until the very end. As a mother myself I cannot even begin to imagine what strength and courage she had. My words fail me when I try to describe what I truly feel about her.

How does your faith influence your writing? What challenges and blessings did you experience as you wrote this book? 

 The book itself was a huge leap of faith for me. I have never been a writer and lack confidence in my writing. The impression for Ada’s story was so strong in my mind that I could not ignore it. So with reservations about my ability I began to write. I loved the story so much after I had finished it. When lost the 171pages I felt sick. I just stared at the blank screen unsure of how I should react. My first thought was that I do not have time for this. I am a full time mom, wife, and nurse. I prayed to know what I should do. A calming spirit came over me and I knew that I still needed to write the story. So with strength beyond myself I sat down the very next day and began to write the story again. I found two flaws in the accuracy of the original story and corrected my mistakes. I moved forward with faith in God’s guidance. I completed writing the story in just 3 months.  I looked back in wonder and amazement that I was able to do that. Even with all that said I still was very nervous to let the story go into the world to be judged of others. When you write something so personal it feels as though you have made yourself very vulnerable on a deep level. I was reassured by a scripture I read one morning in 2Nehpi 33:4. It talks about the spirit making my weakness strong through means of the spirit of God. I was comforted by this so much that it gave me the courage to continue and publish the book. I hope that this book will help cause others to believe, endure, and know that at the end of all the sacrifice lies eternal life.
Thank you Jessica for answering my questions! And here are my thoughts about it. I’ll give three likes and three critiques.
Critiques

1. The first part of the book was a little slow and cumbersome for me. Mostly because I felt that it wasn’t very historically accurate. The lives and intereactions between characters seemed much too modern to be in New Testament times. For example, even though I thought the courtship of Ada and Asher was sweet (and romantic) it felt more like the type of experience that modern day 16-year-old would have if her parents arranged her marriage and not what a girl in the New Testament would have experienced.  It was nice that you felt like you could relate to the main character but it also diminished from the historical feeling of the book. There were also customs or practices that she mentioned in the book that weren’t very historically accurate and sometimes that was distracting to me. But in all fairness, she did a pretty good job and it didn’t detract from the main plot line or message  of the story.

2. The book is self published and there are some noticeable mistakes in the text and in the layout. The most noticeable ones were the time lapses that sometimes came to dramatically without any transition. There are a few places where the paragraph will end and then all of a sudden the next paragraph is three months or three years later. That was a bit confusing and it would have been better if she could have started them at the beginning of a chapter or put a marker in to signal a time change. The book feels self published (which isn’t a bad thing– TGOGL is self published too!) but it would be good to know that before you buy it so you know what to expect.

3. I think my last critique is probably a more personal one, but it bothered me that some of the birth stories in the book seemed written from a medical mindset of birth. For example, the midwife is always very involved in the births always checking for cervical dilation, coaching the woman when and how to push,  catching the baby herself instead of having the mother do it (except in the case of Mary), even using a birth stool so that women are in a more convenient positions for her to deliver the baby rather than for the main purpose of helping the mother. There were times when I felt you could have transplanted the same experience right into the modern day hospital (with a great midwife) and it would have been just about the same… which in all honesty may have been the case. We don’t really know how births went in New Testament times and it is probable that some of them were as “hands on” as this midwife was, but I tend to think that birth was probably more of mother-led experience back then instead of the more practitioner-led experience it is today. Mary’s birth was really the only one where the midwife really was just a witness, a support person to help if needed, but not one to direct or manage the birth. It felt the most like the type of  homebirths I have attended and wished that there would have been more of those type of experiences in the book.

Likes

1. I really loved the characters. The main character, Ada, is wonderful, likeable, intriguing and interesting. I also love it that the love of her life is named Asher (my son’s name) and that she is surrounded by a diverse group of interesting characters. Ada goes through some heart wrenching experiences in her life but even with all that sorrow the book is not depressing or sad. She focuses on how her faith supports her and carries her through to perform the mission she was called to do. I also love it how you see how the Lord prepared her for her mission from the time she was young, even though Jesus’s birth didn’t happen until she was much older.

2. I liked how the author portrayed the midwives as skilled and capable. In the book Ada and her mother (the local midwives) are seen as holy women who pray and wash before every birth and who develop their skills and practices. They use a wide variety of herbs, spices and oils and have tricks to help mothers in all sorts of situations. They handle everything from breeches, hemorrhages and premature babies and do it with skill. I like this because I think too often when we imagine birth in times past we just assume that women didn’t get any sort of quality treatment or care. I don’t think that was the case. I think that like the author illustrated in her book that there have always been women (and sometimes men) who developed great skill in assisting women in childbirth.  It was nice to see her portray midwifery in that positive light.

3. I loved the idea and message that this book sent… that God is aware of each of us and that he prepares us for our missions in life in ways that we don’t always understand. I also loved the idea of imagining what Mary’s birth experience would have been like. I wouldn’t have ever imagined it like it happened in the book, but I enjoyed the author’s perspective and ideas. The truth is that we don’t really know what happened and so anything is possible. I loved imagining.

The Bottom Line

I enjoyed this book, and at one point it was even hard for me to put it down to go to bed. I enjoyed the characters, the plot of the book, and the spiritual message. I had to remind myself sometimes to not get hung up on historical details because this is a NOVEL and the author can use her imagination and depict things any way she wanted. In the end I think she did a really wonderful job and very much enjoyed her perspective. It is an interesting, engaging and thought provoking story and is one that I think would make a perfect gift for anyone interested in midwifery and birth.

I also think it is one that anyone who has ever wondered what it would have been like to be at the birth of Jesus Christ would love… because she gives you just a glimpse of what– maybe– happened.

And I loved that.

You can buy “Delivered” by J. L. Van Leuven through Amazon.

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Embracing and Sneezing. Two Healing Powers

October 2, 2014 in Uncategorized by Progressive Prophetess

More than a year ago I read a story in 2 Kings 4 that kind of blew my mind on many levels. Some of the Ah Ha’s were personal but there are also some great universals about healing and yes, about Kundalini Yoga. :)

I recommend reading the whole story and then reading the rest of my post. But here is the cliff notes version: Elisha (not to be confused with Elija) often passes through this one town and a Shunamite woman always invites him to eat with them. Then she convinces her husband to make a whole room for Elisha so that he can stay overnight whenever he passes through. She recognizes he is a man of God and wants to help him.

One day Elisha decides to bless her for her kindness and so he tells her within a year she will have a child. She basically says, “don’t mess with me if you don’t mean that.”

Within a year she has a son. He grows up a little–old enough to help his father with the reaping. Then he complains of a headache and goes home to lie down. He dies on his mother’s knees. The mother doesn’t tell anyone, instead she asks for the chariots to be saddled and flies as fast as they will drive to see Elisha far away on is mountain.

When she gets there, some interesting things happen. She tells the servant, who has gone out to meet her, that all is well. But as soon as she gets into Elisha’s presence, she grabs him and basically freaks out and says, why would you promise me a son and then have him die.

The servant attempts to throw her off, but Elisha says:

“Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.”

Elisha_and_Shunamite_1335-176

At that point in my life, I was recovering from a short-lived marriage and it was comforting to know that even prophets don’t always know when some one’s soul is vexed within them. Sometimes God might not tell us, for reasons of his own.

But on to the good stuff. Elisha eventually goes to the house where the boy is and performs and interesting healing. I think it is important to read it word for word here.

32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.
34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
36 And he called Gehazi, [his servant] and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son.

When I read this I was fascinated by the words “stretched himself upon.” I immediately thought of two things. The first was I thought of stories I had heard about Yogi Bhajan. He was a great master, and by that I mean unlike anyone you know. He had powers. And my teachers have told stories about how he had the ability to throw his aura over people and take their stuff for them–in such cases when he knew they couldn’t work it out themselves–and he’d work it out of his own aura. It was a very Christ-like thing. [FYI don't try it at home. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are Yogi Bhajan.] So I thought of that and wondered if that was what he was going when it says that he stretched himself. All the cross references scriptures are interesting. Elija does a similar thing in 1 Kings, and Paul raises someone from the dead by falling on him and “embracing him.”

elisha

This strikes me as some pretty advanced and also simple energy healing. It seems to me that when a highly elevated person hugs you, it can be powerful enough to raise the dead. It might take a few times of being stretched upon as it did in this story (I love that he paced in between. Almost like he was waiting for a birth. A rebirth.)

The second thing I thought of was a night a few years before when I was already on the Kundalini rocket ship and was feeling really amazing. I was lying in bed and felt a presence come and lay down on me. Not in a sexual way. More like a blanket. It was protective and loving and I thought it was the energy of someone I knew. I still don’t know who it was, but I know it was helping me. So I believe that this energy healing/stretching/embracing can come from both the physical and metaphysical realm.

The next part of the passage that I found super interesting was that the boy sneezed 7 times and then opened his eyes and sat up.

I feel like nothing in the scriptures is extra. Why would it mention this? I had all kinds of hypothesis at the time and only recently did I get the final clarity. You may not be surprised that it came from Yogi Bhajan. He was talking about sneezing and Prana.

If you don’t know, prana is that life force. It gives life to the universe. It is the Light of Christ. It is in all things without being those things. For example, it is in air without being air. When you die, you still have some air in your body but no prana.

So the boy was dead. No prana.

On of the best ways to take in more prana is by using the breath. Even though it is not air, it comes in on the air, so if you consciously take in more air, you take in more prana and more life force. Yogi Bhajan compares it to Atomic Power. It is that energy that keeps the atom alive! Most people don’t breath adequately enough and so their health declines. But some people have a large lung capacity and a store of pranic energy in the body. There is a special place in the body where you can actually store prana. It’s kind of like a metaphysical pocket in the the 8th vertebra. That vertebra is connected to the heart by way of a nerve that passes through the diaphragm.
“Your heart is just a bunch of muscles and, when the heart nerve, which comes from the eighth vertebra, must adjust the electrical energy to accommodate a change in the flow of the Ida and Pingala nerve channels, the resulting shift in praana causes you to sneeze….So if you are shy to sneeze and suppress it, you are denying the heart the electrical adjustment it needs.” – Yogi Bhajan

All along I had suspected that the seven sneezes acted like a sort of defibrillator on the boys heart. And it seems it is true. The sneezes electrically adjusted his heart. But it was the shift in prana which caused the sneezing. The shift in prana is something that must have happened miraculously through Elisha’s stretching himself on him, perhaps transferring prana into him.
“A developed pranaic cavity can give healing power: ‘Moment you will concentrate on that person and you have (control the) praanic cavity, your praanas will pass to the being. This is automatic and he will immediately feel the effect.'” – Yogi Bhajan quoted in Praana Praanee Pranayam 16-17
This reminds me of a quote from Parley P. Pratt about “spiritual fluid.” If you don’t understand praana the words “holy fluid” seem strange, but that is what he called it. It is clear to me though that he is talking about prana or the Light of Christ.

“The spiritual or holy fluid conveys itself, through certain channels, from one body to another in accordance with certain legitimate laws. The usual channel for all spiritual fluids whether holy or impure, in their operations upon the human system, or in their passage from one animal body to another is the nerves. A person commissioned of Jesus Christ and filled with this spiritual substance, can impart of the same to another, provided there is a preparation of heart and faith on the part of the receiver.” – Key to the Science of Theology 110

(FYI, If you are interested in learning more about harnessing the power of the prana, I am teaching a Breath of Life Series right now that would be a good intro if you have never done Kundalini Yoga. More info is here: www.treeoflifekundaliniyoga.com/prana.html)

A friend of mine, Lisa, pointed out that the laying on people thing reminded her of kangaroo care. She also pointed out the babies sneeze a lot. Random? Or

Here is the wiki definition of Kangaroo Care:

Kangaroo care is a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult. Kangaroo care for pre-term infants may be restricted to a few hours per day, but if they are medically stable that time may be extended. Some parents may keep their babies in-arms for many hours per day. Kangaroo care, named for the similarity to how certain marsupials carry their young, was initially developed to care for preterm infants in areas where incubators are either unavailable or unreliable.

Lisa says that kangaroo care saved her son’s life.

Do you have any stories about sneezing or about Kangaroo Care/Stretching/Embracing?

 

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This has completely changed the way I view motherhood, pregnancy and birth

October 1, 2014 in Book reviews, Motherhood, Pregnancy by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

This an absolutely amazing book! I purchased one at a birth/baby expo in Orem, UT and then I bought one online for my sister-in-law for her birthday. This has completely changed the way I view motherhood, pregnancy and birth. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about this book. I love that it is broken down in small increments so that as a busy mom I can read a story here, and an article there.
If you are LDS and planning on having kids, have kids or know someone who does, please buy this book for yourself or them.

 

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

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