by Lani

Celebrating Life on Mother’s Day

April 23, 2016 in Abortion, Adoption, Adversity, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Heavenly Mother, Lani, Loss, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Waiting by Lani

 

Image SourceMother’s Day can be really hard.

Hard because you want to be a mother, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Hard because you recently lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth.

Hard because you’re healing from an abortion.

Hard because you have been waiting to adopt for a very long time.

Hard because you weren’t able to have as many children as you wanted.

Hard because your mother passed away, and you miss her terribly.

Hard because you wish you could spend more time with your children.

Hard because you’re a single father without a partner.

Hard because you’re a single mother, and you’re tired of doing it alone.

Hard because you’re unable to be with your husband or wife because of military, work, or other reasons.

Hard because your stepchildren reject you.

Hard because your mother struggled to give you the love you needed.

Hard because you struggle yourself to be the mother you want to be.

Hard because your mother was brutally abusive.

Hard because your mother committed suicide.

Hard because you gave your heart and soul to raising your kids, and now you never hear from them.

Hard because you long to know your Mother in Heaven.

So hard.

It’s OK if you love Mother’s Day. It’s OK if you hate Mother’s Day. Your feelings about Mother’s Day are valid and real, and I want you to let yourself feel them. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to hide your tears. Because I believe Dr. Aletha Solter’s words about children are also true about adults:

No matter what the source of stress, children will not feel better until they have been allowed to cry and rage as much as needed (Tears and Tantrums, p. 12).

Sometimes we will cry and rage for years.

I can’t take away your pain. I won’t take away your pain. Your pain belongs to you. But I do want you to know that I celebrate you.

I have carried some heavy rocks in my backpack. One of the heaviest was labeled: no-will-to-live. It was so heavy that when it was gone I felt like I might float right up to cloud nine-hundred-and-nine from the relief of it. I never could have imagined how much joy and hope my future would hold. I thank God every day that I chose life. This Mother’s Day I have so much to celebrate.

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These words quoted in our most recent General Conference are brutally true:

Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure. –Thomas S. Monson

I know you have carried, are carrying, and will carry some of your own heavy rocks. You too have known indescribable sorrows. You have dragged yourself, bloody and bruised, over piercing paths and menacing mountains.

But.

You are still here. You are still breathing. You have successfully endured. All of your days. And all of your nights. And you are still here.

That is why I celebrate you.

Yes, let’s celebrate mothers. Because there are some inspiring and remarkable mothers out there, and thank the Lord for those nurturing souls who heal humanity with their presence. Yes, let’s celebrate women. Because women give life in so many ways beyond what happens in the womb. But even if you don’t personally feel like celebrating anything on May 8th this year (and that is totally OK), I will still be celebrating you.

That’s what Mother’s Day will be for me this year… A celebration of the gift of life. A celebration of the ones who gave us this messy, brutal, exquisitely beautiful thing we’re living every day.

I will celebrate those who have had the courage to give life, and with an extra measure of compassion and awe I will also celebrate those who have had the courage to give life a chance. And to keep giving life a chance… day in and day out… even when those days are full of ache.

I am so glad your mother gave you the gift of life. I am so glad you exist. And every day that you choose to keep going is a gift to humanity and yourself.

On May 8th I’ll be holding you in my heart.

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Sale begins April 24th

Sale begins April 24th

by Robyn

How a Prisoner of War Story Helped Me Prepare for Birth

January 20, 2016 in Adversity, Book, Depression, Faith, Fear, Gratitude, Guest Post, Jesus Christ, joy, Missions, Motherhood, Pain, Postpartum Depression, Pregnancy, Preparation, Robyn, Savior, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Waiting by Robyn

American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9 near Mariveles in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II. Starting on April 10 from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Penisula, 70,000 POWs were force-marched to Camp O'Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. (AP Photo)

American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9 near Mariveles in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II. Starting on April 10 from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Penisula, 70,000 POWs were force-marched to Camp O’Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. (AP Photo)

 

I want to thank my friend Natalie for this beautiful post.  We became friends because of our mutual love for birth but beyond that Natalie really is a beautiful person inside and out.  –Robyn


I am currently “overdue” with my FIFTH boy. Yes, my fifth. There are no girls among them. That’s a lot of boys. And oh how I love them. 
And after all these boys, I am a bit experienced, in my own experience at least.  And that is why I have been so scared recently. Yes, scared to bring home another baby because I know what could possibly be coming along with him.  Finally, after going through 4 newborn phases, I’ve figured out that I usually get a good case of post partum OCD/anxiety. After I give birth, I really struggle with the newborn phase. I struggle with scary and intrusive thoughts, anxiety, lots of crying, irrational fears…… which result in guilt, embarrassment, shame, and feelings of failure, for a few months.  I’ve had some hard times. I know that there are a lot of mamas out there who also have hard times after their babies arrive. Oh how we love our babies, but we don’t love what the hormones that come along with them, can do to us.  And there are many mamas who go through much more intense experiences than I do –especially with post partum depression that can last for many, many months.
My poor little soon-to-be baby boy.  I am so excited to meet him, but I have not felt ready to jump into that phase of life again.  And yes, I’m over 40 weeks!  What 40 week pregnant woman isn’t asking every other mom what she can do to encourage her baby’s eviction!?  Me. I’ve been over here chanting… “Not quite yet. Not quite yet.”  So even before he’s here, I’ve already felt guilty for not being ready.
But that all changed a couple of days ago. On my actual “due date,” we had the adult session for our stake conference.  I decided to go, even though I’m at that phase where I just want to hibernate and not socialize or be seen in public. Yet, I knew it would probably be good for me to be spiritually fed. So I changed into my maxi skirt, told my husband to pull on my boots for me, and off we went.
I have been trying really hard to get emotionally and mentally prepared for this next phase.  I also have been constantly reminding myself that I have overcome it before, and I can overcome it again.  I’ve prayed and have continually given myself pep talks and positive affirmations.  I’ve been trying, but had not quite conquered the fear of the future. Earlier that day, I had broken down into tears, while telling my sister-in-laws how nervous I was to care for another baby. 
But we made the trek through the snow to our stake center. And on this night, a special story really struck me. Yes, a story about a man who was a prisoner of war.  I will share most of the story, but you can read the full article on LDS Living:

“When my father, Alfred R. Young, was liberated from a Japanese POW camp at the end of World War II, he weighed 90 lbs.—scrawny for any man, but skeletal for someone 6 feet 3 inches tall. His weight, however, was only ashadow of concern compared to his mental and emotional condition after 39 months of wartime captivity. He endured two hellship voyages; physical, mental and emotional starvation; innumerable beatings; forced labor; disease; psychological abuse; isolation; and six months of Allied bombing raids that eventually obliterated his prison camp, devastated Tokyo and Yokohama, and killed many of the men who had become his brothers.
His physical internment ended in 1945, but Dad was still a captive almost eight years later when I was born. I knew he was a captive because Icould see he was somewhere else, walled up inside the sternness of his countenance. I knew it because I could see emptiness in the depths of his eyes.
One of those pictures was a close-up of a man completely alone, whose eyes were so deeply set that sunlight could not reach them. I can still remember my amazement upon learning that the man in the picture was my father.
In 1939, Dad had enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and was bound for Fort McDowell near San Francisco. From there, he was sent to Clark Field—an air base on Luzon Island in the Philippines.
Dad’s enlistment required only two years of duty overseas, but by 1941, America was preparing for war and his return to the States was canceled. Consequently, on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dad endured the terrible destruction that swept over Clark Field, doing to America’s air power in the Pacific what had just been done to its navy. Before the war was two days old, Dad had lost two bombers and was the sole survivor of his crew.
Christmas 1941 found him in a foxhole on an island named Bataan. In the dead of night, his outfit was split up and he was assigned to a group that boarded an inner island cruiser. He was assigned to a machine gun post on the Pulangi River among the iguanas and head hunters.
For four months, he watched planeload after planeload of American officers and men evacuating from the Del Monte Air Field just a few miles tothe north. As a bombardier, he should have been aboard, but the call never came. One morning, he and his men awoke to discover that their officers had vanished in the night. Those left behind survived on worm infested rice, lived off the land, traded with the More people, and eventually retreated into the hills.
Life as a Prisoner
When his command surrendered in May 1942, he passed through thegate of a makeshift prison camp at Malabalay. From there he was among prisonersloaded into what would become known as a hellship and was taken to Manila’s in famous Bilibid Prison. From Bilibid, he and thousands of other prisoners were loaded into the holds of unmarked freighters bound for hard labor in Japan to drive the Imperial machinery of war.
Climbing down the metal ladders into the dark holds of those ships, prisoners were forced at rifle butt onto cargo shelves where they crawled in darkness toward the bulkhead. Dad descended until nothing but the naked rivets and rough joinery of the hull separated him from the murky waters of Manila Bay. In the deep shadows, he crawled through the prisoners, already packed intothe hold like bodies without coffins, until he came to the small wedge of a space where the curvature of the hull met the underside of a cargo shelf. The hatch closed. Darkness swallowed him.
Cradled in cold steel and stifling stench, groaning men with dysentery and other diseases lived and died around him in their own waste. It was impossible to know whether the shadowy forms around him were still men, orcorpses. The only reprieve was waiting on deck in the long lines for the over-the-side latrines that had to serve nearly 2,000 prisoners.
Because the freighters were unmarked, during their journey they came under Allied submarine attack. Dad watched, with the rest of the men inline, none of whom had a life jacket, as the captain tried to out-maneuver white tufted torpedo trails that claimed more than 3,000 prisoners. Fortunately, Dad’s ship escaped such a fate.
Not until the prisoners aboard the Tottori Maru were unloaded in Busan and hosed down on the docks like cattle, were all the dead discovered inthe holds. From Busan they sailed for Mojiand. Dad was sent to a labor camp on the island of Kawasaki in Yokohama’s waterfront industrial area.
There he endured steel gray days of disease, deprivation, starvation, forced labor, humiliation, beatings, and the constant threat of death for more than three years. He worked at the nearby steel mill, brick factory, railroadyard, and docks.
Reading material in the camp was scarce. He read Robin Hood so many  times he never wanted to see it again. Commenting one day to a fellow prisoner about how glad he would be for anything new to read, Jim Nelson, a young man from Utah, said he had a book he would gladly loan to him, but it was about religion. Dad exclaimed that he was desperate enough to read anything. Anything!
With the book in hand, Dad took it to the mat where he slept, sat down cross-legged under his blanket and began his first reading of the Book of Mormon. Much to his delight, it was not a book about religion, it was a story.
In fact, it was a story about a family, and memories of childhood and family were something that had already saved his life through the long ordeal of captivity. Whether it was the dreariness of meaningless labor or surviving the kicks and fists of his captors, he escaped into his memories of home, and in the Book of Mormon he found himself suddenly in a family with a bunch of rough and rowdy kids who acted just like his five brothers and two sisters.
Before the story was 10 pages old, the neighbors had tried to kill the father, the family had left home, wealth, and comfort behind to cross a wilderness, and the boys were swept up in a quest. And it was an exciting onethat resulted in theft of the family fortune, assault and battery on the youngest brother, beheading a corrupt military commander, subterfuge (complete with costume), kidnapping a servant, and smuggling a priceless treasure out of town in the dead of night. Whether or not the book had any religious significance, it was one walloping good tale!
After completing the Book of Mormon, Dad asked if there were other books like it that Jim would let him read. Jim admitted he had another book, but he really didn’t think Dad would like it. Dad pleaded, however, and excitedly returned to his mat and his blanket to lose himself once again, this time in the pages of something called the Doctrine and Covenants. When he finally finished, Jim wanted to know what Dad thought. Dad replied thoughtfully: “It’s very well-written, but the plot is lousy.”
Liberation at Last
From October 1944 through July 1945, as Allied air strikes intensified over Tokyo and Yokohama, Dad lived in the crosshairs of Allied bombsights that widened their circle of terror night after night and then day after day, killing  many friends and forcing him to dispose of their remains while assigned to body-burning work details.
Liberation finally came on August 29, 1945. In the chaos of release, Dad lost track of Jim. In fact, he tried to lose track of everything stained with the memory of his time as a POW. However, he crammed a  duffle bag with  belongings and memories he wanted to forget and put Jim’s books  on top of everything else.
On his way home, Dad kept leaving the duffle bag behind from ship to ship and port to port, trying to lose it. But from Tokyo Bay to Tulsa, it kept turning up, always a few days or weeks behind. But those were days for forgetting. The world had changed. Dad was out of step and anxious to make up for lost years. So the books followed him through his re-enlistment, marriage, a promising career in nuclear weapons, and the death of a daughter.
The books were still there when I was born in Albuquerque in 1953. Owing to the loss of their daughter, my parents feared to even hope that they might bring me home from the hospital, but I survived. And after a year, they began to look farther ahead, wanting to offer me a better home environment than they knew how to create. Those were days before post-traumatic stress had a name, and Dad was still captive to the ghosts of Kawasaki, disabling headaches, paralyzing dreams, alcoholism, and other disabilities resulting from the beatings, psychological abuse, and starvation.
Faced with a crisis of parenting, Dad remembered the Book of Mormon and the talks he had had with Jim about the Church. So he looked up the Church in the phone book and left a message asking that the missionaries drop by. Time passed, the message was lost, and the missionaries never came; at least, not in response to the phone message.
Weeks later, however, two full-time missionaries, traveling through our neighborhood en route to their tracting area, decided to try just one more door before going home for dinner.  They picked out our little house in the middle of the block. No one answered the doorbell; Mother was in the backyard and Dad wasn’t home from work.  But as the two missionaries mounted their bikes and were about to leave, Dad, who had worked a lot of overtime recently and had decided to come home early that afternoon, pulled into the driveway. Ignorant of Dad’s message asking that the missionaries drop by, they  introduced themselves.  Dad replied: “It’s about time. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Mother and Dad were baptized in the spring of 1956. In August ofthe following year, our little family was sealed in the Los Angeles Temple. On the way back to Albuquerque, we stopped in Reno, Nevada. Dad had had no contact with Jim Nelson since the war but had heard he was living in Nevada.
We stopped at a pay phone and Dad found a listing for James Nelson. A phone call and a brief conversation with Mrs. Nelson confirmed that it was the same Jim Nelson who had been a prisoner of war in Japan, but he was still at work. We drove to the Nelson home and were sitting in the living room when Jim got there. The reunion was everything that could be wished, but nothing was said about the Church. Nothing, that is, until Dad reached down to pick up the two books he had hidden on the floor beside the couch.
“Jim,” he said as he lifted the volumes into view, “We’re on our way home from the LA Temple where we’ve been sealed and thought we’d drop by to return your books.”
Until the day Dad died, in 2012, he was true to what many people have heard him say: “If what I went through was the only way I could receive the Book of Mormon, I would do it all again—even knowing beforehand what Iwould have to endure—just to have that book.”
Wow. Wow. What an amazing story.  What a HARD experience.  I sat there feeling grateful for the blessedlife that I live, and for the challenges that I have, even though some trials may be difficult.  And then it hit me.
“If what I’ve gone through is the only way I could have received my children in this life, I would/will do it all again – even knowing beforehand what I would/will have to endure – just to have my precious children.”
 
And just like that, something clicked in my mind and in my heart.  I wondered if there was a time when I was accepting my life’s mission as a Mother, where I told Heavenly Father the same sort of thing. That I was willing to go through such hardships, to bring my children to me in this earth life. Somewhere, sometime, I just might have agreed to this.  I know I can do it. I know it’s worth it. I know I’ll have another beautiful little soul to love and who will love me for many years to come. To enrich and bless my life. To teach me. To help me grow, and who can live with the rest of our family forever and ever. What a blessing. And I will go through what I need to go through, to have him in my life.
How especially blessed am I to know of God’s love for me. That He will be there for me, if these times are difficult, and if I have to go through the hardships of newborn life. I had someone remind me of a beautiful song, that I could apply to my post partum period.  I love it so much – it’s been in my head ever since. I want to share the words that strengthen me, even when I feel like my world is falling apart.  The song is “MyKindness Shall Not Depart from Thee,” written by Rob Gardner.  You can listen to it on this link .
Though thine afflictions seem
At times too great to bear,
I know thine every thought and everycare.
And though the very jaws
Of hell gape after thee I am with thee.
 
And with everlasting mercy will I succor thee,
And with healing will I take thee ‘neath my wings.
Though the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
Know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
 
The Son of Man hath descended below all things.
Art thou greater than He?
 
So hold on thy way,
For I shall be with thee.
And mine angels shall encircle thee.
Doubt not what thou knowest,
Fear not man, for he
Cannot hurt thee.
 
And with everlasting kindness will Isuccor thee,
And with mercy will I take thee ‘neath mywings.
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
 
You can watch the music video here:

 

 

Kindness – Paul Cardall – from Ephraim’s Rescue Soundtrack (2013)
by Robyn

Grumpy: The “Real” First Stage of Labor

January 18, 2016 in Doulas, Pregnancy, Robyn, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Waiting by Robyn

 

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My very pregnant friend texted me, “I am soooo grumpy today. Please tell me that is a sign. Haha.”
And I texted back, “Oh yes, in fact, I think it was officially added to the map of labor. It is its own stage I’m sure.”

Well. Isn’t it?

We must get grumpy before the baby comes!

Well, at least I do.  And being a doula and childbirth educator I see it in many of the mommas I work with. I would say it is the “transition” part of pregnancy or even that stage of labor before the first stage of labor.  For me it is when I get to the point that it is better for me to stay at home rather than go out.  Why? Because I will just get offended or offend someone else.  Truly.  Save me.  It happens even though I try so hard to pretend to have my cool in those last weeks and days before the baby comes. And this stage can last and last so beware!

But who can blame a woman for snapping back when someone says to her,

“You look like you are going to pop.”

“Are you like overdue now?”

“Wow! your belly is big.”

“When is that baby coming?”

Seriously?  My BIG pregnancy clothes don’t fit, I can’t shave my legs, I mistake pee for amniotic fluid and you want to remind me that I look big.  Boo!  And by ‘boo’ I mean scatter, move aside, grumpy pregnant lady coming through.  Don’t mess with me.

Anyhow, if you are in the “grumpy” place, good, that means you are almost there. You are going to make it I promise!

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.

by Lani

Cherie Burton Book Review

April 28, 2014 in Adoption, Adversity, Book reviews, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Personal Revelation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

150602_426562187424709_1846303491_nToday’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Cherie Burton. Cherie is an amazing, powerful woman and mentor/coach of other strong women. Because of her family’s history with depression and suicide, she is passionate about helping others achieve health and emotional balance. Cherie was also Utah County’s Young Mother of the Year in 2011 and considers being a wife and mother her greatest calling.

I loved meeting Cherie last summer. After she contacted me to set up a meeting, I spent some time on her blog reading about the miraculous and beautiful adoption of her Elijah. It struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons. One being that I began having spiritual experiences with my own unborn son (also named Elijah) almost as soon as my fourth baby was born. I felt his presence among my children often, I dreamed about him, I saw him in vision. Reading about Cherie finding her Elijah stirred my own heart’s assurance that my Elijah wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

I love Cherie’s post about The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:

the-gift-of-giving-life-book-review-1I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

You can read the rest of Cherie’s beautiful post HERE.

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by Lani

New Moon, New Year, New You

January 3, 2014 in Events, Jesus Christ, joy, Lani, Preparation, Savior, Waiting, Zion by Lani

On New Year’s day, I had the privilege of gathering with eleven lovely souls in a cozy space in Utah County to celebrate the New Year on the new moon with a powerfully symbolic group meditation.

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We also spent a lot of time talking about awesome spiritual things, among them the significance of the new moon. New moons and sabbaths were both considered sacred and special to the ancient Israelites. Jewish law required that certain rituals and sacrifices be performed on the new moon, and it was during the new moon that the gate to the inner court of the temple was opened, and the Lord presented Himself to the people at the gate (see Ezekiel 46:1-3). I like the way Felice explains this in her new moon blogpost: “It seems to me that if we are seeking Him, there is special opportunity on the Sabbath and the New Moon, when He ‘opens the gates to the inner court.'”

Isaiah 66 explains, “I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. . . . And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord” (vs. 18, 23).

I can’t help but draw a connection between the new moon, the empty womb, and the empty tomb. Each could be viewed through a variety of lenses. Each could be seen in terms of what they lack, but I prefer to see them in terms of what they have given birth to (or will). The new moon gives birth to increasing light. The empty womb has given birth (or will give birth in the future) to a precious new soul. And the empty tomb “gave birth” to the resurrected Christ who “gave birth” to eternal life for all of God’s children. When we look at the new moon, we can choose to rejoice that the waning of the light is over and the brightest light is to come.

I long so much for Christ’s return. So learning about the history and symbolism of the new moon has been especially meaningful for me. I intend to spend each of the coming new moons centering my thoughts and focus on the Savior, celebrating (in advance) the day of His return, seeking His “inner court” and His face, looking toward the increasing light that will come from the Light of the World.

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Before we can build the New Jerusalem on earth, we have to build that “city of peace” within ourselves. We have to become the New Lani or the New Marie or the New Jessica… new and improved, with salem/shalom or peace/security/wholeness at our cores. Let’s make 2014 the year that we make great progress in growing Zion within ourselves and our families, when we rejoice in the knowledge that our personal quests for greater light are bringing that future day of joy and triumph closer and closer. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

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by Lani

He will make her wilderness like Eden

December 13, 2013 in Adversity, Depression, Lani, Nourishment, Pain, Personal Revelation, Savior, Waiting, Zion by Lani

A few days ago I opened my scriptures in a random place… Jacob 5:

21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Lamenting this weak and flawed body/mind I’ve been given. It often feels like my spirit was planted in a very “poor spot of ground,” a very screwed-up, broken body/mind. I have a crooked and sometimes painful back, very poor eyesight, multiple food and chemical sensitivities that sometimes give me head and body aches, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and other ailments. It’s exhausting living in this body. Sometimes I sincerely doubt my ability to endure to the end.

As I pondered the scriptures I opened to, I saw what God was trying to tell me. Yes, I was planted in what could be called a “poor spot of ground.” But God knew exactly where He was planting me. In fact, my patriarchal blessing specifies that I was placed exactly where I am for a reason: “It is in this environment that you have been brought forth and placed in the families that you have been raised.” And even in this poor spot of ground, God has nourished me with intellect, talents, spiritual gifts, and lots of family and friends who love and support me. Through that abundant nourishment from God, I have, indeed, brought forth much fruit.

Then yesterday, I opened up my scriptures to Mosiah 2, to the beginning of King Benjamin’s address. And I noticed a scripture I hadn’t really “seen” before:

9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, . . . hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

10 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should . . . think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.

11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind.

I know our prophets are not perfect. I know they experience challenges just like the rest of us. But in that moment it just really struck me as a tender mercy to know that King Benjamin himself was open about experiencing “infirmities of the body and mind.” And I loved that he didn’t just say “infirmities.” He specified that both his body and his mind were affected. As one who experiences infirmities of both the body and the mind, it was comforting. King Benjamin did so much good. There’s no disputing that he played a crucial role on this earth. And he didn’t let his infirmities stand in his way. That inspires me.

 

My mom is always telling me that she never expected me to live very long. I don’t know if it was motherly intuition or just her own imagination. She often says things like, “You didn’t need to come here to be proven, but you wanted to come to make a difference in a world full of problems.” I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know how long God “will suffer that I may live.” But I pray that God’s grace will hold me up and carry me through whatever my future has in store… that I can bring forth more fruit unto the Lord, despite my infirmities. I also hold out hope in the promise found in Ether: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (12:27).

In two days, I’m singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” with a small group of women in sacrament meeting (pray this sore throat doesn’t get in the way!). I chose the song, in part, because it felt like a very personal prayer/lament. I long for the END. I long for the reign of peace and love. I ache for the day when darkness is destroyed, when the waste places of the world shall blossom like Eden, when my broken body will be made whole. O come, O come. Please come.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

by Lani

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1

November 4, 2013 in Birth Stories, Cesarean, Depression, Education, Faith, home birth, hospital birth, Lani, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Prayer, Preparation, Traumatic Birth, VBAC, Waiting by Lani

1011942_669099829783949_352451545_nCherise is an Arizona Mother, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Crafter, and Creator of the marvelous “Big Baby Project” (a website full of empowering vaginal births of babies 9 lbs and over). I love how her story illustrates what I wrote about in my essay “Unity with Providers of Care” in The Gift of Giving Life. I love that Cherise continued to search and pray until she found the right care provider for her. -Lani

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1
By Cherise Sant

My first encounter with childbirth started with the birth of my first child. That experience was eye opening, disappointing, affirming, traumatic, magical, overwhelming and set the stage for the worst depression of my life. I had resisted an induction but eventually caved to the pressure I was receiving from my obstetrician. The ultimate result was a healthy baby boy born via cesarean and my broken heart and body.

My second birth was an empowering vaginal birth in the hospital, but I was met with mistrust, abandonment and even violence though I had carefully chosen my provider and a “natural birth friendly” hospital. Even more disenchanting was to have my baby caught by a resident student as there was no obstetrician in the hospital at that time. If something catastrophic had occurred, I would either have had to wait until someone arrived or transfer to another hospital. It was then that I asked myself, “Why did I get out of my bathtub at home and tear down the freeway in transition to come here and meet negativity and contention when the help I was going to the hospital to potentially receive wasn’t even there?” I knew my next baby would be born at home. Should a need arise, I would then go to a hospital.

Three and a half years later, the month after my daughter weaned, I became pregnant again. Thankfully, there were a handful of midwives who had extra credentials, allowing them to legally attend me in a VBAC at home. I began to interview them. The first one I interviewed was “the one” – or so I thought, until I knelt down and prayed to know if she was. Very clearly, the answer was “no.” I was stunned. I knelt there in a sour stupor, trying to work out what that meant. Did that mean I wasn’t supposed to pursue a home birth? Was I willing to go back to the hospital? The next couple of weeks reflected no progress on the part of my attitude. I knelt down again and asked, hoping maybe I wasn’t clear that first time, but very clearly, the answer that came again was, “She’s not the one for you.”

I didn’t know whether this birth would involve a tragedy, but there was one person that did know all, and that was the Lord. So I resigned my will and continued the search. I was not only searching for a provider, but also asking whether home birth was the Lord’s will for my family. I really had to search myself- why did I want this? After a lot of prayer and contemplation I concluded that it was because I wanted my birth to be treated as sacred. I wanted the spirit of love to be unrestrained. I knew that would best be achieved in my home, with people I knew beforehand rather than meeting a stranger in a hospital and hoping for the best.

I interviewed another midwife, and then another. Their philosophies clearly did not match my own and I was feeling defeated. At the time I was teaching childbirth education at an obstetrician’s office, and knowing that she was more mother-baby-friendly than most, I considered choosing a hospital birth with her. Still, there was no peace and approaching my 17th week I felt like I was running out of time. I did NOT want a last minute scramble. I continued to pray, search my scriptures and explore my thoughts and feelings about all of the possibilities.

One weekend, I was volunteering at a birth event where a screening of a popular birth movie was taking place. I was sharing my dilemma with a friend and fellow birth worker. She then told me about a midwife who was credentialed to attend VBACs at home and that she’d been in practice for 30 years. In that moment, something came over my body, mind and Spirit that had never happened before. My bosom burned like a fire, and my mind flooded with messages of love and support from my Heavenly Father. I knew for certain that she was the one I was looking for. I got her information and sat down for an “interview,” though I already knew she was the one.

It turned out that not only did our philosophies match but she was the only midwife in the state (of whom I was aware) with the skills and support I was looking for. (And I was pretty picky.) In particular I wanted someone who was comfortable enough to use only her fetoscope during labor instead of the Doppler. I wanted access to herbal knowledge and teas – which she had an abundance of! The Lord knew exactly what I was looking for and wanted, and he was providing for me. I felt so loved.

Even still, the weight of my decision caused me to doubt. I prayed and sat down with my scriptures yet again. I opened right up to scripture which basically said to me, “I already answered your question, don’t keep searching for what you already have.” I prayed prayers of gratitude for my answer and continued to prepare.

Look for Part 2 (the birth story) in a future post…

by Lani

VBT #9: CJane on TGOGL

May 1, 2013 in Book, Book reviews, Fertility, home birth, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Preparation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from the lovely C Jane (and her sister Lucy). Here’s an excerpt:

Five years ago I wrote an essay called “The Hour Glass Theory for Segullah. It’s a piece about miscarriage, death, time and birth–the heavy things we feel. I wrote it to piece together the definitive answer we search for–when does life begin and when does it end?

I was honored when some of my fellow LDS sisters and birthers asked if they could publish my essay in their anthology The Gift of Giving Life–Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. It’s a book about birth and spirituality in all of its shades from–infertility, c-sections, adoption miracles and unassisted homebirths to name a few. As a bonus to me, my essay appears right next to Nat Holbrook in the book. Nat and I have plunged into infertility together where we became sisters in the trenches. (I also have an essay called “To My Sisters Who Still Hope” that appears in the infertility chapter.)

When the book came out I gave it to my sister Lucy. “The Hour Glass Theory is about her miscarriage and I thought it was fitting for her to have the book. But even better, she’s now pregnant with her third baby (a boy, due in June) and is currently in nesting glory. She devoured the book (it’s a hefty compilation, full of brilliant ideas and essays) and I asked for a short book review.

Click HERE to read the rest of the post.

I love how she ends her post: “Mother’s day is coming up . . . and I am recommending this book as a gift to any mother (buy it here).”  Of course we couldn’t agree more. 🙂

by Meleah

Have you had to wait upon the Lord?- VBT- #6

April 27, 2013 in Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Meleah

I love this post by Bri’s Thoughts. She is our next stop on our Virtual Book Store and I promise you don’t want to miss reading her post. If you have had to wait upon the lord in any aspect of your Child Birth Experience, this post is such an inspiration!

“Learning to wait upon the Lord’s timing can be difficult, particularly when we lean on
our own understanding.
A woman waiting for a child, whether she is waiting to conceive, waiting to go
into labor, or waiting for the imminent birth of her child, has a unique
opportunity to put her faith and trust in the Lord and demonstrate her
willingness to wait on Him. When she is patient and hopeful, she opens herself
up to receive miracles, great truths, and spiritual gifts.” – Heather Farrell,
CD (DONA)

 

Thank you Bri for a Great post.