Processing Motherhood with Poetry

August 16, 2015 in Abortion, Family size, fasting, Fear, Lani, Love, Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy

BYU graduation with my incredible grand-Mother

BYU graduation with my incredible grand-Mother

So we moved this summer. In the process of unpacking, I found a composition book with notes, freewriting, story ideas, and poetry from the Creative Writing class I took at BYU during the last semester of my senior year. I was newly pregnant with my first child at the time and thus processing a lot of my mother issues. As usual, one of the ways I chose to do this was through words. The following are two poems I wrote in the early months of 2003 and another written more recently.

This first poem is about my stepmother. She came into my life when I was about three or four years old. My dad met her while attending graduate school at BYU after his marriage with my mother ended. Unfortunately, he was no longer allowed to teach seminary as a divorced man. So he went back to school full time and worked to support our family as a single dad of six. I was the youngest, and desperately in need of maternal love and affection. My dad’s new girlfriend, a former elementary school teacher obtaining her doctorate in neuropsychology, could work magic with small children, and I was smitten from the start. She introduced us to literature, art, history, theater, cultural diversity, music, and lots of new foods. Who I am today I owe in large part to her influence.

Seeds

581653_594088200611546_572607400_nLooking up
A pair of small blue eyes
Soaked in all the love that she emanated
From her tall, beautiful figure.
A little hand,
Fingernails stubby from nibbling,
Grasped tightly
Her warm, slender fingers,
Safe.
A child’s ears
Swallowed her voice–
Drank in deeply the tales
Of Arabian Nights and
Trees that gave and gave.
The growing heart
Embraced the seeds she offered–
Words, knowledge, safety,
Love.
And the seeds still grow.

The next poem describes many women who have mothered me over the years: my mother, my sister, my grandmother, my stepmother, my aunt, and others. As I pondered my pregnancy and the path of motherhood, I thought a lot about these women and having had a rather non-traditional upbringing wondered whether I would be a “successful” mother.

My Mothers

I’ve been saved so many times
By gentle hands and soothing words.
She, with the instincts of life and nature,
Drew me to her.
In nights when only light and noise were solace,
She rescued me.
When the darkness and the silence were unbearable,
Or when I wept, incapable of expressing my fear,
Surrounded by familiar prisons, she pulled me out.
She had so many faces, so many names,
But her heart is called Mother.
Mothers.

mothers

Some of my “Mothers”

And now my own heart strains
As the title bursts upon it.
It hurts, but the pain is also joy.
I fear the title.
Mother.
Can I be Mother?
Will nature teach me how to be a
A Savior–
A Mother?

Now, 12+ years later, I am Mother to four (and a half) children. I wonder all the time if I am really capable of taking on any more, but the truth is I have wondered this every time I have been pregnant. Somehow my children have turned out remarkably well, whether because of or in spite of my efforts. I try to remind myself that, even when I’m not nurturing them as well as I think I should be, they have a life full of love, consistency, and security that I could only have dreamed of as a child.

This last poem I wrote just two years ago. It has been on my mind a lot the past few days. Last week I discovered that I am presently pregnant with another girl. This was a bit (a lot) shocking as I had been anticipating the arrival boy-child who has been visiting me for the past four years. But one of the things that has enabled me to open my heart to this daughter is remembering the millions of girl babies who have been eliminated in areas of the world with boy-baby preference. Girl babies in these areas are far too often aborted (sometimes by force), killed at birth, abandoned, or channeled into the horrific sex-slave trade. There are 163 million females who would have populated Asia but are “missing” because of gendercide. That is more than the entire female population of the United States.

Two years ago, on June 2, 2013, I organized a day of fasting and prayer to raise awareness about this heart-breaking problem. Early that morning, I was awakened by the words of a poem forming in my head, demanding to be written. And when I re-read it now, carrying a daughter in my womb, my heart cries, “I hear you! I want you! I will be your mother!”

3:00 a.m.

When I hear
A baby cry,
Her voice
Her song
An invisible vibration of longing
Penetrates my mortal shell,
Gliding through flesh and bone
Like a delicate silver thread.
It throbs with urgency
As it wraps around
And around
saveagirlAnd around
My heart,
Bleeding ache.
And now
A hundred
A million
A hundred million
Tiny threads,
Bursting with a deafening silence,
Pull me from my sleep
Like newborns in the night,
“Wake up,”
Their silent voices throb,
“Cry for us,
Scream for us,
Mother.”

 A slideshow I made for the June 2 day of prayer… Some of the girls in the video were the daughters of people who participated in the event…

Hearts Turning to the Children

January 13, 2015 in Abortion, Intuition, Lani, Missions, Motherhood, Pain, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Prenatal influences, Traumatic Birth

And whoso receiveth one such little one in my name receiveth me. -Matthew 18:5

When I attended Felice’s yoga and meditation retreat at the beginning of the month, it was many things I expected it to be, but there were a few things that surprised me. One of those surprises was how many people told me that they had recently discovered a “castaway” in their family. I knew that the ranks of previously-aborted children coming to earth were growing, but I was still unprepared for the outpouring of witnesses I received at the retreat.

When I began my own journey of discovery with my daughter, I had never heard of “castaways.” I didn’t know anyone who talked about them. Finding and meeting pre-birth expert Sarah Hinze in 2010-2012 was surely no coincidence. Sarah has been a sort of lone voice in the wilderness for the past few decades, sharing her growing pool of case histories about previously-aborted children. She herself was highly skeptical at first. A couple of years ago, Sarah handed me a story that had clearly been typed decades ago and said, “I think this was the first abortion story I ever received.” She shook her head, saying, “I couldn’t believe it was true.” So she had put it away in a file, feeling sure it was an anomaly among pre-birth accounts. But then she received others, and that pushed-aside file started to grow.

Part of one of my favorite paintings (Source)

Part of one of my favorite paintings (Source)

As more and more of these brave and valiant spirits try to make their way to earth again, the powers of darkness are heightening their efforts at preventing their entrance. Personally, I believe that many of these spirits are God’s strongest “warriors.” Satan doesn’t want them here, and he certainly doesn’t want people acknowledging their existence. Revelation chapter 12 takes on new meaning as we consider the vast number of previously-aborted spirits seeking entrance into mortality: “And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (vs. 4).

Before I met Sarah, God called me to help rescue these “castaway” children, but it hasn’t been an easy mission call. I was initially a little shell-shocked by the opposition and resistance I encountered from many sides when I joined Sarah in the work of helping these special children tell their stories. So I stepped back a bit from my advocacy efforts.

Since that time, awareness of Sarah’s research has broadened. Though the idea (of aborted souls being given second chances at life) is still far from mainstream, more and more stories are coming out of the woodwork, at least among the people I rub shoulders with. When I think about these “wounded warrior” children, I am grateful for the Spirit of Elijah. The hearts of the fathers and mothers are being turned to the children. As I wrote in our book The Gift of Giving Life:

The Spirit of Elijah will come to all of us.  The tendrils of his spirit reach far and wide—into the hearts of married couples, birth mothers, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  He calls on the highest and best within each of us to turn and welcome, protect, teach, and nurture the children waiting to be and those already among us.  It may not be easy, but the Lord has promised to help us.

The following is one of the growing number of stories I have received… from a mother whose heart has turned in love to her castaway child:

My first child’s arrival was surrounded with anticipation and joy. I was so thrilled to become a mother, and my husband and I were happy to start our family. We loved our little boy so much, but we quickly discovered that he came to earth with various issues. We wanted to help our son, but struggled to know what to do. He had severe separation anxiety, was only happy in my arms, struggled to bond to his father, and seemed to have “colic” and night terrors. I intuitively knew there was a cause behind it and that he was not just crying for no reason. The list went on and on of things that were “wrong” with his physical body. 
  
We tried many elimination diets, we saw many doctors, even natural healers, but did not find answers. I prayed constantly to understand more, to receive answers, and felt disappointed when I didn’t receive those answers immediately. I tried to have faith that God would give us answers eventually, and tried to be the best mother I could be.

I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and frustration when I couldn’t comfort my child, especially in the night terrors in which my son screamed in terror. At times I felt angry that my poor little boy had to suffer for reasons I didn’t understand. As he grew from a sweet newborn to tenderhearted toddler and fun preschooler, our love for him only increased, but we also felt sorrow that we hadn’t solved all of his problems. 

When my son was four years old, I was praying one morning, and I saw, in my mind, or in a vision, my sweet little boy, in the womb of another woman. I felt the pain, the fear, the emotional distress he was in as he was aborted. Amazed, saddened, and yet grateful to have this knowledge, I asked God, “Is there anything else I need to know about this?” And again in my mind, I saw that the woman who had aborted him was my sister, much older than me, who had been raped in college. In my mind, I could feel the fear and emotional pain of both my son and my sister. I cried for both of them. 

Later that day I felt confirmation that what I had learned about my son being a “castaway” was true. As my husband and I discussed it, we suddenly understood why our baby had been scared of strangers, especially strange men, and feared separation from me, his mother. Puzzle pieces seemed to come together as our hearts were given this knowledge. We felt a new level of gratitude to have our little boy be a part of our family and a new responsibility as we begin this journey of healing. 

DSC_3842

He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

December 21, 2014 in Angels, Book, Book reviews, Conversion, Divine nature, Guest Post, Lani, Miracles, Power of Words, Prayer

This morning I was reading a Christmas newsletter from my friend Sarah Hinze. I so loved a story she shared that I asked her permission to post it here. I hope you love it too.

IMG_1595

He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

By Sarah Hinze

Actress and director Angelina Jolie is not known as a praying woman. Recently, due to a severe storm she, as director, was in danger of failing to complete the final scene of the inspiring film, Unbroken. With no relief in sight, it is reported that Angelina suddenly dropped to her knees in front of the entire crew and prayed for God’s help. Within moments the rain ceased, the clouds parted and the sun shown through providing the needed light for the cameras. Her prayer brought a divine and miraculous result.

I share this story because I had a similar experience when filming a TV show about We Lived in Heaven a few years ago. A television producer from the show Angels and Miracles called and arranged to send a crew to interview me. The director hired a local camera crew and was scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am on a Sunday morning. I was up early, getting ready when I walked into the foyer by the front door. I stopped short. There was a baby dove on the entry table sitting calmly beneath a large painting of Christ. How?

I looked around. The front door was still locked tight from the night before. Morning doves, friendly, cooing little gray and white birds, are daily visitors to our front lawn, but how did this little creature get inside?

Carefully I picked up the tiny bird and stood quietly, completely bewildered. The bird was totally calm. Holding it seemed to bring peace to my anxious heart. It looked up at me with its tiny little eyes as if it were bringing me a message. Through this tiny creature, I felt the blessings of God would be with me as I worked on the day’s filming. Although I am always grateful to share my message, I typically have a bit of anxiety before filming.

I looked at the baby bird, this tiny creation of God, and allowed its calm energy to fill my heart. I finally walked out my front door and held the bird up to the branch of a tree. It hopped on and I whispered “Can you go find your mommy?” The little bird took off like a shot to the very top of a grandfather pine tree in our side yard.

At 10:00 am, the doorbell rang and I invited the director, the camera crew, and their miles and miles of electrical cords into my house. Everything that goes with sound, lighting and filming was promptly set up in my living room and I was invited to sit on a chair in front of the camera.

“Please introduce yourself. State your full name and then spell it,” the director requested.

I was familiar with this routine. “My name is Sarah Hinze.” Suddenly, POP, POP, POP! Every light in the room shut off.

“What’s going on?” the director asked.

“The sound is down, too,” the guy behind the camera said. “And my camera isn’t working.” They looked into the next room where the lights were still on.

This had happened to me before, so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. I said, “I think I have an idea what has happened. There is energy with this work that sometimes affects electrical equipment.” I said no more, but could feel the force of spirit children present. They often show up when I speak on their behalf.

“This has never happened,” the director said. “What should we do?”

“I’ll pray. Will you join me?” I offered. When I didn’t hear any objections, I proceeded to ask God to help the equipment work and for all of those involved in any way to feel the love that was here with us as the angel children were present. I asked that the electricity be restored so we could conduct the interview.

Within a minute or so of praying, everything came back on. The crew was subdued and experienced greater feelings of reverence than normal. As they finished I thanked them and gave each one a copy of We Lived in Heaven.

A few weeks later one of the camera crew from that show called, “I am reading your book and I am so amazed at the message. Am I really a child of God?”

welivedinheavenThis simple message was a new idea to this man. I am always humbled when others learn this concept for the first time. We spoke for almost half an hour. I explained how there are spirits in heaven eager to come to earth, as was he before he was born. I reassured him, “Yes, you are absolutely a child of God, sent to this earth with a mission to love and serve your fellowman.”

He concluded, “The experience filming in your home, the prayer and reading your book has been life changing for me.”

****

Sarah’s book We Lived in Heaven has recently been republished. She is offering a special deal for the book now. Through the month of January, you can order this book directly from her at sarah@sarahhinze.com for $10 each or two copies for $18, including shipping to anywhere in the USA. If you would like it autographed, let her know. Send her an e-mail or visit her website at www.SarahHinze.com for ordering details. We Lived in Heaven is also available on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Praise God for Hacker Angels

March 19, 2014 in Adversity, Angels, Faith, Lani, Miracles, Prayer

Monday night, after getting the kids to bed, I sat on my family room couch, staring straight ahead, with a heart weighed-down by multiple worries. Over the past weekend, we (my coauthors and I) discovered and worked to resolve a malware attack that began to create ripples,  starting to affect any website that had ever linked to our Gift of Giving Life site.

It broke my heart that all the wonderful people who had helped us promote our book with their sites were now suffering because of us. We did several things with our site in hopes of getting rid of the problem, but we still didn’t know whether we’d be able to salvage our site, whether our own personal blogs would also need to be torched, and whether all the other people’s affected sites down the line would recover.

We’ve known for years that writing The Gift of Giving Life had put us on Satan’s “black list.” He has tried attacking us from a wide variety of angles, but this was the first time he had used technology to try to take us (quite literally) down. I should have known better than to despair, but that night I admit I was beginning to fear that the forces of evil were winning this battle.

After wallowing in my despair for too long on Monday night, I checked my email one last time and saw that Felice had sent me the final piece of her new book to edit. It was good timing. Within the piece, she wrote about the power of intention. One of the statements that stood out to me was this:

At Princeton University, experiments required human subjects to project their intention at a computer-like random number generating machine to attempt to get the machine to generate a predictable pattern of numbers. The results were astonishing, showing that overwhelmingly people were able to influence the machines. (See Meditation as Medicine, p. 127)

If intention could affect a number-generating machine, I thought, then why not a website? Almost immediately, I posted requests on several facebook pages for prayers with the intention of the highest good for our website(s).

Then, later, as I was lying in bed, getting close to drifting off to sleep, I thought about my deceased brother, Steven, a self-taught computer wiz. I believe he has helped me with computer issues in the past. When I have been stuck and haven’t know how to fix a problem, I have thought of Steven and mentally asked for his help. Ideas of things to try would pop into my mind, and the problems were fixed.

I believe God and His angels are in possession of technologies so advanced that mortal minds couldn’t even comprehend them. Our little malware problem that felt so huge in that moment would certainly be nothing to them. So, as I drifted off to sleep, I asked, “God, will you please send Steven and some super-awesome hacker angels to fix all the issues with our websites and get Google to clear the sites quickly?”

In the morning, two giant weights were lifted off my heart. One, when my husband told me he got a job interview we’ve been hoping for (yay!). And two, when Sheridan emailed to say our site had been cleared by Google! In that moment, I praised God for hacker angels.

It’s so easy to forget the magnitude of the help we can call upon. Our Father is the “Lord of Hosts.”

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels
 round about the throne . . . : and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and
 thousands of thousands. (Revelation 5:11)

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How often I try to fix my problems alone. How often I forget that angels stand waiting and eager to assist me, if I would only use my agency to allow them. I love these reminders to allow angels to help us:

  • “The angels knew the people by name and watched over them closely. . . . I saw that we could literally call down thousands of angels in our aid if we ask in faith” (Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light, p. 121).
  • “There are many powerful, wonderful spirits who are being called home right now, that they can better help their families prepare for that which is about to take place in your world. One of the major reasons many of us are here is to serve and help those in mortality” (spoken to Lance Richardson by his deceased cousin, The Message, p. 86).
  • “Our agency is always honored, so much so that even though there are good angels around us, we still have to invite their intervention” (Visions of Glory, p. 41).
  • “Angels are our guardians and stewards. The purpose of their creation is to serve humanity. They want to adorn us with support, direction, protection, and assistance. There are multitudes of angels and heavenly hosts to call upon, and yet many people do not call upon them for a variety of reasons” (Carol Tuttle, Remembering Wholeness, p. 133).
  • “You must ask in order to receive. . . . You should resolve to be more specific in your request, expressing much more specifically the desires for which you are striving” (Grant Von Harrison, Drawing on the Powers of Heaven, p. 33).
  • “Angels are agents of power.
 Each of the Lord’s angels possesses extraordinary capabilities and powers, making them formidable
 beings” (Donald W. Parry, “Angels, Chariots, and the Lord of Hosts,” BYU devotional, July 31, 2012).
  • “I ask everyone within the sound of my voice to take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He ‘would fight [our] battles, [our] children’s battles, and [the battles of our] children’s children.’ And what do we do to merit such a defense? We are to ‘search diligently, pray always, and be believing'” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels“).

We didn’t know how to chase away the enemy binding us, but God knew, and His angels knew. After we had done everything we could, divine hackers finished off our foes. Praise God for hacker angels!

Image Source

Take that, Malware Devils! Image Source

Healing Prebirth Wounds

January 15, 2014 in Abortion, Atonement, Dads, Energy Healing, Jesus Christ, Lani, meditation, Miracles, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Prenatal influences, Savior

 

“I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.” –Boyd K. Packer

Back in October, I wrote about discovering that my youngest daughter had come to this earth carrying wounds from a previous womb experience. She had been aborted by another mother. As I explained in my previous post, my daughter spent much of her toddlerhood in a state of distress, anger, sadness, and angst. Once I understood why, I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help her heal.

In June of 2013, I attended a meditation retreat taught by Felice. While there, I learned the meditation “Ra Ma Da Sa” for the first time. I learned that this particular meditation is a powerful healing prayer. We sang Ra Ma Da Sa at the retreat, and it was so beautiful that it penetrated every inch of my body and sent my spirit soaring.

The complete mantra is “Ra ma da sa sa say so hung.” It means sun, moon, earth, infinity, totality of infinity, I am Thou. Or, as I like to say, it’s basically a very condensed version of D&C 88:7-13:

This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God.

All healing comes from Christ, and His light infuses and gives life to everyone and every thing in the universe.

After returning home after our summer trip to UT, I decided that I wanted to sing/chant “Ra Ma Da Sa” every morning for 40 days with the intention of helping my daughter heal from her prebirth wounds. So I did. And it was life-changing.

Before I tell you more, I want to also explain some more background. I learned when my daughter was born that she was likely originally sharing my womb with a twin. Since then, I have received line upon line more and more information about her twin, my unborn son. I feel he is a powerful healer-soul, his name is Elijah, and he very much wants to come to our family, in part because he is very close with my daughter and his presence will help her (and me).

Four days into my 40 days of “Ra Ma Da Sa” I had a powerful “vision” type of experience while meditating. It was early in the morning and my daughter was still asleep. As I chanted on her behalf, I envisioned where she was and sent my love to her. Then I saw (in my mind) my unborn son, Elijah, appear at her side. He laid down by her. And then, suddenly, it was like her spirit was in pieces floating around her body. Elijah started gathering all the pieces of her spirit in the palm of his hand.

A few moments later, the Savior appeared at the foot of the bed. And Elijah handed all the pieces of her spirit to Christ. In the palms of Christ’s hands, the pieces fused together in white light. Elijah gathered more and more pieces and continued handing them to Christ, and in His hands they continued to glow and combine.

At the end of the meditation, I kept feeling the urge to cup my hands to receive her glowing spirit. Finally I did. I held her re-combined spirit in my palms. Then I put my hands to my chest and put her spirit into my heart. I told her, “You can be whole now, Baby.” And I filled my heart with love for her. Then I moved my hands from my chest, outstretched in front of me and set her free. It was amazing.

The next day, my daughter was awake while I meditated. When I started “Ra Ma Da Sa,” she sat on my lap and grabbed my arms to wrap them around her. So I sat chanting with my arms around her until she got up. A little bit later she came back in with her baby doll. At first she pushed her doll toward me and put its arms around my neck. Then she sat down in my lap with the baby on her lap and told me to hold the baby. So I continued chanting with my hands holding her arms and both of our arms around the baby. At that moment it seemed so clear that she was presenting the baby doll as her inner child—the spirit who had experienced prenatal and premortal traumas. And we were cradling that part of her in our arms while I prayed for her in song. It was only one of many beautiful, tender moments we shared during those 40 days.

There were many days, however, when my daughter’s behavior seemed to be getting worse. Her anger, neediness, screaming, and obvious emotional pain weighed heavily on me, and I wondered, If this meditation is supposed to be helping her then why does she seem worse than ever? But I carried on, hoping things would settle down eventually. Sometimes the process of healing stirs up subconscious resistance.

For 40 days I prayed in song for my daughter’s healing. And slowly, bit by bit, it came. Gradually, her energy shifted. The angst that had been so much a part of her presence dissolved little by little until it was just gone. She was, quite literally, a new child. But it wasn’t just her. We were all new. She opened herself up to connect with her father in a way she hadn’t ever done before. And simultaneously, my husband felt an intense love for our daughter, unlike anything he had felt for her before. It brought him nearly to tears when he told me about it, and he doesn’t cry.

Once freed from her pain, we watched my daughter soar. While she hadn’t been very verbal before, she suddenly began speaking in sentences. She blossomed socially, becoming a much more chatty and talkative companion. Where I used to feel weighed down by the pain radiating from her, I now could feel her peace and joy. Extended family members who visited couldn’t believe the change in her. She was free!

Another mother who is raising a former-castaway asked me last year:

When I discovered that my daughter had been aborted, it made sense to me why she is the way she is and the love I needed to show her. But I was thinking, why would her soul need healing if she was in heaven in Christ’s presence? Wouldn’t you think being in his presence would heal those wounds?

Her question led to lots of pondering and seeking. The answer that came to me, was this…

In many near-death experience accounts, we see that individuals are often given a choice of whether to return to their bodies or remain in heaven. I believe this emphasis on freedom of choice is a universal principle in God’s plan. As I pondered the aborted children waiting in heaven, the impression that came to me was that some of them are completely healed by Divine Love. But I felt impressed that it was all governed by choice. Some of those children choose to receive complete healing of their previous womb trauma. Their pain and sadness are completely swept away.

IMG_6114However, I believe the aborted are also given another option: to retain a portion of their memory of the experience and their pain upon returning to Earth. I feel that some of these children accept a mission to bring to light the reality of their existence and the truth about the trauma experienced by the aborted. They retain their “scars” just as Christ chose to retain His scars… as a testament to the world. They take up this bitter cup in order to share their truth so that future souls can perhaps be saved the anguish they have suffered.

When all of these impressions washed over me, I was in awe of these courageous souls. I began to weep as I looked down at my own daughter, recognizing the immense greatness of her soul, willing to carry such a painful burden so that others might know the truth. What strength! What love!

What a privilege to have been chosen to bear her, love her, and play a small part in helping her heal. I pray her experience and mine will aid others in their own paths to healing.

If you’d like to learn more about the “Ra Ma Da Sa” meditation

and try it yourself, see Felice’s post HERE.

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

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…

Wounded Warriors

October 4, 2013 in Abortion, Atonement, Depression, Dreams, Energy Healing, Forgiveness, Grief, Intuition, Lani, meditation, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences, Priesthood, Priesthood blessings

A reminder of our official disclaimer:

Though we have made every attempt to be consistent with the correct doctrine and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Gift of Giving Life and all related media are an expression of many of our own thoughts and reflections upon pondering the truths of the gospel that we treasure. Our book, website, and facebook page are not official declarations of doctrine in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which we belong and cherish our membership. Please make sure to pray and ponder about everything you read.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to quote a scripture:

“The whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8).

I absolutely believe those words to be true. In the context of Moroni’s words, I interpret the word “whole” to mean “without sin.” Little children are 100% whole in that sense. However, I have come to understand that while all children are whole, in the sense of being “without sin” themselves, some babies come to this earth already spiritually wounded. I have learned this truth first-hand.

In 2010, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter (fourth child), something led me to the website of Sarah Hinze. At the time I felt very drawn to Sarah. Sarah has done extensive research into pre-birth experiences, and I found her research fascinating. I felt like God wanted me to connect with her, but I didn’t know why. Simultaneously, I was experiencing (for the first time) antepartum depression. I had never been depressed during a pregnancy before. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so much darkness and misery. It seemed so strange after three previous happy pregnancies.

After the birth, when my baby was eleven months old, I had a striking and memorable dream. Occasionally God speaks to me in dreams. I feel that this was one of those divine messages. Here’s what I saw…

I was walking with someone. I don’t know who it was. The road we were walking down looked like a ghost town. Dark, abandoned buildings. Dirty. Trash everywhere. But we were the only people walking down a deserted road. Eventually, we went over to the gutter on the side of the road, and I picked something up. At first I thought it was just a piece of garbage. But then, as I looked closer, it seemed to transform in my hand. It was a baby!  A tiny baby… only an inch or two or three. It fit in the palm of my hand, and it was alive.

My immediate thought was, “We have to find her parents!” I held her and began searching. As I searched, she grew miraculously (in the space of a few hours) to be five or six years old. A sweet little blonde girl. I took care of her while looking and looking for her parents or at least a suitable home for her. As I cared for her, I felt my heart ache and fill with love for her. Part of me really wanted to keep her, but another part of me thought, “I can’t take care of another kid right now!”

Eventually, after realizing that our search was futile, we brought her to a non-descript building. There was a massive line of children coming from the door. I got the impression that all those children were like her. They were waiting in line because they had nowhere to go. We headed to the back of the line to leave her there, but my heart was torn and breaking. I wanted to keep her, but I also didn’t feel like I could. Then the dream ended.

My interpretation of the dream was that the little girl from my dream was a special spirit who had been rejected and cast aside repeatedly, perhaps through abortions. She was hurting, and she desperately wanted to come to Earth, to be wanted and loved. I felt that I had been chosen to “rescue” her because I have the compassion and experience to know how to nurture a soul acquainted with abandonment. I felt that she would be bringing some of that heartache with her to Earth and that I had the means within me to help her heal. I thought this spirit sister was still waiting to come to my family, that she was a child I had not yet brought to Earth. I also felt that God was calling me to help rescue all the other children like her, castaways waiting for their turn on earth.

IMG_6650When I told my husband about the dream and my interpretation, his response was, “Maybe it’s just telling us where [our youngest daughter] came from?” I assumed he was just speaking from his own lack-of-desire to have any additional children. I wasn’t ready to open my mind to that possibility. No, it couldn’t be her, I thought.

A little over a year later, through a series of divinely-orchestrated events, I finally met and became dear friends with Sarah Hinze—the woman I had admired from afar on the internet since my pregnancy. I devoured several of Sarah’s books and developed a special connection with her. Over the past several decades, Sarah has gathered many stories about the spirits of aborted babies returning to earth. So we started working on some projects together, with a mutual desire to raise awareness about the “castaways” (like the little girl in my dream and countless others like her).

Through my work with Sarah Hinze, I became familiar with two stories that were influential in helping me open my mind and heart to the truth about my dream, my pregnancy depression, and my daughter:

We found that these were the feelings of the little girl in my womb. I was feeling all her feelings with her. . . . we learned that this little soul had been in another body that had been aborted. She was experiencing again the fears, rejection, sadness, and feelings of being not loved or wanted. She was feeling that she was nothing; and that she might possibly be destroyed again (“Learning to Trust“).

 The day I found out I was pregnant I literally danced for joy!  I had known he was coming for a number of years and was so anxious to have him.  I could feel he was pleased I wanted him so much.  Yet, in the ensuing weeks, I could feel a sadness about him.  I did not understand why. . . . In the beginning of February, I finally received the answer I had been looking for.  I was told by a friend who could see and talk to spirits, that Michael was . . . sad because he had been aborted a few years prior by another woman (“Receiving Michael“).

As I pondered these stories, my mind began to open to the possibility that my husband had been right with his interpretation of my dream.

Indeed, our youngest daughter had, over time, grown into a very clingy toddler who cried excessively. Though I had always gone out of my way to help her feel safe and loved and secure, she still seemed to have a constant mistrust of my permanence in her life. Always afraid to let me out of her sight. She was restless, doubtful, anxious, and seemed so often unhappy. And I was exhausted and at my wit’s end wondering what I had done wrong with her. All she had known all her life was love, safety, and compassion. So why was she so miserable?

Then just a few months ago in June, I finally asked God. After feeling little whispers here and there, urging me to open my mind and heart, I got on my knees, and I asked if my youngest daughter was the little girl from my dream. Almost immediately, it was like hundreds of little puzzle pieces clicked into place in my head, and a tidal wave of intense anguish swept over me. I gasped and started sobbing. I felt impressed that the vast portion of the pain I was feeling belonged to my daughter. I believe I was given a small taste of the agony of her festering pre-mortal wounds. And I sobbed and sobbed, bathed in her agony and my own guilt for having been so blind to her wounds (and so resentful of her neediness), for nearly an hour.

Once I had calmed down enough to explain to my husband why I was sobbing, I asked for a priesthood blessing. Within that blessing, I was given divine confirmation of the impressions and revelation I had received. She was the little girl from my dream. She had been cast away multiple times in the past. My heart was broken for her.

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A few weeks later, I had a conversation that served as another witness to my daughter’s pain-filled past. She is now two-and-a-half years old. On that particular morning I had been praying and meditating with the intent to help her heal. So it seemed fitting that she, somehow sensing my focus on her pre-earth self, started a conversation with me about it:

“I was in your belly,” she said.

“Yes, you were!” I said with a smile. “Did you like it in my belly?”

“No,” she answered. And then the moment passed.

Maybe ten minutes later, we were in her bedroom changing her clothes or doing some other morning task, and she said, “I was sad.”

“When were you sad?” I asked.

“In your belly,” she said.

Though I was not excited to learn that my daughter’s womb experiences had been, in fact, painful for her, it was also a relief to hear her little voice speaking the words. I felt that it was both a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy and a confirmation that my efforts were doing something and stirring up something inside of her, which is often one of the first steps to healing. I was happy that something had given her the voice to speak her pain out loud.

I will have to save the rest of our healing journey for another blogpost, but I wanted to at least share this much today. I want to bear my firm testimony that there are many spirits being sent to earth in these days who have “baggage.” They are, of course, whole and pure, in the sense Moroni spoke of. But some of them are also carrying painful wounds that they received before they ever took their first breaths. I believe that many of these children are being compensated for their previous trials and pain through being sent to loving homes where they can be nurtured in peace and heal. Perhaps one of your children (or a future child) is among those wounded souls. These special spirits need special mothering, tenderness, empathy, compassion. You can read more of their stories HERE.

I have written about the Spirit of Elijah in our book. I believe these special wounded spirits are among those Malachi was making reference to when he said:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:5-6).

I invite you to turn your heart to these children. I invite you to gain your own testimony of their existence. I invite you to resolve to do whatever you can to help them heal. It is my belief that some of the most valiant and gifted of heavenly fathers children are among them, and it is for this very reason that Satan has (often repeatedly) thwarted their entrance into mortality. They are the armies that will eventually destroy him. Let’s help empower them to do so.

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Sacred Space

September 11, 2013 in Birth Stories, Breastfeeding, Faith, home birth, Intuition, Lani, Midwives, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy

Sacred Space
By Brittney Walker

I met Lani several years ago at a doula training I fell into after the postpartum doula training I’d signed up for was cancelled. Birth wasn’t so much my thing as was helping new moms through the trauma of those first weeks postpartum.

Lani and I kept in touch, and in time she invited me to contribute to The Gift of Giving Life while they were still collecting birth stories. I remember thinking it was cute that these ladies were collecting spiritual birth stories. Birth was many things to me, having experienced three of my own, but spiritual wasn’t one that stood out. Becoming a mother and bringing new life into this world are, of course, sacred, spiritual things but birth itself? Not in my experience.

Then I became pregnant with number four. For many reasons, we chose to deliver this baby at home with a midwife – our first outside of a hospital. Right off the bat we learned we were in new territory. After research and interviews we found a midwife we not only felt comfortable with but also with whom our personalities just clicked. I knew I could confidently trust my midwife with my baby’s (and my) life.

An early complication arose so we ran some tests and met with our midwife. She educated us, presented our treatment options, and then asked the game-changing question: “so what do you want to do?” There was no indication of bias or judgment in her face. She deferred the decision to us, the parents – our first crash course in midwifery care. It was clear that we would be in the drivers’ seat regarding our prenatal care for this pregnancy. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. We’d always just been told what to do, and signed the dotted line and then done our best to be good patients. We had no medical training and didn’t feel qualified to make such weighty decisions. My midwife assured us that there was no one more qualified and that she knew we would make the right choice.

We didn’t understand the biology behind what was going on and couldn’t see the future so we took our question to the only one who can. We prayed fervently about what to do. We asked in faith, knowing the Lord’s love for us and our little one and we received an answer. I felt peace, went forward in faith and trusted that things would work out. They did.

This became the theme for this pregnancy. I relied heavily on the Lord for wisdom and peace. I developed a more active relationship with Him than I had ever had and happily handed over the steering wheel in favor of the passenger seat.

With three boys at home we went into our second trimester ultrasound with one thing in mind: Our baby’s sex. As focused as we were on that issue it took us a while to realize that the tech seemed oddly preoccupied with our baby’s nose and lips. After a long, very odd ultrasound, the tech left and then returned with an obstetrician, asking her to have a look. Then came the news, they suspected our baby may have a cleft lip and palate but couldn’t get a great look at his face. They needed us to come back in a couple of weeks. My first thought was, of course he doesn’t. (Yes, another “he”.) No family history of birth defects, no risk factors, nope, not us. My second thought was, so what if he does? Why are they making such a big deal about it? If that’s how it is then that’s Heavenly Father’s plan for my baby and our family. We can handle it. So, we scheduled the follow up.

A couple weeks and too much research on my part later, a second ultrasound confirmed that our baby would have a cleft lip, possibly palate. The news was harder this time with my newly acquired full knowledge of the implications. Likely, this meant no breastfeeding. Breastfeeding isn’t just a feeding method but a parenting style and the only way I know how to do it. And what about our home birth? Cleft babies have a higher risk of breathing difficulties at birth so many homebirth midwives won’t attend cleft babies’ births. There is also the possibility of related defects that may not have been caught on ultrasound. However, I’d also read stories of cleft babies being unnecessarily rushed away from their parents to the NICU where the hospital didn’t know what to do with them until someone from the babies’ cleft team could arrive (as much as a week or two later) to free them.

Again, I was faced with a decision I could never make on my own. Was I risking baby’s life? I found stories of cleft babies born at home with good outcomes but always by surprise. My midwife had recently delivered a cleft baby and was confident that she could handle whatever came up and planned on extra safety measures. Another thorough ultrasound didn’t show any signs of other related defects as far as they could see. He seemed a very healthy baby boy. But again, it wasn’t until we took the matter to the Lord that the overwhelming confirmation came, I was birthing this baby at home. I felt a calm peace about this decision that couldn’t be swayed and drowned out the concerns of well-meaning family and friends. I knew.

Months later our little boy was born perfect, the way God created him — into the waiting hands of his father. I wrote on my blog:

I’ve heard people talk about birth being a spiritual experience but with my first three babies coming into the world amid lights and hustling bodies in an unfamiliar and kind of scary environment, it just wasn’t something I ever understood.

But in my room, at 10:14 that Sunday night, I felt Heaven and Earth meet. In my room, surrounded by people who love me and baby Clayton I felt part of something great and eternal. I wondered how I’d ever shared something so sacred with strangers in a strange place.

That feeling has stayed with me through the last week and a half. When I would normally be feeling alone, fighting for my sanity, and feeling guilt and sadness for my baby’s rude entry into the world, I instead feel supported, joyful, blessed and in tune with my new little bundle.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

His birth was perfect. I felt loved, supported and trusted by my caregivers and family members (including friends) that were present. I felt the comfort, peace and protection provided by the walls that house my precious family. The sacred space where we labor to raise these precious young men took on a new purpose that night as we welcomed a new member to our forever family.

With pain in my baby’s future, with surgeries looming on the horizon and more challenges in his future than I ever would have chosen for my child I took comfort in his gentle entrance into the world. With a childhood of doctors, nurses and therapists ahead I found peace in the intimacy of his birth. I couldn’t breastfeed this baby but nestled in his own bed between mommy and daddy from that first night he didn’t feel the lack. No strangers’ hands, no poking or cutting, no feeding tube, no hospital stay separated from Mom… my boy was born into a room full of people who will be there and support him through any challenge life has in store.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

Heavenly Father had a plan for me and my baby. He answers prayers and provides us all the tools we need to endure our trials and hardships. Clayton’s gentle beginnings gave me peace when I soon had to hand him off to his first surgical team. He endures surgeries, recoveries, trauma and related struggles like a brave little soldier while I cling to the memory of the gift of his peaceful entry into the world.

His birth matters. To me, and I think to him in an intrinsic way he may not ever be aware of. It has had a profound and abiding impact on my relationship with my baby and the whole family. I thank Heaven every day for that gift.

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IMG_0285Brittney Walker is a homeschooling mom to four wily, awesome little men. She has written about parenting and babies online and in print since her nine-year old’s birth and currently hosts a support group for expectant and new moms, supports new mothers through placenta medicine and is pursuing her breastfeeding counselor certification through Breastfeeding USA.

Trial of Faith

May 31, 2013 in Adversity, Atonement, Death, Faith, Grief, Lani, Loss, Marriage, miscarriage, Pain, Pregnancy

Trial of Faith
By Shaylee Ann

My heart ached.
My head pounded.
My faith was tried.
I was in agony.

My womb was empty of the life that once grew there.

I knew before we lost her that I would miscarry.
I was cramping.
I was bleeding.
I was calm.

The compassion I felt for the people I saw as I accepted the loss of our baby was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I saw mothers with young children, and felt their deep love and concern as they raise sons and daughters in this fallen society.
I felt the pain and sorrow in the hearts of the people all around me.
I grieved for their trials and losses.

I asked the Lord,
Is this what I need to learn?
I prayed that it was, that I had learned it, and that my baby would stay with me.
I knew that my experience wasn’t over yet.
Still, I hoped.

The day came.
Her tiny body left mine in clots of blood and waves of peace.
I prayed, and the Lord was there.
I cried, and my heart was consoled.
My husband came to my side, and we accepted the loss of our baby together.
We distracted ourselves and carried on quietly.
Night came and tears soaked my pillow.

Then came the anger.

Why was my baby taken from me?
Why didn’t I do anything about it?
Why me? Why us? Why now?

I fought in an exhausted haze of confusion.
I didn’t understand.
We loved our baby.
What was happening to us?

I cursed the sympathy and begged for comfort.
I functioned merely on the adrenaline of anger and sorrow.
I wasn’t hungry.
I wasn’t thirsty.
I entertained the releasing thought of death.
Only my husband kept me going.

I gave into the loneliness, the agony and anger.
I questioned God.
I doubted my faith, my abilities, our future.
I succumbed to the numbing, damning influence of the devil.
I lacked confidence in my role as a mother.
I blamed myself.
Again, I wanted to die.

Still, my husband kept me going.

I realized at last that I am surrounded by love.
I am needed.

I craved joy.
I rested in the peace of the Lord.

Morning came, and though the sky was dark, my heart felt . . . light.
I laughed in genuine glee.
I smiled by the grace of His Mercy.

I live, though still in pain, with His healing balm coursing through my soul.

I have my Eternal Companion,
I have the Gospel,
I have family,
I have love,
I have faith.

I miss her with a fierceness that I never imagined would be a part of my life.
I yearn for her spirit.
I ponder on her mission.
I love her.

Yet, I await a new spirit.
I prepare greater than before.
Still, my faith in God, my love for my husband, for my children, and for my life keep me going.

My womb will once more be filled with life.
And I am happy.

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My Favorite Birth Photos

May 29, 2013 in Birth Stories, Dads, Doulas, home birth, Lani, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Priesthood blessings

On April Fool’s Day of 2009, I gave birth to my third child (my only son) at home (10:55 pm, 7 lbs 8 oz, 19 3/4″ long). After two smooth and low-risk pregnancies, losing our maternity insurance, and lots of priesthood blessings and prayer, we knew home birth was the right path for our third (and fourth) pregnancies.

It was a near-perfect birth from start to finish. My water broke in the afternoon, I relaxed at home, contractions started a couple of hours after membranes ruptured, I ate dinner, my birth support team arrived, labor picked-up, I hung out in the birth pool during the most intense contractions, I pushed for five minutes, baby boy was born on my bed. You can read all the details HERE.

It was magical. And I’m so glad I had my friend Cassie and my sister-in-law Brooke there as my doulas/photographers. I created a slideshow with my birth photos that you can view HERE. But I realized yesterday that I’ve never shared the photos themselves online. Here are some of my favorites, taken by Cassie (and Brooke) at the end of my pregnancy, during labor, and afterward:

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