The smell of life.

The boys are outside and Winnie just started crying in her room.  I’m neglecting the chores, deciding instead that I will embrace this quiet moment to write.  Naturally, my quiet moment has now been interrupted by the aforementioned crying baby and the middle boy coming in yelling at the top of his lungs for me.  The door has again been left open, leaving our kitchen a safe haven for the flies.

A drink of milk and 10 minutes of rocking later, I sit here again in the quiet.  The air conditioner is running, but it smells like a dead mouse is trapped somewhere in the duct.  A reminder that our house is old, smelly and falling apart.  Not that I need that reminder, I think about it every day.  In fact, it is such a concern for me that it causes me great anxiety, especially in the warm months when everything grows out of control, smells are more pronounced and boys are dirtier.

————-

I remind myself what a gift this house is.  The summer we first moved here, aside from difficulties that come from being in a new place, it felt magical.  Everything was beautiful and this house even in its “as is” state was much nicer than our previous one.  Many evenings I ran outside at the sight of a golden sunset, marveling at the beauty and our fortune to call this home.

What has happened to me over the past two years?  When was the last time I dropped the dishes and ran out to a sunset, or walked down over my precious hill to spend quiet time with God?

Why did I allow life to suck me dry of all courage to live a joyful life?

I feel it seeping back into my bones.  I feel like I can take back my life, that I can submit myself again to God’s will and to stop giving the devil his foothold.

————

I just turned around, it looks like the rain is about to start.  Our basement is a moldy, musty mess, and the last thing we need is any more water in it.  We threw out bags of stuff this past week, not important things (of course, there aren’t a lot of things we deem important enough to get upset over), but things nonetheless, ruined by the deluge of water that ran into our basement.  Our house smells musty, and my constant headache and allergy symptoms lead me to believe it is indeed making me sick.  My anxiety is having a real field day with this house right now.

———-

Earlier this week we ran away and spent the night with my in-laws.  It was a good respite for the boys and I while Brad spent the day in meetings.  I came home less tired than I had left, which is pretty good for a night in a strange bed.

As soon as I got home, though, I felt even more anxious and worried about the state of our house than before I had left.  My in-laws have this beautiful house, and my mother in law is great at cleaning and keeping tidy.  Her house is lovely, her gardens are lovely and it is a peaceful place to be.

The contrast to our house which is full of chaos, noise, dirt, building materials, and weedy gardens just about put me over the edge.  Will I ever be adult enough to keep our place under control?

———-

My writing is different today and words are flowing freer than they have for quite a while.  I’m reading the “The Crosswicks Journals” by Madeleine L’Engel, and her beautiful words has inspired me to just write.  Usually, I think of a topic that has been on my mind and try to fit a succinct blog post around it.  My stash of half written documents tells me that method is complete crap.  Today I prayed that the Spirit would lead me to write something because I was feeling so joyful from L’Engel’s book.  I do feel like He came through and is here with me.

———–

I had to go close the kitchen door again (hello flies!), and caught sight of all three boys playing intently in the garage.  Theo is building something out of a giant box, Ira is watching, and Sol is riding his trike.  I think they are the most wonderful children even though they can seem like such monsters at times.  Their frustrations and anger make me so much more aware of my own anger and how I frequently act as ridiculous and irrational as my two year old.  I never expected children to make me confront my own humanity, my own being, and my own emotions in a way that would force me to better myself.  I certainly don’t want to teach them more bad habits than I already have even though I know I will.  I am flawed and human, but I always strive to apologize after an outburst and explain to them that I was not acting my best.  I hope that they have a better understanding of their emotional selves as they grow than I did.

———-

It feels like we have had so much change this past year that I’ll burst if anything else changes.  Except that I’m longing for change because what we are doing now is so exhausting it’s not sustainable.  We are to the point where I think we are going to work ourselves, especially Brad, to sickness.  We sat in our new addition last night, supposedly my grandma’s room if she ever decides to move in, and talked about our options, about our future and what might lie ahead for us.  It felt lovely.

———

This is a lovely day.  A lovely, ordinary day.  Thunderstorms are darkening the skies and for the first time in a week we don’t have to leave the house.  I’ll never understand why there are “days in which the whole world seems like a rose garden and days in which our hearts seem tied to a millstone” as Henri Nouwen wrote, but I know God is with me in both.

Life.

Not a lot of time for writing, but at least we have photos.  Life has been full.  Full of late nights building rooms, paying bills, dreaming and worrying, my birthday, music on the patio, a (super) mini vacation, witnessing public prayer, swimming and holding babies.

I take pictures because they remind me of the good.

 

Around us and to us.

I’ve been pondering the differences of our hardships in Zanesville and those of our life in Columbus.  Both are and were difficult, full of a lot of times where we threw our hands up in despair over the situations we found ourselves in.

In Columbus, in our inner city house, we felt protected.  We knew we had angels guarding our property and that for the most part, no harm would come to us.  However, outside of that line all was fair game.  There were murders, fires, drug deals, all within 100 feet of our house.  Every time something like that happened, fear showed up.  The “what if’s” raced through our mind and it took time for us to reevaluate and remember we were there because God asked us to be and that he would be faithful.

Here in Zanesville, we have our spacious place and we no longer worry about gunshots because the ones we hear belong to hunters.  We don’t sit on our porch and see drug deals, or vacant and abandoned houses go up in flames across the street.  We no longer hear neighbors screaming at each other at 3 am while their babies cry.

However, we seem to be dealing with a whole load of personal scrutiny and attack since landing and starting our ventures here.  We can now see that it goes with the territory of having public events and spaces, but I tell you, we were not prepared for it.

Every time it has happened, it has hurt our hearts.  It’s so hard to read these things (generally on social media) about us, and to not just want to scream untruth and try to make ourselves look better.  But one thing we’ve learned is that if someone is willing to spout angry things about another person, they’re generally not going to listen to good reason.  We pray about it, try and forgive them, and after some time things feel better.

God has shown up, in so many of these times, to completely reverse the situation.  We’ve seen him change the heart and mind of the person who felt they were wronged, so much so that it’s nothing short of miraculous (Brad has a really good story that I hope I can get him to share).

I don’t know if either of these situations is more difficult than the other, they’re just different.  I am pleased to no longer wake up in the middle of the night shaking because of gunshots outside our window, but it’s no easy thing to hear unkind words about your husband and to stand strong knowing that our worth is in God alone.

Through it all, God is good and has led us on some spectacular adventures.  The desires of our heart have been heard and answered, and His work is always good.

Winnie’s story.

I woke and stood up to go to the bathroom when I felt some water leaking.  Joy filled me. Finally, at 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant labor was imminent!

It was 6 am so I crept downstairs in the silence to read and pray.

Amongst the excitement the day brought, I also worried over the fact that my water had broken before I had any contractions.  The same thing happened with Theo and I didn’t want to end up in the hospital with Pitocin and an epidural.

With a homebirth we were unlikely to have to abide by the same ridiculous standards that hospitals do, but I still had a lot of “what if’s” running through my head.  “What if my contractions don’t start?”  “What if I go too long before giving birth and get an infection?”  “What if we end up at the hospital anyways?”

I woke Brad and we spent some time together downstairs.

The boys soon joined us with excitement.  We ate breakfast together and enjoyed their presence, knowing our family would be changing before long.  I had mild contractions throughout the morning and before lunch we sent the boys off to Papaw’s house.  I  tidied our rooms and we went for a walk down the hill to get things moving.

Slowly but surely my contractions started to pick up.  It felt slow and frustrating, but we spent a good portion of the afternoon resting in between pains.

After checking in, Patty decided it was time to come and arrived in the early evening.

Almost immediately my contractions stopped.  Throughout the night they picked up and then slowed down again.   Finally, in the wee morning hours I felt they were strong enough to get into the birth pool.  The water was warm and wonderful and Brad read to me from a Henri Nouwen book.  It was beautiful and relaxing and exactly what I wanted…except that I had only one or two contractions while I was in there.  Out I went back to the bed.

Dawn broke on Wednesday morning and my anxiety was at a high.  How could I still not have a baby in my hands after 24 hours of labor?  Friends and family were concerned by our lack of baby.  “Go to the hospital”, some warned.  (Not helpful advice, by the way).

The progression of the morning is fuzzy to me.  I was so tired and so sad that this birth wasn’t going like I thought it would (does it ever?).

After a while Patty checked me and tried to maneuver the baby so she would be in a better position to stimulate contractions.  She had me push even though I felt no urge to do so nor had I thrown up in transition yet.  It was tiring but at least I was doing something.   She covered me in oils and had me swallow some herbs to increase contractions.   Her presence was calming and peaceful and not once did she worry or make me feel like this wasn’t going to work out okay in the end.  I am so thankful for her help.

Soon it all changed.  Unbearable pain set in and I vomited.  As much as I hate both pain and vomiting, praise Jesus I knew the end was in sight!

I was a mess by now and too tired to try and control my pain reaction so I yelled and screamed and the whole bit.  I was hot so the windows were open with a beautiful spring breeze rolling in.  I hoped the neighbors weren’t outside to hear me.

On hands and knees 31 hours after my water broke, I finally birthed our first baby girl.  Weary with exhaustion and filled with elation over our meeting, I collapsed on our bed.

Winifred Marie weighed in at a tiny 6 pounds and 2 ounces, our smallest and most overdue baby.   She was born after a year of change, bringing light into the pain and difficulty that life has brought our way.  Praise Jesus for another beautiful gift.


Ira’s birth

Solomon’s birth