Waiting For Birth 

Waiting For Birth 

This past weekend, I attended another birth as a doula, and once again, it was nothing short of the most amazing experience of my life. I always knew I loved being at births, but I now finally realized a little better why.

When I arrived at the hospital on Friday evening to join the laboring, soon-to-be mommy and her husband, it was already around 9pm, an hour before my bedtime. I warmly greeted them both, then rubbing away any sleepiness that may tempt me, I quietly began unpacking my bags in the corner of the room. I got out my massage oil, a warm compress, and some other comfort tools that have come to be my go-to items.

Then gently, I knelt beside mom, who was closing her eyes and slowly rocking back and forth while breathing deeply through her contractions in the dimly lit room. The only thing that could be heard was the soft music playing from her bedside and her soft, rhythmic moans and groans. On the outside, she looked like she was in perfect peace, but I knew this took great effort to remain calm through the intense waves taking over her body.

As the contractions grew in intensity and strength, the clock on the wall tick-tocked faithfully with us through the night. I massaged soothing oils into her body from head to toe, I spooned ice chips into her dry mouth, I gave her sweet honey for nourishment, and I gently wiped away drips of sweat with a cool wash cloth across her brow. Anytime she needed to change position, I was there to offer my hands, my arms, my body to support her. Sometimes I sang softly to her, and all throughout, I was praying for her. I gave her my all.

It is no wonder the word ‘doula’ comes from the Greek word meaning female servant. Together, we labored hard and after hours of tremendous work, we saw the sun come up together. Then we labored some more.

It wasn’t until noon the next day when the sun was high up in the sky and blazing warm and bright for its first day of autumn that it suddenly became time to push. Although no one could say when exactly this time would come, just like that, it was time.

By this point, I felt just as invested in this birth as the mother, and I, too, had great anticipation to see this baby. I had also been in her shoes three times before with my own births, and I could just imagine what she was feeling.

Suddenly, the time had come to see and behold the birth, the baby she had been waiting and hoping for all this time.

You see, when this mother found out she was pregnant nine months before this moment, she was thrilled. She took multiple pregnancy tests–maybe 3 or 4 or 10–just to be sure. And even though they all said positive, there was still some level of doubt.

Could it really be true?

But then she saw her belly growing, and she couldn’t believe it! The first visible sign of her baby. She knew she would probably be getting stretch marks soon, but that didn’t even matter because she was going to have a baby. Then other signs came popping up. She felt strange things like cravings, nausea, hormonal imbalances, and little kicks to her rib cage.

Soon, her whole life began to revolve around this child she had not yet met, but only knew from all these signs of life within her.

There was no doubt, really. Of course this baby was real, and one day soon, the baby would be here, outside, and in her arms.

Yet as much as she thought she now knew and believed that this baby was there and coming, it was still only in part. She could not possibly fathom what it would really feel like to finally SEE and know and behold this baby in the flesh.

That is, until this very moment–the moment of truth.

She was now in position, and holding breath after breath, she began to push with all her might. And for awhile, nothing seemed to have changed much. Baby was still inside, and all you could see was still the great effort on the mother’s part.

But then suddenly, it happened. The once unthinkable, the once unbelievable, the thing once merely an object of hope… began to appear.

Baby.

We saw a glimpse of her hair, and it was all we needed to explode. That is when everyone in the room came alive. Whether moments ago weary or ever in doubt, we were all now jolted into amazement and belief. And though mom had hardly anything left within her, this glimpse was all she needed to gather herself the strength to push once more through the sweat now mixed with tears. 

And before we all knew it, this baby, a REAL. LIFE. BABY… came out and was ACTUALLY in the room with us.  

BABY

This baby whom we saw and knew only in part through the listening of heartbeats, the sonograms, and all the other signs was finally now fully before us. And more than anything imaginable, this baby was absolutely beautiful, bursting with life, and perfect! Better than perfect, in fact. 

There is nothing like a newborn baby taking its first breath of air, letting out its first unique and sweet cry into the universe, and beginning the first few seconds of its new life. You feel like the world and the heavens actually pause for a moment along with everyone else in the room to simply marvel at the sight. 

Then I had a thought. This is how our Savior also came into this world! But how much more anticipation and fulfillment came with the sight of His birth? I can only imagine the thrill of Mary, Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherd after they finally saw the boy Jesus who was promised to them.

And now we only have to wait for His return.

And in the same way, this is how I imagine waiting for Jesus’ second coming along with the manifestation of the fullness of heaven on earth.

We see some of it now. We may even feel like we see a lot of it now. We see great signs of Jesus all around us, and we KNOW and BELIEVE both Him and His words are real.

But it is all still largely only in part.

Only when He returns will we understand, and see, and know Him in full, and how glorious will that day be!

Even now, He is sooooo good to us, and we think we know Him pretty good already. Can you imagine the FULLNESS? Face to face, no more tears, no more pain, but only pure and unadulterated love and glory in His magnificent and beautiful and perfect presence.

For those who have been seeing evidences of Jesus now. For those who have been waiting, rocking back and forth on your knees in prayer, groaning with longing for the time to come and for this pain stricken world to pass. Jesus is coming again. The promise will be birthed. And it is going to be nothing short of THE MOST AMAZING MOMENT IN ALL OF CREATION.

I can’t wait to be thrust into that completeness of joy in knowing, breathing, beholding the FULLNESS of Jesus and heaven.

For those who wonder how or why I can love being a doula, now you know. And for this reason, I always leave births a bit spent but as wide-eyed and in awe as ever. I love being a doula and waiting on a birth.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:22-25

 

 

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Shared Suffering

Shared Suffering
My father-in-law found out he was adopted when he was 26, newly married, and weeks away from welcoming the birth of his first child, my husband. His family was never going to tell him, but the secret accidentally came out one day in the middle of a family dispute. Since then, it has been a long road of trauma full of a million unanswered questions that have battered and left him bruised.
But what could he do? He didn’t know how to process the pain he felt or make sense of a life he suddenly felt he didn’t belong in. So he tucked it all away. He continued with his life as usual, began his own family, and tried to forget about his past. Already a grown man with many responsibilities and a million other burdens to worry about, there was no time, really, to understand… or to heal this area of his life.
Then one day, my husband and I felt the calling to welcome children in need into our home, and because we live with my in-laws, we had to make sure they were on board with this too. This was something he was not prepared for. In fact, he strongly opposed it when we first brought up our desire to foster or adopt and became very heated. He never imagined that we, his children, would ever have a child in our home like this, and he was not prepared to reopen those old wounds. He also questioned our ability to love these children especially when we already had three kids of our own.
“When they all get sick, who are you going to love? Who are you going to take care of??You won’t love him the same!”
The words cut through us all because we knew he was still hurting and that he never got over the years of feeling unloved and abandoned. Yet because my father-in-law is a tender man, it only took him less than a day to come around. That same night, he came over to me and my husband and said, “We gotta do it. We’re Christians right? If we don’t do it, who will?”
I love my father-in-law.
So with his blessing, we started the process. Before we knew it, we got a call for our first placement and within a few days, this little boy was standing in our home. It was a very emotional time for us all, but there was no doubt that my father-in-law, who was never known to shed a tear, was by far the most emotional of us all.
Over 30 years after his moment of realizing his tragic loss as a child, he stood face-to-face with Rell, a little boy who carried very similar scars he had. At first, he didn’t know what to make of it, but he couldn’t even get through the first meal before tears began streaming down his face and he had to excuse himself to his room where he spent the rest of the evening. No one knew what he went through in that room, but what we do know is that from that day on, we have seen healing and freedom slowly take place in my father-in-law’s heart as he has had to walk hand in hand with Rell on his own journey of healing as well. Together, they have overcome mountains of tragedy and pain.
And for Rell, there was nobody more qualified and suitable to help him on his journey than my father-in-law. Because when no one else understands, my father-in-law does. To be honest, there have been very difficult moments. Moments when I am tired of dealing with his tantrums and behavioral outbursts that I don’t normally see in other children. Moments when I am tired of waiting for him to come out of his blank stares because he doesn’t know how to respond “rightly” when I ask him to do something. Moments when I just wished he didn’t need me to hold his hand every moment of the day and wished he could go about his day with security and confidence. I became tired of being patient, tired of being kind, tired of extending grace.
But when I and everyone else tires, my father-in-law comes in quietly and ever so gently, and with kindness deep in his eyes, offers this little boy a hand to take that next step. They both know how hard that step can be, but together, they can do it and they have done it together everyday.
We are so proud of them.
The other week, our family went on vacation to the beach and Rell was so excited. It was his first time going in the ocean, and when we got there, he ran straight in with everyone else. Unfortunately, the same second he ran in was exactly when a huge wave came and smashed down on top of him, leaving him gasping for air and choking in the salty sea water.
After that, he didn’t go in again. 
Traumatized, he stayed as far back as possible and wanted me right beside him as he played quietly in the sand. Periodically, he would look up and see everyone else splashing in the waves, but nothing could convince him to go back in. Anytime I did try to get him to try, he would immediately shake his head no, and the one time he did get up to walk with me closer to the water, he ended up shaking and screaming at the top of his lungs until I carried him back to our towels.
Eventually, we all gave up and just let him be. That is, until my father-in-law drove up for the weekend to join us, and wouldn’t you know it that he was just who Rell needed to overcome his fear. I watched in fascination as the two held hands and slowly but steadily walked to the water’s edge. I knew Rell must have been trembling, but from behind, he looked peaceful and confident. Then slowly, the two began to touch the water with their toes, then with their fingertips, and soon enough, they were knee high in the water.
I couldn’t believe it. Before long, Rell was wailing in laughter as he kicked and punched through the wild waves that continued to crash onto his body over and over again. It was the most beautiful picture as I saw my father-in-law come alive from his past pain and use the most difficult time of his life to help another person in the same shoes.
And all the more I realized why Jesus had to come. Because in His life here on earth, He, too, experienced the same trials we each face and He is more than able to understand and to extend grace for each of us in whatever stage of life we are in. He does not tire of our situations and our unique trials, but He knows. He cares deeply for us and can help us take each next step. And with Him, we can overcome.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16