You Hold The Key

Just read it.

Tides of the Mind


if God seems far away, maybe you’ve been following the wrong god.

a god conjured up in your mind.

a god who you say is in control of your life.

a god who you believe sees all your flaws but loves you in spite of them

what if you discovered that you created this god to fulfill your need for good to overcome evil?

what if you discovered that Love doesn’t follow the formula:




there is a tangible Source

who is Love

he is as close to you as the breath in your chest

and the blood in your veins

every cell of your very being possesses the very essence of Love

you always have.

he is in all.

he is the space between the atoms that holds everything together.

Love is.

jesus warned us about looking “out there” for the Christ.

where is this King you seek?

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feminism is a dirty word


in america women are not taking to the streets to change birth.i have seen midwives fighting for licensure and organizing online petitions and rallies, but the truth is the majority of american women choose to birth in a hospital, with an in-network surgeon and pay a small, out-of-pocket deductible to their in-network provider(s).  and yet most days on twitter i see stories of women who are “forced onto their backs, and told to shut up. they are forcefully penetrated, strapped down, medicated, and sliced open as they lie defenseless and vulnerable” ( those are some powerful words. forcefully penetrated? birth rape? ptsd from birth? and the self-proclaimed “feminist un-midwife” @gayedemanuele  would have you believe “our liberation is bound in one another’s. there is a war on women’s bodies. we are not incubators. stand united.” in a twitter conversation prompted by the above quote from marsden wagner she said to me “what are you afraid of? why is feminism a dirty word for you? who made it that way? your oppression, patriarchy?”  you can read her article “why is birth a feminist issue” here.   so, who made feminism a dirty word for me? you did, gaye. you and other women like you who easily group abortion rights and childbirth rights together in a neat little bundle. feminism took us into the hospital. remember? feminism also brought us hormonal birth control and the long laundry list of side effects . we did this to ourselves, to our bodies. let us take responsibility for our choices, those of our mothers and grandmothers, rather than blame our “patriarchy”. can we stop bitching long enough about our birth stories and “oppression” to see those who are truly oppressed? to help those who are truly in chains?

women in america can decide where and with whom they will give birth. sometimes insurance will cover their choices, other times they will have to pay the full amount out of pocket. women can interview midwives, doctors, surgeons, doulas, photographers- they can have all the testing or none of the testing, 3-d ultrasound, 4-d ultrasound, pregnancy massage….they can even buy a doppler to listen to fetal heart tones at home. american women have unfettered access to information and statistics via the internet, libraries, doctors offices, netflix and youtube. if a woman chooses to hire a surgeon to help her with her pregnancy and labor it is not for lack of choices. if you choose to hire a surgeon you choose to hire a “physician who possess special knowledge, skills and professional capability in the medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and associated disorders…”  why then would you be surprised when your surgeon wants to induce you and medically manage your labor? when they don’t view birth as safe and normal, but as a medical event? you are, after all, in a hospital.that is, after all, how they are trained. why would we spend so much time and effort trying to change the medical model to suit us? can we stop big pharma? i don’t think so. ladies! you cannot have it both ways. if you choose to birth in the hospital, you are choosing everything that comes with it. we are free to choose a better option.  it may not be easy to find a homebirth midwife in a state that does not license midwives, but it’s not impossible. broke, homeless? pregnancy medicaid will help you and your baby. single and pregnant? no problem. walk into any church in america and someone will take you under their wing.  women! take responsibility for yourselves! do your research. oppressed?  no.    uninformed?  maybe.    entitled?  definitely. i realize there’s poor and then there’s POOR, so i’m including this link “explaining white privilege to a broke white person”

now let’s put things into perspective- one of these things is not like the others:

america- women should not be forced to have surgery during childbirth.

china women should not be forced to have an abortion because they are pregnant with their unapproved second child.

africa- women/young girls should not be forced into marriage before 18.

india women should not be forced into prostitution to make money to feed their families.

africa (specifically kenya)– young girls should not be forced into having an abortion after becoming pregnant while prostituting themselves in order to make money to feed their families.

africa & middle east- young girls should not be forced to have a clitoridectomy, excision, or infibulation or any other type of female gential mutilation.

please please don’t get me wrong here. i sit across from women who tell harrowing tales of their births. of being lied to and manipulated and insulted and physically and mentally wounded. they long for healing and for a better birth this time. they are choosing a route that may be illegal and may bring scrutiny from social services if they transport and yet they believe there is a better way to bring your baby into the world and so they choose this way. they choose this and all the ramifications and consequences. not because they are oppressed, not because they live under a patriarchal system and not for feminism. they choose this because it is a choice! because there is freedom in finding and making that choice and taking responsibility for yourself. this is an excerpt from a blogger i follow who sums it up nicely in her post “we didn’t have our home birth for the ambiance” :

I gave birth at home because I object to my life and experiences being dictated by insurance companies and lawyers. Lawsuits have corralled the mainstream into a neat little pattern of procedures. To avoid being sued, doctors have to “do everything” to prevent medical disasters, which means they have to look for the most minute “problem”– oftentimes normal variances for mother or child under the stress of labor– and act immediately, which means intervention and often Cesarean section. They also have timelines to adhere to, and arbitrary guidelines to follow– many of which are set by the former groups.

I gave birth at home because I was prepared to claim responsibility for my birth. Putting birth in the hands of a doctor, or rather, the system, allows many parents to feel they already did the best for their child, whatever the outcome. My husband and I gave this deep consideration.

when you live in a country as freedom loving as ours you can’t help but long for more. more of everything. and better. better than before. let us very carefully keep ourselves in check with this dangerous behavior. it’s easy to make an idol of anything in our lives. to focus every thought, every action, every everything on one thing. i’ve done it, you’ve done it. this does not serve does not serve others.  it destroys us. we are not here to have the perfect birth experience. if we get that, hallelujah! we are here to:

“go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. then instruct them in the practice of all i have commanded you. i’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”(matthew 28)

yes, birth is important and for many many women, myself included, it is an empowering and change-motivating event in their lives. let’s use that change for good, recognizing how blessed we are, and spend less time and effort fighting the “system” and more time and effort blessing others who are truly oppressed.

have you been on a missions trip? would you like to serve others in underdeveloped countries? have you read Radical by David Platt?



finding “Rhinestone Jesus”

last evening while my husband watched some british flick on netflix i flipped through instagram aimlessly. i’ve recently searched my bookshelves for a book to grab, and hold, my attention and have felt completely unmotivated to move beyond the first few pages. so i’m on instagram and i see that happy little lovelies has just received a new book from the nester and it looks beautiful and super interesting so i quickly follow the nester to see what she’s all about.  while checking her out on IG i see this gorgeous canvas from red letter words and i see a picture of a book called “Rhinestone Jesus, Saying Yes To God when sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough” written by Kristen Welch who blogs at we are that family.  you’ve probably heard of her, i had not. the title of her new book intrigued me, so i downloaded the free sample off ibooks followed quickly by the rest of the book. i suggest you do the same. i cannot stop reading this book and as i read it i cry because it speaks to me. He speaks to me, Jesus-The Holy Spirit- all at once and all so powerfully. i’m afraid to even think with my rational brain about what i’m possibly being pulled towards.

as i finish my midwifery training and prepare to take the narm exam can i possibly be so naive as to think His plans for me are to stay here and serve first world women? my husband likes to remind me that one of the first things i told him when we met was that i felt drawn to helping women and mothers in third world countries, particularly in africa. i remember him making fun of my “save darfur” t-shirt. from the book “i have always thought of myself as a compassionate person. since i was a young girl, i have loved people and wanted to do good. but somewhere along the way in my christian walk, i’d forgotten the most important thing: Christ. i wanted clean compassion, the kind that is more about me feeling good about what i’ve done, the kind that could be covered by writing a check and not investing anything else.”who had i actually helped with my darfur shirt? i’m halfway through the book and i just keep feeling those powerful waves of emotion/fear/excitement pour over me and into me and i have no idea what it all means. i keep thinking how lovely it would be for mercy house to have a midwife on site, how this would cut the costs and empower these amazing young girls. but i’m trying not to think. i want to keep reading and keep hearing. and i hope you’ll read it, too.

has a book ever touched you like this? has someone’s story of redemption convicted you into action?

homebirth & social media part 2

wow, part 2 has taken me forever. i need to preface this by saying i am not opposed to having photographers and doulas and family members at homebirths. it’s your birth, your home, so long as your husband remains mostly fully-clothed (!) you can do whatever you want. i do, however, have some opinions about how photographers/doulas/family members can change the flow of your labor.  and this is related to social media how……? i don’t know. bear with me.

one of the reasons i chose a small midwife practice for the homebirth of my first son was to guarantee myself a face and voice i recognized during labor. i believed it was important to have a midwife who’d seen me through my prenatal care be the one to see me through my labor.  i also had a vague memory from my sophomore year of college when my obstetrician cousin took me along to a complete strangers’ hospital birth. i remember thinking it was super cool to wear scrubs and pretend to belong there until i walked into the room where this primip was laboring on her back, knees to her ears, screaming and sobbing. i could see the babies’ head approaching the perineum but i didn’t know what i was looking at. i remember the smell, the sounds, my cousin telling the lady to stop screaming. i felt ashamed to be there. why was i there? did the mom notice me? her husband came back into the room, from wherever he’d been and the nurse, my cousin and the husband began talking “about” the mom and not “to” the mom. soon the baby was born and everyone was happy, including the mom. but in that moment, that sacred moment of surrender- what the hell was i doing there? i didn’t want that at my birth. no observers, no students, no strangers. i had 3 midwives at the birth of my first son. i’d seen them all throughout my pregnancy and one was a good friend.

i had the same scenario for my 2nd birth. same lovely midwife for all my prenatal care as for my labor and birth. i adored this midwife and knew i wanted to apprentice with her one day. i desperately wanted to impress her with a good labor and fast birth. in the end, i needed her to be my midwife, not my mentor or friend. thankfully, she didn’t try to be my friend. that came years later.

i was pregnant with my 3rd bambino while (whilst) we lived in the uk. the community midwife came to see me at my house for most of my prenatal visits. she was so lovely. she drove a tiny blue car and wore a blue button up dress/uniform with comfortable shoes. i’d make her a coffee and she’d listen to my baby. she told me from the beginning she probably wouldn’t be at my birth. when i went into labor i’d call the community midwife assigned to my area and she’d then call the 2nd midwife on call to assist her. i had no idea who’d come when i called.  at 40+6 i woke up at 4:20am to contractions and some bloody show. i came downstairs, made myself an espresso, as you do and collected my thoughts. after 30 minutes of contractions that made me breath, i woke my husband. he called my in laws who lived 3 miles away to come get our boys. i then called the midwife, yep, just like the book! carol, the midwife, arrived a few minutes later, as did my in laws. i continued to walk and breath through each contraction. my husband began filling the tub. my mother in law came over to say hello. she put her hand gently on my shoulder and i wanted to cry, i could feel myself coming out of this groove i had going on with a desire to be rescued. i thought, briefly, it’d be nice to have her here, someone who knows me and could love me in this moment. then i had a contraction and groaned a little and she freaked out! “get the children” she shouted, “hurry, hurry” and that was that! i quickly found my groove again and the midwife asked to check my cervix to see if she needed to phone the 2nd midwife.  “no way”, i said. she had the 2nd midwife, janie, head on over. there was enough water to get into the tub. i climbed in the warm water, heard the door close outside as my boys got into the in laws’ car and immediately i had to push. it was 6am. carol and janie sat on the floor next to the tub. nick was so confused about what was happening. didn’t i need him to rub my back? hold my hand? something, anything? the midwives told him i was pushing and he was just shocked. i gently pushed my sweet, dark-haired boy out into my hands and brought him up onto my chest at 6:20am. carol and janie smiled sweetly, listened to his heart and lungs and went to make a cup of tea. it was lovely. perfect. two ladies i’d never met before , two midwives doing their job, no fan fair. this one event has made me question so much about american midwifery care in general, but very specifically the need some american homebirthing women have for that deep midwife relationship. surely there is some middle-ground between the experience of the lady in the hospital and my experience in the uk? we seem to have swung so far from any middle ground. women want a care provider who knows them, who has a relationship with them to help them with the most personal, intimate, private part of their lives as women. but they also want birth photographers, birth doulas, family members and friends to share in this moment.

i very rarely see birth work efficiently when it’s treated like a social event. it works, but not efficiently.  there comes that time for every single woman, regardless of how easy early labor has been, where she must surrender. she will look at every face in the room to rescue her before she’ll give in, give up. i don’t think i had a 2 hour labor because i didn’t know my midwives. but i knew going into that birth that i was on my own in many ways. i knew going in that it was me and labor. in my opinion, birth is not a social event. it’s not set up to work like that. we crave privacy and dark to labor. choosing to birth at home doesn’t change that innate need/desire for privacy and dark.  this is you bringing the life you and your husband created into your home.

what’s your experience with  homebirth & social media? homebirth and birth photography? did having a photographer change anything about how you labored? makeup? what you wore? did you think about what your pictures would look like on facebook or twitter? did you tweet during your labor?

thanks for sharing:) xxx

running guilt, running high, running chicago

runners guilt creeps in on the days i don’t get up and run as early as some of the other runners in my neighborhood. my kitchen window faces the parkway of the community where i live. i see, bobbing over the brick wall that separates my back yard from the sidewalk, the heads of my neighbors as they run before i run in the morning.  i know them by their cadence and have nicknames for them all. sometimes, if i’m just drinking my coffee in my white “day-gone” robe (so named by my husband who says if i wear it too long the entire day is gone) i may curse quietly at them as they run by. i feel guilty and inferior and just lazy. i feel this way even if i’m going running later that morning. on saturday mornings when i’m driving my kids to their all-day soccer matches, i drive by the starbucks where my running groups meets after their long runs and i sometimes see them there. sweaty, tired, smiling, accomplished. i hate them. i curse them, not so quietly, and i feel that guilt again. it’s irrational, i realize. i missed an entire season of soccer matches due to my saturday long runs while training for chicago in 2012. i also missed parties and lazy morning pancakes and sweet cuddles from my kiddos in bed. i missed sleep and late nights watching movies and drinking wine. but i didn’t miss the guilt. and i don’t feel guilty about that. does that make me a bad mom? maybe.

my non-runner friends often ask me about the “runners high” and if i get it every time i run. i’m sure they think i leap out of bed, excited to hit the road and push my pace. most of them think i sprint the whole way, and all of them are surprised when i tell them that, for me, the high comes after the run. a few times i’ve definitely felt it towards the end of a long run. counting up to double digits and back down to singles is a rush, for sure.  sometimes that high will last all day. i know it’s only running, but the feeling of accomplishment- the power to tell my brain to shut the fuck up and force my body to keep going- well, that’s its’ own high.i prefer endorphins to dopamine and this is where i get my fix. even after a bad run when i’m looking for the easiest route home or avoiding hills or my pace was so slow i hoped no one i knew drove past me- even those leave me feeling accomplished. getting out the door is the hardest part. i never leap out of bed, excited to run. i convince myself to go every.single.time.

i am running chicago this year. i plan to train smarter and harder and get a better finishers photo.


homebirth & social media part 1

it’s been interesting to watch these two worlds collide. and collide they do. i had my first baby at home in 2000, which makes me a homebirthing dinosaur in many circles. there are a few candid shots from an actual camera with actual film. i did not have a birth photographer, or a doula, or an entourage of birth-type people. just my husband and my midwives. one of the midwives was a friend of mine but i was too far into my own head and laboring body to even think about caring what she thought (that came later). my second son was born at home 5 years later with a different midwife and a different husband (i’ll save that story for another post) in a different city. i invited my sister to this birth so she could see what natural birth was like as she’d had both her babies induced and with an epidural. it was nice to have her there and she set up an old-school video camera and took some pictures. but at some point, when i had an anterior lip that wouldn’t budge and things were getting serious and painful, there was too much conversation. is it a good idea to invite someone to your birth who isn’t integral to the process so that they can “experience” natural birth? nah, i don’t think so. not anymore. not even if it’s your sister. this is you bringing the life you and your husband created into your home. it is not a spectator sport. it is not a teaching hospital. it is not a documentary in the making (well sometimes it is click here ). but that’s so 2000! with facebook and twitter and texting and blogging and skyping and instagram and all the others i’m too old to know about you can practically invite the entire free world into your house for the birth of your baby. millions of people can watch you labor virtually  and those millions of people then get to comment and blog and tweet and text about your birth, about your vagina, about your post partum hemorrhage, about your midwives, about you and your husband and the life you created. and that’s all just fine. you get to decide what you put on your social media. i love your youtube birth videos as much as the next person. but does your doula have the right to blog about your birth in real time? does your photographer? is it ok with you if they ask questions on facebook in homebirth forums about what you’re experiencing during your labor and if it’s normal, as you’re laboring? is it ok for them to invite the world into your home without your permission, giving a play by play of your vaginal discharge and cervical changes? absolutely not! NO! i have links to just such things happening at homebirths but they also link to the trolls that patrol the internet, those trolls that blog about how terrible and dangerous their idea of homebirth is and how unprofessional doulas and midwives are who “crowd source” homebirth.

i love the idea of documenting everything baby. i love the idea. it’s so lovely to show your children pictures of your pregnancy, labor, and birth (and the reveal party, newborn photo shoot, pictures of the back of your family running through a field)….lovely idea. but it’s also really lovely to remember those moments, to talk about them with your husband, to look over your notes/records from your midwife of your labor, to laugh at what you’ve forgotten and how you have different memories of the same event. my 3rd birth was 2 hours start to finish (everyone should have one) and it is THE BEST birth experience i’ve had. i loved it. my husband feels like he missed out because it happened so quickly. he mourns the time he missed rubbing my back or walking to costa coffee. we laugh at how different our memories of oliver’s birth are. so ladies, put down your iphones and ipads and share the birth of the life you created with your husband in your home. and use caution when inviting people to your birth. ask about their confidentiality agreement, do they have one? does it matter?

distance running & birthing babies

yesterday i received an email from the bank of america chicago marathon people telling me i’d won an entry into the 2014 marathon. i ran my first marathon in 2012- here’s my version of a race report from that day:

i began running in 2010 after we moved back from the UK and after the birth of my 4th child, zoe. i always thought i’d be quite a good runner. i’m tall with long, lanky limbs. but i’m also lazy and so getting out there proved the challenge. i pushed through my laziness and learned to love it, especially the long runs, particularly the long runs early in the morning in the dark where i’d run for 3 hours and see other distance runners with the same look of determination/disgust/anguish on their faces, desperate for their watches to alert them they’d run far enough. around this time i began actively apprenticing with a homebirth midwife (MY homebirth midwife from my 2nd birth). during prenatal visits we would often use the analogy that labor is like running a marathon. i agreed with this until i actually ran a marathon. while it’s true that labor requires energy (in the form of food/nutrition/hydration) much like a marathon or endurance race, i’ve come to believe that the marathon training is actually the important part of the comparison. if you are strong and healthy, if you’ve fed and nourished your body and your spirit, if you’ve mentally prepared by pushing yourself with one more mile, one more squat, one more repetition, when the time comes to surrender you are physically and mentally able to do so. distance running is a mind game, more mental in many ways than physical. and labor is also a mind game. with both you must surrender to what your body is experiencing in order to finish. for the lucky few, that surrender will come after a few short hours. usually this is the case with a mom who has a baby lined up perfectly, adequate contractions and a spacious pelvis (power, passenger, pelvis). for the rest of us, it can take hours and hours (read: days) of work to get the baby in a “favorable” position and to have strong enough contractions to open that cervix. if this is your labor and your underlying health isn’t so great, you’re going to be “hitting that wall” hard and early.  and most importantly- on the other side, your exhausted, under-trained body will require lots of extra help to maintain stability.  now, it doesn’t matter so much after a race if i heal quickly, but after giving birth it matters! in fact, next to your baby breathing, it’s what concerns me most. this is true for all moms but particularly for those having babies close together. 

sure, you could probably run 26.2 miles without training. you can also have a baby with absolutely no preparation. but if you’re planning to birth at home, you and your husband have a tremendous responsibility to each other and to your baby to not just make it through your labor but to thrive on the other side.

so, am i running chicago this year, or not?