Wild Wilderness People

Pregnancy is weird.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. But even though there is an Olympic-level soccer athlete inside my tummy trying to kick its way out, it seems to only be a slice of what I’m focused on right now. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it like I asked for a slice in my life and God handed me a whole cake.

It just shocks me that a year ago things were so different. I found myself in a place of waiting for everything. It was tough, praying every night before we went to sleep that we would get pregnant and not seeing it happen, praying for the Lord’s army to rush in and spring forward the timeline for the house we had just decided to build. Waiting, waiting, waiting. God was teaching us so much back then and we knew it, but it didn’t make it any easier. The message He made so clear to us was that His timing was perfect.

“Your timing is perfect. And you see all things.”

That was how we ended all of our prayers.

Not a lot of people know that I actually had a miscarriage this year, after seven months of trying to get pregnant and not succeeding. I know seven months isn’t a long time to try for a baby, many people have to try for much longer. And I know that miscarriages are extremely common. But it still stung.

I remember driving to the hospital at 3am the night that I woke up with minor contractions and I won’t even begin to tell you about what else was happening to my body. We had JUST found out we were pregnant too. I was so heartbroken that through my sobs I sang the bridge of a song by Elevation Worship that I had led recently as part of the worship team at my church, “By your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, the resurrecting King, is resurrecting me. In your name I come alive, to declare your victory. The resurrecting King, is resurrecting me.” I sang this because I was trying to bring my baby back to life. I knew that I was losing it and I was trying to bring it back. I was doing the only thing that I was able as my body rejected it; I was worshipping. Jesus, the One who raises the dead back to life, because He was my first and last resort.

The thing was that it finally seemed like we were experiencing some breakthrough. We had finally gotten pregnant. We had finally started to see some forward movement with the property we were purchasing to build a house. But God’s timing really is perfect, even when it doesn’t seem that way. And He sees ALL things. Every corner of our hearts and what we are feeling. He knows every word we speak and every word spoken against us. He knows everything.

Well it was a few weeks after the miscarriage that I started feeling pretty ill. I thought it was just a regular old sickness of some kind. I started falling asleep everywhere too, which really isn’t like me. And then at a family gathering my sister, whom I believe said this by the nudging of the Lord even though she may not have known it, suggested the possibility of me being pregnant. The thing was that I had just gone through the whole miscarriage thing and I didn’t think it was possible for me to be pregnant that fast. But since she said it, I couldn’t just let the thought slide, not after everything. And I’m so grateful that she had the courage to ask the question even though it was probably hard to ask, because it was that same day I buckled and went in to buy a pregnancy test. Oh pregnancy tests. How I loathed them by this point. But as it turned out, I was pregnant after all. And I was already several weeks into the pregnancy.

What?!

Everything was a bit behind schedule, even my first Dr. appointment which is supposed to be around 9 weeks didn’t happen until 12 weeks because before I saw the doctor I had to have an ultrasound to see how far along I was before I could book my first appointment. Then, because of how behind that all was, I missed the ultrasound deadline for screening, which isn’t imperative or anything but still, it was something to chuckle about considering how slow everything seemed to be moving in my life before. Suddenly everything was full throttle, and when my first trimester hit it was a sudden uncoordinated mess of sleeping all the time or barfing all the time. It seemed like in a flash I was right out of the game altogether and couldn’t even function at regular life.

Now instead of everything moving at the speed of a slug, time was getting away from me. I was halfway through my pregnancy before I had even registered completely that I was actually going to have a baby. And a GIRL no less! Suddenly I was sitting on my bed in a state of shock, with all kinds of bizarre thoughts going through my head, “A girl…? Really? I don’t know how to take care of a girl! I only have experience with a boy! I don’t even have any girl clothes, or pink things, or pretty stuff. How am I suppose to raise a girl?”

Well if there is one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that God DOES know how to take care of our children. And our homes. And our good old well being. This has been such an incredible time of growing (spiritually and literally) for me. We have kept to this prayer, “Your timing is perfect, and You see all things” because it has gotten us through the dry parts of the wilderness. The walk was long, hot, dry, and sometimes uncomfortable, but we knew that if we were faithful and trusted in the Lord, He really was going to bring us into the promised land, the place that we just couldn’t see over the dry hills until we crossed them.

But it wasn’t just the baby. Like I said, that is just a slice. An itty-bitty four pound home-slice, to be exact. There was more. There was the house. The home. The place the Lord was preparing for us. God has a funny way of hiding the opportunities until the time is right, even when we are praying for them. Sometimes when we are in the wilderness we look around and don’t see much of anything, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something just behind that next hill, or the next one. Don’t let doubt make you stop walking. You will lose your way and it won’t look good on you. Keep your trust and keep your head on straight, eyes up to Heaven. Or you will quickly start to look like a wild wilderness monster, and you will probably sound like one too.

Worship is something that is very close to my heart, especially since I first found out I was pregnant with Chase, our first child. Over him I prayed for a Heart of Worship during my whole pregnancy, and that he would be anchored in the Father’s Heart. I also prayed that he would be a joyful child and tagged on that it would be really cool if he would sleep well through the night. Boy did I get that. But now a girl is coming. A sweet little princess…at least I think that’s the right thing to say about upcoming girls. I wasn’t a sweet little princess growing up. More like a sneaky, misbehaving, dirt-faced, toad who would put war paint across my face and run through the trees after squirrels. So it begs the question, what am I going to pray over this little girl?

Many ideas swarmed my mind at first. I thought I would pray for a little missionary, or more specifically, a trailblazer, who would head into uncharted territory with the gospel! But that didn’t feel right. Then I thought maybe she was more the dreaming type, and I would pray for big dreams and maybe even add on a prayer for the gift of dream interpretation, along with wild visions as a prophetic painter! But that didn’t feel right either. Teaching/Pastoral? A leader? Walking in the prophetic? Filled with words of knowledge? Wisdom and Creativity? No, I don’t think so. I mean I would love for her to have all these things but there wasn’t one thing in particular that stood out. Nothing seemed right to me until the image of mountains came into my mind. Mountains. Mover of mountains.

Yes. That was it.

Instantly I knew that what I was going to be praying over this child was for supernatural faith. The kind of faith that will see the mountains moved. Our little mountain mover. Prayers flooded my mind for unshakeable faith, someone who would go to war until the mountains before her started to tremble. Yes, this was definitely it. A prayer warrior in my own home? Yes, please! There were a few other things too, like patience, which may have just been a result of dealing with Chase and his business for the past two years and hoping for a child that might end up being a little more relaxed (ha!) I’m so excited for this baby, to look into her little eyes and tell her how much I love her. I’m so excited to paint gold mountains on the walls of her bedroom, so that she always remembers what she is capable of. I’m so excited to see what she grows up to be like.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us through the wilderness, and thank you that we didn’t lose sight of your plans, your perfect timing, and your wisdom when it would have been easy to do so.

Sorry this got so long, but it’s been a while and I guess I had a lot to tell. This walk through the wilderness has been a long one. But I believe it’s God’s heart that everyone makes it to the promised land. So hang in there.

Peace.

 

Clear Skies Ahead

There’s a grey sky outside clobbering the morning with unwelcome shadows but just beyond it I can see a vibrant blue rolling in. This will be a bright morning after all.

It’s been a little bit of time since I’ve graced you all with pretty words and mildly inappropriate humour, but there’s been a lot going on. First, I had to endure the first trimester of pregnancy. If you don’t know what a “first trimester” is, Google will tell you that it’s one of Mother Nature’s cruelest practical jokes. She plays a lot of these on us women. I won’t start making a list or you will lose your breakfast, but just know that only God in Heaven has the infinite power to get us through certain seasons.

Thankfully I’m over all that garbage. First trimester is long behind me and I’m standing under that ravishing warm blue, kissing those pesky rainclouds goodbye. Thank you Jesus that I’m not going to experience morning sickness throughout my entire pregnancy like so many others. Let’s have a moment of silence to honour those poor souls that do.

Anyway, it’s hard to entirely forget about the upcoming torture, which scholars like to call “labour”, but at least I have a break before then to remember what the world is actually like. Apparently it’s not all made up of repulsive foods and bad smells. Suddenly I’m craving a whole variety of cultural cuisine. Like Taco Bell. I haven’t touched a morsel of food from Taco Bell since…well since my last pregnancy actually. There’s just something about their Loaded Cheese Fries Supreme that would make me cringe on any normal day, but during pregnancy it suddenly becomes the meal that makes you feel like you are eating at the Lord’s table.

In addition to being pregnant and getting to experience the giddy joys of feeling something kicking against my insides and busting holes through my innocent ribs, I’ve also been preoccupied with building a house. Well, obviously I’m not building it. I couldn’t find the appropriate drill bit if my life depended on it. But my husband and some of his honorable allies are throwing the thing together. If you pray and stuff, then please be praying with me that this process of getting permits and the whole building process goes so much faster than we expect. I don’t particularly want to add the experience of “going through labour + moving into a new house at the same time” to my resume. It’s not exactly on my bucket list.

Something that should be on your bucket list, however, is to read CINDER by Marissa Meyer, the first installment in The Lunar Chronicles. If you like gritty young adult commercial fiction, fairy tales, fantasy, and sci-fi, with just a hint of added man-meets-machine genetics, then you will probably fall in love with this writer’s stuff. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m into this sorta thing. It’s been a thoroughly entertaining way to endure the pregnancy drama.

Okay, enough random. Apart from checking in just for the sake of it, I also came across a verse that has been on my mind a lot that I wanted to chuck into the world so that everyone else could benefit from it too. Unfortunately, one of the hardships of becoming a parent is that we suddenly have to live with this fear that something terrible could happen to our kids that is completely out of our control. Does anyone else face this monster? For me it hits at night, in those last few moments right before I’m about to fall asleep. Suddenly I see this image of some random thing happening to my son that is awful, and somehow every night my mind creates a different way for him to suffer, completely against my will. What a torturous way to lay awake at night. All I can do is squeeze my eyes shut, and beg Jesus to take the images away. The ironic thing, the thing that I have to remember in these moments, is that Fear is a coward.

Yes. The “Fear Monster”, is a coward.

The Spirit of Fear will run away scared like a little pansy the moment we tell it to leave in the name of Jesus.

This brings me back to the BRAVE Conference from a few years back, where the testimonies and teaching got planted into my brain so deeply that it’s still what I go to when fear presents itself. Fear cannot stand up to Jesus. It runs and flees the second the presence of Jesus is present. Our job is to cast it out, using the tools that God gave us to fight the enemy. All it takes is a simple, “Fear, leave in the name of Jesus.” Sometimes you tell it to once and it leaves forever. Sometimes you have to do it every night (until you are delivered of the thing that is causing it to manifest). But no matter what, it hikes up it’s pants and runs for it’s life.

So my verse is found in 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

God gave us a spirit of power. And a spirit of love. And self-control. Fear does not come from God. So be afraid, Fear. We’re coming to deal with you.

‘Nuff said.

Thanks for reading.

My Baby’s Butt

It’s not that I’m just bad at hiding my facial reactions, or that I’ve unearthed some putrid smell, its nothing like that. My face is constantly crunching for an entirely different reason, one that no one would know about unless I tell them. My baby, now positioned on the right side of my stomach, keeps shoving its little butt out towards the public, pushing against my inner stomach. It agonizes me to think that my child is somehow already rude, and he hasn’t even met me yet to learn bad manners.

You sneaky little thing. Already trying to get away with stuff. I’d spank your show-off little butt but you always seem to duck back in before I can poke you.

It’s not that painful when he swims around and kicks, a little uncomfortable maybe, but the worst part is that no one else feels it. So if you want anyone to experience the moment with you, you have to tell them “Look at my stomach!” and sure enough, the rascal goes perfectly still in a clever attempt to make you look like a fool while everyone stares and nothing happens.

Every time.

It seems silly, to talk and sing to something that likely can’t comprehend your witty comments and wise counsel. But nonetheless I find myself doing it a lot. We named our baby almost immediately after we knew he was a boy (no I won’t tell you his name so don’t ask. And please don’t try to get it out of me – I’m terrible at keeping a straight face and I will probably give it away if you guess correctly). After naming him, I began to experience other things that I felt belonged to him. Like prayers. It’s not a secret that I’ve been praying that my baby boy would have a heart of worship. I’m not even convinced I know what that looks like, but I sit at my piano and sing worship songs, and pray by scribbling in my journal, that this boy would have the makings of a true passionate worshipper. Worship comes in many forms, not just in music. But if he is born and instantly picks up a variety of unexplainable musical abilities as a mere infant, I won’t be surprised.

The next thing that I’ve been praying is that my boy would be so diligent in his chase for God’s heart. That his strength would flow right from the throne of Heaven. And because of this, he would possess a strength that steadies those around him, like an anchor. I can’t possibly expect my child to get through life without encountering a hefty slew of storms, but when he does I believe that he’ll remain calm and firmly planted in the Lord, and this will create a feeling of safety for those around him. I truly believe my kid will be a protector.

Heart of worship. Chaser of God’s heart. Anchor. Protector. I know that people pray all sorts of things for their children, some fantastic like a passion for justice, a missionary’s heart, prophetic gifts, discerning abilities, seer of miracles, healer of the sick, anointed preacher…all amazing. (Let’s raise up a whole generation of these, yes?) But, worshipper. Steady anchor. Boy oh boy. These are the things I feel called to pray over my first child.

I’m not a mom yet (well technically I’m a mom of a half-human, or whatever my kidlet is while he cooks) and I’m so far from being an expert it’s ridiculous, but if you are a parent then I urge you to pray for your kids if you don’t already. I wasn’t always the easiest child to deal with or contain, but I was so incredibly blessed to have parents who prayed for me, specifically for radical obedience to God and miracles. It’s amazing what I’ve been able to see in my lifetime, likely because of those prayers.

My dream is that my home will be filled with music, the way it was in my parent’s household growing up. I rarely made it through a day without hearing piano, singing, guitar or some other instrument ringing through the house from someone’s bedroom, the living room, or my dad’s office. Worship is so close to my heart. God has shown me this many times.

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While I was preparing for The Love Encounter this year I did a painting called “Love From Heaven”. It’s a picture of rose petals falling from Heaven into a worshipper’s hand. And while I was painting this, I kept singing a line to myself, over and over. Then I would add another, then another. Before I realized it, I’d created an entire song simply from hum-singing to myself as I painted. And it was all about the love of God coming down. I wrote it down and pondered for a while the message that God was sending to either me or the women who would attend the conference. I was so incredibly moved by the love of God in that moment, as I was really made aware that the King of Heaven loves me and knows my name. On the final night of the conference during the Worship Night, I had someone from my church approach me and ask “Do you write music?” I’ll be honest, I was a little uncomfortable even answering. I’ve written music in the past. I used to do it so much it was all I could think about. He went on to tell me that he felt that I should start writing music again.

No, I’m not a striking worship leader and I’ve definitely dropped the ball on keeping up with my musical instruments over the years because of insecurities that realistically are pretty ridiculous, but when God starts to remind me through these things how striking His love is for me…it changes my heart. Instead of fear and insecurity there is suddenly peace and understanding. I’ve had it prophesied over me before that I would “sing over people” as a ministry. It’s so easy to say “Whatever that means…” and forget about it, because embracing it would mean I don’t get to hide in the shadows anymore, but maybe its actually not about me. Maybe its about Him.

This antsy little boy who already has such a hard time sitting still has taught me so much and he’s never even said a word to me. Talking to him, singing to him…I’ve realized so many things. What an unexpected bundle of blessings he’s brought me in my pregnancy. It was all tears, snot and barf in the beginning. But now I get it. I’m borderline terrified to be responsible for a baby, but I understand why God wanted me to be a mom.

Thanks God. It’s like you actually know me or something.

So as I’m decorating baby’s room in navy blue, grey and white, with little elephants, and world maps, I’m dreaming of my boy’s future.

I sincerely hope he’s not a little punk. But if what goes around comes around….

Round. That’s a shape. I’m in shape.

Pregnancy. What in the world was I thinking?

I feel like I should start blaming things; the TV commercials with the ‘cute-little-belly’ women, the happy pregnancy portraits all over the internet, those girls who claim that pregnancy is such a joy. You bums. You should have warned me better.

I feel like every women coming into pregnancy for the first time should be told about the real things that happen. No one gave me a heads up. When I got hit with the truth it was too late and it felt like I’d just taken the palm of someone’s hand to my forehead – V8 style.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really exciting to feel the little thing inside you kicking at your insides, unless you have any liquid in your bladder in which case you are at a high risk of wetting your pants in public. And thinking about your baby coming into the world, the life that you created, it’s incredible. But pregnancy isn’t all rainbows and roses. In fact it’s mostly thunderclouds and weeds.

It starts with giddiness – a short but fun part. You are now carrying another human being in your body. Wow. Science. How is this even possible? Then it turns to numbness, where you find yourself staring at nothing in particular, lost in some abyss of confusion, and then snap back to reality and realize you haven’t moved a muscle in an hour. And then it quickly morphs into an unfathomable dousing of terror, where it occurs to you that not only is someone else’s safety in your hands, but you have no idea how to be a mother. And every plant that you have ever owned has died a slow and terrible death because you couldn’t even remember to give them water. This all happens in the first day.

After that you make a very ignorant attempt to carry on with life – the way you always have. And five seconds into your first act you realize that you are a dummy, and you can’t think straight, and for some reason it feels like you haven’t gotten any sleep for a week. The pull to climb into bed is overwhelming, more than just a temptation. It’s so severe that you realize your brain won’t even allow you to function until you lie down. Well buckle up ladies, this is going to haunt you for weeks, probably even months. Good luck trying to make it to work every day. Oh and did I mention that if you’re not passed out on some piece of furniture that you meant to only lie down on for a second, you are probably barricaded in the bathroom because you feel like every morsel of food that you consumed that day wants to come back for a reunion?

That brings me to my next delightful point; barf.

Trust me, you’ll get used to it. Seeing your food twice every day becomes almost a warm family tradition for you and your husband, or whoever is with you at the time. But despite what you might think, barfing isn’t the worst part. It’s the nausea – that’s the killer. I walked into the kitchen when my husband was making bacon and I nearly busted a gut in my moment of panic as I quickly realized; bacon was a no-go. A lot of foods you once loved will be the most repulsive things you can even imagine. I’m well into my second trimester and I still can barely look at cooked onions or cooked green peppers. But while these food aversions will keep you from eating a variety of things, you will actually eat a lot less for other reasons. The only way I can describe it is to say that being pregnant makes you tire of tastes very quickly. You might be willing to sell your soul one minute for a cheeseburger, and then you take two or three bites and realize you’re done and can’t eat anymore. It’s not a ‘full-stomach’ thing, it’s a ‘I’m completely over this’ thing. It’s very difficult to explain to others. But forcing yourself to finish your meal will probably make you barf if you don’t listen to your stomach. So pass off your cheeseburger to your man and try not to watch him eat the rest – that will gross you out too.

Everyone always tells you to go on Diclectin if you are nauseous. It’s everyone’s first solution. I’m definitely guilty of giving into the Diclectin obsession, mostly because I just hate feeling nauseous, but there are side effects of being drugged up too. Diclectin won’t solve your problems, it will just take the nausea away, maybe. But get ready to feel like a walking-corpse for the rest of the day. Some doctors or girlfriends fail to mention that Diclectin makes you very tired, and sometimes even dizzy. If you were hoping to take Diclectin in order to finish all the tasks you had planned for the day, forget it. You might be able to get away with that in your second trimester, but in the beginning you will probably see the room start to spin and just want to go back to bed.

I could hound on this forever. There are so many weird things about being pregnant. It almost feels like an invasion on your body, on your life, and even on your relationships.

Boys, your wife or girlfriend isn’t being lazy. She’s working harder than she ever has, keeping another human being alive. And this little human is stealing all of her resources, strength and sanity. And don’t try to tell her that she needs to be eating healthy – no offense but half of you wouldn’t last a day in her condition without passing out or breaking down into uncontrollable tears. Eating healthy is great if you can manage it, but personally mostly everything I tried to eat in the first few months I just barfed up anyway. I learned that if the food will stay down, eat it. Even if it’s just soda crackers or goldfish. The baby needs to be getting fed something.

Man oh man, it’s a whole adventure of its own. Women who survive pregnancy deserve a metal. People are given all sorts of awards for making it through terrible and traumatic situations and keeping their sanity. And not only is pregnancy loaded with other symptoms that I haven’t even mentioned yet; unexpected sobbing, an agonizingly sore back, weird food obsessions, muscle weakness, headaches, teeth pain, uncontrollable farts, alien dreams, the unexplainable urge to tell off your boss…At the end you get to go through a woman’s version of hell on earth; childbearing. No, it’s not that beautiful. Shut up you crazy science women. I’ve never been more terrified in my life for destined pain and suffering. Why in the world did women get stuck doing all of this?

But despite all of these gross obstructions of justice, there is just something about sitting at home, drinking measly decaf coffee, rubbing your stomach and thinking about the little gem that is about to change your life forever. God is incredible, isn’t He? How in the world is a human capable of providing for someone else, living inside of them? What the fudge sort of creative thinking had to come into play to make this even possible?

It’s like catching a glimpse of some majestic creation; long fields of wheat, a roaring waterfall, giant cliffs, rocky mountains, soaring birds, heavy wind, crystal ocean, a pink sunset…it sounds cliché but savouring those moments and acknowledging God’s hand in them, holding a paintbrush or whatever, it brings a kind of freaky but captivating passion into your heart. It makes your heart beat for things other than yourself. It makes you feel alive.

That is what it’s like to sit here and feel my baby doing somersaults inside of me, and jamming its foot into my stomach, ribs, bladder…How can I have never met someone and still love them so much? I would die for this thing. I would. I would take a bullet to protect this kid who might turn out to be a huge brat, or a rebellious let’s-throw-rocks-at-the-neighbours kind of punk. I can’t control what this kid will do, but I can pray, with ever fibre of my being, that this child will be totally filled with the Spirit of God, that God would show favour to my spawn-thing, and that this baby would have a heart of worship. ‘Heart of Worship’, that’s what I pray, continuously, or scribble in my journal. I don’t know what that will look like. Maybe my kid will have musical gifts, maybe not. But my baby’s heart is what I intercede to grow.

Pregnancy. What it comes down to, more than the crappy road ahead, is that God is amazing. That is the best way to describe it. And I’m thankful that He deemed me fit to be a baby-carrier.

Oh and one last thing – ladies if you are pregnant, please try to drive as little as possible, at least in the first two or three months. I’m baffled that this country hasn’t made it illegal for women to drive in their first trimester. I would easily compare it to driving drunk, and that’s illegal. So pray for angel power, keep your eyes wide open, and buckle up.

Peace out.