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Waiting for Abbey and Reading The Gift of Giving Life

I am honored to have been asked to be a “posting participant” in the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

When I first heard about The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, I brushed it aside, simply because of the mounting list of books I wanted to read and the growing stack at my bedside collecting dust. And to be honest, I didn’t have interest in reading another watered-down, spiritually “held back”, flowery LDS book on the topic of mothering. After the third reminder, though, via friends and social media, I knew it was something I was meant to experience. The swellings and stirrings I felt from the first chapter, Heather Farrell’s We Are Each Eve, confirmed the deep, timely influence of this book on my walk as a woman and mother.

Not too many are aware that the greatest heartache of my life has been losing babies. I lost my firstborn, a beautiful baby girl, at full term – a story with so many sacred layers and levels that can’t be given justice in the context of this post. Two years after I said goodbye to my firstborn, Jeff and I had our son Noah. Two years later, we were blessed with our daughter Savannah, and two years after that, our son Sawyer. They are cherished, precious angels, each one of them. When Sawyer was two and I became pregnant again, I was glowing with assurance that this next baby was following suit with the every-two-years pattern and would be welcomed as our fourth child.

Not so. I miscarried that little gift of life and would miscarry three more times in the next 8 years. I won’t detail those losses, only to mention that they were soul-ripping. The fourth late-term miscarriage was so physically and emotionally and spiritually painful that I honestly wasn’t sure I would fully recover. Perhaps what made the final loss so intense was my dangling promise of two more children – a boy and a girl – and at 42 years, coming to the realization that my body was not going to cooperate with my spirit’s willingness to bear them.

I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

Today I find myself back in this kind of “labor.” I know there is a girl –whom I call Abigael – that will join our home. She and Eli are pretty much a package deal, so when he showed up, I knew she would soon follow. Eli is 18 months, I am 45, and “the promise of Abbey” lives in both of us. When I start to jump to fearful what-ifs in pondering her debut, I’m reminded that time is merely a relative mortal measurement and there is a decree echoing in some corner of heaven (as it is in my heart) that she is coming. It is done.

And so I wait.

We as mothers need confirmation and validation for the dreams and impressions we hold inside for ourselves and our children. To me, that is what The Gift of Giving Life inspires. I was so moved and impressed with the depth of this book that I invited Lani Axman, one of the authors, into my home while she was in town doing book meetings last year. We sat on my couch and talked about angels and purpose and Spirit and loss, the things of which women who’ve suffered can speak the same language. I knew then, and now, that the essays contained in this book convey powerful messages every woman of faith can glean hope and insight from. I am grateful for the courage and wisdom of Felice Austin, Lani Axman, Heather Farrell, Robyn Allgood and Sheridan Ripley. These women have compiled a bold spiritual work that weaves a divine thread of hope and healing to the heart of the reader.

I add my voice to the other women on The Gift of Giving Life’s Virtual Book Tour. Visit their page to receive giveaways in the pregnancy, birth and baby departments. Most importantly, read the book! 🙂

How Could He Love Them as I Do?

Thirteen – almost 14 – years ago, my entire existence did a complete 360.  Since 1996, I have been consumed – yes consumed is the perfect word here – with feelings I didn’t know I possessed.  Feelings that seemed to burst right out of me, spontaneously.  Naturally.  I’m talking about raw, instinctual, powerful emotions.  Pure love.  Overwhelming joy.  Pure frustration.  Overwhelming fear.

In 1996, I became a Mother.

My Noah, my “firstborn in the wilderness”…10 days overdue, 40 hours of labor (12 of it excruciating enough to propel me to pray to die), 3 hours of pushing out all 9 pounds of him.  He took his time; his wise, sweet-natured, steady time, as I pained and cried and questioned and panicked.

At almost 14, Noah’s still my teacher in this regard.  On waiting on God.  Trusting in His time.  Trusting in His natural, all-consuming, powerful, instinctual, pure love.

As a mother, you want to feel like your children are high up on the priority list in heaven.  Like the angels have charge concerning them.  That God has their backs.

Your 27 -year-old psyche doesn’t grasp, as you hold a soft, precious baby in your arms – your baby – how a remote and mysterious Father could possibly love this little one half as much as you.

And then your 29 year-old self is bursting through an emergency room door, cradling a toddler in a blanket, who’s been so badly burned you and your husband couldn’t wait for the ambulance.  Why are your eyes so desperate while your toddler son’s hold such peace?  Husband lays his hands on your little one in the hospital, calling down a miracle…acting as proxy for the Father who physically couldn’t be there.  No scars remain, no permanent damage done.

Forgetting the miracle, the 36-year-old you is falling to her knees.  Begging for heavenly aid to reach your 9 year-old son.  The son sitting in a corner, hands on his head, rocking back and forth and banging his skull into the wall like he wants to climb right out of his skin, right out of this world.

“Have you forgotten my Noah, Father?” I wail.

“Our Noah,” was the reply, “And no, I have not.”

No, He had not.  3 days later, I had answers.  Aspergers (a high-functioning form of Autism).  What some would term a disorder, but what the Spirit would teach, over the years, is a gift.  Other-worldly.  A protection.   A teacher.

You’d THINK – wouldn’t you – that your 41 year-old self would have gotten it by now?  But she struggles.  She struggles to watch her wise and steady son go through a move, start junior high, and pull his hair out.  Literally.  He does not want to pull his hair out, he explains to you and the psychologist, but he cannot stop.  He is losing his hair and his faith and his hope.  Now, the desperation’s in his eyes. And he searches to find peace in mine.

My Noah, my messenger, my firstborn in the wilderness.  The emotional barometer in our home.  The one who alerts our spirits to impending seasons of healing.  Sacred Stations.

Never have my pleas for another soul been as blazing and urgent.  It was a dark afternoon, not more than 6 weeks ago, that I pulled into the parking lot of a nearby temple, faced eastward and expelled every fear-based emotion my body was holding for my son.  The core of my maternal heart was shattering for my 13 year-old, and I lifted my eyes to the pinnacle of the temple, sobbing, petitioning, begging, pleading…entreating the assistance of heaven once again.  For our Noah.

Perhaps because the 27 or the 29 or the 36 year-old me may not have gotten the lesson of the Father’s love for my son quite strongly enough, I needed to witness another miracle.  I needed to be reminded that the boy I am raising was already raised in the light of perfected parenting, eons before he was stationed in my care.  I needed to not just be reminded, but to feel, that Noah is known, loved, cherished…every whit.

The miracle commenced when loved ones – healers – showed up immediately to comfort me and ground Noah, acting as the Savior’s hands and feet.  It was not two mornings later when, upon waking, I downloaded a new treatment plan.  The supplements, the essential oils, the diet, the routines, the practitioners…all of it.   A month later, a psychologist is scratching his head and Noah and I are smiling and locking arms, walking out of Dr. B’s parking lot.  Spiritually victorious, basking in the light of another miracle.

Noah says he does not mind me sharing this, because a great shift is taking place.  We know we are not out of the woods, and that there will be more lessons in store for his noble soul as he matures.  But I had to write about this tonight, as my mother’s heart is bursting with gratitude.  Yesterday he returned from a week at Scout Camp, and he seemed so…grown.  Tanned and taller, his eyes more blue, his gait more sure. His smile more fixed.

I looked upon him yesterday with the same intensity as the times I’ve looked upon my other children in those intensely emotional mothering moments, completely absorbed with pure, permeating love for them.  And my fleeting thought is always, How could He love them as I do?  I had the impression that when my mother’s heart is feeling this pure love, it originates from Him.  I am feeling HIS love for my child in those consuming moments.  I am literally being filled with His love for my child.

Our Noah.

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Noah and me in 2004…Noah, age 7-going-on-20, and my 35 year-old self