A Safe Place.

We laughed, Kelvin and I, at all the preparation. Books to read, classes to attend, money to spend. Working so hard to learn how to do what humans have been doing all along.

We wandered around the dining room, practicing. Kelvin’s hands on my hips, my forearms draped across his shoulders. Neck relaxed, body loose, our feet dancing. Deep breaths in and out, just like she’d taught us, contemplating our upcoming reality. Waves, I’d been told. Electrocution, from another friend. A flower blooming. Surges.

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A million different ways to describe the indescribable.

Pain with a purpose; it’s what I told my patients. They’d look at me desperately and I’d tell them “you can do this, and I’m going to help you, because this pain is worth it.” I could do this, and Kelvin was going to help me, and the pain would be worth it.

“A woman has pain in childbirth, because her time has come…”

John 16:21a

I’d wake at night and consider it. The pain. The privilege. The fear. The joy. I’d pick up a book, and then put it down, not so sure the words on any page could really prepare one for this. “Thump, thump.” A foot in the ribs, again. A tap dancer this little one, 2 am their favorite time to dance.

Babies, apparently, like to come when mommas feel safe. At least, that’s what I’d been told. A safe place, yes. I liked that. I was going to be a safe place, even from the very start. It makes sense, then, doesn’t it, that our little one began their greatest dance in the early hours after Thanksgiving. Mine was a thankful and happy heart while I slept that night.

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It woke me from my sleep. The baby. The labor. The new road in front of us.

“Hold on, hold on, hold up to me. Because I’m a little unsteady. A little unsteady.”

– Unsteady by X Ambassadors –

I knelt on our bed, breathing through another contraction. The music trickled in from the kitchen.

Unsteady? Yes. I could agree with that.

We sat at home and I made my body prove it, over and over again. Is this the real thing? “You’ll know,” they said. But I didn’t, not right away. Because while my body had clearly said “let’s go,” my heart and my mind? They took a little longer to acknowledge our new truths.

Where once our arms were empty, soon they would be full. Where once we defined ourselves as two, now we would be three. COULD WE LOVE LIKE THIS?

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Labor doesn’t really wait though, does it? The body doesn’t always wait for the mind to catch up. Our tiny dancer was coming, ready or not. And so it went, as it has for hundreds of years. Wave after wave of pain, each one bringing us closer to meeting our little one.

I remember small things in the middle of the big things. Kelvin, always close enough to touch, to say “I’m right here.” The unrelenting seatbelt in the car. The face of Sally, our nurse, when she admitted me. Our midwife, Claudia, squatting next to me on the floor. “You can do this Laura. Trust your body.” Words from the songs on our playlist, creeping in and out of my consciousness. Sally, demanding I look at Kelvin, right by my side, and breathe. The fear, when suddenly and irrevocably my body and mind were no longer mine.

Our wedding song came on when I started pushing, beautifully linking two of our very best days.

“There’s so much craziness surrounding me, there’s so much going on it gets hard to breathe…you make it real for me.”

– You Make it Real by James Morrison –

Real, yes. Things were very, very real.

We delivered that baby together, Kelvin and I. He reached over and I reached down and it was our hands that welcomed our little one into this world.

To our arms. To a safe place.

“We have a daughter,” he said to me, his face a picture of delight. A girl. A beautiful, baby girl. A family of three.

And that verse above? There’s more, so much more. The pain is really the smallest piece of it. Because who would ever labor if pain was all there was?

“A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”

John 16:21

We do forget. The joy is so much bigger than the anguish. New life is worth the cost.

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That moment begs the question, doesn’t it, “Is this how He feels?”

Perhaps the privilege of labor and birth had given me the tiniest glimpse of the pain He is wiling to endure to hold those He loves in His arms.

We hurt our King, over and over again. We consider Him, then we dance away. We read books, go to classes, listen to sermons. Our minds, our bodies, our hearts; each must decide that He is good and right. We make him endure the labor of our distance, our uncertainty, our lack of trust. And then, finally, we let Him reach down and bring us into His arms.

To a safe place.

The laboring, definitively over. His anguish, replaced with joy.

“I have a new daughter,” He says; “I have a new son.”

Welcome to the family.

– – –

Emmeline ‘Emme’ Jean Mansfield joined our family on November 25th, 2016 at 12:26 pm. We could not have asked for a better labor and birth, nor could we ever have fathomed the way one feels about their child. Yes, we can love like this.

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My Anchor Holds.

Today was a Wednesday morning, normal in so many ways.

I made the bed, drank some coffee, and sat down to read about the challenges of women “having it all” and “leaning in,” challenges of today that indicate a joyful abundance women have not always known.

It was peaceful here in these four walls, despite the storms that raged outside.

In the immediate wake of the presidential election, fear, instability, and grief have wrapped their white-knuckled fingers around our nation. Hate, animosity, and division are flexing their dangerous muscles. I watch us tear each other apart, on social media, in our work, in our very own families. My heart breaks as the America we ask the King to bless does its very best to fall apart.

And through it all, a tiny little foot kicks a steady thump, thump, thump against my ribs.

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469b682330 weeks ago, I lay on an exam table and clenched Kelvin’s hand, desperately praying that there was a life inside of me. And when that screen came alive and that precious “whomp, whomp, whomp” filled the room, there were no words for the things that I felt.

Hope. Heart-breaking love. Fear. Joy. For that brief moment in time, life was good, and perfect, and right.

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469b6597But we have to leave those rooms. Those perfect moments DO end.

We are sent back out into the world, to grow and love and nurture something in a world that seems destined to break us before we’ve had a chance to thrive. Where we (and others) ask if we actually want to bring a life into this world. If we realize the challenge that entails.

And the only answer to that question is this: “My anchor holds.”

“When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all.”

Today, there is a tiny, precious, unblemished life inside of me. A little boy or a little girl, soon to be thrust into a world of chaos, uncertainty, and fear. Where black and white still exist. Where mine and yours is not simply a childish game. Where glass slippers and glass ceilings collide. Where right and wrong are so very gray that none of us knows what color to paint in anymore.

And despite it all, I, and you, need these little ones to know that THE ANCHOR HOLDS.

We need them to know that there is grace and love and kindness, so much bigger than the division. That there is a King who loves without conditions, dispenses grace without merit, who shines light in the darkest places. That the challenges of today have not surprised Him nor changed who He is.

That there is no us or them, but we are all only His. 

And we are called to live and love in this way too.

So yes, we embrace the challenge of nurturing this little life, even in the midst of the fear. We will teach and guide and direct them. We will show them the King in every storm and watch them do the same for others.

The anchor will hold. 

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– – – – – –

Yes, it HAS been nearly a year since I last put my heart onto this page. So where have I been? Growing a baby, getting my MSN, and striving desperately to still be a good wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I hope to be back a little more frequently, as sharing my words has become one of the best salves for my (at times) weary soul. Praying that the King has continued to bless your life as He has mine. – Lo

 

More Than Enough.

I sat in the airport three nights ago and watched the sweetest little couple. You know the kind I am talking about. He with his chinos on, polo tucked in too high, reading a magazine. He cleaned his glasses once, twice, then put them back across the bridge of his nose. Clean now, but still crooked. I’d imagine they always sneak into that crack in the sofa, and he likely sits on them before he finds them again.

They didn’t have their wedding rings on, but you don’t need them at their age. Love and marriage aren’t about the shiny baubles that adorn the ring finger of women today, an accessory taken on and off when the mood, the day, the outfit dictates it.

She sat next to him and watched the world walk by, everyone else on their way to something, and looking very important while they do it. No book, no phone, no laptop. Just a quiet stillness in the middle of that holiday mess.

I sat and I wondered what their new year resolutions used to be.

What they would do differently.

What they did perfectly.

Because that night, while the rest of us were clamoring to decide what the next year was going to look like, they were simply resting in that moment.

Yesterday, you felt that quiet pressure. December 31st. You’re actively avoiding eye contact with the christmas tree, the floor below littered with needles. Baby Jesus and the nativity are back in the box. There’s a stack of presents to be returned, the dog still needs a hair cut, and your sister left a set of earrings behind on the table in the guest bedroom.

The shiny new year loomed hours away and while everyone else was texting about sequins and champagne, parties and pasta, you couldn’t figure out how tomorrow was going to look different than today. 

And perhaps last night, when someone inevitably asked what you wanted out of the year, you fabricated some pretty goal of success at work, a size 4, a baby, an MBA. You drank to those resolutions, to the sparkle of the new year.

And, if you are anything like me, you fell asleep wondering what the real answers are to all of the new year’s questions.

Have I saved enough?

Am I doing it well enough?

Fast enough?

Have I achieved enough?

Am I beautiful enough?

ENOUGH. ENOUGH. ENOUGH.

enough [adjective]: adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire 

I want to grab that. Be that. Claim that. Make it mine.

Enough, that is.

But adequacy, sufficiency, satisfaction? THAT sounds like an unachievable trifecta, markers on the road of broken resolutions. I’m striving to be that?

I’m not sure I can be enough. I’m not so sure you can either.

But I sat and I watched that sweet little couple and I thought, if anything, maybe they’ve figured out this: 

There is no resolution that turns all of you into enough. 

But hang on just one second. There’s more to this than that.

You hang on and I’ll hang on and together we’ll consider this.

There is no resolution that turns all of you into enough, but there is a relationship that does.

THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP THAT DOES. 

Sufficient enough.

Adequate enough.

Satisfies enough.

All of that. 

The King does ALL OF THAT for me. For you.

There’s a cross in the middle of that trifecta and it’s enough.

Tullian Tchividjian, he’s figured it out too. “Because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak; because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose; because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one; because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary; because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail.”

Can you hear the freedom in that? Do you hear the resolution in that?

I read THAT, and it lead me to THIS.

I am free to do NONE of it, because He’s already done ALL of it. 

Tomorrow, or the next day, someone is going to ask me what I want in the new year. And I’ve set goals, picked mountains, chosen challenges. I’ll have written them down, I’ll tell you all about them, and I’ll slowly cross them off of my list. Some will work out, and some won’t, and there will be nothing but beauty in that mess of achieved and broken resolutions. 

Because the day I made Him mine and He made me His, I became enough. 

This is Home.

I watch my mom move the rolling pin across the counter. Her hands are chalky, covered in flour. They look old too, but in a beautiful way. They’ve weathered a thousand storms, and will likely face many more. An empty Crisco container sits in the trash, because everyone knows the best piecrust starts with that.

The dough stretches, slowly, surely, smoothly. My momma, she always makes the most perfect pies.

Reese’s shoes sit at the front door. Tiny orange Nikes for her new Longhorn adventures. The TV is too loud, but then, it always is. So we talk louder, my dad turns it up…you know how that goes.

I sit and I watch, smelling all the smells, seeing all the things, feeling all the feelings.

My heart, my head, my soul I think, they all yell, this is home.

Our plane lands in Denver and the sky is saturated with color. It’s as if God chose this night, this moment, to try His hand at painting, and not surprisingly, it’s perfection.

The mountains in the west sing their tried and true song of majesty and the autumn leaves slowly make the piles that we’ll all grumble about tomorrow.

Our little home is warm when we walk in. Our 6 copper mugs wink merrily in their spot of honor, as the light of that setting sun hits them one last time.

I wander through this tiny, humble home that Kelvin and I have made ours, gathering the mail, dropping bags and shoes and coats here and there.

My heart, my head, my soul I think, they all yell, this is home.

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What is this? What is it in us that pines so desperately, so longingly, for a place to call home? How can everywhere and nowhere feel like home, all at once?

As I get older, because yes, we all do, I dream dreams of lazy Saturday mornings, cold feet in a warm bed, a daughter splashing in the tub, a game of catch in the backyard. I see it sometimes, that picture of home, and I can’t figure out where I am at. Where I should be.

Do you know the definition of roots?

roots (n): (1) the part of a plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant; (2) the basic cause, source, or origin of something; (3) to establish deeply and firmly

Can you hear the truths in that? Establishing roots is not a mere scattering of seeds. It’s bigger than that, so much bigger.

The place I put my roots is the source of who I am. The support my roots find are meant to nourish me for the rest of my life.

The rolling pin smoothes, the copper mugs wink, and I’m thinking that home has nothing to do with any of it at all. I think I’ve been asking the wrong questions. I think I’ve been looking for the wrong thing.

C. S. Lewis says that “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

Perhaps that’s been my problem all along. Perhaps this is the answer to the longing in every human heart.

And it’s so simple, really. It’s no wonder my heart and my head and my soul scream home in so many places.

What if home is not about geography at all?

And I think then, that I’m figuring out.

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

I don’t know that it matters what ground my feet stand on. I don’t know that it matters what backyard I see outside my kitchen window.

Home is wherever I am when I’m with you. Wherever I go with you.

This is the place where I deeply and firmly establish myself.

These are my roots.

The King is the place I can always call home.