Grace’s Birth Story – Part I

Six years ago this coming Monday, Victoria Grace arrived in our arms. In honor of Grace’s birthday, I’d like to share her birth story. As I’ve worked on writing it, I’ve realized that it’s going to be a two-parter. So I thought I’d share Part I today, just to tease you. I mean, give you an appetizer. Or something.

Last summer, I managed to get Kate’s birth story written down. It’s quite long, because there were so many extra factors surrounding Kate’s birth, and it starts here if you’d like to read it. I mention Kate’s story because it is the backdrop to why, at 37 weeks into my sixth pregnancy, I bid Jonathan and the Blessings farewell as they headed back to Missouri from Kansas, where I would be staying until the Baby arrived.

Here’s a quote from Katie’s story – “I suppose the most glaring result of our hospital experience (with Kate) is the fact that we have since returned home to Kansas for the births of our subsequent babies in order to have the attendance of a legal midwife. Within a couple of weeks after Katie’s birth, we were firm in our conviction that we would not subject another of our children to birth in a hospital setting unless there were a legitimate medical reason to do so.”

When we discovered in late 2002 that we were expecting another Blessing, along with the excitement came a lot of questions. The biggest one was, “Where and with whom is this baby going to be born?” We talked about quite a few options… a birth center in Missouri, unassisted birth, working with our former midwife in KS, etc. None of those seemed to be our answer.

Then one day when I was talking with Shawna by phone, she mentioned that Kathy, a wonderful midwife in Wichita, with whom we had met in the past, had a great option available. They had taken a house and transformed it into The Birth Inn, where folks like me could come and have a home away from home while using Kathy’s midwifery services. Several phone calls later, we had a plan! I would get pre-natal care with a supportive OB in St. Louis, and would travel to Kansas for the birth.

My average “bake time” for babies is 38 weeks. Thankfully, Grace’s expected arrival time meshed well with the beginning of the camp season. For those of you who didn’t grow up with me, Kansas Bible Camp has been a huge part of my life since I was a youngster. I staffed there every summer from 1986-1995 and lived at the camp a couple of different times. Both Jonathan and I are both very tied to the ministry there, and would love to be able to be more involved. Living eight hours away makes that difficult, though! As we made plans, we realized that I would have an opportunity to work for a week or so at camp while waiting for Baby. Bonus!!

37 weeks was our target date for heading to Kansas, as anything that happened before then wouldn’t be handled by a midwife anyway, and it would likely put me close to Kathy within a week of giving birth. Our whole family drove to Kansas for a Memorial Day Weekend family reunion, then Jonathan, the Blessings, and Jonathan’s parents headed back to Missouri. Jonathan’s parents were gracious enough to come and stay at our house during this time, caring for the other Blessings so that Jonathan could continue to work while I was in Kansas.

Before Jonathan left for Missouri, we had an appointment with Kathy and took all our birth and baby stuff to the Birth Inn (which is about 45 minutes from Hutchinson, where KBC is). I had kept in contact with Kathy by phone and email, and she had my records from the OB in St. Louis, so it was very natural and comfortable to be preparing to birth with her.

As we sat chatting during that appointment, she asked a question that I will never forget. She looked in my eyes, and with an intense attentiveness, asked me, “What can we do to make this your best birth?”

Wow. After my hospital experience, this was a wonderful reminder and affirmation of one reason I had wanted to go back to midwifery care in a home setting!

I had given a lot of thought to what I wanted this birth to be. My experience with Katie’s birth had given me a huge boost in my belief and confidence that God had made my body to do what needed to be done. If Jonathan had been willing, we quite possbily would have had an unassisted birth at our home in Missouri. I knew I could birth this baby, and part of me wanted to do so alone with my man. At the same time, I loved knowing that someone with training and expertice would be close by should anything unexpected happen.

My answer to Kathy summed up those feelings first. I then shared that I would like for Jonathan and I to be alone as much as possible for the labor, and that there be minimal assistance with the delivery. Kathy and Brenda listened with attentiveness and respect, and I knew that they would honor the space I was requesting while being readily available with their expertice. After this talk, I was looking forward to this birth more than ever!

I was going to post some of the pictures we took of our family before the crew left to go back to Missouri, but I can’t find them anywhere. So here is one of the Hall crew at the family reunion:

(Part II here)

Time to stop being selfish

Yesterday, I found out about this huge spring giveaway party at Sew, Mama, Sew. I’ve spent most of my spare moments since checking out the myriad of giveaways. So fun! There are three categories of giveaways, and I’m still working my way through the first. I would consider it too much “wasted” time, but I’m also being inspired to make some nifty stuff for my family. So I’m convincing myself it’s all good. Thought it was about time I shared my find – Have fun!

Precious Moments

Stephen is adding words to his vocabulary daily, but he is at the point where sometimes the easiest thing to do is to take Mama by the hand (or clothing) and lead her to where he wants to go. He is generally very sweet and non-demanding about this leading, which makes him pretty irresistible to the aforementioned Mama.

This afternoon, a good bit after nap time, Stephen led me out of the kitchen. He led me down the hall and into the boys’ room, where he took me by the hand and walked me over to his toddler bed. I sat down on the floor beside his bed, and he climbed onto the bed. He got his favorite blankets and cuddled up in my waiting arms. After a bit, he sat up and played for a while. Then he cuddled some more. And so we spent 15 minutes or longer, just being together… sometimes playing, sometimes cuddling.

How precious to me that this darling little boy (who turns two a week from today) likes to just BE with me. He didn’t have an agenda; he was just a bit tired and wanted to play and relax. And he wanted to do it with me. I am honored and blessed beyond words.

A bit of catch up

I haven’t posted very many pictures this month, so I’m going to try to play catch up today. The fastest way to do that is to upload them to Picasa albums and embed slideshows that you can click on if you’d like to see bigger versions.

Here are some shots of a visit to Shaw Nature Reserve with Papa & Mama Byrd and Mom Smith. It was a lovely day!

Mother’s Day fun:

Also during Papa and Mama Byrd’s visit from NC, we spent an afternoon at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis. Papa was busy working, but Mama was able to come, as well as Dad & Mom Smith, Aunt Joyce, and Sarah with her sweet Blessings. We had a great time!

Last week, we dog sat Maggie, Dad & Mom Smith’s chihuahua. I caught this cute picture of her sleeping in her little bed.

Last Thursday, my friend Sue and her Blessings came over to visit for a few hours. While they were here, Jonathan finished a movable pen for the ducks and moved them outside, so the pictures have a lot of variety!

We had planned to go to a nearby creek to play and picnic on Memorial Day, but the weather changed our plans. Instead, we had biscuits and gravy for lunch, played our new game of “Life” in the afternoon with sweet Georgia, and enjoyed a wonderful supper with Georgia and Dad & Mom Smith. I seemed to neglect the camera in the evening, though…

Wondrous Love

So I woke up this morning grumpy. Lousy attitude, stinky outlook.
I scrolled down my FB homepage, and our friend Elrond had posted this video. Talk about a dose of attitude adjustment!

Visual depictions of Christ’s suffering for us can never compare with even the physical aspect of what He endured. And then there was the real suffering, the suffering that purchased my pardon – separation from the Father while He bore the eternal consequences of my sin (and that of everyone else for all of time…). It is literally beyond my comprehension, but videos like this remind me – give me the tiniest grasp of the most minute scrap. What wondrous love, indeed!


I love that the video complier included scenes depicting the resurrection. HIS sacrifice was enough! The work was done! Salvation, so far from free of cost, and yet freely available to me.

The Diary of An Old Soul

Fourteen years ago I found a great treasure in a small package. Emmaus Bible College, where I studied for two years, has an annual book sale in the library. In ’95, one of my precious finds was a little book by George MacDonald called The Diary of an Old Soul. MacDonald is one of my favorite authors, and to find this book of poetry, a stanza of seven lines for each day of the year, was thrilling. In the years since as I’ve read it, I’ve been alternately thrilled and pierced to the quick, with many stops in between.

I’ve never managed to read The Diary on a truly daily basis, which probably makes a statement about my consistency and discipline that I’d rather not consider…
This year, I have read more often than in the past, at intervals close enough that I am able to start where I last read and catch up to the stanza for the day. It has been a treat!

Just to whet your appetite, here are a few of my May favorites (so far):

Thy great deliverance is a greater thing
Than purest imagination can foregrasp;
A thing beyond all conscious hungering,
Beyond all hope that makes the poet sing.
It takes the clinging world, undoes its clasp,
Floats it afar upon a mighty sea,
And leaves us quiet with love and liberty and thee.

Christ is the pledge that I shall one day see;
That one day, still with him, I shall awake,
And know my God, at one with him and free.
O lordly essence, come to life in me;
The will-throb let me feel that doth me make;
Now have I many a mighty hope in thee,
Then shall I rest although the universe should quake.

Haste to me, Lord, when this fool-heart of mine
Begins to gnaw itself with selfish craving;
Or, like a foul thing scarcely worth the saving,
Swoln up with wrath, desireth vengeance fine.
Haste, Lord, to help, when reason favours wrong;
Haste when thy soul, the high-born thing divine,
Is torn by passion’s raving, maniac throng.

Afresh I seek thee. Lead me—once more I pray—
Even should it be against my will, thy way.
Let me not feel thee foreign any hour,
Or shrink from thee as an estranged power.
Through doubt, through faith, through bliss, through stark dismay,
Through sunshine, wind, or snow, or fog, or shower,
Draw me to thee who art my only day.

O Christ, my life, possess me utterly.
Take me and make a little Christ of me.
If I am anything but thy father’s son,
‘Tis something not yet from the darkness won.
Oh, give me light to live with open eyes.
Oh, give me life to hope above all skies.
Give me thy spirit to haunt the Father with my cries.

If these lines resonate with you, I have good news! While I can’t easily find you a beautifully yellowed copy of The Diary of an Old Soul printed in 1927, the book is readily available in other forms. For free, you can download it at Project Gutenberg. You can also find it in several formats (including Kindle!) at Amazon.

Lots to do

We’ve got lots going on these days. Not so much on the work end of things, for which prayers would be appreciated, but we’re trying to take advantage of Jonathan’s time off by getting stuff done around the home front. I’ll try to post some pictures soon.

But for right now, I need to do some kitchen clean up before friends show up for some play time!

My Bubba

My brother is one of the most beloved people in my life. I’m so proud of him and I think he’s fabulous. I think he likes me a bit, too.

Here are some shots from when we were little, taken of slides on my wall yesterday…

These sheep were outside of our apartment in Spain:

Eric, in Spain, ready for school:

Eric and I (and our beautiful Mama in the first picture), when we lived in Chicago briefly after coming home from Spain:

Eric and I at the Allan’s house (at Turkey Hill Ranch Bible Camp):

And here we have some of the varied faces of Eric as a younster:

Thanks for enjoying my journey with me. I love you, Bubba!