Monthly Archives: December 2012

Confessions of a pregnant worship leader

I was going to include a pic of myself leading worship, but I couldn't find any.  So, enjoy one of my favorite pictures of my husband of all time...

I was going to include a pic of myself leading worship, but I couldn’t find any. So, enjoy one of my favorite pictures of my husband of all time…

I just finished making the song list for worship tonight at my small group.

Last week, several people — literally, three — said something along the lines of, “Thank you for serving our group.  Thank you for leading worship.”  And my response, initially, was, “Wha…??”

These friends thanking me were sincere, but it seemed weird.  “I really, really like to do this.  I really like to worship.  It’s a privilege to lead.  I don’t need to be thanked!”

But then, I remembered only a couple hours previous:  It was about 6:40, and my husband had walked me to the car.  He loaded up the guitar into the back seat, and we kissed goodbye.  Our little rascal, four-year-old Fiala, came running out — which she is not supposed to — and Martin turned to whisk her barefoot self back inside.  The car still not started, I leaned my head back and gripped the steering wheel.  “If I wasn’t leading worship, I would NOT go to small group tonight,” I grumbled out loud.  I started the car and chugged down the driveway en route to the approximately ¾ mile commute to the home of the dear family who hosts my group.

I was feeling cruddy, as I do, most afternoons and evenings these days.  I’m about 12 weeks pregnant, and I really dislike being pregnant.  That is, I pretty much hate the first 20 weeks when I’m sick to my stomach 24/7 and I have no energy.  Then, for weeks about 21-29, I’m golden:  I have energy back, no nausea, and my belly isn’t so big to be ponderous, I’m motivated to get things accomplished, and excited about the prospects of a new baby in our home.  Then, about week 30 hits, and I feel like I’m going to physically fall apart at the seams, and my giant baby-house gets in the way of everything, and I can’t breathe…  So, I should say that I really dislike about 4/5 of pregnancy.

I was thinking that I’ve never led worship while pregnant…  Wait.  That’s not true.  I haven’t led worship in a small group while pregnant.  I started when Fiala was — if memory serves — four weeks old.  I’d nurse my newborn, put her down to sleep, Martin would wrangle the other four, and I’d go off to group…  I’d come home fairly promptly, and feed my baby again.  It worked out much better than we thought it would, plus we didn’t have to pay for babysitting.  (Prior to four years ago, Martin and I always went together, he always led worship in whichever group we were a part, and we always paid a babysitter to tend to our littles.)

I have led worship for the 6-12 year-olds at church while pregnant.  Oddly, though, I have no memory of that…  I’m not sure how I accomplished that with a big belly.  I think I propped my foot up on a stool and rested my guitar on my thigh, out in front of the baby-protuberance.  Anyway, that’s what I told my small group’s host that I would be doing, a month or two or three down the line…  She now asks, every week, if I need a stool.  “No, not yet!”

So, in a way, I guess it’s service, to lead worship.  I can be an effort, at times.  Most of the time, though, it doesn’t feel like it.  Most of the time, I feel like I do right now:  “I’ve got a great list, and worship will be great tonight!  Come, Holy Spirit!!”  I’m really thankful that I get to lead worship;  I love doing it.  It honestly feels like a privilege.  I can’t help but compare myself to my husband’s guitar-playing and worship-leading virtuosity, and I come up way, way short.  I feel like “they” LET me lead worship.  I get to.  And that’s when receiving thanks feels out-of-place.

Anyway.  The baby is due the end of June.  Small groups usually end for the summer the first or second week of June.  I hope I can make it that far!  My husband became the worship leader of our church when the previous worship leader was ponderously pregnant and in what was a shock to him, promoted him.  He’s been there ever since.  That was 20+ years ago.  🙂

Now, I’m questioning this whole post.  I’m afraid it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn.  That’s not my intention!  What I’m trying to do is say:

  1. I feel like worship leading is a privilege.
  2. Sometimes, I don’t feel like going to small group, but by the end of it, with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the love and friendship of everyone there, I’m so pleased that I went, and I feel great.
  3. I’m not entirely sure how things are going to go, once my belly gets huge…

I guess that’s it.

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Lordy.  Blogging would be significantly easier if I didn’t second-guess myself about everything…  I was hearkening back to the days when no one read what I had to say except my Uncle Steve, and I would write, shooting from the hip, about whatever crossed my mind.  These days, I question myself endlessly, like, “Is this worthy of being published?  Is my attitude crappy?  Do I sound like a jerk?  Am I a jerk?  This isn’t a recipe.  Or about birthing.  Or homeschooling.  Or even about parenting.  Who in my not-really-targeted-but-certainly-niche-readership is this going to bless?  No one??”  ~sigh~ And then I shoot down the post I’d written in my head, or drafted out online…  And thus, compiled with my time crunch, leads to me blogging less than ever.  Ugh.  /whining.

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Unique, powerful, profound, painstakingly researched: My FAVORITE book on birthing

My midwife (who, by the way, is having her website revamped — the current one is sorely incomplete!) has, unsurprisingly, shelves full of books on birthing and mothering.  I noticed one omission, and I think I’m going to purchase it for her for Christmas.

The book has been on my mind a lot, lately.  Partly because, yes, I’m pregnant.  But partly, as well, because I find the reviews for it on Amazon so indicative of our polarized culture.  When we find someone saying something we cannot support, we automatically throw out everything they’ve ever said, put them on our personal equivalent of Santa’s Naughty List, and vilify them.

The book, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, is written, as best as I can surmise, by a practicing Zen Buddhist, Dr. Sarah J. Buckley, MD.  The three two-star reviews this book has received generally have this criticism:  The book is too far “out there.”  The doctor has sections where she describes her personal beliefs and experiences, and I must say that the Dr. Buckley and I have little in common, and many of the things she has chosen to do, I would not.  HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean the books is useless.  It just means that our personal beliefs aren’t aligned.

After reading (not for the first time) the Amazon reviews on this book, I decided to write my own:

I felt the need to chime in my support for this book. I’m a semi-crunchy mother of five — many things I have learned and chosen in my mothering would be highly supported by the attachment parenting camp, and quite a few simply would not. I am also a committed, practicing Christian. I’ve had five, all-natural, unmedicated hospital births, and am planning a home birth for my sixth — not because I’ve had rotten hospital experiences, but rather because I have learned a bit more with each birth and am convinced that the best way to ensure that this, likely my last birth, is absolutely peaceful and perfect is to have my child at home. It is becoming increasingly difficult within hospital culture, even with a fabulous, naturally-minded care provider to have a truly natural hospital birth.

I particularly appreciate Dr. Buckley’s book because she, like myself, is both fully spiritual AND fully science-minded. I respect the fact that Dr. Buckley lays out her spiritually-based opinion and experience and then BACKS IT UP with hard science. There are a solid SIXTY PAGES of end notes. One chapter alone has 294 end notes!! This is, by far, the best-researched birthing book I’ve ever read, and I have read dozens.

In fact, of those dozens of books I’ve read, many start to sound the same after a very short while. Many other books on birthing rely heavily on the same stories, the same research, and similar experiences. This was the first book I’ve read on birthing in a very long time that had NEW, PROFOUND, and RELEVANT information about birthing and mothering. It is a unique and powerful book on many levels.

Instead of being a how-to on birthing, it’s more of a “why” book. Why choose one practice over another? Why are ultrasounds possibly harmful? Why are narcotics during birth so potentially harmful, both in the short-term and long-term health of mother and baby? Why is the use of Pitocin so destructive to the natural hormonal processes of birth? Dr. Buckley doesn’t just tell readers what to do, she tells us, very clearly, why one choice is helpful (even necessary!) and why another choice is likely harmful. In addition to that, she gives personal anecdotes about her own experiences with birthing and mothering that further support her empirical research, and show a mother how those scientific facts can play out in a very spiritually profound way.

It’s pretty clear that the author is a practicing Zen Buddhist. I’m not. However, I find that my discoveries have matched the doctor’s experience: The radical experience of a natural birth is the perfect marriage of mind/body/science WITH our spiritual/deep/intangible side. I found it pretty easy to make the shift, mentally, when the author talks about the soul of her child flying down from the stars into me visualizing, instead, the soul of my child being lovingly created by God my Father, and being deposited into the growing life of my baby, in utero. And so on. If the “language” of Dr. Buckley’s spiritual voice doesn’t fit with your own, feel free to substitute your own beliefs in the places where yours doesn’t match up with hers!

There is no ONE perfect book on any topic. Like any book, you chew the meat, and throw out the bones. If there is a story in the book that doesn’t click with you, it doesn’t negate the hundreds — or even thousands — of other bits of useful, profound information. It’s the mark of a strong mind that can consider something, hold it in one’s thoughts, sift it, and then say, “That particular part is not for me,” without throwing out the rest of the book or giving it only two stars. So, if that’s what you need to do when reading this book, please do so, but still PLEASE READ THE BOOK.

So, to sum up, my stance is that you don’t have to be completely aligned with Dr. Buckley’s spiritual beliefs, birthing practices, or mothering practices in order to benefit mightily from this unique and powerful book.

If that sounds intriguing, consider purchasing this excellent book for either yourself, a mother-to-be, or your favorite doula or midwife!!

In praise of not doing much

Lazy pin

It’s a good day when I look at the clock at 2:32 and feel like I’ve already had a productive day.

Confession:  I long to be lazy.

Truth:  I rarely let myself be.

So, most days, I spend a good portion of my thought life wishing I could lie down and take a nap.  Or vege out and read a book for a few hours with my feet kicked up and a blanket tucked snugly around me.  Or that I could turn on the TV in the middle of the day.  (The only time, historically, that I’ve “let” myself watch TV during the day is when I have a nursing infant.)

I tell myself, “If you get x, y, and z done, you can lie down for an hour.”  But, I never seem to get as much done as I think I should be accomplishing.  Thus, I don’t usually indulge my inner drive for laziness.

I get a lot done, typically…  But I’ve never felt like I was INDUSTRIOUS.  Know what I mean?  Like Proverbs 31-industrious, when I’m up before everyone else, weaving purple cloth.  Or, in more current terms, I’m not a Pinterest mom, making and posting about the awesome projects I’ve done.  So, the things I get done are mostly out of necessity:  My family needs to eat.  We need toilet paper.  We need to not be drowning in clutter and covered in ¼” of dust.  So, I do a lot…  but I confess that I don’t have a creative, money-making drive.  I’m not always trying to DO MORE.  I’m pretty happy if all the basics get covered without too much stress.

I’m still not certain if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I kind of wish I had more drive.

But, I’ve also observed Moms Who Do More having stressed-out kids and no time to snuggle on the couch in the morning.  I’m not saying that every industrious mother has a too-busy life, but I myself haven’t found the balance of how to keep snug-time, storybook time, “Mama, can you hold me for a bit?”  Or, “Mama, come look at the fort I made!” etc., AND get loads done every day.

This morning, before breakfast, four of my children and I were packed onto the loveseat, covered in blankets, trying not to jam elbows into others’ squishy parts.  My four-year-old, Fiala, said with a knowing wiggle of her eyebrows, and a pointed glance at my belly, “Actually, there are five children on the couch.”  We stayed for a good 30 minutes, until tummy rumbles and 6-year-old squirminess necessitated breakfast time.  I LOVE MORNINGS LIKE THAT.

Shortly after, I made sure everyone had breakfast.  I made the grocery list, comparing my list of things we need with things that are on sale at Sprouts.  I got the kids started on their chores (which included grounding my 13-year-old and my 11-year-old from playing with friends and/or in the front yard for the rest of the day, as it took me about five times “reminding” them to get them back on track…).  I took a shower, bringing a cup of baking soda and a cleaning sponge in with me and scrubbed down the shower enclosure, which was overdue.  I went to the store for the remainder of the week’s groceries (I went to Costco yesterday).  I came back, ate a good lunch — the first meal in WEEKS that actually tasted good, “thanks” to all-day-long so-called morning sickness.  I then put tonight’s dinner in the Crockpot — Chipotle-Orange Pork.  Lastly, I made sour cream dip and cut up mounds of veggies for my husband to bring to his home group Bible study tonight.

And that’s what got me to 2:32, feeling accomplished for the day.

I could still do the huge pile of ironing that has been taunting me.  I could nip out and get some Christmas shopping done.  I could sew my kitchen curtains, which truly is a necessity.  (There are two kitchen windows, which meet at 90° — one is completely uncovered, and the other has a nice linen table cloth-thingie held to the spring rod with a binder clip, acting like a curtain.  Classy.)  I could do more Christmas baking.  Or a load of laundry.  Or clean the rest of my bathroom.  I don’t even have my Christmas decorations up.  (They were in the storage unit, which we obtained for our move, and finally cleared out this past Saturday evening.  So, now they’re finally in boxes, in my garage….)  In other words, I could do something productive.  And maybe I should.

But, I’m not.  I’ve looked at my day, and decided, “I think I’ll go onto Facebook, then write a blog post.”

Part of me feels extra-justified, because I’ve been feeling like absolute CRAP with this pregnancy.  Mornings are better than any other time of day, so I’ve been scurrying through my mornings, getting as much done as possible.  But, here I am today, feeling better than I have in weeks, in the afternoon, and I could do more… Yet, I’m choosing not to.

Again.  I still haven’t decided if this is positive or negative, but I am — I think — coming to grips with the fact that I’m just not as industrious, not as motivated, not as creative, not as driven, as I think I should I should be.

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