Saturday, October 5, 2013

I'm Still Here!

Just wanted to holla a "sorry!" those of you who might still be reading this forsaken blog.  I blog to connect and hear from ya'll and I miss it.  I'm pretty embarrassed ending with the "2" of a "3" part series.  Lame.

A little run down of where I'm at right now...

The three births, three ways was done for multiple mommy friends (whom I cherish) that wanted to know my experience and how I learned through them.  I'm thankful to have processed through the first two births.  I learned more about myself through them, primarily how much I am in need of grace and how amazingly God orchestrates our bodies.

I learned something un-birth related while typing these accounts as well...

Blogging can take way more time and energy out of my day than it should.  

The time I usually have to blog is in the evening after the kids are in bed.  Now that a certain little lady isn't taking naps, and a certain baby man has a nap schedule that doesn't always coincide with the man child - nap time is a bygone "mommy time".  Bedtime can potentially start quite late depending on the end of day attitudes, diversion techniques, and how long I rock my sleeping baby or scratch a tired toddler's back.  If I finish putting down the kids and sit down to blog that means I have spent precisely zero minutes of one-on-one with the man who kisses me goodbye every morning and can then be found in the kitchen washing dishes or going to bed while I'm in the other room blogging.  It can also potentially keep me up way, WAY to late.  That's ridiculous.  That's embarrassing.  That is in no way upholding the priorities I have for my life.

So, after a very long, going-into-the-wee-hours post, I had to pull myself up by the reigns and say "whoa".  I'm praying about how blogging fits into my priorities.  I'm also wondering if I should figure out how to bring pictures back to this blog.

In the meantime, I'm doing amazingly well.  We love Wyoming and we love the people here.  Charissa is in her first year of homeschool Kindergarten which has been a lot of fun and a lot of learning for me.  Doug will be taking the senior pastor position next May in our church.  Brandt keeps us laughing.  Ethan is exploding in teeth & personality and will most probably be walking before he turns one in November (that went FAST).  Life is good.  And it's life I want to live.  Blogging will hopefully be a part of that again some day.

Love to you all and thanks for reading :-)

~ Hannah

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three Births, Three Ways Part 2

Birth #2
Midwife at Home

Why We Chose a Home Birth

After Charissa, I knew I wanted something dramatically different.  We had moved from Colorado to Oklahoma and now lived much closer to a hospital.  I had always hoped for a home birth after watching my Mom have my little brother aided by a midwife.  She still says that in all her 11 births, his was the best and easiest.  Even at age 14, I had loved how personal, relaxed and “organic” it felt.  I wanted that.

How I Prepared

Their were no midwives living in our area but there were two that I served our area - both had practices over an hour away.  After reading up on their credentials, I decided to go with the midwife I had seen almost two years before about my extensive scarring.  Ruth is both a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) with further training as an EMT.  I had liked her when I saw her the first time and appreciated her credentials.  At the time, she did not have a birth center.

This time around, I decided not to do much reading.  We also did not take a birth class.  I had over-read with Charissa and felt completely at ease with a home birth, the midwife I had chosen, and the plan B for if I needed hospital care.  I read encouraging home birth stories which are available all over the internet and watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born”.  I also asked my midwife about water births and decided I would like to give birth in the enormous garden tub we had in our bathroom.  A water birth sounded amazingly relaxing.

Prenatal Care

The drive to my midwife was almost 2 hours.  Ruth was the one I saw every visit and she was the one to weigh me, ask questions, etc.  I had at least ½ an hour with her each time which would occasionally extend to an hour when I would talk about my life, how I really was feeling, shed some hormonal tears, and be encouraged by a female pep squad.  Her midwife apprentice and certified doula would often be there as well, writing things down and measuring my tummy.  Charissa would come and play on the carpet beside me.  

The drive to my midwife was almost 2 hours, which wasn't my favorite.  I had to travel for this birth choice.  As I neared my due date, Ruth came to my house for one of my visits.  Some midwives will do more home visits than others.  

I had four cervical exams total in my postnatal care before labor.  The first was around 12 weeks to check the previous scar tissue.  The second was at 35 weeks when I was tested for Group B Strep.  The third was at 38 weeks when I was getting antsy and asked to see if I was dilated to a three like I had with Charissa (I was). The fourth exam was on my due date when I asked her to strip my membranes.  I was so thankful that a visit did not mean stripping down.  

There was initial blood work, my gestational diabetes test and ultrasound that were done at a different lab.
I tested positive for Group B Strep (a test done by my midwife).  She gave me a couple options for treatment and discussed them with me.  I could do nothing, a HIPA cleanse, a round of antibiotics, or both.  I decided on the wash.  

While I was pregnant, I asked Charissa’s pediatrician if she would care for Brandt once he was born and she agreed.  The pediatrician’s husband was a DO, Family Prac/OB/GYN.  I went to him for a horrible double ear infection in my third trimester and asked to have him listed as our family practitioner.  In case I did need hospital care, I had a doctor I liked.

The Birth

I wrote about Brandt's lovely, fast birth here.


Being right there in my house was wonderful.  Brandt didn’t leave my arms for the first hour.  We were able to just sit and adore him.  The infant assessment was given right there on the bed beside me and every step was explained.  Charlee (the midwife that ended up helping me) had to leave an hour later (another lady was in labor!).  Brandt’s body temp was low so she gave me a thermometer to check him regularly and encouraged skin-to-skin.  My follow-up prenatal was a home visit by Ruth so I didn’t have to take my brand new baby on a drive to the hospital.  She was excited to see Brandt, hold him and chat with me.  My Mom stayed for a week afterward.  She kept us clean, fed and adored.  It was wonderful to have her.  At two weeks, I took Brandt to the pediatrician for his circumcision.  I did not have him vaccinate until he turned one. 

Priorities of the Home Birth

1)  Me!  From the very beginning, I was in charge.  I was nurtured and supported by my midwife and staff in my decisions and overall well being.  I received personal care both physically and emotionally.  I was given a variety of options and encouraged to make my own decision.  During labor, it was about what made me most comfortable.  My fear of pushing was noticed and taken into considering by my midwife.  Placing Brandt in my arms as his sole caregiver was so empowering.  The “expert” believed I was capable of this!
2)  Baby.  Mr. Brandt was monitored throughout my labor – no need of a big strap around my waist.  His care was in the hands of me from the moment he drew breath. 
3) Family.  Doug, my Mom and Angie were all welcome and encouraged to take as active a role as they desired.
I wouldn’t even list the midwife herself as a priority.  Money was paid but it wasn’t a priority either.

How I Would Have Done it Differently

There is nothing I would change.  It would have been nice to have a midwife closer, have Ruth attend and have a water birth but with all circumstances what they were, everything was fabulous. 


There is no comparison between my hospital birth and home birth.  Even if I’d had a glowing experience with the hospital, I do not see how the personal care, flexibility, support and peaceful atmosphere could be reciprocated.  I knew a home birth would be better than the hospital but I didn’t think it would be THAT good.  

Brandt was my second baby so I was a bit more prepared through the school of hard knocks.  But, I also had a support in my midwife that made me feel uplifted as a mother, not intimidated or unintelligent.  I was treated as the expert of my body and the mother of my child.  My questions were answered with information to make my own decisions.  As I held Brandt in my arms, I realized my fear of birth had been removed and in its place was love, joy, awe and celebration at what God has made it. 

A note on finances:  All together, we paid the midwife around $3,000 for all prenatal/postnatal care and the birth.  We chose to have an ultrasound which was, blessedly, only $100.  I also paid for all my blood work which amounted to around $300.  Brandt’s circumcision was about $400.  We had health care but no maternity since, doing the math, it would cost more paying the monthly maternity premium for the required amount of time before pregnancy (a year) and during pregnancy, than it would cost to pay everything! 

Three Births, Three Ways Part 1

Every birth is a unique experience - different mama, different attendants, different location, different baby.   I am unique and each of these births are their own event.  I don't want anyone to feel looked down upon or in any way inferior for having different experiences and opinions.  This is my take.  Of course I have strong opinions on my births as I have researched and decided what I believe to be best.  This does not in any way mean I'm the Birth Goddess Guru Supreme.  I only share these for the sake of sharing and perhaps, in a small way, they will either encourage you in your choice or give you a differing opinion to chew on.  I know this is an extremely emotional topic so I want to make sure we're all just sisters here, sharing our stories!

And now, after that lengthy disclaimer, let's talk 'bout birthin' babies!

Having had three, unmedicated births in the hospital, at home and then at a birth center, I thought it would be helpful (and I've already been asked by a couple ladies) to talk about each experience and give thoughts on the way it played out, what I would do again, what I'd do differently and then perhaps be philosophical, shed a few tears, and growl a few growls.

Birth #1
The Natural Hospital Birth

Warning: I mean, duh, this is about birth.  It includes anatomy and stuff.  This is also, astronomically, my most frustrating and disappointing birth.  It has taken me 5 years to process it and come to peace with what it was and what it wasn’t.  If you are currently pregnant and having a rough time with the idea of where to birth, perhaps the hormones will want you to skip the nitty-gritty and go to the conclusion.

Why We Chose A Hospital Birth

Having had a baby precisely zero times and being 1 1/2 hours from the nearest hospital, we decided to go with a hospital birth.  The doctor I chose was the only one I could find that would take a self-paid patient and was recommended to me by three different women I knew. 

Choosing to Go “Natural” and How I Prepared

After researching all the side effects on mama and baby of inductions and epidurals, I decided to go without drugs.  I read about every book there is on the topic of “natural” birth.  And I freaked out.  I was completely confused by LaMaze and the Bradley method, a little weirded out with hypno-birthing, wondered if I should just throw in the towel and let the docs call the shots, wondered if I would melt into a puddle with the first contraction, wondered if I should "accidentally" not make it to the hospital, freaked out that I wouldn't make it at all.  I wrote out the most domineering birth plan ever known to man to ensure they knew I was serious about a natural birth then rewrote it with all kinds of "please" and "thank yous" and smiley faces.  I took the hospital tour, watched the required epidural video and, according to the very sweet nurse, "Honey, you don't REALLY want to go through all that!"  I nearly hyperventilated and then had to cover my face when they had her cross her legs and bend over for that needle.  I hate needles.  I agreed with myself that I didn't care if this child was 15 pounds, they would never stick that into my spine!

I read many books about natural hospital births and requested all the little things they say to nicely request for a "natural" labor.  I asked for a birthing ball, mirror, warm compresses, no IV and the ability to walk around.  I gave my birth plan to my doctor, discussed it, he smiled nicely and placed it in my folder.  He said they would "see what they could do".  He said they didn’t have a ball and it was against hospital protocol to allow a mirror.  He also said he required an IV since a massive hemorrhage would deflate my veins and they would have nowhere for a blood transfusion.  Massive hemorrhage?  Blood transfusion?!?  

Prenatal Care

For prenatal care, I was in the waiting room the same amount of time I spent with my doctor.  I had a few regular nurses and the majority didn't seem to remember much about me, which is fine since they see so many women, anyway.  They asked me every single time if I was allergic to anything, which doesn’t change weekly as far as I’m aware.  My doctor started regular cervical exams as soon as I hit 35 weeks and did one every visit following.  Once I passed 38 weeks, I was asked multiple times by the staff why I was still there and why I hadn’t induced and that I could be holding my baby by now.  On my due date, the doctor stripped my membranes during my cervical exam - without asking my permission or giving me any warning.  It hurt for a good 24 hours.  Tears were shed.  I felt utterly and completely violated.  It also didn't do a thing as Charissa didn't come until 6 days later.  I had no time to find another doctor.  After that particular incident, I really wanted to.

The Birth

Charissa's labor was 24 hours long.  It was...long.  And hard.  And gave me the greatest feeling of purpose I had ever known.  Like the natural hospital birth books suggested, I stayed home as long as possible to labor on my own.  I did drive to the city and walked in a nearby park for hours.  By the time I actually walked into my Doctor's office (not L&D), my contractions were regularly 5 minutes apart.  I was escorted by wheelchair to L&D where a young nurse started my "necessary" IV while telling me about her migraine and loser boyfriend. They strapped on my monitors.  I said I didn’t want monitors and mentioned my birth plan which was in the folder…but was told I had to have them until the doctor gave an order to remove them.  Protocol, my dear.  Protocol.  When he came an hour later,  he wouldn’t have them removed.

I came to the hospital at 2pm and had labored for about an hour when I agreed to have my water broken.  They were checking my dilation about every half hour.  I had a wonderful labor nurse who was currently in training to be a midwife.  She respected my contractions during cervical exams – bless her.  

I was also the freak of nature on the hall.  It wasn’t until after birth that I realized there had been multiple nurses coming in and out of my room just to watch me labor.  A "first timer" going natural and I wasn’t climbing the walls or screaming.  This made me very interesting.  I had seen my Mom give birth three times and essentially threw all those fancy breathing methods out the window in favor of deep, hard breathing in through the nose and out the mouth.  Rhythmically rubbing my leg up and down during hard contractions really helped.  Doug gave me counter pressure on my lower back which also helped – we had read about that and a friend had explained it to me.  During transition (the last dilation phase when contractions come one on top of the other), I thought “so THIS is why people get epidurals!” but by the time of transition, it is to late to get one anyway.  I was so thankful I had read about labor phases so I knew that intensity wouldn’t last forever.  It meant a baby would come soon!  

And so the pushing began.  They pulled out stirrups even though I had specifically asked to labor in the position I chose.  It was in the birth plan, doggone it!  I had discussed it with my doctor!  I said I didn’t want them.  I was told they would help and my legs were placed in them.  I said I didn’t want them and took my legs out.  I was told they would help me produce a healthy baby and my legs were put back in the stirrups and held there by the nurse.  When I am in hard labor, I lose my capability to say much and Doug was so wrapped up in his wife about to have a baby that he didn’t say anything either.  I absolutely HATED pushing with my legs in the stirrup.  I HATED the “C” position which felt completely unnatural.  I HATED feeling like I "had" to push since everyone was standing around telling me to push.  Years later, after having Brandt, I realized I never actually had the “urge” to push but was rather told to push.  I felt like I was sitting on her head.  I kept reaching to guide her head down – which my doctor was not doing.  He was to focused on my lower parts to prevent tearing since I had asked to not have an episiotomy unless necessary.  He never used warm compresses and never told me to slow down so I could stretch gradually.  This resulted in the most bizarre upward tear any of the labor nurses had ever seen.  Pushing so hard and fast resulted in internal tearing as well.


She was born at 6pm and was placed on my chest as I had asked.  My beautiful baby girl!  I had convinced myself she was a boy because I wanted a girl so very much.  The doctor waited maybe 2 minutes longer before having Doug cut the cord as we had requested.  That was "delayed" cord cutting as I had requested in my birth plan.  I was terrified since she was an ashen purple color and begged the nurse to tell me if she was okay.  They rubbed her into a baby color.  (I now know an ashy purple color is normal for a just-born.)  

The doctor then spent an hour sewing me back up.  During this time, there was a phone call from the cafeteria asking me what I wanted for breakfast the next morning.  Cinnamon rolls!  YES!

In came the lactation consultant.  Now, they are a respected group of women.  It is an honorable profession.  But this middle age women seemed set to terrify me into thinking I was all wrong.  Oh how I cried trying to get that stupid breast shield to work over the side she said was “slightly inverted”.  I was told if it didn't work I might need to supplement her until my milk came in.  After two days I removed the shield and she latched just fine.  I really beat myself up over not being made “right” to breast feed.  I don’t think the consultant’s attitude helped me much.

Since I had tested positive for Group B Strep and had not been in the hospital long enough to be given the full butt-kicking dose of penicillin while in labor, we were required to stay in the hospital for three days so that Charissa could be monitored for any respiratory distress.  That night, I came down with a fever and later a yeast infection.  I wonder how much that had to do with the penicillin.  I was also worn out from 24 hours of labor.  The nurses took Charissa to the nursery so I could sleep.  After 2 hours, they came back so she could nurse.  The baby nurse looked at us gravely and said “We need to talk about this baby.”  Her blood sugar was low, she had a heart murmur, her body temperature was low.  They had given her formula for her blood sugar and she "needed" to stay in the nursery under the heat lamp.  Looking back I know what she needed was for me to nurse her and hold her skin-to-skin.  I was furious they gave her formula without asking me.  Doug and I were devistated about the heart murmur until I called my mom weeping and she told me many newborns have a heart murmur which is gone within a few weeks.  Why were we not told that?!  It was never mentioned again and had vanished by her first check-up.

The next few days were a blurred waiting period.  It was nice to have my food brought to me, but only I was fed.  Poor Doug!  Since I was sick, it was very nice to be able to sleep but I was awakened at 5am each morning for a blood draw.  My doctor came to see me once a day.  I asked him about my tear being up and how common that was.  He responded that since I didn’t have an episiotomy, this was what I was asking for.  All I could do was cry.

My stitches were re-stitched three times in the course of the next two weeks due to the extremely delicate tissue of that area.  At my 6 week appointment, I had severe scarring and postnatal depression.  At 4 months, I was told he could give me a series of scar tissue eating shots or I could undergo plastic surgery.  I left the hospital in tears.  And I’ve never been back since.

At 6 months, we moved to Oklahoma and I went to a midwife about my scarring.  After listening to the tearful story of my birth with much empathy and “bless your hearts” she recommended massaging with castor oil.  After two weeks, the scar tissue was essentially gone.  No invasive anything required.  I have had no complications with it since.

Priorities of the Hospital Birth

1)  Money – liability and income were the first priority.  From the IV & monitor, to the position I was made to push, to being kept three days, it was all about protocol & covering their tails.  It was NOT about my desires.
2)  Doctor’s Convenience – my membranes being stripped, water being broken, the stirrups and being told when to push.  I felt like I was inconveniencing him by wanting to let my body do its thing rather than letting it be manipulated the way that worked best for everyone else and their schedule.
3) Me  – okay, I guess I fell into the priority list somewhere!  The nurses were nice for the most part but meeting a different one every shift was confusing.  I loved my labor nurse.  The food was good.  The place was clean.
4)  Baby - the baby nurses seemed nice.  They gave her a sweet mohawk.  They obviously thought they would do a better job of caring for her than me.  Bonding with her was not discouraged, but protocol did not encourage it.
5) Doug – he would have starved had it not been for visitors bringing him food because he wouldn't leave my side.  He is my birth hero.

How I Would Have Done It Differently

Honestly, I would never have another hospital birth unless absolutely medically necessary - say placental previa or breech without options.  Many women have had good experiences in the hospital but this one burned me badly.  Here are a couple things that might have made it better:

First, I would have really interviewed my doctor/hospital and tried to find one I liked that would support my decisions.  I did most everything right for a natural hospital birth according to the books except being really picky about my doctor.  Unfortunately, being self-paid, we didn’t have many options.  The doc I chose was not a "bad" doctor.  He was very congenial, thoughtful and has many female patients that love him.  He is good at what he does - extracting babies from women in the most practical, medical, businesslike fashion available.  He's an "expert".  He isn't my style.

Second, I would have loved to have a doula - someone to stand up to the doctor/nurse for me and my desires (especially those cursed stirrups).  Expecting that of my husband who was watching his wife go through labor for the first time wasn’t fair or realistic.  Note: My Mom was present for all of my labor but not the birth.  I wish I had asked her to stay!

Third, I would have denied so many cervical exams before and during labor and also not had my water broken.  Both were completely unnecessary and invasive.  I also would have stood up to the doctor after stripping my membranes without permission. 

Fourth, I would have demanded my baby, held her skin-to-skin and nursed her whenever she wanted, not when the nurses brought her to me.  I let them keep her for the first many hours because they kept saying she needed to be in a warmer, needed her temp supervised, etc.  I was manipulated into thinking it was best for my baby.  All needed observation could have been done by my bedside but it was more convenient for them to do it in the nursery.  Many hospitals are finally starting to make in-room care part of protocol. 

Fifth, I would have stayed the night after labor and then denied treatment.  Three days in a hospital wasn’t necessary and created far more stress on our first days as new parents.  Group B Strep complications are identifiable by an observant mother.  If I had been educated by the docs, I would have known what to look for.


In hindsight, I have decided that having a "natural" birth is so much more than managing to bear a baby without medication. 
- It is working with your body and letting it do as its created.
- It is the ability to see birth itself as a journey and pathway to motherhood.
The hospital experience did not provide that.
- It put me in a minority position instantly.
- It required constant vigilance and reminders to my attendants.
- It gave me little support and even negativity regarding my choices.  My labor nurse encouraged me but the only other words of "encouragement" from others were primarily disbelief that I would "go natural".
- It was a constant battle with my own mind to try convincing myself I made the right decision to know what my body was doing since I was surrounded by "experts" telling me differently.
- It required my doing lots of research to try making informed decisions because hospital protocol was not always explained to me.

My gorgeous little girl is turning 5 soon and she is an absolute joy.  Not having my hopes and desires met cast a dark shadow over the beginnings of my motherhood career.  But it has become part of my mothering journey.  It has affirmed my faith in God's creating my body well.  It has strengthened my desire to follow my intuition.  It has shown me the importance of making decisions with my husband in prayer (he is now a huge advocate for midwives, by the way).  It has strengthened my resolve to uphold the women's right to proper birth preparation and actual information on all medical interventions.  I also am vehemently against doctors manipulating any woman into thinking her body just can't handle the pain, the timing, the wonder of birth.    Doctors are needed and necessary for medical emergencies.

But the average birth is not an emergency.

A note on finances: we had health care but no maternity policy.  The cost of prenatal care and an average hospital birth without complications or medical interventions in our area was around $10,000.  We had that saved and were prepared to pay.  Any health complications would be covered under our health care. However, the hospital billing department asked us (many times) to apply for aid after reviewing our request for a discount.  I had been laid off when my boss found I didn't plan to work after baby was born.  Doug was attending seminary and we were living off the income of his part-time job.  We basically qualified for every financial assistance available.  We decided to go ahead and apply.  All costs were covered.

Read Part 2

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Lord Gives

I wrote this a week before Christmas, when my arms were feeling empty even when they were (and are) so very full. 

“You know, often when God takes something from us He plans to give us something else.  It might be something we can see or it might be part of our character, our walk with God…” his voice trailed off, perhaps in response to my clenched jaw and fists.  

I was 16, staring down into a grave scraped out of the frozen earth where my beloved Labrador was buried, her back still arched with the internal havoc the poison had wrought on her four year old body.  None of us knew how she had ingested the cause of her death, if it had been intended by someone or simply found in the earth, a dead rat, some rotten food.  I didn’t understand why she was there in the ground and my stomach boiled with anger at the words attempting to comfort me.  They came from a family friend who had helped to dig the grave - quite a feat in the Rocky Mountains, especially the day before a snowy Thanksgiving.  I choked down my bitter thoughts along with the tears that wouldn’t stop for days. 

 I never saw exactly what I gained from my puppy’s death.  She had been the answer to my childhood dream of having my own dog and to have it end so prematurely seemed deeply unfair at the time.  I suppose I gained character, as our friend had said, and looking back now I know that I did although I couldn’t put an exact name to it.  

That was many years ago.  

There was a package in the mail last week from my sister.  I smiled as I unwrapped a tiny pair of blue and green crocheted booties just right for the little feet busily kicking the air in my lap.  And then, a much smaller pair, wrapped in white tissue with a note: “December Baby”.  Tiny little booties, crocheted from white cotton, too small to fit anyone meant for this world.  I gasped and a wrenching sob escaped from a deep place inside that I thought had shut.

It all came back.  The loss two days before Christmas, the weeks of bleeding, mornings when I didn’t want to get out of bed to face another day, an internal battle mentally beating myself up wondering what was wrong that something so many others face would affect me so deeply, how I took three pregnancy tests two months later in disbelief and then for months swung between the joy of another pregnancy and the desperate fear that my baby would be taken from me again.  

As I sat there with these two pairs of shoes, one in each hand, I looked at the tiny person in my lap and realized what had happened.  This little man, with his big hazel eyes, expressive mouth, decided opinions and big smiles, he wouldn’t exist had his brother or sister continued to grow.  Although it wasn’t my choice, it was God’s plan.  

I bowed my head, kissing a smooth baby forehead, thanking God because I know He doesn’t always, but this time He has given me something visible and tangible in place of what He had taken.  It’s a strange thing, but this gift, my little Ethan, would not have been possible without loss. 

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:11-12

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Take Heed" by Marie Garreau

My sister Marie has always been one of those lovely right brain individuals that could draw, write poetry and learn another language in no time flat.  In our childhood, I could find her wearing a cape she made herself, wandering the woods with a wreath of flowers in her hair reciting ballads.  I could go on and on about how wonderful she is but I'll just say this: she is a rock of faith and I love her.

She recently sent me this poem and, when asked, said I could share it with you all.  This message is deeply relevant.  I hope it strengthens, encourages, motivates and even warns you as it did me.

Take Heed

The extreme ecumenical unity
Pervading the church of today,
Is degrading the value of conviction,
As it croons “To each his own way.”

Is this not a spawn of our postmodern world
That would have our absolutes blurred?
The devil’s device to lead us from the truth,
Casting doubt on exclusive Word?

You may think you stand, but take heed lest you fall,
The devil is prowling loosed.
Examine your thoughts and affirm what is true,
By this world do not be seduced.

You will not be loved affirming what is truth,
Indeed you’ll be called “one who hates,”
But love them still for they do not know,
In the balance eternity waits.