Thursday, May 26, 2011

Intercessory prayer

I have had several experiences in my life of praying fervently for something on behalf of a loved one and feeling closer to God because of my desires. In the history of my spirituality, these experiences are fairly evenly spaced with intellectually acknowledging that I don't actually want to be in a relationship with a God who changes her mind because enough people beg her to.

I am usually content to let both of those extremes exist together and I'm pretty comfortable knowing that even if the only result of prayer is that it changes me, that is enough to make the action worthwhile. I'm pretty sure it changes me to bring me more into alignment with the place in which I actually fit in this world. That is, if I remember that I am dependent upon God, I might remember where I'm supposed to stand in relationship with everyone else, too.

In church on Sunday, a phrase written by Hafiz was the epigraph for the entire service: "Your breath is a sacred clock, my dear-- Why not use it to keep time with God's Name?" It's amazing how my ponderings tend to converge on a unifying theme.

As I understand it, labor involves much breathing. In fact, pregnancy has involved much breathing. Anyone around me can tell when I'm nauseous or feeling a Braxton-Hicks contraction or just generally uncomfortable because I start blowing air out of pursed lips.

I have had a few showers thrown for me in the last couple of weeks and at most of them, we have asked people to write down their prayers of supplication so that while I am breathing like a sacred clock during the early stages of labor, I can do so in time with God's name.

My blogger friend, Baraka, has inspired this request. Toward the end of her own pregnancy, she wrote about a Muslim tradition that gives women the opportunity to make prayers of supplication – called du’a – during labor.

She explained: “[A laboring woman] has been imbued with the ability to create life by the One who created all life. The word for'womb' in Arabic, rahm, comes from the same root of the word that the Creator uses to describe Himself most often, ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful One.

Labor’s sacred secret is that not only is it purposeful in bringing a child into the world, but it holds the power of prayers answered for oneself and for others. In the throes of deep pain and bringing forth life, the woman is utterly close to her Creator.”

This sentiment closely parallels my own understanding that we finally let God get into our hearts through the cracks and brokenness of our lives, including when we are in pain.

Please consider prayers I can make on your behalf and on behalf of your families and leave them in the comments below or send me an email so that I can make du’a during my labor to help me remember my constant connection to God.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

UPDATE - Sorry this has taken so long but our winner is #10, Phoenix Peacock.  In response to the final snarky comment, I am so glad to find a good home for this treasure since I do not have the local community of friends with crafting skills that she assumes I must have and I have found the online crafting community to be amazingly trustworthy.  I'm not worried that any of Sew Mama Sew's readers are going to exploit or abuse this afghan in any way.  :-)

One of our tenants had to move out quickly to take care of some health issues and left this gorgeous afghan behind. Someone had put too much time and energy into it for this crafter to simply hand it over to the Salvation Army.
I'm hoping that the Sew Mama Sew crowd will provide a good home for it.
I'm not sure if it is crocheted or tatted, or even what the difference is between the two. My ignorance on the subject means that I am not the person to do the necessary repairs since there are several holes. The total dimensions are 100 inches by 100 inches and seems to be made from cotton.
I'm only shipping within the US and I really want this to go to someone who will respect the memory of the woman who originally made this by making the necessary repairs.

Leave a comment below and I'll choose someone randomly in a week. Please leave your email in the body of the comment so I can contact you.

Good luck!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Preserving Beauty

My amazing friend Jess has begun a blog called Preserving Beauty that uses the metaphor of canning and preserving food to express and discuss larger issues of how to sustain the things that nourish us.  She brings in guest writers, as well as writing about these topics herself, and intersperses those essays with stories and recipes for literal canning and food preservation.  Plus, gorgeous photographs.

I love it love it love it.

She asked me to write a guest post and it went up today.  I'd love it if you would check it out: Preserving Beauty Means Asking For Help

Monday, May 02, 2011


Skin to skin contact is kind of amazing.

A nurse friend with a newborn says that when the baby won't stop crying, she strips off her own clothes, she strips the baby down and then puts her in the Moby wrap because she needs the skin-to-skin hormones this produces so she won't drop the baby off at the fire station.

This last month or so of pregnancy is proving pretty hard for me.  I'm still exercising regularly and going to yoga.  I meet up with friends for coffee, especially friends with babies, now that I'm only working one day a week.  I see my therapist and am going to church again.  I'm doing all of the things that you are supposed to do to stay emotionally and physically healthy.

And yet, there are days when I cannot stop feeling panicky and like the tears are just below the surface if anyone cared to prod.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Actually, it's pretty amazing to think about (if not to live through).  It's easy to think of this last trimester as simple in terms of the baby's development.  The baby puts on weight and the lungs finish developing.  However, on Saturday, I felt fine.  On Sunday, I was flooded with hormones.  It is not static in my belly.  It is a highly coordinated effort on the part of my body to create a complex living creature.  We are not simply gaining weight.

So, I woke up in pain because hauling my girth from side to side in the bed makes my back hurt by the time morning comes.  Most mornings, I'm OK with this, but yesterday it caused me despair that set me off on the course of the day.  I tried to focus on just one task at a day, willing myself not to think about an entire day like this, which would be overwhelming, but instead just thinking about unloading the dishwasher.  Folding the towels.  Showering.  Answering one email.  Not panicking.

Don't ask me what I was panicking about.  My actual life was not the cause of these feelings.  The hormones were.  Oh, once the feeling is there, I can generate a list of things worth panicking about.  And they are valid.  Jacob is an amazing partner and never treats me like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  He says, "If you set up the Netflix to watch a Monk, I'll eat my lunch, rub your feet and then fold the laundry."  Then, he gets his own lunch, gets the laundry AND sets up the Netflix because I haven't lifted my head from the couch and have, in fact, begun crying.

But the foot rub was magical.

The tears stopped and the panicky feeling eased.  The marvel at his enjoyment/jealousy of Monk's idiosyncrasies that is always present surfaced into actual laughter from me.

Skin to skin contact.

I know that we all rightly wonder how single moms parent without going crazy.  Not having anyone to share responsibility with for the rigors of parenting is a daunting prospect.

I don't know how single moms get through pregnancy without a partner to touch.

That's how I went through the day yesterday.  Put fabric away on the shelves.  Put my hands on my husband's shoulders.  Put beans in the crock pot for church.  Sit in the chair next to him checking the computer with my hand on his knees.  Read my book.  Go for a walk holding hands.

And when I begged him with my eyes and I tried to calmly state, "I would love it if you slept with me tonight but I understand that you have work tomorrow," he brought his pillow out of the guest room and spooned up next to me.

Neither of us was physically happy this morning: he had dark circles under his eyes and my back was screaming in pain.  We have gotten very used to the physical selfishness of separate beds as I have grown increasingly thrash-y.  But I don't feel any panic as I type this.  I, in fact, feel capable of writing, instead of weighted down by the items higher on the priority list that should be completed in this time.

8 hours of skin-to-skin contact worked its magic.