Verses to Meditate Through Labor

At 38 weeks pregnant, the reality of labor is very near. We anticipate the arrival and long to see the joy this new baby will undoubtedly bring to our family. The Lord has been providing through the waiting with reminders of the blessing of children and the heavenly gift that children are. These verses fill my soul with longing and gladness during the last few weeks of expectant pause:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Psalm 127:3

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

Psalm 128:3,4

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13,14

God often uses pain as a means of drawing our attention off ourselves and on to Him. It is a beautiful process for a woman to see this pain as a means of helping her refocus her attention on her Savior, who is her provider and source of strength. Therefore, focusing on worship, Scripture and prayer during labor are appropriate responses to the process. I believe this is all a part of the sanctifying process of childbirth. Jesus promises the peace that passes all understanding. This does not mean a perfect pain-free labor, but rather the calmness to embrace God as my strength.*

Fear in labor produces excess amounts of stress hormones in our body that can lock up your muscles and limit the supply of oxygen to your uterus and baby. More fear means more pain one will experience. Acknowledging the fear and turning to the Lord for help to let go is surrender.

I believe the Word supplies us with much needed sustaining grace to enable a mother to proceed through labor and delivery. Drawing near to the Lord while learning about the physical process of childbirth glorifies the Lord.Seeking God’s will for one’s care during pregnancy and birth while trusting in His design for your body is acknowledging that He made us and takes care of us.

As I seek to rely on the Lord and wait for Him, I found it helpful to write a few verses on little cards that I keep on my nightstand. Also, these verses will be beneficial to mediate on Scripture to help conquer fears and surrender during childbirth:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6,7

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter5:7

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3,4

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.

2 Timothy 4:17.

*passionatehomemaking.com

With love, Damaris


For the Love of Books: September

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The books are linked for your convenience.

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution

by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

The Lord’s Prayer is indeed radical and still relevant to our times. As I read this book, the Lord’s prayer became less of a rote passage I’ve recited so many times and more like a Gospel message, a cry for God’s justice and power to be shown. The author brings theology, conviction, and understanding to the prayer. This short book on the Lord’s Prayer emphasizes that our prayers are the best evidence of our theology.

“The Lord’s Prayer takes less than twenty seconds to read aloud, but it takes a lifetime to learn.”

“Prayer is never an isolated event. When we pray, we convey our entire theological system. Our theology is never so clearly displayed before our own eyes and before the world as in our prayers. Praying forces us to articulate our doctrines, convictions, and theological assumptions. These aspects of our Christian life come to a unique focus in prayer because when we speak to God we are explicitly revealing who we believe he is, who we believe we are, what his disposition toward us is, and why he has that disposition.”

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Knowby Emily Oster

In the pregnancy world, there’s a lot of “probably fine” and “low-risk” vagueness. Since the author’s profession is to find and analyze research, she started reading studies about pregnancy and drawing conclusions. The result is an easy-to-read story of her own pregnancy experience, the choices she made, and the research she found.

“Pregnancy seemed to be treated as a one-size-fits-all affair. The way I was used to making decisions — thinking about my personal preferences, combined with the data — was barely used at all. This was frustrating enough. Making it worse, the recommendations I read in books or heard from friends often contradicted what I heard from my doctor.”

“When I got pregnant, I pretty quickly learned that there is a lot of information out there about pregnancy, and a lot of recommendations. But neither the information nor the recommendations were all good. The information was of varying quality, and the recommendations were often contradictory and occasionally infuriating. In the end, in an effort to get to the good information — to really figure out the truth — and to make the right decisions, I tackled the problem as I would any other, with economics.”

with love. Damaris


Favorite Newborn Things

Muslin Blankets – we usually get one or two new muslin blankets when we have a baby, but this time, we needed a couple more since Samuel has sole ownership of his. He’s become so attached to his three “night-nights”, there isn’t a chance he’ll be sharing with the new baby. Muslin blankets are so light, soft, and versatile! We use them for swaddling in the early weeks, as a nursing cover, and as car seat cover to mention a few.

Zipper Pajamas – I love a simple, one-piece footie pajamas! The zipper makes it all the faster for diaper changes. There are so many cute baby clothes out there, but I’m all-practical these days. I’ve also learned that babies dislike things going over their heads (things that don’t open down the front or back), and they’re annoyed at all the fussing over them (lots of buttons or snaps that take for-e-ver to clip on).

Diaper Cream – I have never tried this one before, but it was a good price at the grocery store : )

Comb & Brush – it was time to replace the set we had since we’d been using it for our newborns since Alexander was born 13 years ago. The brush bristles are so soft.

Pacifier – most of our babies used a pacifier for the first few months, some only the early weeks. Although I realize some babies never take to the pacifier, it’s still good to have on hand in case it’s soothing to them.

Pacifier Holder Clip – I love that it doubles as a teether. Since it’s made from natural wood without stain, it’s safe for babies to suck on. We’ve never had a pacifier clip before, so I’m curious how it will help.

Sound Machine – we’ve never bought one before, but I hear all the time of it’s wonders. This one is pretty small, which I liked.

Baby Bonnets – we all think they are just the most darling accessory for babies. I’m sure they’ll be too big for our tiny newborn, but I’m ready to make baby cute & cozy!

IKEA Blankie Bunny – it’s so soft! I loved the color

contrast for keeping baby’s interest.

Baby 2 in 1 Wash – in a natural body wash + shampoo that smells angelic. First of all, it had to be a pump because washing a baby requires 6 hands : ). With chamomile flower extract, vanilla, and blueberry leaf extract, I think I’m going to look forward to baby bath time! All the scents were delicious, but this one is almond milk.

Burp Cloths – the size of these is like a washcloth. With terry cloth on one side, it’s really useful for wiping and absorbing. It came in a pack of five.

Burpy Bib – this generously sized burp cloth is soft muslin. It doubles as a bib in later months as it drapes over baby’s shoulders and has snaps to keep it in place. This was a sweet gift from a friend : )

with love, Damaris


For the Love of Books: August

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The books are linked for your convenience.

Since this month I am only reviewing one book, I took the liberty to share a good deal of quotes with you.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds

by Jen Wilkin

So often we come to the Scriptures haphazardly – not having a purpose nor a goal. Sometimes we read passages wondering what do the verses mean to me. The author makes a clear call to study the Bible so we may know Him and be like Him. She helps us see that we cannot love God if we don’t rest our gaze on His Word. She gives practical guidance for daily Bible reading/study. Very convicting and encouraging book! I recommend that you pick up a copy.

“Bible literacy matters because it protects us from falling into error. Both the false teacher and the secular humanist rely on biblical ignorance for their messages to take root, and the modern church has proven fertile ground for those messages. Because we do not know our Bibles, we crumble at the most basic challenges to our worldview. Disillusionment and apathy eat away at our ranks. Women, in particular, are leaving the church in unprecedented numbers.”

“For years I viewed my interaction with the Bible as a debit account: I had a need, so I went to the Bible to withdraw an answer. But we do much better to view our interaction with the Bible as a savings account: I stretch my understanding daily, I deposit what I glean, and I patiently wait for it to accumulate in value, knowing that one day I will need to draw on it.”

“We must be those who build on the rock-solid foundation of mind-engaging process, rather than on the shifting sands of ‘what this verse means to me’ subjectivity.”

“We must love God with our minds, allowing our intellect to inform our emotions, rather than the other way around.”

“the One whom we most need to behold has made himself known. He has traced with a fine hand the lines and contours of his face. He has done so in his Word. We must search for that face, though babies continue to cry, bills continue to grow, bad news continues to arrive unannounced, though friendships wax and wane, though both ease and difficulty weaken our grip on godliness, though a thousand other faces crowd close for our affection, and a thousand other voices clamor for our attention. By fixing our gaze on that face, we trade mere human glory for holiness:”

with love. Damaris


Third Trimester: Researching Water Birth

The third trimester comes with lots of decisions! It’s not the nursery colors, travel systems, or baby monitor model that I’ve been attempting to decide on this time around. Although I have picked up a few small precious items for this baby which I’ll be sharing with you soon, a couple of things needed to be decided within the next couple of weeks. I’m referring to questions like: Epidural or unmedicated labor? Should we go to a birthing center this time or deliver at the hospital? What should we name the baby?

Today, I wanted to share with you what we’re thinking and how I have been preparing. By this point you know that we’re planning on having a water birth. This choice surprises me a little too (I’m not a water person), but my midwife does lots of water births which gave me confidence. Why we picked a water birth?

  • Pushing stage is easier and shorter.

  • The water also reduces the feeling of pressure.

  • Provides privacy which means more calm and quiet.

  • Encourages a gentler arrival and transition for baby.

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.

  • In the later stages of labor, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.

  • The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.

  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.

  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.

  • The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.

Sources American Pregnancy Association, mamanatural.com, bellybelly.com.

How have I been preparing?

As you can see, we’re slowly addressing all the big third trimester decisions. But the baby’s name…well, that might just be a delivery day surprise!

with love, Damaris


A Sweet Second Birthday

In the last several weeks before Samuel’s birthday, we’ve had little presents for him on the top shelf of our bedroom closet. And when he’s in our room, he points and “sings”. It was fun to see that he might be understanding his special day was coming up, and we’d celebrate!

Now it has arrived, and I can’t say enough how much I love this age! Two years old means lots of learning, lots of loving, and lots of laughing! He’s still sweet and needing to cuddle, hilariously repeating everything we say, and all with a side of sass. Hmmmmm.

He’s fallen hard for bugs. All kinds of bugs! We (I) are trying to teach him that not all insects are ok to hold. So, yesterday I found him in the basement, long wooden sword gripped with both hands saying “spider, spider” as he neared the corner. Surely this is a more masculine manner of bug-fighting than bringing them to mom in the kitchen.

Trucks, and tractors, and all things loud fascinate him. Especially trains. And he loves chocolate!

He’s so cute! If I haven’t told him 2,455 times in a day, I haven’t said it enough.

So tonight we celebrated his birthday. The children helped with the streamers, and banners, and lanterns. Eva baked this chocolate cake,and the little girls helped her wrap presents. When Samuel woke up from his nap, we all stood around and watched his face light up and glow with pleasure.

My sweet, sweet boy, you’ll never know how much you are loved.

Happy Second Birthday, Samuel!

with all of my heart. Mama


Why I Picked a Midwife

I’ve been craving change. Do you ever do that? I start to change things around the house. Just shop our own rooms and switch it all up. This time, the need was going a little deeper, and I wanted to have a midwife instead of an OB. It wasn’t going to be that easy since I had been with the same doctor for 11 years. When I first called the OB’s office a couple weeks after the positive pregnancy test, they informed me that the doctor was only in clinic once a week, and it would be very difficult to get regular visits. This is why, providentially, I made an appointment with a midwife.

I have been seeing her since the beginning of this pregnancy, and I couldn’t be happier about the switch from OB to midwife! The main, right-off-the-bat benefits were her personal touch and feeling like I was in a welcoming place to make choices. Since the first visit, I’ve always felt at ease and comfortable.

At the midwife appointment, we talk about my pregnancies, previous deliveries, and how the children can’t wait to meet the new babe. We also laugh sometimes because Nathan doesn’t find amusement in all my novel discoveries about birthing methods or bouncing on a giant lime-colored ball : ) I have my blood pressure checked and we listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I love that she also feels my belly and knows just the way the baby is resting in my abdomen.

I only see her every six weeks, and I always leave her office reassured and confident. The visit never seems confrontational or that I’m answering an interrogation about my swelling, sleep posture, diet, or weight-gain. Just in case I am giving the wrong impression, my OB was fabulous, but still the differences are quite stark.

Right after I met my midwife back in early spring, I said to Nathan that this was a much needed change – a breath of fresh air. Overall, I felt so free. But I also quickly acknowledged that this was the right time. I don’t think I would have appreciated this relaxed environment with my first pregnancy. I needed the structure, the questionnaires, and the pamphlets with lists of do-s and don’t-s.

Hoping my experience so far might help if you’re considering having a midwife.

Do you have any insight on the differences between an OB and a midwife? I would love to hear your opinion!

with love, Damaris


For the Love of Books: July

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God

by Courtney Reissig

The small, often unseen work is necessary work. It is work that God sees as integral to his work in this world. This book gives a vision for a distinctively Christian work ethic. I particularly enjoyed learning about how attitudes towards the home and family have changed and morphed throughout history. You’ll find encouragement in that ultimately our purpose is to glorify God and that actually those day to day efforts of work can reflect Him even when they are routine and ordinary.

“Our work isn’t giving us any points with God, but it is telling the world about the God we worship. It’s telling what we value most. It’s telling what we hope in even when it is hard.”

“You also image him when you care for the details of your home. As God cares for the seemingly mundane details of creation, so you care for the seemingly mundane details of a home that needs to be kept in order.”

Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child

by Kevin Swanson

This book makes a clear call to focus on Biblical education – that of the character. The importance of a healthy parent-child relationships and having a biblical foundation, regardless of whether or not a child is homeschooled is so inspiring! The author focuses on the 10 factors of a successful education which are Biblical principles found mostly in the book of Proverbs.

“Education is the preparation of a child intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically for life and for eternity.”

“A successful education is achieved when a child is prepared to make maximal use of his God-given talents and abilities in the accomplishment of the child’s calling.”

with love. Damaris


Remembering the Vows on Our 16th Anniversary

Photo Credits: Maria Wild

Just this week, I came across a little piece of paper with my vows handwritten on it. It was in a box of daily letters Nathan and I wrote to each other during the months of our engagement.

“I promise to love you, obey you, respect you, honor you, and help you in time of sickness or health, and forsaking all others, cling only to you. I will do you good and no evil all of the days of my life.”

The vows are serious. Staggeringly serious. But we did not take these vows trusting in our own strength to perform. The grace that enabled us to take these vows will be there to draw on when the performance of them seems hard.

Throughout the last sixteen years, we’ve sometimes seen God quietly in our mundane, and sometimes seen in Him break into our lives with bursts of His glory. Each week turned month turned year, we’ve tasted His mercy as we see that our lives aren’t a series of rewards for doing things right, but circumstances strung together that speak of who God is and who we aren’t.

There is nothing more satisfying, glorious, and grand than to seek together the kingdom of God. In this season of life, we primarily seek the kingdom of God by teaching the children who God is and what He requires of us.

Our children are our marriage’s most precious gifts, and we tell them how God protects our vows and what He has done in our life. This is our joy, that they may know God and never remember a day when they didn’t love Him.

So here’s to one more year in the fountains of His mercy – one more year of happiness keeping these vows!

Happy Anniversary, my Love!

with love. Damaris


Big Faith, Small Dreams

“Oh, isn’t this just the house of your dreams!?” This phrase was repeated so often when we first moved into our house. Every time I heard it, I really didn’t know what to say.

It’s been well over a year since I first began the draft of this post on paper. And now that we’ve been going through old house pictures and sharing with you the rooms’ transformation (and here), it began burning in my heart again.So let me tell you why I didn’t know what to say to all the well-meaning visitors.

Truth: It wasn’t love at first sight; it wasn’t a dream come true. This house was an answered prayer.

Four years, scores of prayers, a couple moves, selling a house, living in a rental – this house was an answered prayer. “You are so patient,” friends would say. We knew that we had a small budget which limited our possibilities. Yet, even after the tortuous waiting, still this house was not a dream come true.

So what did we pray for exactly? Well a simple request: that God would provide for us a place from which to serve Him better and serve Him more.

We prayed that the dreams that we did have, of the perfect house and perfect locale, would not trump God’s desires.

We prayed that we would remain patient long enough to receive from His good providence with an open hand and thankfulness.

I knew that this was the place of provision. In my heart this place we were praying for God to put us in was going to be ok. And God is so good! Nevertheless, in my mind many small expectations had to be let go (as a side note, let me tell you that letting go was a long process!). The battle with those expectations, though, was not the reason that this house wasn’t the house of our dreams.

“Dream big” , “Follow your dreams”, “Never give up on your dreams”, “Your dreams will come true”, “Make your dreams a reality!” Do these sound familiar? All these are phrases we’ve probably heard from lots of different voices and maybe even said ourselves. The world that denies God tells us that the ‘good life’ is a life in which we achieve our dreams. That world says the Dream is the thing – the house, the trip, the job, the experience. Truth: the real thing is us becoming image bearers of God by whatever means He chooses. During all of our waiting, God wasn’t after us making bigger, better dreams of ourselves. He was working at growing our faith – big faith for small dreams.

So may we not think that happiness lies in the fulfillment of our dreams – the good life is knowing God.

Next time you wonder if your dreams are big enough, pray that God gives you big faith.

“But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

with love. Damaris