Hello Dear Ones, it’s been awhile but I’m still kickin’. You know, the world is a scary place sometimes…especially with terrorist attacks and such. There’s a lot of darkness, and we have access to that darkness 24/7. It is broadcast through our screens and airwaves. As I look at my little family I feel pretty small in this world, but through Christ, we are a light. We try to share love and hope. Sometimes the darkness attacks us. Sometimes it is an unwelcomed guest that pretends to be family. But by Christ’ strength, the darkness is held back. The love and light of Jesus flickers against a dark and scary world.
Dear ones, I implore you to hold to the light. Don’t snuff it out. I’m sure my readers aren’t terrorists, and that you are all the best of people. After all, you have a lot of grace to keep track of me. So how in the world could caring honest people snuff out the light? Well, here are some ways:
Focus on the darkness. Let it consume you. Only watch the bad news, until anxiety robs you of the light.
Take your fears and anger out on others. Let fear drive you to hate.
Keep yourself so busy and stressed that you take it out on your family.
Don’t show love, peace, and joy. Don’t look for the light. Don’t surround yourself with light.
Don’t get to know the light and don’t let Him be your source. Avoid Jesus.
Bury your head in the sand. Shut people out completely. Hide from the world and close yourself off.
Don’t answer the plight of the fatherless and the widow, the sick and the poor. Care only about yourself and your wants. Don’t get involved.
I am preaching to the choir. When life is scary it is very tempting for me to run and hide. I put up walls. It is by God’s grace that he sends people and circumstances to break them down. Jesus nudges me out of the door. So the above list is all about ways you can snuff out the light. I really don’t want you or I to do those things. So how do we shine the light? How do we be the candle in the darkness? How are we to warm this cold world? Do and be the opposite of the first list. Here’s how to be the light:
First, know Jesus intimately. Accept Christ’ free gift of salvation and let Jesus fill you with His love, hope, and peace. Allow Jesus to be your source of light and life, because HE IS the LIGHT and Life. (Matthew 4:16, John 8:12) *All these verses are at the bottom.
Focus on what is good and true. Focus on the light. When you hear and see bad news, take it to Jesus. Pray, and accept what you can and can’t do in the situation. Then let it go.
(Matthew 6:22-23, Philippians 4:8)
Give yourself time to breathe…time to enjoy the simple and beautiful things in life. Enjoy your family. Love and forgive them. You need their support. The world is too dark to face it alone. Don’t lose your loved ones over petty things. (Ephesians 5:21)
Take your fears and anger to Jesus. Pray and ask Christ to help you to forgive and love. Abide in Jesus and get rooted in His love. Let God’s love assure you that He is in control and God is bigger than any of your fears. (1 John 4:18)
Even though you’ve been hurt, don’t put up walls. Keep yourself open to people. Be involved in community and shine Jesus’ light to as many people as you can. You need people, because you are HUMAN. God made you for relationship and you are stronger when you are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ.
Take your focus off of yourself and help the needy. Feed the hungry, minister to the sick, and love the abandoned and unloved. Get involved in the causes God calls you to. When the world is dark, there is always someone who needs help. Help them.
Matthew 5:14-16 KJV
“14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
No matter what evil comes into our world or tempts us, if we belong to Jesus then we have light. There is hope. I know it is hard to see hope when all we hear is bad news. But if you look for the light you will find it, because when it is pitch dark the light shines brighter…even little candles. You and I may be little candles, but we are bright. I love you all, Dear ones. Don’t snuff out the light. Shine.
God bless and remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
“16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”
John 8:12 KJV
“12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
“22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
“8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Ephesians 5:21 KJV
“21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
1 John 4:18
“18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Dear ones, today I want to talk to you about legalism and grace. What do these terms mean? What does scripture say about it? I ask the Lord to take away our misconceptions and to shine His light on the Truth. May he type through me.
Titus 3:4-7 Amplified Bible (AMP)
“4 But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior to man [as man] appeared,
5 He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
7 [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.”
I want to talk to you as a fellow student. I have worn the many masks of legalism. It invades all areas of life and sucks away the joy until you feel dead inside. Let me clear up a misconception before we begin.
Grace does not mean sinning all you want with no consequences. And having standards does not mean you are a legalist. By all means, follow the speed limit, don’t murder, don’t steal. The difference between legalism and grace is found in the heart…not necessarily outward actions.
Grace- unmerited favor and mercy.
Romans 3:23-24Amplified Bible (AMP)
“23 Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory [a]which God bestows and receives.
24[All] are justified and made uprightand in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,”
For more info on justification and the meaning of other important Biblical terms check out this post:
1. Emphasis on the letter rather than on the spirit of the law;
2. Belief in salvation by obedience to the law rather than by the grace of God or by faith;
3. Undue stress on legal details without balancing considerations of justice and mercy.
Legalism only demands that the law be satisfied.”
~Grace that Breaks the Chains pg 27 (originally taken from The Dictionary of Religious Terms)
Legalism exalts man as god. The gospel of legalism says “I can earn my salvation.” “I can keep my salvation.” “I can please God on my own.” “I am good.” “I am righteous.”
The gospel of Grace says “Jesus is my salvation.” “Jesus keeps me.” “Jesus is my goodness.” “Jesus is my righteousness.” “Without Jesus I can do nothing, but with Jesus I can do all things.”
Grace empowers us to live right, through relationship with Christ.
Legalism chains us to the impossible task of being good in our own strength. It inflates our pride when we do well. It brings us into the pit of depression when we fail.
Grace or legalism? Which is in your heart? Look at the root. Are you trying to earn God’s favor by your good works, or are your good works the result of your love relationship with God?
True Christians know that we are saved by grace, but even Christians can be legalistic. We know that grace through Jesus’ blood initially saves us, but then we think to live the Christian life we must try hard and do good works. Jesus saved us but we don’t expect Him to sanctify us. We look to our own strength. We think our good works will KEEP God’s favor. Dear ones, that is backwards. It is God’s grace that enables us to live right. It is the blood of Jesus that sanctifies us continually. We can not do it on our own.
Ephesians 2:8-9Amplified Bible (AMP)
“8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]”
“Man was never designed nor expected to keep God’s commands on his own, nor was strict adherence to law ever God’s way of making man righteous. It has always been by faith. Seeking to achieve right standing with God by religious performance would be like expecting a mirror to wash the dirt off your face. The purpose of the mirror is not to clean you, but to reveal the dirt. In the same way, ‘through the Law comes the knowledge of sin’ (Romans 3:20), not the power to remove it.“
~Grace that Breaks the Chains pg 28
So often we miss the purpose of the law, because we miss the Person who made the law (meaning the commands given in scripture). The Law, the feasts, the Sabbath…everything was made to point to God, to Jesus. Even in the New Testament…Jesus’ teachings, the parables, communion, baptism, putting on the armor of God…all made to point us to Jesus. The law shows us that we are helpless without God. We are missing something. We are in desperate need of God. If we try to follow the letter of the law so we can be good people or even to earn God’s favor, then we have missed the point.
James 2:10Amplified Bible (AMP)
“10 For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it.”
The Bible makes it clear that we as humans are unable to completely keep the law. We will fail. So why did God give us commands if we can’t keep them? Friends, God is good. He loves us. He wants us to see that He is what we are missing. Humans need God’s help to live. We need relationship with God. We can not be righteous, but Jesus can be righteous for us. Jesus sacrificed Himself so His blood will cover our sin. Truly without God we are naked and in the dark, with no way of turning on the light and clothing ourselves. Only God can turn on the light and clothe us. God gave the law so we would turn to Him for help. So we would realize we are not god. We were never mean’t to live independently from God. We were never mean’t to do everything in our own strength.
Galatians 3:24-26 KJV
“24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:3 Amplified Bible (AMP)
“3 Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh?”
Acts 13:38-39 KJV
“38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Romans 3:19-20 Amplified Version
“19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that [the murmurs and excuses of] every mouth may be hushed and all the world may be held accountable to God.
20 For no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in His sight by observing the works prescribed by the Law. For [the real function of] the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin [[a]not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character].”
Romans 5:19-21King James Version (KJV)
“19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Legalism is a deceptive tool of the enemy. Legalism appears to be holy, but it is rotten to the core. Do you seem good on the outside but inside you are dying? Is your church a hateful place with no life in it? Are you losing members to the world? You might be legalistic. You see Legalism may seem to work for a bit. When you parent a child with an iron fist and no grace, they may be compliant for awhile, but inside legalism will spawn rebellion, bitterness, and defeat. Legalism simply does not work.
I get it. Some of us are scared of grace because we’ve seen the term misused. The world and carnal Christians have used “grace” as a way to excuse all manner of sin. Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone who said “Hey, don’t judge me.” The subject of grace has been horribly abused and so many misunderstand the meaning because of that. Dear ones, please don’t miss out on the power and goodness of Jesus’ grace. When someone truly accepts God’s grace they will live a beautiful empowered life through it. Abiding with Jesus by His grace enables us to live righteously. We will want to obey his commands because we love Him. Perfection won’t happen until Heaven, but our desires will be to follow Jesus.
Romans 6:13-15King James Version (KJV)
“13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.“
Romans 7:5-7King James Version (KJV)
“5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”
What separates legalism from grace is our position. Where do we operate from? Do we operate in the Spirit or in the flesh? Are we in Christ or not?
Romans 8:2-4King James Version (KJV)
“2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The Spirit is not some mystical force or a drug that gets you high. The Spirit is a PERSON. The Spirit is God. We walk in the Spirit by spending time with Jesus. So we see that Grace and living in the Spirit all comes back to relationship. The law means nothing without relationship. Its job is to point us to relationship with Christ.
Galatians 5:17-18 KJV
“17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
Hebrews 7:19 KJV
“19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
Hebrews 10:1 Amplified
“For since the Law has merely a rude outline (foreshadowing) of the good things to come—instead of fully expressing those things—it can never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who approach [its altars].”
What is a better hope? What are the good things to come? Jesus answers them both. He fulfills the law. I enjoy the Biblical feasts (like Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles), but I know that celebrating them will not help me earn God’s favor. The purpose of the feasts are to point us to Jesus. I enjoy the celebrations when I use them as a way to think of Christ and fellowship with Him. There was a time in my life that I saw the feasts in a legalistic way. It’s funny because I completely lost my joy during that time and began to dislike the feasts. They became burdensome to me. Have you ever done this with God’s commands or spiritual disciplines?
Let’s get in the New Testament shall we. Maybe your devotion time or how often you pray has become a burden because you believe these things will make God like you more? Maybe you feel that when you sin or skip church etc… that God all of a sudden dislikes you? Dear one, I’ve been there. Legalism can come into any denomination and it can invade any area of your life. I have seen legalism take over my parenting. I have seen it take over my self esteem…whether as puffed up pride or insecurity (which is just pride in another form). Legalism takes our eyes off of Christ and puts it on ourselves.
Basically this is what Satan did when he tried to overthrow God. He kept saying “I will” “I will”. Satan put his focus on himself and his power. He said in his heart that he did not need God. Then he fell and came to Earth where he convinced humanity that we do not need God. But it’s a lie. We were made by and for God. We are diseased without Him. We are cursed without God. The only cure IS God. Jesus Christ came to be your cure. He is God the Son, a part of the God-head (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3 in one, the Trinity). Dear Christian, you were not saved so you could do it all yourself.
We must give every bit of our lives to Christ. We must have relationship with Jesus and operate out of that relationship. We must walk in the Spirit. It’s simple. Be with Jesus. Spend time with Him. Talk to Him. Get to know Him. I pray we won’t miss this simple yet profound truth. I’m there with you. Please pray for me as I pray for you. God wants to be known. He loves us.
God bless and remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
This is only part 1. Go to the website for all parts.
“Not many [of you] should become teachers ([a]self-constituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation].”
James 3:1 Amp Version
“God still speaks through rocks and donkeys.” ~Paul Washer (Amen bro!)
I like to watch preaching but I’ve learned the hard way not to idolize preachers…just as I learned not to idolize “experts” in any field. Humans make mistakes. I may go to a doctor to consult about my health but that doesn’t mean that I should trust a doctor blindly. Preachers and pastors have a great calling to guide God’s people, but they are still human, and every follower of Christ has the same Holy Spirit. We all have access to God’s Word. And ultimately when we stand before God in Heaven we will take account for ourselves. “But the preacher said this…” won’t cut it. Do you know Jesus personally? That’s what matters. You won’t get to Heaven riding on someone’s coat tails.
I say this as a fellow student and a fellow traveler in life. We should test the spirits. We should search the scriptures for ourselves.
Paul speaks of the Bereans
“11 Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [[a]concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11 AMP
Now to bring balance, sometimes we won’t like a sermon because it doesn’t tickle our ears and our flesh hates it. We feel conviction and maybe we are fighting it. How do we know the difference? Well, what are we using as our standard? God’s Word in context? or our emotions and experiences? In the end it does not matter what we have experienced, what we feel, or what our culture says….all that matters is what God says. God’s truth will often bring conviction. It will bring the fruit of the Spirit. But if a sermon brings condemnation, pride, fear, or other ungodly attitudes then it is not of the Spirit.
Sometimes preachers give messages in the flesh. Again, they are human. I saw this in my Dad. He was a former drug dealer that turned preacher. I could tell when my Dad was preaching from pride and his flesh. I could also tell when my Dad was humble and it was God’s Spirit speaking through Him. I struggled to listen to his sermons done in pride. But when he spoke with humility, my heart opened.
Things to question when you hear a message
Does the Bible (in context) support this?
Does the speaker display Christ-like behavior?
Does it edify the body of Christ?
Does it make sense?
I pray that you will be strong in these last days. These are deceptive times. I try to teach Michael to read the Bible himself and not idolize me or his dad. I tell him that we are human and we will fail him at times, but Jesus is the perfect friend. The Heavenly Father is the perfect parent. God’s Word is perfect guidance (read in context). I hope to share helpful info on how to read the Bible, soon. I’m working on it.
I pray that you, dear one, won’t idolize me or any other blogger. We may look put together on the outside but I assure you that every one of us are just as human as you. We struggle with sin just as much. We are desperately hanging on to Jesus to help us through this mess of a world. The thought of someone putting me on a pedestal scares me. I don’t want that.
Anywho, so when you meet teachers, preachers, pastors, and any leaders in the church…remember they are human. They need friends. They need accountability. They need guidance. They need love. They bleed. They cry. They need prayer. Even the ones that are really off theologically. Even the corrupt ones. God’s grace is available to all. Any one can be changed by God if they repent. Don’t idolize them. Please pray for them. They’ve taken on a scary task.
God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
Hello dear ones! Michael did a study of the book James and the Giant Peach. Join me for a peachy craft and some Southern peach cobbler.
Michael and I made this sun catcher using contact paper. I drew a peach and he filled it in with orange tissue paper and silhouettes from James and the Giant Peach. He made clouds from cotton balls. The birds are hanging strings.
Michael also watched the movie. Now, here’s a recipe that we didn’t get a chance to make.
Southern Peach Cobbler
From the Odum Community Cookbook
by Jeanette Bass
1 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 stick butter
1 can peaches (sliced with juice)
3/4 cup of milk
Melt butter in baking dish. Add sugar, milk, and peaches, mix well. Add flour and mix until well blended. Bake in 350 degree oven until top is golden brown. Serve with or without whipped cream; you can also sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
Hello dear ones! My family took a trip to Albany, Ga and had a blast at the Flint River Aquarium, Ray Charles Plaza, and Turtle Park. We also saw Art Park and had ice cream at Cool Scoops. Albany has all the bells and whistles of a big city but with small town charm. Let me show you!
Albany is a hidden gem. We originally went for the Flint River Aquarium but when we got there we discovered a whole lot more. One day I hope to go back to fully explore the area. Here’s what we found:
• The Flint River Aquarium~ We really enjoyed it here. It’s not as big as the Atlanta aquarium, but it’s not as crowded either. There was plenty to see and interact with.
• The Turtle Park~ A giant turtle, xylophones, and an awesome playground! What more could you ask for?
• The Art Park~ Art Park was sadly closed when we got there. We were able to look inside though. The park is a groovy place where graffiti is legal. Seriously, they encourage you to spray paint the walls! There’s some great works of art in the park. I can’t wait to go back to explore and to add my own painting.
• Ray Charles Plaza~ This memorial to the late Ray Charles is brilliant. It’s a fountain with his statue on top. You can hear Ray’s greatest tunes coming from the speaker. Piano keys surround him and there’s also raised keys on the sidewalk. It’s like walking on a giant piano! You can sit on an eighth note, and there’s a mural of the treble clef. Every musician should see this place!
• Cool Scoops~ Not far from all of this is a nifty little ice cream shop. The service is great and the people are super friendly.
Have you ever been to Albany? What’s your favorite attraction? God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
Hello dear ones! We made a special dove painting for Pentecost this year. I’ve also got pictures from the Bike safety class our homeschool group did with the Columbus cops. Enjoy.
• Pentecost Dove Painting ~ I was inspired by this similar painting on Pinterest:
Michael painted a sunset on canvas. Then we modge podged a dove silhouette, a Bible verse about the Holy Spirit, and words about the Holy Spirit on top.
Pentecost in the New Testament is the time when the Holy Spirit came to live inside Jesus’ believers. Sometimes the Spirit is represented by a dove. He is our comforter, counselor, and healer. This was a special time because in the past only a select few had the Spirit visit them. No one had the Holy Spirit live inside them permanently until Pentecost.
• Bike Safety~ One of our homeschool moms is married to a park cop. He rides a bike through the parks. So her husband and his buddies visited our group and gave a bike safety course. It was great.
The guys showed the kids the proper way to wear a helmet. One cop demonstrated what happens when you don’t wear a helmet and get in an accident. He used a cantaloupe to show this. We have Crazy Carl who doesn’t wear his helmet and gets smashed all over the floor. Then we have Careful Carla who always wears her helmet. She does fine in an accident.
Then the kids watched a video on bike safety. They learned hand signals for riding in traffic. Michael volunteered to come up and show the signals he learned.
Lastly, the kids got to hear the sirens on the cop car.
Leeland hanging out.
Well, that’s it. God bless and remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
My natural labor story about how God’s timing is perfect. Nothing is impossible with Jesus! Let’s go back a lil over three weeks ago.
Where do I begin? Hmmmm…
Labor. Expectations and reality. I wasn’t scared about labor, surprisingly. After years of infertility and then God’s blessing of a miraculous pregnancy, you’d think that I’d cherish being pregnant. I thought I would. But I was miserable. I just wanted to have the baby. I was sick of false labor and feeling icky all the time. Plus, I didn’t feel an immediate bond with Leeland while I was pregnant. My husband was smitten with the baby in my womb. I just wanted to cry all the time. Physically and emotionally I was struggling. Labor and delivery was my salvation. I longed to go to the other side of the hospital…that beautiful place where women went in with huge bellies and came out in wheelchairs holding lil bundles of joy. That was my Emerald City…
When I hit 37 weeks (full term these days), I was ready for an early delivery. I ate weird foods and tried strange things to go into labor. I begged and prayed for God to bring the baby during spring break. I prayed for my water to break. I wasn’t worried about natural labor so much. I was more concerned with how I’d bond with Leeland once he was born and how I could parent two kids. The thought of cloth diapering and caring for a newborn overwhelmed me. Would I remember how to do it? There’s nine years between my boys. Would it be like riding a bike?
38 and a half weeks. I drug myself to the appointment with my midwife, Nicole. I was miserable and she could tell. The false labor had dilated me some but still no baby. It seemed like the baby would never come. Leeland was already bigger than Michael and I began to wonder if I could push out a bigger baby…without pain meds. I couldn’t sleep at night and Leeland’s head had been so low for so long, that walking was difficult and I spent most of my time in the bathroom. Did God care about my prayers? I felt like He wasn’t listening to me.
I cried out to God, in my head. That morning in my devotions I had read Romans 8:28 in the Amplified version. I hoped that it was a sign. Indeed it was one of many that day. God was speaking but I wasn’t fully aware until after.
“We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (emphasis mine)
God had heard me all along. He was waiting for the perfect timing. I felt encouraged when Nicole told me that I had dilated more and my waters were bulging during contractions. She told me to go walking to bring on labor. That was 10:30 Thursday morning. I was on a mission. Chris took off from his classes, we grabbed lunch, and went straight to the park. I walked a path of flowers for two hours. Michael walked with me some. We took a break in between to give Michael (our oldest) to my friend Carrie. Praise God it wasn’t spring break, because Carrie was out of town that week and we had no backup plan for Michael.
Mom got off work and met us at the park (another God thing: Mom was off work). Her and Chris watched me walk. I had my mp3 player on. “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog came on. Another sign but I wasn’t sure. I took my shoes off. The contractions still felt like Braxton Hicks, but they were coming more frequently. I wasn’t in pain. I just felt miserable and exhausted. “Miles and miles in my bare feet”…a song by the Civil Wars played as I decided to walk in the grass. People stared. A woman pointed to the flowers and said my baby would like them. So I picked some flowers for a keepsake.
After two hours, I was sad that my water had not broken (I’m glad it didn’t now). I had no clue if the contractions were doing anything. It had started to rain. We decided to drive to the hospital and see if labor and delivery would check me. I talked to a nurse and explained. They told me to come on in. I worried that I didn’t look like I was in pain and they’d send me home. Mom said I looked miserable to her. I was dilated to about a 4 and I wasn’t hurting. I had only gotten to a 3 with Michael and that put me in tears. I thought that maybe my pain tolerance had went up significantly. Yeah, little did I know!
I was sad when I found out that I had not dilated any further. I was scared they’d send me home. But I was contracting a lot (which was the norm during my third trimester anyways). The midwife decided to moniter me and then have me walk another hour. Yes…ANOTHER hour. I laid on my back to be monitered and it started to hurt. I cried a bit. I did not hurt so much when I was standing. My mom and hubby walked with me. I was super tired and at times the contractions stopped me in my tracks.
I called my doula/ best friend, Hannah, and she prepared to come if they checked me in. Nicole came in and checked me. I had dilated to a lil over 4. She decided to check me in to the hospital. I praised God that the midwife wasn’t sending me home. My mom got out a list of encouraging scriptures that I had written for labor. She read them to me when I was being monitered and hurting from lying on my back. I walked around the room and got on a birthing ball. I told the nurses and the midwife about the miracle of Leeland, how I was told I couldn’t have more kids. God was glorified and that makes me happy. Hannah had already arrived and she brought a box of coffee for Mom and Chris. What a blessing she was.
The contractions were getting stronger. I talked in between them. It was nice to sit on the birthing ball. It was after nine pm and I had not dilated any further. My midwife was frank with me. I could be there laboring all night and exhausting myself, or they could break my water and see if I’d progress. I was nervous. I didn’t want any interventions and I was scared of opening the doors for complications and a c-section. Once again God’s sovereign hand was in my labor. I asked Nicole and the nurse to step out so I could pray with my support team (Chris, Mom, and Hannah). Hannah prayed. There was a peace in the room but I was still scared of the pain to come and the unknown. My water had been broken with Michael but only after receiving an epidural. Hannah and Nicole let me know that I could use low doses of pain meds to take the edge off if I needed it. The thought was comforting, and I agreed to have my water broken.
I got in the bed so they could break my water. Nicole assured me that this was the least painful part. As the fluid gushed I remembered one of the verses Mom had read. It said God would be with me through the waters. I rolled to my side so the contractions wouldn’t hurt as bad. Then I began to get sick and to throw up. The contractions started to become very strong and painful. It hit me that my pain tolerance was not that great. The real deal had started. The contractions before were nothing compared to these. I could not see these as birthing embraces or waves. I had told the nurse that I was calling contractions “intense” not “painful”. Yeah, that went out the door. These hurt. As I threw up more fluid gushed out. I got scared and I worried about Leeland in there without fluid. Nicole told me that Leeland was doing great. I could hear his strong heart beat.
I started to wimper and tense up. My support team surrounded me. I started to cry out and everyone began telling me to breathe. Nicole kept telling me to relax my forehead. I tried to focus on their voices instead of the pain. I could still talk in between contractions. I asked Nicole what came next and how we’d know I was progressing. She calmly said that my “demeanor” would change as I transitioned into the last stage of labor. Yeah, I’m glad she didn’t explain any further. You’ll see why. Anywho, Hannah encouraged me to visualize to get my focus off the pain. I could barely think of what to visualize. I was not doing well on my own and the online birthing classes weren’t doing much good. I praise God that I had cheerleaders there to tell me how to breathe and think, because I was not able to think much on my own. I did manage to visualize my son Michael saying “I love you Mommy”. I could barely hold on to that image but I tried very hard to focus on it. I also focused on the voices around me. At that point I was able to get through the contractions and rest in between. My midwife left to go to the bathroom and get something to eat. Chris held my hand, Hannah sat beside him, and my mom was on the other side. Nicole had not been gone long when it happened…my “demeanor” changed.
Transition. I could no longer visualize. All I could do was scream. I had never imagined such pain. My vision went blurry. I was in another world. I could hear them telling me to calm down…to breathe. But I couldn’t focus anymore. My insides were moving…convulsing…pushing. There was no thought of medication. There was no time for that. This was happening and nothing could stop it.
I sounded like a banchee. I had never heard such an animalistic cry come from my throat. It was raw. It terrified my husband. It would’ve been bad if my son was in the room. Again, praise God that Carrie wasn’t out of town. I squeezed Chris’ hand as if to break it. I cried out “I can’t breathe!” I screamed “I think I’m pushing something”. And God was there. Hannah knew from her own natural labor experience that I had transitioned. She called the nurse frantically and told them that she thought I had transitioned and was pushing. She said my “demeanor” had changed. I screamed really loud and the nurses could hear me. My midwife Nicole rushed from the bathroom and a whole bunch of people hurried into the room.
The next thing I knew, they were pulling my legs apart and sliding me down the bed. My midwife was shocked that I had already transitioned. She could see Leeland’s head. All of these people (several nurses I didn’t know) were telling me to push. My body kept convulsing and it was like an alien was inside. It was an unworldly experience. I was worried that I’d curse during labor and ruin my witness. That wasn’t a problem. I could only manage to cry out to God and I kept saying “God” and Jesus” and “Help me”. I could hear Hannah saying “He is here. He’s with you. You’re doing it. You’re having your natural birth!” My husband was silent but he held my hand still. My mom kept repeating what the midwife had said before “breathe Amber. Relax your forehead.”
I kept screaming and pushing back on the bed. Then the strangers started fussing at me. They couldn’t safely get the baby if I was lifting my bottom off the bed and pushing away. They told me to hold my legs and push.I kept wondering why they couldn’t hold my legs for me. Why were they so upset at me? Why were they telling me to calm down and to stop screaming? Didn’t they know I was in pain! Then Nicole said something that helped. She told me to take all the energy I had from screaming and put it into pushing…to focus…that I was going to have this baby. And somehow I grasped onto her words. Despite the pain, I began to channel my screaming into pushing. And then…
The ring of fire I had heard about. It’s real. The baby’s head crowning…coming through the birth canal…ready to come out. It got stuck there for a moment as I rested. It WAS like fire. The verse came to my mind…that God would be with me through the fire. Leeland’s head came out and I heard everyone talking about it. Labor really was work (pun intended)! Surely, I was done. He was here. But no I was not done. They told me on the next contraction to push out his shoulders. I couldn’t believe there was more. I was tired. I didn’t have any more to give. Jesus is our strength during weakness. One more push and I felt Leeland come out. I actually felt him. I had not felt Michael much because of the epidural. The feeling was a rush of relief. It was like a sigh…a cool breeze in a sweltering desert. And then they put his little body on top of mine. And we bonded. I fell in love completely. No more fears. This was my child. I had went through fire for him. I’d die for him. I had survived. I was in awe. My body actually reached that threshold of pain and I survived. I knew instantly it was all God. He had carried me through. I was weak but Christ was my strength.
Every birth story is different. Many women say that natural birth leaves you feeling like super woman…like you can conquer the world. I did not personally feel this way. Immediately afterwards I flinched as the midwife massaged my uterus. I still cringe at needles. I was not stronger. I still felt weak. Instead, I knew that my God can do anything. I knew that God had never left me. He was there all along orchestrating every step. The God who created the stars, had knit my baby inside my womb. He had delayed my labor until I was in the hospital where I felt safe. His timing is perfect.
It was a blessing that my water had not broken at the park or at home as I tried to naturally induce labor. Here’s why: I delivered only an hour after my water was broken. Everyone was surprised by how fast it went. Had I been anywhere else when my water broke then I would not have made it to the hospital in time and I would not have had my support team to get me through. God used my team (Mom, Chris, Hannah, & Nicole) to help me labor. They never once offered an epidural or acted like I couldn’t handle a natural birth. I held on to their voices for strength.
Leeland was born at 10:47 PM, about 12 hours since my prenatal appointment that morning. Hannah had time to go home and breastfeed her own baby. Mom was able to go home and get decent sleep before work the next day. Leeland was 7 lbs and 1 oz. He was 19 and a half inches long. I was able to breastfeed right away and it almost brought tears to my eyes. God causes the barren womb to rejoice. He brings life where there was death. Miraculous!
Leeland was swollen from birth. He slimmed down a lot later.
Mom held Leeland then had to leave. Poor kid looks like he was in a fight.
Well, I looked like I had been in a fight too. Compare the after pic of this birth compared to my medicated birth with Michael. I recovered faster though than I did with the medicated birth. Also I didn’t tear where most women tear. I only needed three stitches but in a different spot. I was given an episiotomy with Michael but not with Leeland. I had a lot more energy after my unmedicated birth. So although I look rough, it was better later.
Hannah was awesome and ran to Krystals to buy me a meal. I savored french fries and being able to drink Coke again! 🙂 Hannah thought that was funny. Hence the picture of me eating fries. I am so thankful for my “doula”. Hannah was such a blessing to us all. Her experience gave me the courage to pursue a natural birth.
Chris, my sweet hubby, with Leeland.
So are you wondering about natural birth? I’d say if I can do it then anyone can but that’s not exactly right. It’s better to say that with God anyone can do it. Here are the three most important things that got me through an unmedicated birth, and they have nothing to do with breathing and meditation.
1. A close relationship with Jesus~ God gave me strength. I was comforted each step of the way as I prayed and in the last bit, as I cried out to God. The Lord spoke to me in lil ways through out the experience. He used His word, other believers, and the beauty of creation to help me along.
2. A good birth team ~ I was super blessed to have my favorite people with me for Leeland’s birth. My mom and Chris were there for Michael’s birth as well. They are my heroes and have always encouraged me. Then I had my best friend Hannah as a doula. Her experience was a huge help. It’s very important that the people on your team actually believe in and support your natural birth. They need to be positive people who will cheer you on rather than pity you or bring you down. They need to know how to cheer you on and to make sure that the don’t offer pain meds at the first sign of discomfort. My team did mention low dose pain meds as an option but they never talked about the big stuff like an epidural. They knew I was opposed to that. All of them were aware of my birth plan. My midwife Nicole completed the team. She never tried to push me into anything. She respected my wishes. She wasn’t afraid to instruct me even when I was in so much pain I didn’t want to listen. She showed tough love. Her lil tips like relaxing my forehead and focusing my screaming energy into pushing, gave me what I needed to succeed. I held on to those little things. She broke through my bubble and helped me focus.
3. A safe place~ Whenever animals give birth they find a nice quiet and safe space. My safe place was the hospital. I felt most comfortable there. I had toured the hospital many months before and I loved everything about it. The staff were friendly. We were able to warm the room and adjust the lighting. It felt like a spa. I would not have felt as safe at home or anywhere else. It was quiet and peaceful.
So those are my three tips. Do you plan on having a natural birth? Have you had one before? What was your experience? How did you feel afterwards? Please leave me some comment love. If you’ve been encouraged by this post I’d love to know.
Would I have a natural birth again, even though it was painful? I think so. If God wanted us to have more kids. It’s not easy but I believe it’s worth it. There was something supernatural and very spiritual about feeling the whole process.
I feel like I have a fierce and strong bond with Leeland because I walked through fire for him. I have a strong love for Michael as well. I’m not discounting his medicated birth or anyone elses for that matter. Every birth is beautiful and unique. I’m just saying that my experience with Leeland was special. I had never went through so much pain for another human being before. It made me think of Christ’ sacrifice for us. Unmedicated labor is the closest I’ve ever gotten to fellowshiping in Christ’ sufferings. I’m still in awe of what God did.
Not every woman experiences so much pain in labor and some people don’t feel pain at all. I’m not sure how. But I definitely had pain. It was pain with a purpose. I didn’t have to worry about the cascade of interventions because of meds. I didn’t have to worry about pitocin leading to a c-section.
We stayed in the hospital two nights. I wanted to stay longer. The room was nice and the food was great. Carrie brought Michael to see Leeland the next day. He’s such a good big brother, and he really loves his lil bubba.
Carrie holding Leeland.
We are so blessed with our friends. My three closest friends (Carrie, Hannah, and Erin) all brought meals the week we went home. We had friends from church bring a meal too. God’s provision is amazing. He keeps remindng me and showing me that He came to give me life, not take it away.
We’ve had a couple issues but not many. Leeland was jaundiced for a bit but it’s went away. He also had a tongue tie which can cause breastfeeding problems and a number of other things. Thankfully we were able to have it clipped last week.
Finally home! Leeland with Daddy.
It was strange taking Leeland home. I was scared at first. Also the drive was anxiety producing. I was so glad when we finally made it there. We had many sleepless nights though Leeland is an easy baby. Still, I’m exhausted and I feel like I haven’t quite recovered. But I’m thankful and overcome with the blessing of Leeland. At 3 weeks we are starting to get into a routine. It’s been nice to be able to eat the things I want. I can actually drink milk! Yaaa :). I’ve been eating cereal like crazy.
Here’s a more recent pic of Leeland. You can see he’s thinned out. His personality is really starting to shine through.
Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
Hello dear ones! Well, I’m going to keep this post short. We haven’t done a whole lot lately because we’re hoping the baby comes soon. We did manage a couple of crafts and we planted our garden.
I’m not going to repost all the craft pictures. Simply, Michael made palm branches out of his hand prints. Then he read R.C. Sproul’s “The Donkey Who Carried a King”. We made an Easter Lily that’s leaf says “He is risen!”. And for several weeks we’ve been slowly working on an indepth Easter lapbook.
Lapbook link here: http://www.currclick.com/product/7908/Easter-Lapbook
Chris prepped the garden area and me and Michael helped plant. Our gardens usually don’t produce much and especially not enough to feed us. Still, it’s nice to know we are planting something. It’s good for kids to know where food comes from (besides the grocery store!). Planting time always excites me.
Michael planted a few things by Terabithia (his clubhouse).
Planting in the garden…
Well, I hope you have a lovely Holy week and Easter.
God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
In this post:St. Patty’s food, scavenger hunt, decor, lapbook, and craft.
Hello dear ones! Here’s how we celebrated Saint Patrick’s day this year.
As you can see from above, we brought out our usual St. Patty’s decor. I let Michael set things up because I felt like I was going into labor that day (false alarm). You can see our family leprechaun and trap. We had Lucky Charms ready for breakfast, a book about St. Patty’s story, and this year an indepth St. Patrick’s Day lapbook.
It has Catholic principles in it. We are not Catholic but we had an interesting conversation about praying to saints etc and what a Biblical saint is compared to the process of becoming a Catholic saint. As protestants, we don’t believe in praying to saints or talking to them at all. Also, we believe all Christians are saints and in the process of being sanctified. Anywho, the lapbook had great info about Ireland and we even learned some Gaelic. We talked about the symbols of St. Patty’s and how it’s celebrated in different places.
Even the dogs got festive! Here’s Annabelle :).
Michael made this rainbow chain with a pot of gold at the end.
That morning, Michael had a St. Patty’s placemat with activities on it. I got this free printable from: http://www.thedatingdivas.com/holidays/st-patricks-day/top-of-the-morning-to-you-printable-placemats/
Chris and Michael did this St. Patty’s Scavenger hunt that I got from The Dating Divas. I set up clues around the house. Each clue bag had an activity that had to be completed before they could move on to the next clue. They were simple but fun. Examples: Don’t Eat Pete (leprechaun version with Skittles), figure out your leprechaun name, and find all the gold pieces.
Welcome! My name is Amber Dover. I am a homeschooling mom, happy wife, and a devout follower of Jesus Christ. I am also a writer. I am currently working on "The Truth Seeker's Chronicles" (an inspirational fantasy/allegory). You will find everything from craft ideas to writing tips on my blog. So please pull up a chair and hang out :)