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Sunday, January 22, 2017

One Word 2017 - Light

Last year I focused on "Truth." I felt like I was set free from many of my self-made prisons of shame, guilt, and insecurities.

This year, my one little word focus is "Light."

I want to thoroughly explore two sides of the word "Light."

For several months now, I am drawn to the creation story in the Bible, and fascinated by how God separates light from darkness - twice - during creation alone. We have this puzzle for our kids, and I have spent many moments feeling like God is trying to show me something big in the wooden numbers and the way the 1 and the 4 both show God's strong desire to bring light into the world - physically.

I have spent a few years now knee deep in Romans and walking through the book of Romans with some discipleship groups I learn from and lead. This year, I want to dig hard into the book of John and learn more about the character and life of Jesus himself, and I was struck at how that book begins:

John 1:1- 13
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

It is creation, and the beginning, and Jesus, and light. In HIM was life - and the life was the LIGHT of men. Verse 4 alone trips me up. Jesus brought life - Jesus was and is life - and His life brings and is light. This makes me feel confused, and curious, happy, and excited, like I'm about to stumble on a big secret I never fully understood before.

The word "Light" also implies and means - "not heavy." The Erykah Badu song "Bag Lady" plays through my head when I think about this and I hear her voice saying, "Bag gone hurt yo back...Pack light...pack light..."

I want to get better at not being weighed down by mental/emotional/spiritual burdens that are not mine. Too often I carry in my head and heart shame that is not mine, worries that are not mine, and burdens that are not my responsibility or my ability to control. I also want to focus on ridding myself of the weight of the over-accumulation of stuff - clothes, papers, furniture, all the junk that we "clean up," but don't really even need. I want to live a life where I only carry what is mine to carry - and I can happily lay the rest down at the feet of Jesus. I want to live a life of minimalism, and clear out the junk that clutters my home and my mind. I want to leave 2017 with LESS stuff than I have begun the year owning - less stuff, and more LIGHT in all the dark spaces of my life.

Matthew 11: 28- 30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

His goal for me is not that I am weighed down by heaviness constantly - but that I would be able to rest in Him, so that I take on His yoke, with a light burden.

I want to do a word study on "light" and dig into the verses that explain it. These are just a few:

I am seeking light this year. Light that shines in the darkness - and the darkness has not overcome it. I find this "one little word" to be so much better for me than resolutions. This word becomes a thought process I can pick up and lay down. I can research it and apply it to multiple areas of life. Do you have a one word focus this year? I'd love to hear about it! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Truth from 2016

I have been embracing the "One Word" focus in lieu of a list of New Year's Resolutions for a few years now, and I love it!

The first year, I focused on "Fearless," because I felt that I had a lot of fears holding me back from living life and trusting God fully.

That led me to the pursuit last year of "Truth" for 2016.

This is the original post I did at the beginning of the year about my journey to begin this study of Truth.

After that post, I dug in and did quite a bit of scripture study around the word truth. I also began to unearth buried truth in myself that I had pushed way down. Broken pieces of my past that I had never allowed to heal, began to surface on my quest for truth. When I learned how to acknowledge my own feelings this year, I began to find truth on a whole new level. A dear friend of mine taught me this truth: we need to examine and understand our true feelings in order to stop pursuing negative behaviors that we choose in order to escape those heavy feelings.

For example, if we feel extremely sad and rejected by someone, it is more common for people these days to try to do one or more of the following things in order to escape those heavy sad feelings:

A. Lash out in anger, perhaps with swearing or violence ("I didn't like you anyways, you bleepity bleeping bleep bleep bleeper!" *Punching a wall or throwing something)
B. Use a chemical substance to make one's self feel better (alcohol, drugs, including cigarettes and pot)
C. Eat comfort foods (ice cream, candy, pizza, whatever)
D. Retail therapy (go shopping and buy more than what you need of any type of item)
E. Have sexual relations with someone or indulge in porn

All of those things (and other ways), are methods to ESCAPE the truth instead of forcing ourselves to face the truth and FEEL our feelings. Instead of attempting an escape from our feelings, we need to truthfully learn to feel our feelings with safe people. These are the steps to that process:

1. Find It (What is the actual feeling - in the above situation, the person feels SAD and REJECTED)
2. Feel It (BE sad. Cry. Heave big sighs. Punch a pillow. Let the feelings out in a safe and healthy way)
3. Share It (Tell someone you know who will be able to do the next step well)
4. Receive Comfort (Comfort from the safe person you've told is NOT them giving you one of the escape routes listed above in A-E. Comfort from a safe person is them telling you honestly and openly, "If I was in your situation, I would feel the exact same thing. I am so sorry you are hurting.")

When I learned to take the above steps toward truthfully acknowledging and feeling my feelings, things changed in my life drastically!

The other big truth I learned to embrace is that we are ALL so very broken. Hiding our brokenness from others is only being fake. Not that we need to share everything with everyone - I am NOT saying anyone needs to share all of their business with everyone they meet and/or on social media - but we need to be far more honest about our own real life struggles than most of us tend to be. Slapping on a fake smile and telling people we are "fine," does nothing to lead any of us closer to Jesus. He wants us to tell the truth. Embracing this verse has led me to bare my soul and my personal sin struggles with far more people than I ever imagined:

Revelation 12:11 in my 3 favorite versions straight from

New International Version
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
New Living Translation
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
English Standard Version
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Revelation 12:11 tells me that I can defeat - triumph - conquer the devil when I allow Jesus' blood to take away my sins, combined with my truthful ability to share what He has done in my life. That is POWERFUL! When I am brutally honest about what my testimony is and how God has saved and redeemed all my messy broken pieces, God can use that to kick the devil's butt! The word of my testimony is the description of ways I failed miserably, and how He managed to take my failures and use them for His glory and my good, because that gives others more HOPE than my fake smile ever did.

The truth is so much more powerful than we give it credit. This has really transformed my marriage, parenting, and friendships. I am no longer afraid to tell the truth, and no longer desiring to hide my brokenness. Learning to kindly, graciously share the truth in love has also been important, though. You can't just tell people truth without love. Knowing the truth is helpful, but sharing the truth with love at the right time, is all about listening to the Holy Spirit.

I also learned and recognized that the truth is absolutely only found in God's Word. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. When we choose to truly abide in His word, and soak it up to where it can influence our minds and our actions, then we are being set free from a lifetime of living in the defeat of the enemy's lies. I began to focus on John 8:31-32 around Christmas last year, and began the year seeking the word "truth" because I was so enamored with how to live those verses:

I wrote it down several times and began to focus on how much knowing God's word brought me the exact truth I needed to be set free from prisons of my own invention and the ones the devil used to keep me defeated. It was so impactful on my life, that I began to design a tattoo. I worked on that tattoo design from January, until I finally got it for my birthday present to myself (in September). For several months I practiced writing it on my left arm, until I decided that I definitely wanted to put it on my right arm, and I couldn't write it well left-handed. I asked several different instagram artists to help me design it, and ended up using some of their words and then tracing and reshaping them into the exact letters I wanted. I love it. I have no regrets. The truth really does set you free, because Jesus is the truth, and where He is, there is freedom.
The night I got it - so fresh

Recently - I need a few letters touched up,
but I like the more faded color overall.

This year I am going to do the One Word focus again, and my word is "Light" for 2017.  More on that soon. :) Are you doing a One Word focus? Have you tried it before? What did you learn? What is your word for this year?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

About Dressember - FAQs

Thank you for being interested and/or totally on board with joining our Dressember team "Dress For A Voice" this year!

I am so glad you are interested.

I need to let you know that as the team leader, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. That does not mean you have to be. It does mean that a good deal of my personal Christian beliefs will be shared publicly, in our “secret” facebook group, and on our team page, visible to everyone. It also means I will be praying for you daily, if you decide to join our team.
I am a Christian, wife, mom, friend, and advocate for freedom.
I’m going to explain Dressember here as a series of questions and answers. This is often how people tend to ask about it in conversational flow. I hope this will also help you, should you decide to join our team, to know how to answer some of these same questions.

What is Dressember?

Dressember is a movement of (mostly) women who want to bring freedom to other women (and children) across the world. It has grown tremendously each year since it’s conception, and is fundamentally about bringing awareness and funds to the issue of human trafficking. Women wear dresses and tell everyone they know that slavery still exists, and a few organizations are out to help fix the problem, and those organizations need our support. Please check out the Dressember website! Watch the videos! Read the links!

What is Human Trafficking?
This is the new term for modern day slavery. This is the overall term that covers those in child labor, sex trafficking with children, sex trafficking with adults, and forced labor that is nonsexual. If you have seen the original 2008 movie "Taken" - you have seen a small glimpse into what human trafficking looks like. I felt sad and depressed about the human trafficking element in that movie for several weeks after seeing it. I knew that that was the reality for millions of girls and women worldwide, who never get set free, and it made me feel sick. If you have seen the more recent movie "Priceless," it also shows what this looks like. 

How does wearing a dress raise money?
Just like you may have seen people signing up for a race or marathon, and then asking for donations, this is a marathon of dresses. Choosing daily to put on a dress, for the entire month of December, and then posting about it on social media, and asking your friends to donate via a clickable link is how it raises money. People click on the link, are directed to the team dressember page, and they can click "Donate" to give over a completely secure page, with their name and short message, or anonymously. If someone wants to give me a check, I go online, use my paypal or debit card and submit their exact amount to our page, and I cash the check.  

Where does the money go?
The two organizations that receive the money equally are International Justice Mission (IJM) and A21. They are legit companies, doing hard work in hard places, and not getting rich from our money. Look around their websites and read about human trafficking and all they do to combat it. 

Do I have to join your team?
Absolutely NOT! You can totally be a Dressember individual! I participated as an individual the first year. I started a team the second year, and continued to love it during the third year. This is my fourth year, and I am sticking with the team! You could also start or lead your own team if you think you have at least 5 friends locally or long distance to join you!
I am praying for your heart to be surrendered to the Lord and excited about following Him wherever He leads - whether He leads you to join us in this or not - I pray you are able to hear and obey wherever He is currently leading you. Faith is about not just hearing, but doing, so go out and DO what God has called you to do in your life today! If joining our team or participating in Dressember is NOT what you think God is calling you to do this year – it does not disappoint or hurt my feelings. Be obedient to Him, first, in all things.

How can I help if I do not want to participate/wear a dress?
You can share our posts on your personal pages to raise awareness. You can pray that people who are able to give, decide to give generously. You can also, of course, GIVE as you feel led and able! Not gonna lie, I’m going to really appreciate that last one the most. ;) Also, check out this great article from the US State Department on what ANYONE can do to help fight Human Trafficking! 

When exactly do I have to wear a dress?
Official rules say it does have to be a dress - not a skirt - but also that you only have to wear it when you leave the house - so you don't have to wear it around your house all the time. I just felt like it was redundant for me to participate and only wear dresses when I left the house, because being a stay-at-home mom with 2 very small kids in a small town, in the winter - honestly, we didn't get out that much! So I did choose that first year, and will again in following years choose to just get up and dress up daily.
For those of you with 'real' outside the house jobs - I totally get that it is still a sacrifice to wear a dress to work every day – and I say to you especially, you can wear whatever your heart desires at home!  This is completely up to you, and you don't have to tell anyone unless you feel compelled to do so. The goal is that we wear dresses anytime we are seen outside the home – so if you leave your house – throw one on!
There are caveats for those who have a work situation in which they cannot wear a dress – that’s OK! You do what you can! It does not say you have to wear a dress to exercise, but I generally have, because it really is a fantastic way to continue to shine a light on this. People don’t typically see women wearing a dress on top of their workout gear. Some give funny looks and some outright ask. It’s your choice. I wear a dress if I exercise outside of my house during December, and I welcome questions and conversation about it. I have decided to make some business cards with our team link on them to be able to give people in public/real life who have questions and seem interested. Talk about it, and give them a card. They may just decide to donate! I used swim cover up/light weight little dresses on top of tights/leggings and it’s not bad.
Working out with a dress on top, year 1

Use those Christmas trees for pics!
Especially pretty ones at other peoples' houses, to shake up your backgrounds!

Use layers...

Even blurry kids are good picture additions.

You can rock a preggo belly, too!

I felt guilty for buying that blanket scarf,
so I donated more to our group page.

Hard to believe that belly is now a crawling baby...

What if I don’t have a lot of dresses/it’s really cold?
The founder of this has actually done Dressember for the last two years, wearing just ONE dress the entire month! She styles it differently with pants/leggings/tights or long and short sleeves underneath, accessories such as scarves, necklaces, hats, and different jackets/shoes, make it quite versatile! You do NOT need a closet full of dresses to make this work. You are encouraged to NOT go out and spend a ton of money on dresses. Instead, give to your own Dressember fundraiser page to get something started! Borrow and share with friends. Get creative! If it’s cold – use layers to your advantage. Long sleeves and pants underneath the dress is completely acceptable. Do what you gotta do.

Am I required to post a picture of myself in a dress every single day?
NO! Not at all! I did not understand this the first year until about week 2 and by then, I thought if I missed a day people would think I wasn't wearing one, so I just continued what I had already started. I DO think it brings in a lot more donations, and gives you a chance to write short but effective little caption/posts about WHY people should care/donate. A picture daily means shorter words – which means more people may read them to the end. However, it gets a little time consuming to set up your picture and decide what to say. You may start to feel very self-conscious with so many pictures of yourself. I get that. I struggle with that. I choose to spend a LOT of January with absolutely no social media days to regroup and recover from this. You can always make a little 'collage' pic of 2-4 days and post it like that if you prefer. It's totally up to you - there are no hard and fast rules about post frequency, and I am not a dictator - just the facilitator for this team! You need to take Dressember and OWN it - in your own style/way! However – I would beg you to post a MINIMUM of ONE full body dress picture per week with a small caption about Dressember and link to our team fundraiser page. I feel that you probably should not participate if you cannot commit to this one pic/per week goal.
If you have kids or pets – USE THEM! They make your pictures look less awkward, and automatically get more noticed. I try to get my kids to help out as often as its possible!

How do you set our fundraising goal?
I did set our team goal at $6300.  That is what A21 and IJM together list on the Dressember page as the needed amount for ONE rescue operation. Last year we made it a goal of $4500 because that was the listed amount we found for a sting operation. It was hard, but we did it! Now this year I am praying God would again allow to meet and surpass our goal! We can totally raise it again if we meet our goal. The Dressember Foundation suggests individuals have the goal of $300 - so I did the first year, and actually raised almost $700. Then when we had a team of 12 ladies, and our goal was $2000, we also exceeded our original goal and raised $3775. Projecting more team members this year, I am starting our team goal higher. Every time I met my goal last year, I raised it, as per Dressember suggestions because people don't feel compelled to give to a goal that's already been met - so I raised it. Here’s why: This is not like a project or “GoFundMe” we are trying to get “fully funded” – this is a race to save peoples’ lives, and the race is won with more money and prayers being given. There is no limit of need, because there is no limit of evil, and MILLIONS of people are currently enslaved, needing MILLIONS of dollars and prayers and hard workers to set them free. I will keep raising the “goal” if it is met, because the “goal” is to raise as much as possible. 

How do we get people to give?
This is a campaign mostly funded by people sharing it on social media - so Instagram and Facebook are your biggest tools here. If you don’t have instagram, you may want to seriously consider getting it. You can post a picture to instagram and link to facebook so it will instantly post in both places. Find me on both and lets be cyber friends!
IG: honeabeemama
FB: Kelly Honea 
With every post related to this, it is a good idea to use  clickable hashtags, because they lead people back to the clickable links. I usually do #dressember #endslavery #ijm #itsmorethanadress #humantrafficking and our team name #DressForaVoice I may also make some posts using all of your faces in a collage to show people how awesome it is to be on a team! In our "secret" Facebook group, you will see the other lades who are showing interest and on our team. "Friend" them! Like their posts! 

I am also encouraging you to engage people in real life conversations about it though, as well. Anytime someone compliments you on being ‘dressed up,’ ‘looking nice,’ or ‘wearing a dress even though its so cold’ you have an easy opening to say, “Well, I’m only wearing it to bring awareness to the current fastest growing crime of human trafficking. Would you like to know more?” Boom. Life on Mission. I may also ask them if they know Jesus and would like to join me at church in that conversation, but you can say whatever you want.

When do I start wearing dresses?
This does not start until December 1st, officially. You have time to recruit more friends! Feel free to copy this link to people you think may be interested. The more on our team, the merrier! This also gives you time to size up your wardrobe - but don't over think it! I decided that it would be redundant last year to spend money on more dresses while asking people to donate to IJM, so I donated to IJM and just used the dresses I had. I do think it's a nice way to get the fundraiser bar rolling. If we would each donate like $20 maybe to someone else on our team, it also shows we have more skin in the game than just the clothes, and we do truly agree with how IJM/A21 spend the money.

I hope that's not too overwhelming! I can't wait to be on a team with you fantastic people! I hope you have a wonderful day, and please do not hesitate to ask me any questions and dig into the dressember website!!!! 

How do I register to join Dressember?
Go to the website and click in the upper right corner where it says "Join Us." Then you choose "Become An Advocate." If you want to go it alone, choose "As An Individual." If you'd like to join our team (and we'd LOVE IT!) choose "Join A Team" HERE - at the First Chance you get - and scroll through to find us - "Dress For A Voice." It will direct you to then create an individual page after that, and your individual page should be linked to the group page if you clicked that correctly and all the unicorns danced just right in the internet neverland where things like that are worked out. ;)

May God bless you today in a way that you notice and appreciate. Happy Registering if you choose to join this movement! 

My Year 1 Blog Reflections on Dressember: 

My Year 2 Blog Reflections on Dressember:
Fearless Reflections - Dressember is the bottom half of the post

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ode to Pregnancy

It was an honor to carry you under my heart
Even when I thought your presence might be tearing me apart
You were a miracle to watch unfold
You were my joy to finally behold
I loved you from the first time I knew you were there
Even though being your host didn't always feel fair
In being your mother, I will always take great delight
In giving you birth, I fought with all my might
Watching you grow on the screen and in my womb
Was a beautiful gift, and my love grew out of room
Now grow baby, grow into a person of your own
Please just don't forget where your heart first found its home

The day before Jonah was born

36 Weeks with Karis

40 Weeks and 2 days with Josie -
still 4 days before she was born

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Disney - the Message in the Movies!

My husband, John, is the Lead Pastor of a neat, small, contemporary church body here called "Church of the Valley," and we are absolutely loving being able to serve this community.  We attended this church during our unemployed time, and so we already knew and loved many of the people, goals, and outreach activities of the church.  I wrote some about it in our initial transition here when we felt God leading us to move back here in order for John to take this position.

Now, several months into the position, we are getting to know and love everybody even more! They just finished a sermon series comparing a few Disney movies to some Scriptural truths, and it was really eye-opening and FUN! If you are even slightly curious, you should listen to some of these podcasts:

All sermons are listed here on the pod bean spot, or you can individually hear them at these links:

1. The Lion King - John Honea

2. Finding Nemo - John Honea

3. Beauty and the Beast - John Honea

4. Frozen - Nathan Ross

5. Cars - John Honea

They are really unique ways to compare the Bible to some of our favorite movies. I hope you enjoy them and learn and grow from them as much as I did!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Welcoming Josie Faith in Pictures

These are all my favorites from our newborn photographs by Christi Haney Photography. She came to our house when Josie was 5 days old, and worked hard to get lots of sweet poses from our wrinkly little girl. Catching pictures of all three kids felt impossible. Thank God for fast camera clicks to catch a few seconds between the silly faces, smirks, and purposely closed eyes!  Jonah and Karis were completely enamored by her enormous bean bag that she used to prop and set up the pictures, so it was a constant struggle to keep them away until John just left the house with them after they were done.  I was still pretty swollen from all the IV fluids at the hospital, so I don't really like the ones with me, but that's just life and puffiness 5 days after being induced, and I can live with that.  Now, 3 weeks later, I look very different, and am constantly reminded by how amazing it is that God made our bodies to house another human for so long.

Her eyes were a steely gray.
They are already starting to look sort of blue now.

Karis was really disgusted by Josie's umbilical cord stump,
and refused to sit by her/touch her once she saw it.

Jonah kept saying the sun was in his eyes and refused to open them.
Looks sweet though, haha!

We have pictures of John like this with all 3 kids.
They make me happy.

Absolutely nothing more attractive than when he is being a good father.

All the pink makes me think of her as a little fairy here.

And now she's an elf with the cutest hat ever!

Sweetness in a basket!

My second favorite.

My absolute favorite. I don't even know why.
I just love this one.

She makes this face constantly, so I feel like this is very true to life.

I love her little hand on her chin. 

Postpartum has really kicked my butt this time around. Thank God we have friends and family here who have been super helpful with our other 2 kids and bringing meals! I am overwhelmingly grateful for all of the love people have shown us in the last few weeks. Now, at 3 weeks postpartum, I am FINALLY starting to feel like 80% of my normal self.  I'm not sure why recovery took so much longer this time, but it has been teaching me once again to find my strength and hope in the Lord, and not myself.  More on all that later. :)   

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Birth #3 - Induced

I have had 2 natural labor/deliveries in the past, and this was 'planned' to be no different, meaning I fully expected to go into spontaneous labor on my own, and have the baby at the hospital this time (because baby #2 was born in the car), with as few interventions/medications as possible.  The weeks leading up to the due date were full of a myriad of differences from my last pregnancies, and a considerable amount of pain. You can read about them in the previous post - Pregnancy #3.

Monday, January 25, 2016, I woke up before 3 am with some contractions that were mostly in the front of my belly. After so much back pain recently, I welcomed gladly pain in the front! They continued, got longer, most lasting around 2 minutes, but stayed around 9-12 minutes apart. However, all my movement in and around our bedroom woke up John, so he started being comforting as we both hoped this was the real deal. At 6am, they were bad enough that I called my mom and asked her to come over to our house instead of going to work, because she had decide to take 2 days off in order to help with the kids.  Right after I called her, I laid down to rest a second, and the contractions stopped. I had one more small one twenty minutes later, then I just felt exhausted again, so I called her back around 6:40 and told her to just go ahead to work, false alarm again. John was also exhausted, but needed to go to work in order to have his 5 days off when the baby came, so he had to get up, get ready and go.

Frustrated, a little sad to have had false labor again, 5 days overdue, and extremely exhausted, I saw him out the door, made breakfast for the kids, and then had a morning of movies while I dozed in our big cuddled recliner between the kids.  I woke up to make the kids lunch, and put them down for a nap. I took a shower, did make up, and made coffee to help myself wake up a little more.  One of our good friends from church came over to stay with the kids while I went for my doctor's appointment.  I had to have an ultrasound and non-stress test because I was overdue.  I was honestly not looking forward to this.

I went in ready for them to tell me the baby was measuring large and to try to convince me to induce.  I was prepared to argue for waiting on the basis that I was not afraid to deliver a large baby, and lots of recent research proves that ultrasound can be off by up to a pound either way, and I would wait to go into labor spontaneously until I hit 42 weeks.  I was surprised and taken completely off guard then when the ultrasound tech did not even mention the size of the baby, other than to say
"Baby looks good, great heartbeat, all the organs look great." However, she did throw some brand new information at me, "Your fluid is very low. The doctor will probably talk to you about inducing." Confusion washed over me like a cold shower, and I started asking questions,
"What does that mean? How much fluid should I have? How much do I have? Can that hurt the baby?" She answered calmly and politely,
"Baby looks good, healthy and fine, so it's not affecting her, yet. We like to see numbers above 10, but we will take as low as 8 when you go overdue like this. You're at a 6, so the doctor will talk to you about inducing."
I took some deep breaths and went to get hooked up to the non-stress test, where they monitor baby's heartbeat for twenty minutes. I prayed about all this, and sent a few text messages out asking for prayer, and then just gave it to the Lord and waited to see what the doctor would say. I had asked God to keep the baby healthy despite my pain, and He had. Baby was ok, and that was very reassuring.

I had some terrific back pain in the days prior to this, and now it made sense. My fluid was so low that the baby's skull was literally resting very close to my spine and just bumping nerves all the time.  It made sense that some of the back pain was sharp and electrical feeling while some was just constantly aching. I had asked God to know why this was painful, and now I knew. I looked smaller and gained less weight because there was so much less liquid.  I remembered with Karis they did an ultrasound at 37 weeks because I was measuring "large," and my fluid was at 17 or 18, and they had said that was a lot. I remembered the huge gush as my water broke in the car with her.  I thought about reading birth stories where a woman's water was broken hours before labor and how sometimes it led to a more painful "dry birth," and I didn't like the thought of that.

Her heart rate bounced around between 120 and 160 and they were happy with all that, so they promptly removed the monitors at the 20 minute mark and the doctor came in shortly afterward. He examined me and said there was definitely not a leak in fluid, I was still dilated to slightly less than 2, and since there was no leak, it meant the placenta had stopped doing its job. He said that when the body goes overdue and fluid gets low it means the placenta has basically quit, and although it doesn't harm the baby much, the fluid will not replenish, it will only continue going down, until a "dry birth" is likely.  He said we needed to induce the next day.  I was still a little in shock, and kept frowning and saying, "I just didn't want to induce." to which he would answer, "I'm really sorry." However, when he said I needed to come in the following day, it was to Huntsville Hospital. That made me even more uncomfortable, because I had only great experiences with Crestwood, and did not want to make this new territory in birth even more new. I expressed my concerns, and he explained the only reason he chose Huntsville was because he had an 8am surgery there, and he didn't want me 15 minutes down the road if he was still in the middle of surgery when I needed to deliver. I understood, but my response was still, "If I MUST be induced, then I ONLY want to do it at Crestwood." I have read enough and been through labor enough to know that my personal comfort level/anxiety level is a huge factor in labor, and I did not feel comfortable switching locations now. He frowned now. "I really don't want you to wait 2 days." So I offered,
"I can come in this afternoon to Crestwood. Would that work?" He thought a moment and said yes. It was almost 2pm. He asked if I could be there by 4pm. I thought I could. It was set. I texted John all the info, and thought about how he had been up since 3am with me, and had not had a nap. Poor guy.

On the drive home I prayed about this some more, and felt total peace.  This was not me going in and requesting an induction because I couldn't stand the back pain. This was the doctor saying it was medically necessary to induce. Being induced had always scared me because of the stories of how bad pitocin contractions are, and how most people cannot continue to go without an epidural. However,  my doctor said he had plenty of patients who were induced and continued to go without an epidural.  I only have one friend who has done this, so hearing him say he had 'plenty' was more reassuring. I don't know you - women of the 'plenty'- but I am thankful for your story, and it gave me hope.

I went home and carb loaded for my marathon ahead, eating gluten free spaghetti leftovers, a banana muffin, and had another cup of coffee. My bags had been packed for weeks, so I just threw in last minute items and put them by the door. My mom came to spend the night with the kids and keep them for the next 2 days. John came home and we left.  Agreeing to be induced, and showing up 2 hours later for it is a fast turn-around time.  My doctor said that since it was my third, he felt that once I hit 4 cm, the process would "fly." That was hopeful as well.

We were checked in to the exact same room we had been in for false labor almost a month earlier. It was calming to be somewhere familiar, and I was very happy that I had stood up for myself and insisted upon Crestwood. We saw a few of the same nurses, and a few new ones.  When we had come in for the false labor, our nurse had given me a hospital gown, but said, "Unless you have your own you'd like to wear?" That day I had forgotten that I had my own, but walking around in the bottom-showing, scratchy hospital gown for several hours, reminded me to go home and pack mine. I put on the little Old Navy maternity dress, that is either truly a night gown or a swim cover-up, but not a 'real' dress, however, the color is one that makes me happy, and it was very soft, and covered my behind most of the time.  No one said a word about it, and I was thankful again to the Lord for giving me the false labor to be reminded of this one thing, because in labor - comfort is power!

Last belly picture, before getting induced in the hospital.

I put a few drops of essential oils on the shoulders of my 'birthing dress' to help me take deep, calming breaths. I put 2 drops of peppermint on one shoulder and 2 drops of lavender on the other shoulder. This is far easier than using a diffuser when away from home. If I needed the scent to be stronger, I just turned to that side.  I reapplied the drops once, several hours in. At one point during labor I did feel the need to pee, but couldn't, and putting a drop or two of peppermint oil in the toilet fixed that problem immediately.

Without even having to request it, the nurse said, "Oh, you'll want the wireless monitors. Let me go get them for you." That was also a huge blessing, because in labor, you need to move around a lot, and being confined to the bed is far from ideal. The wireless monitors seemed to work great all over the room, but I'm not sure if they would have worked in the hallway, I didn't try.

I hate needles. Getting the IV with the catheter in my arm was by far part of the worst of it all. I had to have it for the pitocin and the antibiotics, because I was Beta Strep positive again. There was also a bag of just 'fluid' up there on the pole. Having that in my arm was very uncomfortable the entire time. My first nurse for the evening explained how the pitocin induction process worked - with them starting me out at 2 (I don't know what measurement - 2 somethings per minute), and every fifteen minutes they would turn it up more if I was "comfortable" with it.  She said she felt like 6 was a good number to stay at for a while, although some doctor and nurses seem to think it's OK to turn it all the way up to 30.  I don't remember feeling anything with it on 2, so I was happy to get to 4, which started some itty bitty short contractions, and then at 6 they did increase to lasting almost 20 seconds, but still at least 4 minutes apart. I was happy for them to keep turning it up until we hit 10. I worked with level 10 for about an hour before I said, "Ok, let's try 12." Romans 12 is my favorite chapter in the bible, and talks about being a living sacrifice, and for some reason, I felt like 12 was where it needed to stay for a long time. I thought about how to worship through birth. I tried to sing along to some of my music, but decided that it was worshipful to just focus on the task at hand, pray for strength, and stay kind to everyone around me.

Here's also where I feel like God was all over the timing of this process - my false labor that very morning gave me a true sense of how my own body ran contractions. For three hours I monitored their length, I knew how much my body would put me through on its own, and how much I could stand, and now this knowledge gave me confidence in how much I was going to allow in the pitocin. Isn't God cool like that? Because pain is something you don't always remember details of - so having false labor that morning gave me a specific starting point.  At the end of it all, when the doctor asked me,
"Was that as bad as you thought it would be?" and I said,
"No," he then told me,
"Yes, contractions are contractions - whether they're natural or pit, or whatever, people shouldn't be so scared of it." Says the MAN who has never had one contraction. Also, I don't know what would have happened if I had let them turn it above 12 - I don't want to think about 30! This is one of the few things I do disagree with him on, because here are the differences in my natural contractions and the pitocin synthesized ones (in case you were interested in being induced after going natural a time or two):

Natural contractions for me begin and end more gradually - like they creep up the front of my belly before taking over as a big huge total core squeeze that sometimes wraps around the back, sometimes not, and then they fade away as well.  This is where some people compare them to waves that wash over you and recede. It's like they begin on a pain scale of 5, then cap out at like an 8 or 9, and then fade away again, sometimes down to 1 or 2 in the beginning, but as labor progresses, the pain does not completely go away between contractions, but stays somewhere between a 3 and 5.

The pitocin contractions began and ended rather abruptly - it was sort of like 'all or nothing' with them. Pain scale ranging from 2 in between contractions, to suddenly being a full on 7-9, lasting it's length and then suddenly stopping again. I do not believe this would have changed had I let them turn the pitocin up any higher.

Natural contractions lasted much longer for me - averaging 2 minutes, but going up to 3 minutes several times as well. I remember that with my other two labors, and had that experience that morning, which was one reason I was so shocked it stopped - I mean having a three minute contraction should turn into real labor! Then they would also wait several minutes apart and gradually build up to coming closer together.

Pitocin contractions never lasted much more than a minute, even after several hours.  They also came a lot faster. 30-50 second long contractions, that were about 1 - 2 minutes apart for several hours is what I experienced on level 10 and 12. Had I let them turn it up higher, they may have lasted longer, but their intensity and speed were enough to keep me happy with their duration.

After 3 hours, and getting up to pitocin level 10, when she checked me and I was at 3, we were rather disappointed and that was when I let them turn it up to 12. After an hour of that, she checked me and I was at 5. I do want to say that my nice little nurse was always very respectful and gentle when checking me, and waited for contractions to end.  She was a gem, and spent a lot of time in the room with us, bringing me ice water (they encouraged real drinking! - not just ice chips), and anything we asked for.  She suggested a cool washcloth on the back of my neck when I started getting hot, and that was nice for a little while. She told us that my doctor wanted to know when I was at 6, and he would come up to the hospital and hang out until the baby was born.  After an hour of some longer contractions, that now seemed to come about a minute apart, we asked to be checked again, and she informed us, almost apologetically,
"Almost the same, not yet to six. But I can tell it's getting harder for you, so I am going to call your doctor and let him know." He came in shortly after that, watched for a few minutes and commented nicely,
"You have excellent pain control. You're doing a great job."

It was probably around 11pm, and John and I were both getting really exhausted. I did not want to be checked again and told 5, so I decided mentally to just power through it, and wait for my water to break so I could push.  Now, with Jonah (my first), I got very nauseated right at the end, and throwing up made my water break. After the water broke, they checked me and said I was at 10, to wait for the doctor, but I never felt the urge to push. I think my body wanted to rest. With Karis (my second), I felt like I was trying to hold back in the car as we went to the hospital. This sounds strange, but it was the feeling like needing to pass gas, but hoping it will be silent, and then giving a teeny tiny push, and my water broke - all over the car, and we had to pull over and have her in the Jet Pep parking lot.

Because of those two experiences, I really wanted to make my water break, and I got to the point with these rapid-fire fast intense contractions to where I realized I was pushing a little during the contractions. I wondered if that was OK, but decided not to tell anyone. I did that for an hour or more, moving around like crazy, trying different positions on the ball, on the bed, standing, lunging, rocking, squatting, always having John there to hold his hand or lean against him. I had my music on, I had read my encouragement cards and scripture so much the day before, I only read through them all maybe twice in the hospital. I told John, "Tell me it's almost over." So, he would try to say that every now and then and be as encouraging as he could, being so very tired, and not really having an encouraging spirit. I think around midnight we were both shocked that we still hadn't had a baby yet, and so very tired. I asked the nurse to turn the pitocin back down to 10 because I felt like everything was getting a little too hard to take. I think we were getting close to 'transition.'  I felt like the room was darkening around me, and the pain was getting very intense, like I wanted to bite something and scream. At this point, had a large birthing tub been available, I would have probably spent the remainder of the time there, and I believe it would have been a shorter time. Alabama really needs to get on board!

At the end, I was kneeling on the end of the hospital bed, and John was sitting on the ball in front of the bed (because he admitted he was absolutely too tired to stand up), and I had my head and elbows in his lap, with my behind up in the air, and he was hugging my upper body and holding my belly through each contraction. I had done this sort of position near the end of labor at home with Karis, just pushing back into a downward dog yoga position, so I felt like this meant we were close. I was still pushing just a little during the contractions, and starting to moan very loudly. In labor with Karis, my awesome doula Hannah had taught me to open the mouth wide and make low sounds - because, little high pitch shrills with a tight mouth do not help the body/uterus to relax and open. I remembered and followed that advice the whole time - wide mouth, low noises, volume doesn't matter, as long as it's not high pitch. Suddenly, I realized the pain was not going away between contractions at all - it was staying a hard, high 8 or 9 on the pain scale (I hesitate to say 10 because I always feel like it's bad, but could probably get a little worse) - and I felt a little dizzy with my head down. I realized I was trying to push harder hoping to break my water, and I felt hot all over, and pictures of babies born with their water intact popped in my head and it occurred to me that I might be ready to push even though my water had not broken!

I decided to go with that, and began saying loudly, "I'm ready to push. I'm ready to push. I'm ready to push," and I just started moving back up in the bed, raising the head so I could sit up all the way. The nurse said, "I need to check you then," but I was not really cooperating well, because the contractions did not feel like they were stopping, and so I think I was laying on my side, gripping the bed rails, growling, and she checked me and said, "Yep!" and ran out of the room, and came back with the doctor, saying, "She's at a high 8, maybe 9, very soft though, but she wants to push." This woke up John fully, and he was standing by me, saying very honestly now, "It really is almost over, babe. Almost over. You can do it." The doctor just nodded, pulled up a seat, and I started pushing and yelling like crazy!

I pushed really hard, and my water broke, and then her head started immediately coming down, and I was yelling a lot. John said he thought it looked like the doctor was pushing against me, holding his hand down just under where her head was coming out, and I think that counter-pressure low did help me to tear much less. However, it also slowed me down just a little, because her head was out and I stopped a second to breathe. She was already screaming, and I felt like I was coming out of a big black cloud of pain. The doctor told me to push one more big time and she'd be out. I did, but I don't know if I was too tired or what, I didn't get that huge rumbly, bones and baby leaving my body feeling like I did when Karis was born all at once.

Then it was all better.
I felt like the lights got turned back on in the room, but they had never been turned off.
Josie Faith was born at 1:09am, Tuesday, January 26th.

The miracle of birth is so crazy that the second that kid is out, your mind clears from the pain fog, and all these amazing happy hormones flood your brain, and no matter how tired you were, you are suddenly wide awake like a red bull was just shot up in that IV! They held up her little wiggly, wet self and gave her to me. The doctor let the cord stop pulsing, and I don't know how long that took because I felt like I was holding this little baby outside of time. I remember feeling like that after the other two. It's this wide-awake dream-like I can NOT believe that just happened feeling. I don't know when I delivered the placenta, but it had a lot of white stripes/streaks that I do not remember seeing on the other two, so I wonder if that had to do with it 'quitting.' I did not get to hold her for very long before the nurses wanted to suction her mouth/nose because she was sort of gagging a little. The doctor said I only needed 2 stitches, and he did that quickly. Then the shaking began really bad. I remember the violent leg shaking, total body tremors after the other two births, but I also thought it had to do with feeling cold both times. I made sure to keep my hospital room very warm this time, and it still was, and I even told the doctor, "I'm not cold at all! Why am I shaking so bad?" He just laughed a little and said, "Oh that's the adrenaline." Then he put some very warm blankets on top of me anyway, and softly pushed down on my legs, smoothing the blankets out, and that helped most of the shaking to stop.

She was 8 lbs, 5oz, and 20 inches long. One ounce smaller than her siblings. When they gave her back, John took a few pictures and then we started breastfeeding. Every prayer, answered. I was induced, but no epidural, no other interventions, healthy baby, healthy mama, so very thankful.

I love her little popeye nose!

Her hair is much darker than my other two kids, for now.

Christi Haney Photography - 5 days old

Christi Haney Photography - All THREE kids!

Christi Haney Photography - 5 days old