Fast, Furious, and Natural Labor: My Birth Story

This post is written in collaboration with The Honest Company. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

At 12:00 A.M. I felt my first contraction. At 4:10 A.M. I was holding my child. I’m a first time mom, and I had a 4 hour natural labor. This is my story.

Let me preface this story by telling you that every labor is hard. Natural, epidural, cesarean section, fast, dreadfully long, hospital, home-birth, water-birth, and everything in between. It’s emotionally taxing, and it tests every physical part of you! Sometimes there is the assumption that fast is synonymous with easy. I can assure you that this is not the case.

So it begins.

Denver and I were expecting to have little Oliver on December 31st, 2016. As the new year came and went, I knew he had to be making his appearance soon. Being 40+ weeks pregnant is incredibly uncomfortable. We were SO beyond ready to meet our little boy and every hour past our due date felt like ages.

In the weeks leading up to his arrival, I had been walking 2 miles a day, climbing a set of 99 steps up and down, and I had been using an outdoor gym. Anything to spur on labor!

natural labor exercise

I used an exercise machine that my husband and I have now deemed “the contraction machine”. Essentially, it spreads your legs apart and you squeeze them together (no weights attached). On New Years day, I did rounds of the above listed exercises. That night came and went and I didn’t feel anything progressing.

Bummed out and getting impatient, I decided that the next night (January 2nd) Denver and I should have a date to distract ourselves and to celebrate our last days as a family of two. We grabbed a coffee and walked around town, went out to eat, and then decided to go to the theater. When Denver and I were at the movies I legitimately felt like I was sitting on Oliver’s head. Little did I know, I was in early labor as I was chowing down on popcorn. Oliver had been low for quite a while, despite not being dilated at all at my previous exam (which is not what you want to hear at 40 weeks).

We had so much fun on the date, and we ended up getting home at about 10:30 P.M. We had decided to watch Vine compilation videos on YouTube because we are still mourning the loss of Vine (R.I.P.), and at this point the night felt like any other. At 11:45 P.M. Oliver was kicking around as per usual, but I had a little bit of back cramping. I had back pain my whole pregnancy, so a little back cramping was pretty normal to me at this point. I grabbed a heating pad and we continued watching videos.

Midnight.

I started to notice that my dull back cramps were coming and going in waves. It hit me. This might be the start of something! I told Denver, “Hey, I might have him in a couple of days!”. I texted a few of my friends to tell them that labor could be starting in the days to come, and upon hearing my symptoms, they all agreed it might be possible!

About 10 minutes later the cramping got worse. I felt like I just needed to live on the toilet. But nothing was coming out. Denver and I had been to a birthing class so I knew that this was a sign of early labor. I informed Denver and he was excited and started to pack up our toiletries into the hospital bag. I told him to calm down and that it could be days before we go into active labor. Then I realized my cramps were coming in stronger waves. I texted my friend Kylie (a nurse and a recent first time mom), and she said, “Time those. They could be contractions.”

I felt excited.

Now, I knew I would have back labor. Every hormonal occurrence I have had leading up to labor has been carried in my back. What I didn’t know is that with back labor, you might not ever feel one single contraction in your stomach. I didn’t feel any tightening, but I started to feel a lot of pain.

While standing in the bathroom with my pants around my ankles, I tried to determine whether I wanted to sit on the toilet or walk around. Denver came in, and asked if I was okay. I said, “I need to braid my bangs back, I think things are happening!”. Denver threw off his house shoes and put his tennis shoes on. I told him to take them off because we wouldn’t even go to the hospital until the next day. He looked at my face and said “Okay, but I still think it’s going to be sooner.” Silly boy. Didn’t he remember our class? Our instructor had said that in many instances, early labor can last hours and hours or even days before it transitions into active labor!

Early labor was likely with my symptoms, and I knew it was time to put our birthing class knowledge into practice. Move, move, and keep moving. I grabbed a microwaveable corn bag so I could start walking around the house. I told Denver to grab the timer and I would tell him when I needed him to time the “contractions” I had felt.

At this point, I had only felt a few waves of pain. We timed my waves of back pain for about 15 minutes. Denver said “Babe, these are 3 minutes apart and lasting close to 1 minute long”. We were confused. In our class we had learned that a good time to go to the hospital was known as 4-1-1.

Contractions 4 minutes apart.

Contractions are lasting around 1 minute long.

You’ve had these consistently for 1 hour.

Well. I had contractions less than 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute long, but I had only had them for 15 minutes. We were confused. Why did my contractions start out at the point you’re supposed to be heading to the hospital? Don’t you usually get to work up to this point? The pain was getting stronger with each contraction and I was practicing everything I had learned. I was breathing through them, moving around, squatting, leaning over the bed, swaying, and making low noises to push through it. While leaning over the bed, I felt a really horrible wave of back pain. I popped up and told Denver, “I think we need to go to the hospital, how many have I had?” To which Denver replies, “You’ve had 8 contractions”.

That’s when I felt fear.

Only 8 contractions had occurred and I already felt like I had been in a mild car accident. I have a high pain tolerance, so thinking we were probably in the earlier stages of labor was devastating to say the least. “How do people do this for 18+ hours?“, I wondered, not knowing I was already in active labor. I decided to try to labor for at least an hour at home so that it would be consistent with the 4-1-1 instructions. The pain started to get really intense, but I still never felt any tightening in my stomach or abdominal area. I hated this. Why was my labor so strange?

After an hour and a half had passed, I allowed myself to go to the hospital. Then I saw it. The car. How was I going to have a contraction in that thing. I found myself thinking, “Why do we have a Prius? It’s so small.” We got into the car and I felt a contraction coming on as soon as I got in. I pulled back the passenger seat and straightened my body out and took a big breath and groaned it out. Denver drove to the hospital and I had two contractions in the car and one in the hospital parking lot. We only live 7 minutes from the hospital (now so thankful for this), so I knew they were close together.

We walked into the hospital lobby at exactly 1:30 in the morning. The nurses politely asked me how long I had been in labor. When they learned that it had been just over an hour, they looked a little calmer and said we had time to get things together. I was breathing through the contractions but felt like I was going to vomit all over the lobby. I began pacing around and felt incredibly embarrassed knowing it could be a possibility that I came in too early. They wheeled me back to see how dilated I was.

I was terrified. What if I was barely dilated? I couldn’t imagine going back home.

When the first nurse came in to check me, she told me that she didn’t know how dilated I was because she couldn’t reach my cervix. I knew my cervix was far back because my doctor had told me the same thing in prenatal appointments. The nurse brought someone else in to try. I’ll never forget the pain as I looked up at the florescent lights in the little holding room while someone struggled to reach my cervix. This nurse couldn’t reach either. They said that Oliver’s head was in the way of checking.

I was freaked out. I’m a Type A personality! I like to know what’s going on.

The nurses came in and told me that they would check me in 30 minutes, and that I might not be far enough along for them to feel the dilation. I looked at Denver and I felt the panic in my heart. 30 minutes sounded like a lifetime. It felt almost impossible to breathe through the pain at this point. I hadn’t told them how much pain I was in, and I felt really alone. Why was this happening? Why could no one tell me how far along I was in the process? Denver sat there clutching my purse, and he and I exchanged silent glances of frustration.

After about 20 minutes had passed I had started grunting and holding the rail of the tiny bed I was on. When are they coming back? I told Denver someone needed to come in and check me, because I felt like I was going to poop him out! They sent in an entirely different nurse. She was tall, and strong, and she told me she wouldn’t leave until she knew how far along I was. As she was putting on her gloves, I felt a rush of warm fluid all over my legs. It was at this point that I realized my water had broken.

When this nurse checked to see if I was dilated, I screamed. It felt like it would never end. She took her glove off and got the other nurses. They started speedily wheeling me into the hallway and they told me that I was dilated to an 8 and progressing very quickly.

Two thoughts went through my mind almost simultaneously. Relief and fear. Relief that I was justified in my pain, and fear that I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural.

Going into labor, Denver and I had decided that we would listen to my body. I would like to try naturally, but if I felt like it was too much to bare, that I would get the epidural. In our birthing class, someone had asked how far along you have to be to not get the epidural. She told us that it was incredibly rare to be too late for an epidural your first time, and that you can even get it when you’re 10 cm dilated, so not to worry.

As they wheeled me into an actual labor and delivery room, I asked this question: “Am I able to get the epidural?”. They all looked at each other, and one sweet nurse looked at me and said “We’re going to try.” Did you hear that? Try. 

Every ounce of pain that I was feeling was in my back and my rear. It was excruciating.

The nurses quickly hooked me up to an I.V. and told me that they didn’t have time to move me to the nice delivery bed. That’s when I remembered, I wasn’t even admitted to the hospital yet! They started the I.V. drip, and I asked again about the epidural. The nurse looked at me and told me I had to get I.V. fluids for an hour before they could administer it.

An hour.

I looked at the clock and I felt defeated. I was clinging to the fact that it might happen and relief would be right around the corner. At this point I was starting to get light headed and I felt like I could simultaneously vomit and pass out. I wanted to push him out so bad. But all I saw was clip board after clip board of paperwork being handed to me. Signing agreements  in between frequent contractions was not my idea of a serene natural labor experience, but it’s exactly what was happening.

Although I had been breathing through contractions thus far, this is when I started screaming. I never thought I would scream! Why couldn’t I hold it together?

Denver looked at me and mouthed that I was doing well. I couldn’t even think about doing well, nor did I feel like I was doing well. I felt like I was screaming and was embarrassed to be doing so. The nurses told me that I was the only one in the wing and to let out whatever I wanted to. So I did.

I clung to the rail and laid on my side. My arms were shaking. I felt like I was on a ride and no one was letting me off. Denver moved over close to me for support. That’s when a labor and delivery nurse came in. This nurse would be my saving grace. She was confident, to the point, and supportive. She looked at me and told me that I had to breathe. That it wouldn’t get better until I could breathe.

I felt like my back was breaking.  I knew I would need to look into the eyes of the nurses and my husband, because  they were going to help me through this. The delivery nurse told me that it was time to push. I asked her about the epidural. “Can I please get the epidural now?”. She looked at me, and I knew. “Sweetheart”, she said. “You’re not getting the epidural”. I said, “Is there any way?”. That’s when she gave it to me straight. “If you sit up to get the epidural, your body will start pushing. He’s coming”.

I looked at Denver and I said “We got here too late.”

This is when I had to make a decision. I was either going to be strong, or I was going to crumble. As I grabbed my husband’s hand, he nodded at me in support. This made my decision easier. I chose to be strong.

Denver called my mom to tell her that we were close. They rolled my body over to push. I held my legs up to my chest, grabbed the back of my thighs, and listened to everything the nurse told me to do. Through pain and exhaustion, I asked the nurse a very important question. “Is he going to break me in half?” Although my husband and I laugh about this question now, at the time it seemed valid. She grabbed my feet and put them on her arms and assured me that he would not break me in half.

“He has dark hair.”, she said.

I could feel my eyes get big. That one statement made it all so real. I looked at the clock. It was 3:40 in the morning. I couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast. I had to grin and bare it. There was no turning back. I was going to have this baby with no epidural, and I was going to have him soon.

I began to push. It was the best feeling I had ever had. Pressure relief.  I pushed for a while and the nurse was assuring me that I was doing well. I kept asking the nurse how many more pushes she thought I had. She said that if I brought my legs up to my chest more he would come quicker. That’s when I got down to business. I was desperate to meet my son and wanted the agony to be over. I relate this feeling to the likings of pushing a watermelon out of a straw.

At about 4:00 A.M. she said it was time to go get the doctor. The doctor sat down in front of me and I began to push again. That’s when I felt it. I had heard about it.

They call it the ring of fire. That’s exactly what it is.

I could feel Oliver crowning. I remember in all that pain all I could say was, “Ow”. And that word felt so funny. I let out the tiniest laugh, the word “ow” had never held so much weight before. The doctor looked at me and Denver, and he told us that the baby had come so fast that I wasn’t stretched out enough.

This is where a fast labor has a downfall. I felt so blessed that I wasn’t worrying about him days on end or having contractions for hours and hours with slow progression. What people don’t often think about with this quick of labor is that your body goes from 0-60. The severe pain was coming from my body not having enough time to work up to it. And since every one of my contractions were in my back, my stomach and abs couldn’t help push him along.

The doctor told me that he never does these anymore, but that he suggested I get an episiotomy. I was surprised. Basically they wanted to make a small incision to help things along. He calmly looked at me and told me that I would rip badly, because of how quickly I progressed, but that the decision is totally up to us and to only do what we felt comfortable with. I looked at Denver and we agreed.

Let’s get him out.

I was scared. I didn’t have an epidural and I really didn’t want to get cut. How scary is that! He gave me a topical numbing shot and made the incision without me even noticing. There was too much pressure to feel a cut! He told me to push. I shut my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. I felt the worst burning and pain of my life, and I remember yelling, “I feel him”. That’s when I saw him cross over my knees and onto my chest.

He was here. If this moment doesn’t make you sing “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce, I don’t know what will!

We had done this. Denver stood over us and I felt blessed beyond belief. He had dark hair and I immediately knew that he looked just like my husband. They took him away to wipe him off and Denver went over to give our son a closer look. The doctor stitched me up and then I was handed my son once again. Being able to breast feed him right away was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I was expecting to be bawling, and I was expecting my over-emotional husband to be bawling along with me.

What I felt was shock.

I had just been through a blur of the most unbearable physical pain, high adrenaline of my life, and then I had the emotional reality of holding my first child. I looked at Denver and said, “Well, you better text your family and tell them that he’s here.”

It had all happened so quickly and in the middle of the night, so we didn’t even have time to tell people we were at the hospital! We sent out our texts and pictures to family and friends and my mom came back to visit us.

The nurses came in and told me that it was an incredible delivery, and they hadn’t seen a first time mom deliver that quickly before. They also congratulated us because Oliver was the first baby of the new year born in our hospital! It was all so unbelievable.

I started to see light pour through our blinds. As I looked at my son, I said a prayer. A thank you to God for giving him life. A thank you for allowing me to be the vessel. He was my baby. He was my joy. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt like I had just won a battle. My heart swelled with the greatest and rarest love I had ever known. I was holding the embodiment of the love between my husband and I.

I was holding family.

Tears are rolling down my face as I write these words in a coffee shop, because I still can’t believe God’s gift to me and Denver. A four hour labor from start to finish was never what I expected. But I love it because it’s our story. Be it genetics, all the working out leading up to it, or by chance, I still don’t know what I can attribute the fast delivery to. But believe me that I will go to the hospital right away with our next!

While Denver and I still can’t believe his epic travels to get here, our journey as a family is just beginning! At three months old, he has the sweetest personality and is a reflection of the love I have for my husband. To keep up with our adventures as a family, you can follow my personal Instagram at BethanyMPoteet and our blog Instagram at OakAndEarth (my co-writers have lovely adventures as well).

Thank you so much for reading my story. We feel so blessed for our healthy little one. Every story is unique and special. The Honest Company is sharing many birth stories to unite us all in this beautiful journey we call motherhood. You can view their video about it here! Go celebrate other moms!

Until next time,

Bethany

Natural Labor

valentine's day dining table

Valentine’s Day Dining Table Decor On A Dime

Happy Valentines Day! (aka Happy Singles Awareness Day! aka Happy Galentines Day!) The one day of the year when it is publicly accepted to buy giant teddy bears for adults – and NOT be the recipient of public ridicule. The season of chocolate, flowers, and fat winged babies shooting unsuspecting loners with diabolic arrows, irrevocably plunging them into the throws of that flighty temptress, LOVE. (Bet you’re glad you clicked over to this page, aren’t you?) All joking aside, love is a wonderful thing that we believe should be celebrated in all its forms. Whether you’re hosting a Galentines Brunch, having your sweetheart over for a romantic dinner, or throwing a Valentine’s Day soireé, here’s how we decorated our Valentine’s Day dining table on a dime – and you can too!

Start with simple

valentine's day dining table decor

valentine's day dining table

Almost all of the items you see in these photographs already belonged to us, or we were able to purchase them at our local Walmart and Hobby Lobby for a dime. When you open yourself up to thinking creatively, you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas flow in! And you DO NOT have to spend a fortune. For instance, you could spend $2-10 a setting on napkin rings… OR you could use cheap fresh flowers and string to wrap silverware in one-of-a-kind woodland creations.

*Oak and Earth tip* This is pretty well known, but it bears repeating: WAIT until things go on sale at Hobby Lobby! They always do and you will feel so much better about that new lamp/vase/garland when it only cost you half the price! Most of the glassware pictured here was purchased for pocket change at Hobby Lobby.

valentine's day dining table

valentine's day dining table

*Oak and Earth tip* Keep it versatile. Something we really loved about this spread is that it’s Valentine’s-themed without being over-the-top. With the floral plates at the heads of the table, and pops of teal and neutrals found throughout the room, the majority of this spread could be used from February to April as Spring-themed decor. This is a great way to stretch your dollars while still getting festive.
valentine's day dining table

Think outside the box this Valentines Day! Wow your guests with a fun and festive holiday spread! Start here:

We hope you and yours have a wonderful and love-filled February 14th, and every day.

XO – Oak and Earth

Why "I love you" Isn't Always Enough

Hello, dear readers. It’s Bethany here on the blog today, and I am so excited to be writing again! I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my husband this weekend. He woke me up by bringing me donuts and a dozen beautiful roses. Donuts? Don’t mind if I do. We spent most of the day sitting over coffee and reminiscing on the six years we have shared together. What a special time!

With Valentine’s Day wrapping up, I found myself reflecting on the complexities of one of the most powerful feelings I have ever experienced—love. I mean think about how many things we say we love. I love Flaming Hot Cheetos, I love this song, I love Netflix. This feeling is so complex, that the Greek have several versions of the word reaching from sexual passion, to love for deep friendship, to longstanding love. I couldn’t find a Greek word for the love of Netflix, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

If love is so prevalent, why are marriages ending every day? Have you ever seen a marriage end and upon asking why, they say “love isn’t always enough.” You can love a person and your relationship or marriage can still end. Maybe it’s not love that keeps a marriage going, but instead, two people understanding and practicing the characteristics of love. If you’re happily married, single, in a long term relationship, divorced, widowed, or not even looking, don’t write this off as something to only be attributed to marriage. No matter what season of life you’re in, how to choose love is something to consider learning.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This is a highly referenced quote about what love really looks like when it’s broken down and put into practice. Whether you’re a follower of Christ, or not, these characteristics of love are undoubtedly admirable. I always end up feeling a little guilty after reading this scripture. We can agree to this all day long, but practicing this is so challenging.

We are humans, and when you tell me love “is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”, I can think of ten ways just this week that I have not kept that word, despite loving my husband more than words can express. When you argue in marriages, it’s easy to hurl wrongs at your spouse. Wrongs that you’ve supposedly forgiven them for. I feel like the words “you always” or “you never” tend to come out. It’s like you keep these phrases and record of wrongs just sitting in your pocket like ammunition. I know I’ve been there. In reality, it’s hard to choose to to keep no record of wrongs. In these types of situations, you have the choice to forgive, or to keep record of wrongs even after the behavior has changed. That’s why I believe that love is more than a feeling. Especially in marriage, it’s an action…a choice.

What does choosing love look like in a marriage?

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I am just one person in one marriage, and I want to grow as well. The only way to do that was to gather many opinions. What do other people consider the basis for a successful marriage? Did they believe in choosing love as well? After reading their responses, I believe they do. From friends, to family members, to acquaintances, I was blown away by the significance of what people shared with me when they were asked to complete the following task:

Choose one word that you believe allows a marriage to last “until death do us part.”

↔   C  O  M  M  I  T  T  M  E  N  T   ↔

“If you truly commit to forever than you stick to it. In times when you are in love you stay committed. In times when you don’t like each other you stay committed. There is no other choice than staying committed to your oath. And that commitment creates trust and love”. – Age 51, Married

↔   C   O   M   M   U   N   I   C   A   T   E   ↔

“The hard part about marriage is that we already have certain expectations in mind, but our spouse is not a mind reader. Communication allows you to express expectations and needs, set goals together, and discuss issues as they arise so they don’t grow and fester.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   S   E   L   F   L   E   S  S   N   E   S   S   ↔

“I could say communication or loyalty is most important, but it all really comes down to being selfless. Because within those character traits, the partner MUST be selfless. Must put the other first in every situation. If you’re doing that, and loving with all you have, you won’t fail”-Age 24, Married 1+ years

“If both people are completely selfless, considering the needs/desires of your partner before yours, then there will be no room for selfishness. Marriage breaks down because we start caring more about what we aren’t getting or what we want more than our spouse. Then we start linking for me instead of us and that is a slippery slope.” –Age 28, Married 7+ years

↔   S   A   C   R   I   F   I   C   E  ↔

“Dying to self every day is something he and I have to make a conscious choice to do. It’s putting each other’s needs in front of our own. Each choosing to give 100% daily, even on the hardest days. That’s why sacrifice is my word.”-Age 24, Married almost 4 years

↔   F   A   I   T   H   ↔

“Faith in Jesus that in good and bad times that He will bring you closer to each other and Him. Faith that God picked you two to support and love one another forever.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   P   A   T   I   E   N   C   E   ↔

“It’s something I’m not good with but I want to be! I heard a story one time about this little old couple who had been married for like 60 or 70 years, and when they asked how they made it work, the man wrote on a piece of paper front and back as many times as he could fit the word ‘patience’. I remember thinking when I heard that story- that is so true!”-Age 24, In a Relationship

↔   L   U   C   K   Y   ↔

“In my opinion, people want love so badly that they start to convince themselves that they’re in love, and often get married. Those marriages fail. It takes true love to stay devoted to someone for a lifetime. Those that find it are lucky.”-Age 27

↔   O   N   E   N   E   S   S   ↔

“Oneness isn’t two halves joining together; it’s two wholes morphing into one undivided being. You become an unbreakable force that nothing can stand between. When you give it all, you get it all. Focusing on what makes us a successful whole rather than two happy halves is important.” -Age 26, Engaged

↔   H   O   N   O   R   ↔

“To honor is to show the utmost respect to.”-Age 25

↔   L  A  U  G  H  T  E  R   ↔

“I always think that the amount of laughter in a relationship tells a lot about its state. Never stop finding reasons to laugh with one another. Laughter exudes joy, fun, understanding, and healing.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   C   H   R   I   S   T   ↔

“Always trying to keep Christ at the center of our relationship has only allowed us to love each other that much more. Because of this, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time my wife and I fought, but I can tell you the last time we’ve laughed together – this morning.” – Age 26, Married 2+ years

“If two people are wholeheartedly serving Christ, serving each other will fall into place and they will progress in their marriage together after God’s own heart.” –Age 24, Married 2+ years

What I love most about asking others is how they’re all coming up with this word based upon different life experiences and backgrounds. Many of their answers can be related back to the actions expressed within the 1st Corinthians reference. Words are tools. Imagine what would happen if we put these words to work in everyday life. How many relationships would be benefited?

Consider the COMMITTMENT you have made when you start to question your oath. Choose to COMMUINICATE instead of icing one another out when conflict arises. Choose to SACRIFICE your own selfish ways. Choose to be SELFLESS when you know your spouse needs those small wins throughout the day. Choose to have FAITH that God can rebuild relationships even after great hardship. When you could easily let anger control you, choose to be PATIENT (speaking for myself here, that  means in the car too). When it gets hard to be patient, choose to remember that you are LUCKY and blessed to have one another. Choose to stand as ONE when you and your spouse are tested. In doing so, you show that you are choosing to HONOR and respect him/her. Choose to share in LAUGHTER when pain is too great to carry on alone in sadness. Choose CHRIST to be at the center. From there, all of these other choices become much easier, and even habitual.

Why is saying “I love you” not always enough? It is if you equip the word love with the weight it deserves. When both people commit to do love instead of just feel love, that’s when a marriage lasts.

Some people come from broken marriages, broken homes, or have experienced painful relationships. Whatever your season in life is, I encourage you to apply these choices in any way you can find. Apply them to your marriage, your future marriage, or use them as a way to understand a broken marriage so that you’re able to move forward. If you haven’t already, you should check out this short book HERE, to find your top love languages! Denver and I did this before we got married, and it has helped us understand how we each  communicate love. Even if you consider your marriage to be a successful and happy one as I do with mine, there is always work to be done. Let this be a wonderful reminder from the mouths of many!

I really enjoyed having others contribute to this project, so thank you so much for those who participated and for those reading this week. If you have an questions, comments, or suggestions, let’s keep the conversation going! Leave a comment below, or find me on social media @BethanyMPoteet. As always, you can hashtag your experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We are starting to blog more frequently, so look for some exciting updates in the future. Have a wonderful week!

Thank you, friends.

-Bethany

Brave

Hello, reader, it’s Tera! It feels SO good to be writing again on here after being away for a bit! The girls of Oak and Earth took a small break over the holidays to enjoy some family time that was much needed, but we are back and excited for what we have in store for 2016 (one thing being that we want to post much more frequently)! I hope you and yours shared some special times over the holiday season. With that being said, what better way to start off 2016 -and this week- on O&E than with a little devotional?

My initial thoughts for this devo were sparked by one of my favorite songs right now (“You Make Me Brave,” by Amanda Cook). The lyrics are powerful and beautiful, and as of late, have really resonated with me. You would be doing yourself a great favor by checking it out if you haven’t heard it yet!

In this song, she sings about how the Lord makes us brave. In one line she sings, “You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.” When I first heard the lyrics, I loved the power that was behind them. I pictured myself in the vast world of unknown future, taking long strides and doing things that I am only capable of doing with His help and through His grace. How true this is! But one Sunday morning, we sang this song at our church. It was a Sunday that would lead to a week of anticipated anxiety, and was sure to surface some pretty sensitive and wounded areas of my heart. This particular Sunday while we were singing this song, the lyrics took a whole new meaning to me, and it hit me. The lyrics became deeper for me when I realized that the Lord does make us brave, in more ways than this daydreamt adventure!

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This picture is makes me feel like a hobbit looking out onto the shire! Any other LOTR fans out there??

 

He doesn’t have to call us on a grand journey in order for His power and love to make us brave. He certainly can and does sometimes, but taking a giant leap of faith into a sea of unknown is not the only prerequisite in order to be capable of being very, very brave. God makes our love brave, to love even the people in our lives who are the most difficult to love, to be a good friend, to have a heart of compassion for others. He makes us brave in our strength. To fight for our marriages and hold on even in our marriages’ darkest seasons, or to stand up for our faith unashamedly, (the list goes on). God makes us brave in our insecurities. Whether it be our body image, our fears of acceptance, our fears of not being enough, our lack of a higher education, our jobs…[insert insecurities here], we can say “I love myself. I am beautiful. I am enough just the way I am.” He makes us brave in our shortcomings, to take it day by day and say, “Today, I want to be better than I was yesterday.” He makes us brave so we can forgive– even the ones who never ask you for your forgiveness– to have a freed heart and a cleared conscience by saying, “I forgive YOU.” God makes us brave in our circumstance. When we feel so unsure of why we are going through a situation(s), when we want to get out of our rut(s), when we don’t know who we are fully and we wish we had the answers…He makes us brave to embrace this season, to learn from it, to know that it will not be forever, and to trust that He is always at work behind the scenes. And He makes us brave in living out our purpose. Maybe He’s called you to be a homemaker, maybe you teach, maybe you are taking that huge leap of faith in a new adventure He’s called you to, or maybe He has you somewhere right now to prepare you for what your purpose will be in a few years. Whatever it is, He makes us brave to fulfill our purpose with love, grace, and with happy hearts, even when it feels mundane, tiring, and hard. The capacity we have to do these things is so grand when we rely on God’s abilities rather than our own. Because of God, our love stretches, our strength endures, our self worth shines, our shortcomings do not overcome us, our forgiveness is limitless, our circumstances we face teach us and encourage us, and our purpose fills us. Because of God, in God, we are brave.

2 Cor. 4:7 “We now have this shining light in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

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Aren’t these photos beautiful?! They were taken by my brother on his trip to Alaska.

 

 

 

We would love to hear your ideas for some future blog posts you’d like to see! Follow me on my social media if you don’t already for blog updates and daily snippets of life; Instagram @terapianalto, and Twitter @terapianalto. We always love your feedback and love being a part of the blogging community!

 

Love Fiercly,

Tera -xo

A Pig Out Session You Won't Regret: Your New Morning Ritual.

GETTING DOWN AND REAL WITH JESUS AND FEELING FULL IN THE PROCESS?

ALL BEFORE YOUR MORNING COFFEE, UMM, WHAT? 

Me in my comfy bed,curled up with a book. (I

Me in my comfy bed, curled up with a book. (I”m NOT a morning person by the way.)

If you’re like me, mornings can be rough. Especially when you wake up with the burning eyelids of not enough zzz’s and a full day ahead of you that can feel discouragingly monotonous to the day before (and the one before that.)

You have to think about if your work shirt is clean or if you just left in a crumpled pile on the floor.

Yep. It was the second option.

(Of course.)

BUT ALAS:

THERE IS HOPE!

Sometimes, we just need to set ourselves up a little pig out session with the Man Upstairs for an all day pick-me up that will get you going better than espresso.

This past week, I decided to change my pattern and see if what I chose to see or listen to within the first half hour of waking up affected my mood or perspective of the day.

My first realization was that without even being conscious of what I was doing, I had formed the habit of checking some form of social media within the first 30 seconds of opening my eyes. (WHICH IS KINDA SAD REALLY.)

Also, without realizing it, my senses were being saturated with bright pictures, happy smiles and a brain full of sub-conscious comparisons.

Instead of climbing out of bed feeling refreshed and with a hopeful sense of determination for the day ahead, it has too often become more like rolling out of bed feeling emotionally exhausted before my day has even really begun.

I don’t however, think I’m the only one.

Are we starving ourselves of emotional/spiritual/mental nutrition?

By choosing day after day to make social portals become a daily fix that we consume before breakfast, can it at some point begin to consume us?

I think we all know the answer.

Why not be kind to myself and begin my day fueling up with something more sustaining?

So here is what I have tried and I dare you to try it too:

Don’t be afraid to have a morning pig out sesh with your number one fan and the best dose of daily encouragement.

(Here is the part that may seem like a challenge at first, but is insanely satisfying and WORTH IT.)

Instead of scrolling through your instagram or facebook while still laying in bed:

make a little sacrifice this week and refrain from having any physical food before you take in some spiritual fuel for the morning.

Instead of scrolling through your instagram or facebook while still laying in bed, try this instead:

(It will feel as sustaining as french toast, eggs, and bacon on a Monday morning, PROMISE.)

HOW TO INITIATE YOUR SPIRITUAL BREAKFAST DATE:

Choose one or a couple of verses of scripture to read and mediate on them. Read them once straight through. Then read them again, word by word, reading them as though God is having a conversation directly with YOU through His words. Read the verses one last time, and think about how you can try to make it a point to apply what you have read to your day.

For example, yesterday I read Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

And it stuck with me.

I meditated upon it. I read it. Re-read it. And read it again.

Instead of mindlessly scrolling through a feed of a girl’s new blonde highlights (while mine are growing out) or another friend’s exotic travels with my bed head and tired eyes, what my eyes and heart took in was that verse.

And that was exactly what I needed that morning.

I needed to remember that despite life’s distractions, frustrations, and tired mornings, I AM “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

And while I strive daily to be kind and loving to others, I sometimes forget to be kind to myself.

Throughout my day, I focused on honoring God’s plan for my life by trying to have a heart of thankfulness and to even give myself a compliment instead of a comparison.

If you want to feel the difference, try it yourself!

Let God be your morning date and dig in to His word.

Don’t worry, overindulgence is encouraged.

And you won’t regret it!

 

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(ONE LAST REQUEST.)

If you try it out this week and find that it made a difference or you have some constructive criticism, I would love to hear about it!

facebook: Christiana Ewart

instagram: christiananoel

But not first thing in the morning, you have a date, remember? 🙂

-Christiana